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european parliament 2018 logo The European Parliament has approved a draft version of new EU internet censorship law targeting terrorist content.In particular the MEPs approved the imposition of a one-hour deadline to remove content marked for censorship by various national organisations. However the MEPs did not approve a key section of the law requiring internet companies to pre-process and censor terrorsit content prior to upload.

A European Commission official told the BBC changes made to the text by parliament made the law ineffective. The Commission will now try to restore the pre-censorship requirement with the new parliament when it is elected.

The law would affect social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which could face fines of up to 4% of their annual global turnover. What does the law say?

In amendments, the European Parliament said websites would not be forced to monitor the information they transmit or store, nor have to actively seek facts indicating illegal activity.  It said the competent authority should give the website information on the procedures and deadlines 12 hours before the agreed one-hour deadline the first time an order is issued.

In February, German MEP Julia Reda of the European Pirate Party said the legislation risked the surrender of our fundamental freedoms [and] undermines our liberal democracy. Ms Reda welcomed the changes brought by the European Parliament but said the one-hour deadline was unworkable for platforms run by individual or small providers.

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bbfc av graphic logo The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.It means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over.

Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.

Minister for Digital Margot James said that she wanted the UK to be the most censored place in the world to b eonline:

Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.

Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns and is clear that age-verification arrangements should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition to the requirement for all age-verification providers to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, the BBFC have created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of AV providers. The AVC has been developed in cooperation with industry, with input from government.

Certified age-verification solutions which offer these robust data protection conditions will be certified following an independent assessment and will carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol. Details will also be published on the BBFC’s age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.com so consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.

BBFC Chief Executive David Austin said:

The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a ground breaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.

On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol.

The change in law is part of the Government’s commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, especially for children. It follows last week’s publication of the Online Harms White Paper which set out clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe online, how these responsibilities should be met and what would happen if they are not.

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directive adopted The EU Council of Ministers has approved the Copyright Directive, which includes the link tax and censorship machines. The legislation was voted through by a majority of EU ministers despite noble opposition from Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Sweden.As explained by Julia Reda MEP, a majority of 55% of Member States, representing 65% of the population, was required to adopt the legislation. That was easily achieved with 71.26% in favor, so the Copyright Directive will now pass into law.

As the image above shows, several countries voted against adoption, including Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland, and Sweden. Belgium, Estonia, and Slovenia absta ined.

But in the final picture that just wasn’t enough, with both Germany and the UK voting in favor, the Copyright Directive is now adopted.

EU member states will now have two years to implement the law, which requires platforms like YouTube to sign licensing agreements with creators in order to use their content. If that is not possible, they will have to ensure that infringing content uploaded by users is taken down and not re-uploaded to their services.

The entertainment lobby will not stop here, over the next two years, they will push for national implementations that ignore users’ fundamental rights, comments Julia Reda:

It will be more important than ever for civil society to keep up the pressure in the Member States!

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ico censorship proposal This is the biggest censorship event of the year. It is going destroy the livelihoods of many. It is framed as if it were targeted at Facebook and the like, to sort out their abuse of user data, particularly for kids.However the kicker is that the regulations will equally apply to all UK accessed websites that earn at least earn some money and process user data in some way or other.  Even small websites will then be required to default to treating all their readers as children and only allow more meaningful interaction with them if they verify themselves as adults. The default kids-only mode bans likes, comments, suggestions, targeted advertising etc, even for non adult content.

Furthermore the ICO expects websites to formally comply with the censorship rules using market researchers, lawyers, data protection officers, expert consultants, risk assessors and all the sort of people that cost a grand a day.

Of course only the biggest players will be able to afford the required level of red tape and instead of hitting back at Facebook, Google, Amazon and co for misusing data, they will further add to their monopoly position as they will be the only companies big enough to jump over the government’s child protection hurdles.

Another dark day for British internet users and businesses.

The ICO write in a press release

Today we’re setting out the standards expected of those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children, when they process their personal data.

Parents worry about a lot of things. Are their children eating too much sugar, getting enough exercise or doing well at school. Are they happy?

In this digital age, they also worry about whether their children are protected online. You can log on to any news story, any day to see just how children are being affected by what they can access from the tiny computers in their pockets.

Last week the Government published its white paper covering online harms.

Its proposals reflect people’s growing mistrust of social media and online services. While we can all benefit from these services, we are also increasingly questioning how much control we have over what we see and how our information is used.

There has to be a balancing act: protecting people online while embracing the opportunities that digital innovation brings.

And when it comes to children, that’s more important than ever. In an age when children learn how to use a tablet before they can ride a bike, making sure they have the freedom to play, learn and explore in the digital world is of paramount importance.

The answer is not to protect children from the digital world, but to protect them within it.

So today we’re setting out the standards expected of those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children, when they process their personal data. Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services has been published for consultation.

When finalised, it will be the first of its kind and set an international benchmark.

It will leave online service providers in no doubt about what is expected of them when it comes to looking after children’s personal data. It will help create an open, transparent and protected place for children when they are online.

Organisations should follow the code and demonstrate that their services use children’s data fairly and in compliance with data protection law. Those that don’t, could face enforcement action including a fine or an order to stop processing data.

Introduced by the Data Protection Act 2018, the code sets out 16 standards of age appropriate design for online services like apps, connected toys, social media platforms, online games, educational websites and streaming services, when they process children’s personal data. It’s not restricted to services specifically directed at children.

The code says that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration when designing and developing online services. It says that privacy must be built in and not bolted on.

Settings must be “high privacy” by default (unless there’s a compelling reason not to); only the minimum amount of personal data should be collected and retained; children’s data should not usually be shared; geolocation services should be switched off by default. Nudge techniques should not be used to encourage children to provide unnecessary personal data, weaken or turn off their privacy settings or keep on using the service. It also addresses issues of parental control and profiling.

The code is out for consultation until 31 May. We will draft a final version to be laid before Parliament and we expect it to come into effect before the end of the year.

Our Code of Practice is a significant step, but it’s just part of the solution to online harms. We see our work as complementary to the current initiatives on online harms, and look forward to participating in discussions regarding the Government’s white paper.

The proposals are now open for public consultation:

The Information Commissioner is seeking feedback on her draft code of practice Age appropriate design — a code of practice for online services likely to be accessed by children (the code).

The code will provide guidance on the design standards that the Commissioner will expect providers of online ‘Information Society Services’ (ISS), which process personal data and are likely to be accessed by children, to meet.

The code is now out for public consultation and will remain open until 31 May 2019. The Information Commissioner welcomes feedback on the specific questions set out below.

You can respond to this consultation via our online survey , or you can download the document below and email to ageappropriatedesign@ico.org.uk .

lternatively, print off the document and post to:

Age appropriate design code consultation
Policy Engagement Department
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

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web user The legislators behind the Digital Economy Act couldn’t be bothered to include any provisions for websites and age verifiers to keep the identity and browsing history of porn users safe. It has now started to dawn on the authorities that this was a mistake. They are currently implementing a voluntary kitemark scheme to try and assure users that porn website’s and age verifier’s claims of keeping data safe can be borne out.It is hardly surprising that significant numbers of people are likely to be interested in avoiding having to register their identity details before being able to access porn.

It seems obvious that information about VPNs and Tor will therefore be readily circulated amongst any online community with an interest in keeping safe. But perhaps it is a little bit of a shock to see it is such large letters in a mainstream magazine on the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents.

And perhaps anther thought is that once the BBFC starting ISPs to block non-compliant websites then circumvention will be the only way see your blocked favourite websites. So people stupidly signing up to age verification will have less access to porn and a worse service than those that circumvent it.

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tory exit 1 The Daily Mail writes:

Totalitarian-style new online code that could block websites and fine them 2£20million for harmful content will not limit press freedom, Culture Secretary promises

Government proposals have sparked fears that they could backfire and turn Britain into the first Western nation to adopt the kind of censorship usually associated with totalitarian regimes.

Former culture secretary John Whittingdale drew parallels with China, Russia and North Korea. Matthew Lesh of the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think-tank, branded the white paper a historic attack on freedom of speech.

[However] draconian laws designed to tame the web giants will not limit press freedom, the Culture Secretary said yesterday.

In a letter to the Society of Editors, Jeremy Wright vowed that journalistic or editorial content would not be affected by the proposals.

And he reassured free speech advocates by saying there would be safeguards to protect the role of the Press.

But as for the safeguarding the free speech rights of ordinary British internet users, he more or less told them they could fuck off!

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macallan flying poster A TV ad, video on demand (VOD) ad and a paid-for ad on Instagram for Macallan whisky, seen in December 2018:

  • a. The TV ad featured a man leaping off a cliff and tumbling towards the ground. As he fell, feathers started sprouting out of his arms and he began to grow wings. On-screen text stated Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?. As he approached the ground he disappeared from view behind a mountainside and then reappeared after he had pulled out of the nosedive and started to fly upwards now that his wings were fully grown. An end-frame featured text stating The Macallan. Make the call which was accompanied by an image of the whisky product in a glass.

  • b. The VOD ad, seen on the ITV hub, was a longer version of ad (a), but featured similar imagery and on-screen text. Unlike ad (a), that ad did not feature an image of the whisky product.

  • c. The paid-for ad on Instagram featured a video that was identical to ad (b). Issue

Six complainants challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and linked alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.

Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan explained that the line Make The Call was used globally to describe the brand’s philosophy. It was used in relation to the decisions that the brand had made in its own history, and was also relevant to the audience’s decisions made in their own lives. They said the ads featured a fantastical story about a man who took a big decision (i.e. made a call), found it difficult along the way, but was eventually rewarded. They believed the treatment of the story was mystical, almost mythical, and was clearly removed from the real world.

In relation to ad (a), Clearcast explained that they had considered the daring and toughness Code rule when clearing the ad, and had decided that the treatment was fantastical enough to be acceptable.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that the opening scene in all versions of the ad featured the man running and jumping off a cliff, and considered that could be seen as being reminiscent of the extreme sport of base-jumping. We noted that at that point in the ads, there was no suggestion that the male character had any super-human attributes or powers, or that he was part of a mythical world; we considered the scenery featured was a typical mountainous landscape. We noted that in ads (b) and (c) the character was seen peering over the edge of the cliff and there was a close-up of him clenching his fists. We considered that gave the impression that he was nervous about jumping and was building up the courage to do so. In that context, we considered that the act of jumping off the cliff was very dangerous, potentially fatal, and consisted of extreme risk-taking behaviour. That impression was compounded by the text Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?.

Whilst we acknowledged that some elements of the ad were fantastical, such as the distance the man fell through the clouds, and the sprouting of wings which enabled him to fly away instead of hitting the ground, we considered, nevertheless, that the central message of the ad, which was explicitly highlighted through the tagline Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?, was one of promoting risky or daring behaviour to reap possible rewards. Although the character was not seen consuming alcohol at any point, we considered the ads made a clear association between an alcoholic product and potentially very dangerous, daring behaviour and concluded that they were irresponsible.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan to ensure in future their ads did not link alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.