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david austin The BBFC has announced the appointment of David Austin OBE, as the new Director of the BBFC.

Mr Austin is currently Assistant Director at the BBFC, coordinating the BBFC’s policy work and leading on its public affairs outreach. He is also responsible for managing the BBFC’s research, communications and education programmes.

He will be taking up the post on 12 March 2016, when the current Director, David Cooke, retires.

David Austin said:

I am delighted to bring my expertise as both a Film Examiner and Assistant Director to the role of BBFC Director. It is vital for the BBFC to continue to consult the public regularly and to meet their expectations of both classification and the ease with which they expect to be able to access to classification information, enabling them to make informed decisions about what they and their family watch at the cinema, on DVD or Blu-ray and online.

Under David Cooke and in partnership with the home entertainment industry in particular, the BBFC has transformed its remit to reflect the needs of a digital society, bringing its expertise in child protection and information provision online. I am greatly looking forward to continuing to work with my colleagues at the BBFC, the Presidential Team, the Council of Management and the Board’s advisory bodies and stakeholders to ensure the BBFC continues to act as an expert and trusted guide to film, DVD/Blu-ray and digital platforms.

David Cooke said:

I am delighted that the Appointments Panel, consisting of Graham Lee and Maggie Carver from the Council of Management and Patrick Swaffer and Alison Hastings from the Presidential Team, have appointed David. David has been a close colleague for over eleven years, and has pioneered many key initiatives such as our contract with the Mobile Network Operators, our partnership with international colleagues for classifying User Generated Content, and our partnership with the music industry and platforms for classifying physical and online music videos. I am sure that David will take the BBFC from strength to strength in serving the public, and the cause of child protection, in the internet age.

David Austin received an OBE in 1999 for his contribution to helping end conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. David joined the BBFC in 2003 as an Examiner following a career in the Diplomatic Service, serving in South Asia, Central Africa and the former Yugoslavia. He moved to the role of Assistant Director, Policy & Public Affairs in 2011, overseeing the most recent public consultation of the BBFC Classification Guidelines in 2013; the introduction of the BBFC Mobile Classification Framework used by UK Mobile Network Operators in 2013; and the BBFC’s partnership with the UK music industry and Vevo and YouTube to bring age ratings to online music videos in 2015.

Graham Lee, Chair of the appointments panel and Chairman of the BBFC Council of Management said:

We are very pleased, that after a rigorous, open and transparent selection process, we have been able to appoint a candidate who has done so much in recent years to build and develop the important services carried out by the BBFC.

The post of Director was filled through open competition.

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Inside Amy Schumer Seasons Region Inside Amy Schumer (trailer)
Comedy Central, 5 September 2015, 22:00

A complainant alerted Ofcom to a trailer broadcast at 22:00 on Comedy Central for the new season of Inside Amy Schumer, which they considered to be too graphic in its language and description of sexual acts.

The trailer featured a group of men sitting around a table playing poker. A female character played by the comedian Amy Schumer entered the room with a plate of chicken wings, which she placed in the middle of the poker table. Before leaving the room she turned to one of the players, her husband, played by the actor Zach Braff, and put her arms around his neck before saying:

If nobody needs anything else, honey, I’m going to head upstairs, start lubing up, so you can blast my dirt-box with your thumb while you lobster hand me in the twat, okay? Seriously, I want you to thumb-dash that mudpit ’til I make a pig noise. Then you can shit on my tits while I call my mom.

Amy Schumer then addressed the other poker players ( You guys are always welcome here! ) before leaving the room. Zach Braff then paused for a moment, while all the other poker players looked down in an uncomfortable silence, and then reached for a chicken wing and said: Guess I should eat up… I gotta shit on those tits!

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3:

In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language,…sex,…discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of…gender…. Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 2.2

Although the Code requires that potentially offensive material is justified by its context, there is significant room for innovation, creativity and challenging material within comedy programming. However, broadcasters do not have unlimited licence in terms of offensive material. There may be circumstances in which relevant contextual factors (such as whether the editorial content is programming or a trailer, audience expectations, or warnings given to the audience) are not sufficient to justify the broadcast of offensive material.

Ofcom first considered whether the material in this programme had the potential to cause offence. We noted that in this trailer Amy Schumer used a number of highly graphic terms to describe various sexual acts such as: lubing up ; blast my dirt-box with your thumb ; lobster hand me in the twat ; thumb-dash that mudpit ; and shit on my tits . We considered that these various graphic, sexual references were clearly capable of causing offence.

We went on to consider whether the broadcast of these potentially offensive statements were justified by the context.

We assessed first the editorial context in which the trailer was broadcast. We noted this trailer was broadcast at 22:002, one hour after the watershed. We recognised that viewers of specialist comedy channels, such as Comedy Central, would have been likely to expect stronger and more challenging material to be broadcast at this time well after the watershed.

However, the content in this case was included within a trailer. Ofcom’s research on offensive language notes that audiences consider offensive language less acceptable if it is included in trailers. This is because audiences do not choose to watch promotions for programmes. They come across them unawares. Viewers cannot therefore make informed choices to avoid offensive material in trailers compared to pre-scheduled programmes, and consequently audiences consider that the offensive language is imposed upon them.

Ofcom noted that this material was highly graphic in its use of sexual language, and that in our opinion the latitude given to licensees to broadcast highly offensive language in trailers (which are promotional and which viewers come across unawares) should be less than in programmes. We concluded that the content was so offensive that in our view it would have exceeded viewers’ expectations even when broadcast at 22:00 (and afterwards) on a specialist comedy channel.

Breach of Rule 2.3

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EU flag Europe is very close to the finishing line of an extraordinary project: the adoption of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a single, comprehensive replacement for the 28 different laws that implement Europe’s existing 1995 Data Protection Directive . More than any other instrument, the original Directive has created a high global standard for personal data protection, and led many other countries to follow Europe’s approach. Over the years, Europe has grown ever more committed to the idea of data protection as a core value. In the Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, legally binding on all the EU states since 2009, lists the “right to the protection of personal data” as a separate and equal right to privacy. The GDPR is intended to update and maintain that high standard of protection, while modernising and streamlining its enforcement.

The battle over the details of the GDPR has so far mostly been a debate between advocates pushing to better defend data protection, against companies and other interests that find consumer privacy laws a hindrance to their business models. Most of the compromises between these two groups have now already been struck.

The result is a ticking time-bomb that will be bad for online speech, and bad for the future reputation of the GDPR and data protection in general.

The current draft of the GDPR doubles down on Google Spain, and raises new problems. (The draft currently under negotiation is not publicly available, but July 2015 versions of the provisions that we refer to can be found in this comparative table of proposals and counter-proposals by the European institutions. Article numbers referenced here, which will likely change in the final text, are to the proposal from the Council of the EU unless otherwise stated.)

First, it requires an Internet intermediary (which is not limited to a search engine, though the exact scope of the obligation remains vague) to respond to a request by a person for the removal of their personal information by immediately restricting the content, without notice to the user who uploaded that content (Articles 4(3a), 17, 17a, and 19a.). Compare this with the DMCA takedown notices, which include a notification requirement, or even the current Right to Be Forgotten process, which give search engines some time to consider the legitimacy of the request. In the new GDPR regime, the default is to block.

Then, after reviewing the (also vague) criteria that balance the privacy claim with other legitimate interests and public interest considerations such as freedom of expression (Articles 6.1(f), 17a(3) and 17.3(a)), and possibly consulting with the user who uploaded the content if doubt remains, the intermediary either permanently erases the content (which, for search engines, means removing their link to it), or reinstates it (Articles 17.1 and 17a(3)). If it does erase the information, it is not required to notify the uploading user of having done so, but is required to notify any downstream publishers or recipients of the same content (Articles 13 and 17.2), and must apparently also disclose any information that it has about the uploading user to the person who requested its removal (Articles 14a(g) and 15(1)(g)).

Think about that for a moment. You place a comment on a website which mentions a few (truthful) facts about another person. Under the GDPR, that person can now demand the instant removal of your comment from the host of the website, while that host determines whether it might be okay to still publish it. If the host’s decision goes against you (and you won’t always be notified, so good luck spotting the pre-emptive deletion in time to plead your case to Google or Facebook or your ISP), your comment will be erased. If that comment was syndicated, by RSS or some other mechanism, your deleting host is now obliged to let anyone else know that they should also remove the content.

Finally, according to the existing language, while the host is dissuaded from telling you about any of this procedure, they are compelled to hand over personal information about you to the original complainant. So this part of EU’s data protection law would actually release personal information!

What are the incentives for the intermediary to stand by the author and keep the material online? If the host fails to remove content that a data protection authority later determines it should have removed, it may become liable to astronomical penalties of ?100 million or up to 5% of its global turnover, whichever is higher (European Parliament proposal for Article 79).

That means there is enormous pressure on the intermediary to take information down if there is even a remote possibility that the information has indeed become “irrelevant”, and that countervailing public interest considerations do not apply.

It is not too late yet: proposed amendments to the GDPR are still being considered. We have written a joint letter with ARTICLE 19 to European policymakers, drawing their attention to the problem and explaining what needs to be done. We contend that the problems identified can be overcome by relatively simple amendments to the GDPR, which will help to secure European users’ freedom of expression, without detracting from the strong protection that the regime affords to their personal data.

Without fixing the problem, the current draft risks sullying the entire GDPR project. Just like the DMCA takedown process, these GDPR removals won’t just be used for the limited purpose they were intended for. Instead, it will be abused to censor authors and invade the privacy of speakers. A GDPR without fixes will damage the reputation of data protection law as effectively as the DMCA permanently tarnished the intent and purpose of copyright law.

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ofcom children and parenets media use Ofcom writes:

Children are becoming more trusting of what they see online, but sometimes lack the understanding to decide whether it is true or impartial.

Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media and Attitudes Report reveals that children aged 8-15 are spending more than twice as much time online as they did a decade ago, reaching over 15 hours each week in 2015. But even for children who have grown up with the internet – so-called digital natives – there’s room to improve their digital know-how and understanding.

For example, children do not always question what they find online. One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true, yet only a third of 12-15s (31%) are able to identify paid-for adverts in these results.

Nearly one in ten (8%) of all children aged 8-15 who go online believe information from social media websites or apps is all true – doubling from 4% in 2014.

Children are increasingly turning to YouTube for true and accurate information about what’s going on in the world. The video sharing site is the preferred choice for this kind of information among nearly one in ten (8%) online children, up from just 3% in 2014. But only half of 12-15s (52%) who watch YouTube are aware that advertising is the main source of funding on the site, and less than half (47%) are aware that vloggers (video bloggers) can be paid to endorse products or services.

James Thickett, Ofcom’s Director of Research, said:

The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family. But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world.

More than nine in ten parents of 8-15s (92%) manage their children’s internet use in some way – either through technical tools, talking to or supervising their child, or setting rules about access to the internet and online behaviour. Nearly four in ten parents (38%) use all four approaches.

Among the technical tools used by parents are network-level content filters offered by broadband providers. Almost six in ten parents of 8-15s (56%) are aware of these parental controls, up from 50% in 2014, and a quarter (26%) use them, up from 21% in 2014.

It appears that the vast majority of children do hear the advice given about staying safe online. Some 97% of children aged 8-15 recall advice they’ve been given, particularly from parents.

The large majority (84%) of children aged 8-15 also say they would tell their parents, another family member or a teacher if they saw something online they found worrying, nasty or offensive. However, 6% of children say they would not tell anyone.

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watching paint dry The British Board of Film Classification (previously known as the British Board of Film Censors) was established in 1912 to ensure films remained free of indecorous dancing , references to controversial politics and men and women in bed together , amongst other perceived indiscretions.

Today, it continues to censor and in some cases ban films, while UK law ensures that, in effect, a film cannot be released in British cinemas without a BBFC certificate.

Each certificate costs around £1000 for a feature film of average length. For many independent filmmakers, such a large upfront can prove prohibitively expensive.

Luckily, there’s a flipside to all of this: while filmmakers are required to pay the BBFC to certify their work, the BBFC are also required to sit through whatever we pay them to watch.

That’s why I’m Kickstarting a BBFC certificate for my new film Paint Drying — a single, unbroken shot of white paint drying on a brick wall. All the money raised by this campaign (minus Kickstarter’s fees) will be put towards the cost of the certificate, so the final length of the film will be determined by how much money is raised here.

For instance, if we raise £108.59, the film will be one minute long. If we raise £526.90, it’ll be an hour long. And so on.

I’ve shot fourteen continuous hours of footage, on crisp 4K digital video. This should provide enough material for the film, as long as this campaign doesn’t raise more than £6057.

If the campaign surpasses that figure, I’ll reshoot the film with a longer runtime — which would also allow Paint Drying to overtake Jacques Rivette’s Out 1 (with a runtime of 775 minutes) as the longest film ever rated by the BBFC.

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Spectre DVD Daniel Craig Its not only British audiences that are viewing a censored version of the new James Bond film Spectre, but Indian audiences will also suffer an incomplete version.Censors at the Central Board of Film Classification have given the film a UA (children allowed if accompanied by adults) rating after 4 cuts for language and kissing:

  • Two cuts were made to shorten James Bond’s kissing
  • Two cuts were made to remove the words ‘fuck’ and ‘arsehole’.

A source said:

Both of Daniel Craig’s kisses with his co-stars have been reduced by 50 per cent. The censor board had nothing against James Bond kissing …BUT… the length of the kisses were found to be unnecessarily excessive. We heard that Ranbir Kapoor’s kissing scenes in Tamasha has also been reduced by half. We wonder how the Censor Board decides how much kissing is enough.

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ASA logo In line with its strategic aim to have more impact and be more proactive in how it regulates, the ASA is to start putting a stronger focus on those issues where there is the greatest potential detriment or harm. This will allow it to have the biggest impact on the issues that matter most, benefitting consumers, society and responsible advertisers alike.

In February the ASA announced the introduction of new Prioritisation Principles to guide its work. The principles were developed to help it decide what resource it should commit, or activity it should undertake, in response to issues identified through complaints (and other channels). From Monday, 23 November, it will be using those principles to help it decide when it will investigate issues that potentially break the rules and when it can deal with the issues by other means.

It’s important to stress that, where a complaint indicates the rules have been broken, the ASA will always act. It has always varied its approach to complaint handling depending on the nature of the issues raised, resolving cases informally where possible and in so doing avoiding the lengthier process of formal investigation. However, it will now be making greater use of advice and guidance as an alternative to its existing investigation processes to help advertisers stick to the rules. The ASA is confident that responsible advertisers will follow that advice, and it’s important that they do.

Most complainants and advertisers won’t be affected by this policy because the best course of action in many cases will still be to deal with complaints as before, either by informal resolution with an advertiser or by a formal ASA ruling. Where this new policy does apply to a complaint, the ASA will write to the advertiser and complainant explaining its decision and the action it has taken.

By introducing the option of writing to advertisers who have potentially broken the rules instead of initiating an investigation, the ASA has developed an approach that allows it to act proportionately in response to complaints received whilst freeing up the time it needs to focus on the issues that matter most. Those issues might be dealt with through a formal investigation or by other means, such as sector wide work, as it continues to develop the processes needed to become a more proactive regulator.