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twitter 2015 logoThere was plenty of strong language flying around on Twitter in response to the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Twitter got a bit confused about who was harassing who, and ended up suspending Weinstein critic Rose McGowan for harassment. Twitter ended up being boycotted over its wrong call, and so Twitter bosses have been banging their heads together to do something.Wired has got hold of an email outline an expansion of content liable to Twitter censorship and also for more severe sanctions for errant tweeters. Twitter’s head of safety policy wrote of new measures to rolled out in the coming weeks:

Non-consensual nudity

Our definition of “non-consensual nudity” is expanding to more broadly include content like upskirt imagery, “creep shots,” and hidden camera content. Given that people appearing in this content often do not know the material exists, we will not require a report from a target in order to remove it.

While we recognize there’s an entire genre of pornography dedicated to this type of content, it’s nearly impossible for us to distinguish when this content may/may not have been produced and distributed consensually. We would rather error on the side of protecting victims and removing this type of content when we become aware of it.

Unwanted sexual advances

Pornographic content is generally permitted on Twitter, and it’s challenging to know whether or not sexually charged conversations and/or the exchange of sexual media may be wanted. To help infer whether or not a conversation is consensual, we currently rely on and take enforcement action only if/when we receive a report from a participant in the conversation.

We are going to update the Twitter Rules to make it clear that this type of behavior is unacceptable. We will continue taking enforcement action when we receive a report from someone directly involved in the conversation.

Hate symbols and imagery (new)

We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, hateful imagery, hate symbols, etc will now be considered sensitive media (similar to how we handle and enforce adult content and graphic violence). More details to come.

Violent groups (new)

We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, we will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause. More details to come here as well

Tweets that glorify violence (new)

We already take enforcement action against direct violent threats (“I’m going to kill you”), vague violent threats (“Someone should kill you”) and wishes/hopes of serious physical harm, death, or disease (“I hope someone kills you”). Moving forward, we will also take action against content that glorifies (“Praise be to for shooting up. He’s a hero!”) and/or condones (“Murdering makes sense. That way they won’t be a drain on social services”). More details to come.

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EU flagArticle 13: Monitoring and filtering of internet content is unacceptable. Index on Censorship joined with 56 other NGOs to call for the deletion of Article 13 from the proposal on the Digital Single Market, which includes obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens’ fundamental rights.

Dear President Juncker,
Dear President Tajani,
Dear President Tusk,
Dear Prime Minister Ratas,
Dear Prime Minister Borissov,
Dear Ministers,
Dear MEP Voss, MEP Boni

The undersigned stakeholders represent fundamental rights organisations.

Fundamental rights, justice and the rule of law are intrinsically linked and constitute core values on which the EU is founded. Any attempt to disregard these values undermines the mutual trust between member states required for the EU to function. Any such attempt would also undermine the commitments made by the European Union and national governments to their citizens.

Article 13 of the proposal on Copyright in the Digital Single Market include obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens’ fundamental rights.

Article 13 introduces new obligations on internet service providers that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms or even creative writing websites, including obligations to filter uploads to their services. Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business.

Article 13 contradicts existing rules and the case law of the Court of Justice. The Directive of Electronic Commerce ( 2000/31/EC) regulates the liability for those internet companies that host content on behalf of their users. According to the existing rules, there is an obligation to remove any content that breaches copyright rules, once this has been notified to the provider.

Article 13 would force these companies to actively monitor their users’ content, which contradicts the ‘no general obligation to monitor’ rules in the Electronic Commerce Directive. The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended ( C 70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10). Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

In particular, the requirement to filter content in this way would violate the freedom of expression set out in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. If internet companies are required to apply filtering mechanisms in order to avoid possible liability, they will. This will lead to excessive filtering and deletion of content and limit the freedom to impart information on the one hand, and the freedom to receive information on the other.

If EU legislation conflicts with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, national constitutional courts are likely to be tempted to disapply it and we can expect such a rule to be annulled by the Court of Justice. This is what happened with the Data Retention Directive (2006/24/EC), when EU legislators ignored compatibility problems with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In 2014, the Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive invalid because it violated the Charter.

Taking into consideration these arguments, we ask the relevant policy-makers to delete Article 13.

European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Access Info
ActiveWatch
Article 19
Associação D3 — Defesa dos Direitos Digitais
Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL)
Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)
Association of the Defence of Human Rights in Romania (APADOR)
Associazione Antigone
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)
Bits of Freedom (BoF)
BlueLink Foundation
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)
Centre for Peace Studies
Centrum Cyfrowe
Coalizione Italiana Liberta@ e Diritti Civili (CILD)
Code for Croatia
COMMUNIA
Culture Action Europe
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
epicenter.works
Estonian Human Rights Centre
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Frënn vun der Ënn
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
Human Rights Monitoring Institute
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Index on Censorship
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
Internautas
JUMEN
Justice & Peace
La Quadrature du Net
Media Development Centre
Miklos Haraszti (Former OSCE Media Representative)
Modern Poland Foundation
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
One World Platform
Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
Open Rights Group (ORG)
OpenMedia
Panoptykon
Plataforma en Defensa de la Libertad de Información (PDLI)
Reporters without Borders (RSF)
Rights International Spain
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
South East European Network for Professionalization of Media (SEENPM)
Statewatch
The Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia (RTKNS)
Xnet

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return of kings logo The BBFC arbitrates on website blocking algorithms used by mobile phone companies. If there is a dispute over the censorship decisions made by the mobile companies, then the BBFC decides whether websites should be 18 rated or not.returnofkings.com is a rather strident supporter of the men’s rights movement. It is outspoken and totally politically incorrect, but in a quick survey I didn’t spot anything that described or promoted sexual violence. There’s probably something somewhere, but the initial impression is dominated by the unPC language and ideas.

The BBFC wrote:

Issue

A mobile network operator contacted the BBFC for advice about the suitability of the website for people under 18, following a complaint from a member of the public that the site had been placed behind adult filters despite containing no material that in the complainant’s opinion would cause access to be restricted to adults only.

Adjudication

We noted that it was a news/blog site with sections containing various strong sexual descriptions, including descriptions and promotion of violent sex. We also found the website contained very strong language at a number of points. On that basis we were satisfied that the website contained material we would classify 18.

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privateinternetaccess logo The BBFC arbitrates on website blocking algorithms used by mobile phone companies. If there is a dispute over the censorship decisions made by the mobile companies, then the BBFC decides whether websites should be 18 rated or not.In August 2017, the BBFC were asked to consider a request to unblock the website privateinternetaccess.com which sells VPN services used to work around internet website blocking. The BBFC explained:

Issue

mobile network operator contacted the BBFC for advice about the suitability of the website for people under 18, following a complaint from the site owner that it had been placed behind adult filters despite containing no material that in the complainant’s opinion would cause access to be restricted to adults only.

Adjudication

The BBFC viewed the site on 31st August 2017.We noted that it was a website offering a paid-for VPN service. The site offered information on how to subscribe to the service, a description of the features offered by the service, client support services and a contacts page. While the BBFC is aware that VPNs can be used to enable illegal activity and to avoid detection when a criminal offence is being committed, they are not themselves illegal under UK law. In addition, the website contained no overt references to illegal activity – for example, it does not include instructions on how to use a VPN to commit an offence or promote the use of the service in order to avoid detection when committing an offence. As such, we found no content which we would classify 18.

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heist tightsBack in 2016, after a bit of a hoo-hah about a ‘beach body ready’ advert, London Mayor Sadiq Khan pressurised Transport For London (TfL) into introducing a PC ban for all adverts which didn’t adhere to the notion of ‘body positivity’.And in the latest example of extreme PC censorship, Heist, a company which sells up-market tights, recently revealed that TfL forced it to cover-up a woman’s naked back with a bandeau top in one of its adverts on the tube.

A representative from Exterion Media, the company which works on behalf of TfL and enforces its policy, told Heist:

Whilst I know this is only showing a bare back, it still depicts a ‘topless model. If we could add a boob tube around the back I think this would be passed.’

It also looks as if the tights were photoshopped to darken them a little to hide a rather sharply outlined bottom.

… Read the critical comment in article from blogs.spectator.co.uk by Ella Whelan.

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Poster Kingsman the Golden Circle 2017 Matthew Vaughn Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a 2017 UK / USA action comedy adventure by Matthew Vaughn.
Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. IMDb

When the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy…

Cambodia has banned the movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle over its alleged negative portrayal of the country. Bok Borak, from the Ministry of Censorship Culture told The Phnom Penh Post that the film’s clear reference to Cambodia as a place where villains are based and make trouble for the world as a major point of concern.

The film chronicles British and American spy organisations teaming up in search of the secret base of a drug lord. Once they find the base, which is a temple surrounded by jungles in Cambodia, a showdown between the two sides ensues.

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patricia hodgsonThe chairman of the media censor Ofcom has said she believes internet businesses such as Google and Facebook are publishers, and so should be regulated by the state.Patricia Hodgson also revealed that the board of Ofcom discussed how the internet could be regulated in the future at a strategy day last week, although she said this was ultimately a matter for the government.

Hodgson was speaking to MPs at a hearing of the digital, culture, media and sport committee. Asked about the rise of fake news and whether internet companies should face greater regulation, Hodgson said:

Those particular distribution systems [Facebook, Google, Twitter etc] are not within Ofcom’s responsibility but we feel very strongly about the integrity of news in this country and we are totally supportive of steps that should and need to be taken to improve matters.

My personal view is I see this as an issue that is finally being grasped — certainly within the EU, certainly within this country — and to my amazement and interest, being asked in the United States as a result of the potential Russian scandals. My personal view is that they are publishers but that is only my personal view, that is not an Ofcom view. As I said, Ofcom is simply concerned about the integrity of news and very supportive of the debate and the steps that are being taken.

Theresa May’s spokesman said Hodgson’s comments were a matter for her as an independent regulator, but indicated that ministers were sympathetic.

Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, said she was wary of regulating internet companies. We feel strongly that the platforms as publishers have got more responsibility to ensure the right content, she said. I don’t think it’s a question of regulation, which I think has a fuzzy boundary with censorship, but I think we feel strongly that the platforms ought to be doing more to ensure their content can be trusted.