Your Standard Rip-off…The Digital Policy Alliance, a group of parliamentarians, waxes lyrical about its document purporting to be a code of practice for age verification, and then charges 108 quid to read it

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The Digital Policy Alliance is a cross party group of parliamentarians with associate members from industry and academia.It has led efforts to develop a Publicly Available Specification (PAS 1296) which was published on 19 March.

Crossbench British peer Merlin Hay, the Earl of Erroll, said:

We need to make the UK a safe place to do business, he said. That’s why we’re producing a British PAS… that set out for the age check providers what they should do and what records they keep.

The document is expected to include a discussion on the background to age verification, set out the rules in accordance with the Digital Economy Act, and give a detailed look at the technology, with annexes on anonymity and how the system should work.

This PAS will sit alongside data protection and privacy rules set out in the General Data Protection Regulation and in the UK’s Data Protection Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament. Hay explained:

We can’t put rules about data protection into the PAS206 That is in the Data Protection Bill, he said. So we refer to them, but we can’t mandate them inside this PAS 203 but it’s in there as ‘you must obey the law’… [perhaps] that’s been too subtle for the organisations that have been trying to take a swing at it.

What Hay didn’t mention though was that all of this ‘help’ for British industry would come with a hefty £ 108 price tag for a 60 page document.

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open rights group 2016 logo The Open Rights Group, Myles Jackman and Pandora Blake have done a magnificent job in highlighting the dangers of mandating that porn companies verify the age of their customers.Worst case scenario

In the worst case scenario, foreign porn companies will demand official ID from porn viewers and then be able to maintain a database of the complete browsing history of those officially identified viewers.

And surely much to the alarm of the government and the newly appointed internet porn censors at the BBFC, then this worst case scenario seems to be the clear favourite to get implemented. In particular Mindgeek, with a near monopoly on free porn tube sites, is taking the lead with its Age ID scheme.

Now for some bizarre reason, the government saw no need for its age verification to offer any specific protection for porn viewers, beyond that offered by existing and upcoming data protection laws. Given some of the things that Google and Facebook do with personal data then it suggests that these laws are woefully inadequate for the context of porn viewing.  For safety and national security reasons, data identifying porn users should be kept under total lock and key, and not used for any commercial reason whatsoever.

A big flaw

But there in lies the flaw of the law. The government is mandating that all websites, including those based abroad, should verify their users without specifying any data protection requirements beyond the law of the land. The flaw is that foreign websites are simply not obliged to respect British data protection laws.

So as a topical example, there would be nothing to prevent a Russian porn site (maybe not identifying itself as Russian) from requiring ID and then passing the ID and subsequent porn browsing history straight over to its dirty tricks department.

Anyway the government has made a total pigs ear of the concept with its conservative ‘leave it to industry to find a solution’ approach’. The porn industry simply does not have the safety and security of its customers at heart. Perhaps the government should have invested in its own solution first, at least the national security implications may have pushed it into at least considering user safety and security.

Where we are at

As mentioned above campaigners have done a fine job in identifying the dangers of the government plan and these have been picked up by practically all newspapers. These seem to have chimed with readers and the entire idea seems to be accepted as dangerous. In fact I haven’t spotted anyone, not even ‘the think of the children’ charities pushing for ‘let’s just get on with it’. And so now its over to the authorities to try and convince people that they have a safe solution somewhere.

The Digital Policy Alliance

digital policy alliance logoPerhaps as part of a propaganda campaign to win over the people, parliament’s Digital Policy Alliance are just about to publish guidance on age verification policies. The alliance is a cross party group that includes, Merlin Hay, the Earl of Erroll, who made some good points about privacy concerns whilst the bill was being forced through the House of Lords.

He said that a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) numbered 1296 is due to be published on 19 March. This will set out for the age check providers what they should do and what records they keep.

The document is expected to include a discussion on the background to age verification, set out the rules in accordance with the Digital Economy Act, and give a detailed look at the technology, with annexes on anonymity and how the system should work.

However the document will carry no authority and is not set to become an official British standard. He explained:

We can’t put rules about data protection into the PAS… That is in the Data Protection Bill, he said. So we refer to them, but we can’t mandate them inside this PAS — but it’s in there as ‘you must obey the law’…

But of course Hay did not mention that Russian websites don’t have to obey British data protection law.

And next the BBFC will have a crack at reducing people’s fears

Elsewhere in the discussion, Hay suggested the British Board of Film and Internet Censorship could mandate that each site had to offer more than one age-verification provider, which would give consumers more choice.

Next the BBFC will have a crack at minimising people’s fears about age verification. It will publish its own guidance document towards the end of the month, and launch a public consultation about it.

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fans against criminalisation logoFans Against Criminalisation campaigner Paul Quigley is celebrating momentous victory for the group which has lobbied for the repeal of the disgraceful Offensive Behaviour at Football Act for the last seven years.The act was a knee jerk reaction to Celtic vs Rangers game where Celtic manager Neil Lennon was attacked on field and letter bombs were later sent to Lennon, Paul McBride QC and Trish Godman MSP.

The resulting legislation was nominally about tackling sectarianism but in reality gave the police carte-blanche powers to arrest fans for whatever they wished under the catch-all guise of offensiveness.

Paul Quigley explained:

A decision was taken to form a campaign to fight this, partly due to a deeply held collective ideological belief in the right to freedom of expression and equality before law, and partly due to the simple notion of self defence.

Fans of all clubs would be welcome to join our organisation and that we would help and campaign for all football fans who we deemed to be the subject of unjust treatment.

Fans Against Criminalisation was able to count on the support of thousands of passionate supporters of the campaign, as was evidenced by a demonstration at George Square which drew thousands of people in late 2011. In spite of this, the government seemed to assume that this would all die down in due course, and that the fan campaign would not have the capability or endurance required to give them real cause to reconsider their position.

The treatment that football fans have had to endure ever since has been appalling. The human cost of this legislation is often lost amid the political rabble rousing, among the doctored statistics and the nauseatingly disingenuous moral grandstanding. The reality of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act is this; it has ruined lives and caused serious damage in our communities.

In the face of all of this, football fans endured. In the years that followed, an incredible campaign challenged this treatment of supporters and lobbied for the repeal of this ill advised and illiberal piece of legislation. Today, the Scottish Parliament finally voted on this very question.

The Repeal Bill has passed, and this is the first time in the history of devolution that the Scottish Parliament has repealed its own legislation. This victory is historic not just for football fans, but for the country.

As a follow up. James Dornan, the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart and a candidate for deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, has decided to quit Twitter. He describes it as a cesspit of hate and bile, saying he has received abuse from football fans over his defence of the Offence Behaviour at Football Act (OBFA). His disgraceful ‘defence’ of the legislation was to try and suggest that the campaign was some sort Labour party political effort. The fans were not impressed and clearly gave him the slagging off he deserved. See more on this in article from

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manitoba logoCanada has several province based film censors but Manitoba is now set to close down its own film censor and use the ratings from another province instead.Culture Minister Cathy Cox said that she’s started the dismantling of the Manitoba Film Classification Board and replacing it with the classifications designated by Consumer Protection British Columbia.

Cox told reporters she saw no problem accepting the standards of another province, especially one with an NDP government. She that this was not about cost to the state but was concerned with censorship costs borne by distributors. She said:

This is not about cost. The distributors pay the costs of classifying films shown and sold, and video games sold in stores in Manitoba. This is making it easier for distributors. This is an opportunity to reduce our footprint and to reduce red tape.

Her staff later supplied figures that the state censors had classified 377 films in Manitoba in 2016-2017.

Film festivals would be permitted under Cox’s changes to classify their own films or use classifications provided by other jurisdictions

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Suspiria Blu-ray Suspiria is a 1977 Italian horror by Dario Argento.
With Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini and Flavio Bucci. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb US: Uncut and MPAA Unrated for:

  • 2018 Synapse Films Special Edition RA Blu-ray at US Amazon released on 13th March 2018
  • 2018 Synapse Films R1 DVD at US Amazon released on 13th March 2018


Censorship History

Cut by the BBFC for X rated 1977 cinema release. Less cut for 1990 18 rated VHS and uncut since 1998. Cut in the US for an MPAA R rating but unrated releases are uncut.

Promotional Material

Dario Argento’s Masterpiece in a Spectacular 4K Restoration!

Jessica Harper (PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, PENNIES FROM HEAVEN) stars in this horrific tale of a young student who uncovers dark and horrific secrets within the walls of a famous German dance academy.
Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA comes to home video from Synapse Films in an exclusive new 4K restoration from the original uncut, uncensored 35mm Italian camera negative with the original 4.0 English surround sound mix, for the first time EVER! Painstakingly restored over the past three years, Synapse Films has created the ultimate special edition of this horror classic with the supervision and approval of the film(s Director of Photography, Luciano Tovoli.


A new 4K restoration of the original uncut, uncensored Italian 35mm camera negative exclusively done by Synapse Films, with color correction supervised and approved by SUSPIRIA Director of Photography, Luciano Tovoli.
Original 4.0 1977 English language LCRS sound mix not heard since the theatrical release in 1977, presented in high-resolution DTS-HD MA 96kHz/24-bit audio, with newly-translated removable English SDH subtitles.
Italian 5.1 surround mix, with removable English subtitle translation.
Two audio commentaries by authors and Argento scholars, Derek Botelho, David Del Valle and Troy Howarth.
Do You Know Anything About Witches? – 30 minute SUSPIRIA visual essay written, edited and narrated by Michael Mackenzie.
Suzy in Nazi Germany – Featurette on the German locations from SUSPIRIA.
A Sigh from the Depths: 40 Years of SUSPIRIA – All-new anniversary retrospective on the making of the film and its influence on cinema.
Olga s Story – Interview with star Barbara Magnolfi.
Original theatrical trailers, TV spots and radio spots.
“International Classics” English “Breathing Letters” opening credit sequence from U.S. release.
Alternate All-English opening and closing credits sequences, playable via seamless branching.
Reversible Cover Art created by Joel Robinson.

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Omega Labyrinth Z The Video Standards Council is responsible for UK video games censorship. Normally the group rubber stamps European PEGI ratings but it retains the power to ban games. And in a rare example of usage of such powers, the group has joined Australian in banning Omega Labyrinth Z.Omega Labyrinth Z is 2017 Japanese console game by Matrix Software

Banned in Australia and the UK in 2018.


Omega Labyrinth Z is a dungeon crawler game for the PS4 and Playstation Vita. It was submitted with a provisional PEGI 16 rating for depictions of erotic or sexual nudity. The game is set at the Anberyl Girls Academy and legend has it that a holy grail exists that can grant any wish. It is hidden in one of the ancient caves that is located somewhere in the school grounds. A group of female students set out to explore the caves with the aim of finding the grail.

UK: Banned in March 2018 by the Video Standards Council

The VSC Rating Board has ruled that the video game, Omega Labyrinth Z, will not be issued a UK Certificate of Classification.

This refusal is relevant to physical product only (disc, cartridge, etc.) Under the terms of the Video Recordings Act (1984), the VSC Rating Board is required to consider the likelihood of any game causing harm to the user and, subsequently, to wider society by the way in which the game deals with and portrays images of criminal, violent or horrific behaviour, illegal drugs and human sexual activity. The grounds for this decision are as follows: – The likely harm being caused to a viewer or potential viewer, e.g. children or young people.

The game is explicit in its setting within a school environment and the majority of the characters are young girls – one child is referred to as being a first year student and is seen holding a teddy bear. The game clearly promotes the sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters. The style of the game is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18.

There is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game would conclude that the sexual activity represented normal sexual behaviour. There is a constant theme of sexual innuendo and activity throughout the game that suggests behaviour likely to normalise sexual activity towards children. As a means of reward gained by successfully navigating the game, the player has the means to sexually stimulate the female characters by using either a hand held remote device or touch screen software.

The VSC Rating Board believes this content in a game, which would have strong appeal to non-adult players, is an issue which would be unacceptable to the majority of UK consumers and, more importantly, has the potential to be significantly harmful in terms of the social and moral development of younger people in particular.

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donald trumpDonald Trump organised a private meeting with video games makers and their critics as a diversionary tactic to avoid the debate about gun control.

Republican lawmakers and moralist campaigners pressed the president at his meeting on Thursday to explore new restrictions on the video-game industry.

Some participants urged Trump to consider new regulations that would make it harder for young children to purchase those games. Others asked the president to expand his inquiry to focus on violent movies and TV shows too.

Trump himself opened the meeting by showing a montage of clips of various violent video games.

Video-game executives who attended the meeting Thursday included Robert Altman, the CEO of ZeniMax, the parent company for games such as Fallout; Strauss Zelnick, the chief executive of Take Two Interactive, which is known for Grand Theft Auto, and Michael Gallagher, the leader of the Entertainment Software Association, a Washington-focused lobbying organisation for the industry.

We discussed the numerous scientific studies establishing that there is no connection between video games and violence, First Amendment protection of video games, and how our industry’s rating system effectively helps parents make informed entertainment choices, ESA said in a statement.

The Parents Television Council Program Director Melissa Henson participated in the meeting and commented in a post-meeting statement:

Stop Media Violence What I heard in today’s meeting is that the entertainment industry is still fighting to maintain the status quo and is not ready or willing to confront the impact that media violence has on our children. But time is up for the entertainment industry to put a stop to marketing graphic, explicit, and age-inappropriate content to our children.

The video game representatives pulled out their same old talking points that have long been refuted. During the meeting, I was able to interject and say just how untrue their excuses are.

Representative Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from Missouri, said she was open to crafting legislation that would make it harder for youngsters to buy violent games. She said:

Even though I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link, as a mom and a former high school teacher, it just intuitively seems that prolonged viewing of violent nature would desensitise a young person.

The White House already has hinted at sustained, broader scrutiny still to come. A day before the meeting, a spokeswoman for Trump said the sit-down with video-game executives and their critics is the first of many with industry leaders to discuss this important issue.

  Trump’s opening gambit