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european commission logoThe European Commission has called on tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and other major names to implement more aggressively measures in order to censor online hate speech. The alternative is to face new EU legislation that would force the tech companies to censor more quickly.The Financial Times reports that a study commissioned by the EU justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, found that YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook have struggled to comply with the hate speech voluntary code of conduct that was announced earlier this year. Amid national security concerns and heightened racial tensions, mostly resulting from unpopular EU refugee policies.

In Germany, the government-led effort has been particularly aggressive. Germany is one of the European nations where the ongoing refugee crisis has reinvigorated the far-right and sparked a backlash against government policy. Reuter reports that Heiko Maas, the German Justice Minister, recently said that Facebook should be made liable for any hate speech published on its social media platform and it should be treated as a media company.

According to The Verge, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft agreed in a code of conduct announced in May to review and respond within 24 hours to the majority of hate speech complaints. However, only 40% of the recorded incidents have been reviewed within 24 hours, according to the commission’s report. That figure rose to 80% after 48 hours.

According to PCMag, two advocacy groups have criticized those efforts in France. In May, the two rights groups announced their plans to sue Google, Twitter, and Facebook for failing to remove from their platforms homophobic, racist and other hateful posts. News articles have so far failed to point out that maybe some of these groups are making some false claims about  material being censorable. Perhaps the media companies were right to not remove all of the posts reported.

On Thursday, Dec. 8, EU justice ministers will meet to discuss the report’s findings. H

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computer says noThe European Commission says Internet hosts should pre-censor everything we upload to the Internet for copyright violations. The UK agrees.

Tell the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) we don’t want rights holders to monitor and filter the Internet!

The European Commission has published plans to force Internet companies to filter everything we upload in case it infringes copyright laws. The UK’s Intellectual Property Office wants our views on the European Commission’s plans. The UK Government is minded to support the plans if they can get them to work.

This could block Downfall parodies, campaign videos, TV clips, memes, profile pics — anything that appears to reuse copyright content, even if it is legal to do so.

We need to stop this censorious, privacy-invading, anti-innovation proposal. Users of social media, photo, music and video sharing sites would all be hit hard.

Any company that lets you upload content to the Internet would check everything you upload against a database of copyright works – a massive violation of privacy in order to create this censorship regime.

If you want to insist on your right to publish, you’d have to supply your name and address and agree that you can be prosecuted by the rightsholder. That will put most people off taking the risk, even if they are within their rights to do so. And if rightsholder think that websites aren’t monitoring their users’ uploads closely enough, they can take those websites to court too.

Sign the  petition from action.openrightsgroup.org

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david currieDavid Currie has been appointed Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority and will succeed the current Chairman, Chris Smith next year.The appointment was announced by the Advertising Standards Board of Finance, the bodies that fund the advertising self-regulation system, following consultation with the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), Ofcom and the Advertising Association.

Currie has good experience of media censorship as he was the founding Chairman of Ofcom.

Currie will take up his position from 1 October 2017.

upsu logoStudents at Plymouth university have followed students at City, University of London by deciding to ban three newspapers from their campus.It means that the campus shop run by Plymouth’s students will not sell copies of the Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Express and their Sunday equivalents from the new year.

According to a report in the Plymouth Herald , the decision was taken by the executive council of the University of Plymouth Students’ Union (UPSU). The motion was passed, says a UPSU Facebook statement, by a large majority . However students themselves were not consulted. The Student’s Union said:

Whilst we believe that freedom of expression and speech are inalienable human rights, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a number of British tabloids are known to express hateful views. […BUT…]

They aim at belittling and demonising certain groups in society, such as immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, disabled people, the LGBTIQA+ community, Muslims, Black and Asian communities…

It is our duty to protect and empower and represent marginalised and discriminated against groups… UPSU opposes hatred, discrimination and demonisation of any individual..

Because of these very values that we hold and we are proud of, we believe that it is unethical for us to profit out of the sale of hateful, non-factual and anti-scientific media platforms.

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Sausage Party DVD Greg TiernanSausage Party is a 2016 USA animation comedy adventure by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.
Starring Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd. BBFC link IMDb

An animated fable about the delusion of religion. It is set in an American supermarket, its characters are horny and often blasphemous foodstuffs who at one point engage in a mass sex party.

Catholic and right-wing have whinged about a Seth Rogen cartoon featuring lots of strong language and a foodstuffs orgy scene.

France’s film certification board,  (Centre National de la Cinematographie: Commission de Classification, CNC) has now come under renewed censorship pressure by conservative organisations angry at what they perceive as an overlenient rating given to a Hollywood cartoon.

In the US, the film was rated R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use. The film was cut in the US to avoid an NC-17 rating, with the censors asking for the deletion of the hairy scrotum of a pita bread. This cut version has been distributed worldwide. In the UK, it had 15 for very strong language, strong sex references . In France it has been given a 12 certificate.

Jean-Frédéric Poisson, president of France’s Christian Democratic party whinged:

An orgy scene for 12-year-olds! Everything remains to be done to combat early exposure to pornography.

La Manif Pour Tours, which has campaigned against same-sex marriage fired of an angry tweet:

Hello CNC, explain how you can authorise the screening of a giant orgy for the whole family?

The Association of Catholic Families warned parents:

[The movie gives] the appearance of being intended for young people and children. its content is not only coarse, but also clearly pornographic, under cover of being ‘politically incorrect’.

The French ratings board has traditionally been more lenient than its UK and US equivalents, but is not entirely out on a limb in Europe as Sweden awarded an even lower rating, 11A.

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arms of the british governmentjpg logoAmong the many unpleasant things in the Investigatory Powers Act that was officially signed into law this week, one that has not gained as much attention is the apparent ability for the UK government to undermine encryption and demand surveillance backdoors.As the bill was passing through Parliament, several organizations noted their alarm at section 217 which obliged ISPs, telcos and other communications providers to let the government know in advance of any new products and services being deployed and allow the government to demand technical changes to software and systems.

Communications Service Providers (CSP) subject to a technical capacity notice must notify the Government of new products and services in advance of their launch, in order to allow consideration of whether it is necessary and proportionate to require the CSP to provide a technical capability on the new service.

As per the final wording of the law, comms providers on the receiving end of a technical capacity notice will be obliged to do various things on demand for government snoops — such as disclosing details of any system upgrades and removing electronic protection on encrypted communications.

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Bangladesh flagThe Bangladesh and UK governments have started a process to block pornographic websites and stop publication of offensive contents in the countries.

Ragged Union JackThe Bangladesh Telecommunications Division and British Board of Film Censors have formed committees to detect and block websites that contain pornography, vulgar picture and video contents, according to a news agency report.

The committees will make a three-level technical proposal by listing such websites ad contents within a week, State Minister for Telecommunications Tarana Halim said. The process to block these will start after getting the list and proposal, she said after a meeting on controlling offensive internet contents at the Secretariat .

A director general of telecoms regulators BTRC will head the committee, which will comprise representatives from National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre (NTMC), internet service providers (ISPs), mobile-phone operators and law-enforcing agencies. David Austin of the BBFC will spearhead UK censorship efforts.

Tarana said the drive against internet pornography will continue even after blocking the listed porn websites. And no doubt speaking for the UK too, she said:

The availability of internet pornography and offensive content is creating a negative social impact on all the citizens, including the adolescents.