Archive for the ‘BBFC’ Category

BBFC reveals new rating symbols

Posted: 12 September, 2019 in BBFC, Uncategorized
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bbfc symbols 2020 New age rating symbols come into effect for theatrical and VOD services on 31 October 2019.For packaged media, introducing the new symbols requires changes to the relevant piece of secondary legislation, the Video Recordings Act (Labelling) Regulations 2012. It is expected that the necessary changes to legislation will be made in time for the new symbols to be used on packaged media starting from 6 April 2020.

Presumably the change is basically to simplify the background so that the symbols can display better on small screens. There is also two distinct colour changes:

  • The video 12 rating changes from red to orange to match the orange 12A symbol for theatrical releases.
  • The 15 certificate changes from red to pink. This matches the Irish theatrical !5A symbol, so perhaps there is some future unification there. Many films have a joint video distribution in the UK and Ireland but for the moment the IFCO video symbols are very different.
IFCO Theatrical symbols ifco 12 15A !FCO 18 cinema
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Red Sparrow DVD The BBFC reports on its complaints received in its annual report. And 2018 saw a bumper crop (relative to previous years. The BBFC wrote:

In 2018 we received 364 complaints covering 101 films and 67 complaints covering 24 trailers. The majority of these were from people who had attended the cinema or viewed films at home. However, we also received a number of complaints inspired by news reports, online blogs and organised campaigns.

The top films attracting complaints were:

Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow attracted 64 complaints. All correspondents felt that we should have classified the film at 18 instead of 15 because of elements of violence and sexual violence in the film.

Peter Rabbit

Fifty people contacted us about Peter Rabbit, a film featuring animated rabbits and based on the stories of Beatrix Potter. Four people complained about violence and upsetting scenes but the majority complained about a scene in which the rabbits pelt their adversary, an adult man, with fruit in order to defend themselves from his attack and provoke an allergic reaction. Complainants felt that this was unacceptable at PG because it might be emulated by children.

We received complaints about the allergic reaction before the film was released in the UK in response to press coverage that started in the US. We received no complaints about this scene after the film was released.

A Northern Soul

We classified the film 15 because of around 20 uses of strong language. While the language in the film is not used aggressively or sexually, our research suggests that a significant proportion of parents are concerned about the normalisation of such language in films. The language in A Northern Soul, is used casually in conversations, across a relatively short feature (75 minutes), with no particular justification.

Three people wrote to us complaining about the 15 rating for A Northern Soul feeling a 12A would be more appropriate. We received 45 postcards protesting the 15 rating; however, these had been created and handed out to cinema goers by the filmmakers at screenings and do not provide an accurate representation of broad public opinion.

Kaala

Kaala is a Tamil-language drama which we classified 12A. 43 people emailed us to complain about the film’s release. The complaints were not about the rating of the film itself but seemed to object to the actions of the film makers. They were all worded identically and were clearly part of an organised online campaign.

Show Dogs

A police Rottweiler goes undercover at a dog show. As part of the operation he is required to let the judges inspect his genitals in a manner that is not uncommon in dog shows. The character is reluctant but is encouraged to go to his happy place to get through the experience.

Thirty-one people wrote in to us echoing claims made in blogs that the scene might lower children’s resistance to predators who wish to inappropriately touch them.

However, the scene is comic, innocent and non-sexual in nature and occurs within the fantastical context of a film about anthropomorphised canines.

In a similar vein to Peter Rabbit the complaints regarding Show Dogs predominantly stopped once the film had been released in cinemas.

Love Simon trailer

We received 18 complaints about a PG-rated trailer for the film Love, Simon. The trailer covers teenage relationships and features some implied kissing and references to being in love. All complainants took issue with the discussion of sex and teenage relationships in the trailer but 11 took particular issue with the fact that the character is gay, believing the depiction of gay relationships to be inappropriate at the PG level.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One received ten complaints with correspondents focusing on infrequent strong language at 12A and some moments of horror.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom received six complaints, chiefly regarding very young children being brought to the 12A screenings.

Venom

Six people complained about Venom, which is rated 15. Complainants were disappointed they or their children would be unable to see the film.

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bbfc annual report 2018 BBFC releases Annual Report 2018

  • Over the past year, the BBFC has received a 65% rise in content for distribution online.

  • Video on demand (VoD) continues to receive more BBFC age ratings than any other format

  • Ratings given to Cinema have risen 62% since 2008.

  • Once again, 15 was the most common classification given for UK cinema goers

The BBFC has released its Annual Report for 2018 a year that showed another significant increase in age ratings given to online content.

Over the last year the BBFC gave 5,751 age ratings to online content. This represents a 65% over 2017’s figure.

Although output from Video on Demand (VoD) providers constituted the majority of content classified by the BBFC, theatrical films still featured strongly. Since 2008 age ratings given to cinema releases have risen 62% from 639 in 2017 to 1,036 in 2018.

15 remained the most common age rating, with 392 theatrical films receiving this classification.

David Austin, BBFC Chief Executive, said:

“In a fast evolving media landscape, the BBFC’s core mission continues to be to help families and young people choose films, videos and websites that are right for them. Whenever, wherever, and however they view them. In 2018 we carried out significant research – with more than 10,000 people to help us update our classification standards. This work ensures that our standards continue to stay in line with what people across the UK consider suitable, and we found that 97% of the public believe audiences benefit from having age ratings in place.

“In 2019 we will continue to make a significant contribution to the Government’s objective of making the UK the safest place for children to be online. We look forward to the introduction of Age-verification in July which will improve child protection from exposure to pornography online.”

In addition to providing the latest age rating information on our websites, social media accounts and free app, the BBFC in 2018 continued to provide resources for children, teachers and older learners including a regular podcast, a children’s website ( cbbfc.co.uk ), case studies, classroom resources and posters.

Every film classified by the BBFC comes with detailed ratings info to help people view what’s right for themselves and their family. Ratings info is available on bbfc.co.uk and the BBFC’s free apps for tablet and mobile devices.

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bbfc age verification standard The BBFC has published a detailed standard for age verifiers to get tested against to obtain a green AV kite mark aiming to convince users that their identity data and porn browsing history is safe.I have read through the document and conclude that it is indeed a rigorous standard that I guess will be pretty tough for companies to obtain. I would say it would be almost impossible for a small or even medium size website to achieve the standard and more or less means that using an age verification service is mandatory.

The standard has lots of good stuff about physical security of data and vetting of staff access to the data.

Age verifier AVSecure commented:

We received the final documents and terms for the BBFC certification scheme for age verification providers last Friday. This has had significant input from various Government bodies including DCMS (Dept for Culture, Media & Sport), NCC Group plc (expert security and audit firm), GCHQ (UK Intelligence & Security Agency) ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) and of course the BBFC (the regulator).

The scheme appears to have very strict rules.

It is a multi-disciplined scheme which includes penetration testing, full and detailed audits, operational procedures over and above GDPR and the DPA 2018 (Data Protection Act). There are onerous reporting obligations with inspection rights attached. It is also a very costly scheme when compared to other quality standard schemes, again perhaps designed to deter the faint of heart or shallow of pocket.

Consumers will likely be advised against using any systems or methods where the prominent green AV accreditation kitemark symbol is not displayed.

 

But will the age verifier be logging your ID data and browsing history?

neblairl And the answer is very hard to pin down from the document. At first read it suggests that minimal data will be retained, but a more sceptical read, connecting a few paragraphs together suggests that the verifier will be required to keep extensive records about the users porn activity.

Maybe this is a reflection of a recent change of heart. Comments from AVSecure suggested that the BBFC/Government originally mandated a log of user activity but recently decided that keeping a log or not is down to the age verifier.

As an example of the rather evasive requirements:

8.5.9 Physical Location

Personal data relating to the physical location of a user shall not be collected as part of the age-verification process unless required for fraud prevention and detection. Personal data relating to the physical location of a user shall only be retained for as long as required for fraud prevention and detection.

Here it sounds like keeping tabs on location is optional, but another paragraph suggest otherwise:

8.4.14 Fraud Prevention and Detection

Real-time intelligent monitoring and fraud prevention and detection systems shall be used for age-verification checks completed by the age-verification provider.

Now it seems that the fraud prevention is mandatory, and so a location record is mandatory after all.

Also the use off the phrase only be retained for as long as required for fraud prevention and detection. seems a little misleading too, as in reality fraud prevention will be required for as long as the customer keeps on using it. This may as well be forever.

There are other statements that sound good at first read, but don’t really offer anything substantial:

8.5.6 Data Minimisation

Only the minimum amount of personal data required to verify a user’s age shall be collected.

But if the minimum is to provide name and address + eg a drivers licence number or a credit card number then the minimum is actually pretty much all of it. In fact there are only the porn pass methods that offer any scope for ‘truely minimal’ data collection. Perhaps the minimal data also applies to the verified mobile phone method as although the phone company probably knows your identity, then maybe they won’t need to pass it on to the age verifier.

 

What does the porn site get to know

pornhub logo The rare unequivocal and reassuring statement is

8.5.8 Sharing Results

Age-verification providers shall only share the result of an age-verification check (pass or fail) with the requesting website.

So it seems that identity details won’t be passed to the websites themselves.

However the converse is not so clear:

8.5.6 Data Minimisation

Information about the requesting website that the user has visited shall not be collected against the user’s activity.

Why add the phrase, against the user’s activity. This is worded such that information about the requesting website could indeed be collected for another reason, fraud detection maybe.

Maybe the scope for an age verifier to maintain a complete log of porn viewing is limited more by the practical requirement for a website to record a successful age verification in a cookie such that the age verifier only gets to see one interaction with each website.

No doubt we shall soon find out whether the government wants a detailed log of porn viewed, as it  will be easy to spot if a website queries the age verifier for every film you watch.
Fraud Detection

And what about all this reference to fraud detection. Presumably the BBFC/Government is a little worried that passwords and accounts will be shared by enterprising kids. But on the other hand it may make life tricky for those using shared devices, or perhaps those who suddenly move from London to New York in an instant, when in fact this is totally normal for someone using a VPN on a PC.
Wrap up

The BBFC/Government have moved on a long way from the early days when the lawmakers created the law without any real protection for porn users and the BBFC first proposed that this could be rectified by asking porn companies to voluntarilyfollow ‘best practice’ in keeping people’s data safe.

A definite improvement now, but I think I will stick to my VPN.

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VPNCompare is reporting that internet users in Britain are responding to the upcoming porn censorship regime by investigating the option to get a VPN so as to workaround most age verification requirements without handing over dangerous identity details.VPNCompare says that the number of UK visitors to its website has increased by 55% since the start date of the censorship scheme was announced. The website also sated that Google searches for VPNs had trippled. Website editor, Christopher Seward told the Independent:

We saw a 55 per cent increase in UK visitors alone compared to the same period the previous day. As the start date for the new regime draws closer, we can expect this number to rise even further and the number of VPN users in the UK is likely to go through the roof.

The UK Government has completely failed to consider the fact that VPNs can be easily used to get around blocks such as these.

Whilst the immediate assumption is that porn viewers will reach for a VPN to avoid handing over dangerous identity information, there may be another reason to take out a VPN, a lack of choice of appropriate options for age validation.

3 companies run the 6 biggest adult websites. Mindgeek owns Pornhub, RedTube and Youporn. Then there is Xhamster and finally Xvideos and xnxx are connected.

Now Mindgeek has announced that it will partner with Portes Card for age verification, which has options for identity verification, giving a age verified mobile phone number, or else buying  a voucher in a shop and showing age ID to the shop keeper (which is hopefully not copied or recorded).

Meanwhile Xhamster has announced that it is partnering with 1Account which accepts a verified mobile phone, credit card, debit card, or UK drivers licence. It does not seem to have an option for anonymous verification beyond a phone being age verified without having to show ID.

Perhaps most interestingly is that both of these age verifiers are smart phone based apps. Perhaps the only option for people without a phone is to get a VPN. I also spotted that most age verification providers that I have looked at seem to be only interested in UK cards, drivers licences or passports. I’d have thought there may be legal issues in not accepting EU equivalents. But foreigners may also be in the situation of not being able to age verify and so need a VPN.

And of course the very fact that is no age verification option common to the major porn website then it may just turn out to be an awful lot simpler just to get a VPN.

Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

arms of the british governmentjpg logo The Government has been very secretive about its progress towards the starting of internet censorship for porn in the UK. Meanwhile the appointed internet porn censor, the BBFC, has withdrawn into its shell to hide from the flak. It has uttered hardy a helpful word on the subject in the last six months, just at a time when newspapers have been printing uniformed news items based on old guesstimates of when the scheme will start.The last target date was specified months ago when DCMS minister Margot James suggested that it was intended to get the scheme going around Easter of 2019. This date was not achieved but the newspapers seem to have jumped to the conclusion that the scheme would start on 1st April 2019. The only official response to this false news is that the DCMS will now be announcing the start date shortly.

So what has been going on?

Well it seems that maybe the government realised that asking porn websites and age verification services to demand that porn users identify themselves without any real legal protection on how that data can be used is perhaps not the wisest thing to do. Jim Killock of Open Rights Group explains that the delays are due to serious concerns about privacy and data collection:

When they consulted about the shape of age verification last summer they were surprised to find that nearly everyone who wrote back to them in that consultation said this was a privacy disaster and they need to make sure people’s data doesn’t get leaked out.

Because if it does it could be that people are outed, have their relationships break down, their careers could be damaged, even for looking at legal material.

The delays have been very much to do with the fact that privacy has been considered at the last minute and they’re having to try to find some way to make these services a bit safer. It’s introduced a policy to certify some of the products as better for privacy (than others) but it’s not compulsory and anybody who chooses one of those products might find they (the companies behind the sites) opt out of the privacy scheme at some point in the future.

And there are huge commercial pressures to do this because as we know with Facebook and Google user data is extremely valuable, it tells you lots about what somebody likes or dislikes or might want or not want.

So those commercial pressures will kick in and they’ll try to start to monetise that data and all of that data if it leaked out would be very damaging to people so it should simply never be collected.

So the government has been working on a voluntary kite mark scheme to approve age verifiers that can demonstrate to an auditor they will keep user data safe. This scheme seems to be in its early stages as the audit policy was first outlines to age verifiers on 13th March 2019. AvSecure reported on Twitter:

Friday saw several AV companies meet with the BBFC & the accreditation firm, who presented the framework & details of the proposed scheme.

Whilst the scheme itself seems very deep & comprehensive, there were several questions asked that we are all awaiting answers on.

The Register reports that AgeID has already commissioned a data security audit using the information security company, the NCC Group. Perhaps that company can therefore be rapidly approved by the official auditor, whose identity seems to being kept secret.

So the implementation schedule must presumably be that the age verifiers get audited over the next couple of months and then after that the government can give websites the official 3 months notice required to give websites time to implement the now accredited age verification schemes.

The commencement date will perhaps be about 5 or 6 months from now.

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BBFC logo The BBFC has launched an innovative new industry collaboration with Netflix to move towards classifying all content on the service using BBFC age ratings.

Netflix will produce BBFC age ratings for content using a manual tagging system along with an automated rating algorithm, with the BBFC taking up an auditing role. Netflix and the BBFC will work together to make sure Netflix’s classification process produces ratings which are consistent with the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines for the UK.

It comes as new research by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and the Video Standards Council Rating Board (VSC) has revealed that almost 80% of parents are concerned about children seeing inappropriate content on video on demand or online games platforms.

The BBFC and the VSC have joined forces to respond to calls from parents and are publishing a joint set of Best Practice Guidelines to help online services deliver what UK consumers want.

The Best Practice Guidelines will help online platforms work towards greater and more consistent use of trusted age ratings online. The move is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government’s strategy to make the UK the safest place to be online.

This includes recommending the use of consistent and more comprehensive use of BBFC age labelling symbols across all Video On Demand (VOD) services, and PEGI symbols across online games services, including additional ratings info and mapping parental controls to BBFC age ratings and PEGI ratings.

The voluntary Guidelines are aimed at VOD services offering video content to UK consumers via subscription, purchase and rental, but exclude pure catch-up TV services like iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, My 5 and UKTV Player.

The research also shows that 90% of parents believe that it is important to display age ratings when downloading or streaming a film online, and 92% of parents think it’s important for video on demand platforms to show the same type of age ratings they would expect at the cinema or on DVD and Blu-ray 203 confirmed by 94% of parents saying it’s important to have consistent ratings across all video on demand platforms, rather than a variety of bespoke ratings systems.

With nine in 10 (94%) parents believing it is important to have consistent ratings across all online game platforms rather than a variety of bespoke systems, the VSC is encouraging services to join the likes of Microsoft, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo and Google in providing consumers with the nationally recognised PEGI ratings on games – bringing consistency between the offline and online worlds.

The Video Recordings Act requires that the majority of video works and video games released on physical media must be classified by the BBFC or the VSC prior to release. While there is no equivalent legal requirement that online releases must be classified, the BBFC has been working with VOD services since 2008, and the VSC has been working with online games platforms since 2003. The Best Practice Guidelines aim to build on the good work that is already happening, and both authorities are now calling for the online industry to work with them in 2019 and beyond to better protect children.

David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said:

Our research clearly shows a desire from the public to see the same trusted ratings they expect at the cinema, on DVD and on Blu-ray when they choose to watch material online. We know that it’s not just parents who want age ratings, teenagers want them too. We want to work with the industry to ensure that families are able to make the right decisions for them when watching content online.

Ian Rice, Director General of the VSC, said:

We have always believed that consumers wanted a clear, consistent and readily recognisable rating system for online video games and this research has certainly confirmed that view. While the vast majority of online game providers are compliant and apply PEGI ratings to their product, it is clear that more can be done to help consumers make an informed purchasing decision. To this end, the best practice recommendations will certainly make a valuable contribution in achieving this aim.

Digital Minister Margot James said:

Our ambition is for the UK to be the safest place to be online, which means having age ratings parents know and trust applied to all online films and video games. I welcome the innovative collaboration announced today by Netflix and the BBFC, but more needs to be done.

It is important that more of the industry takes this opportunity for voluntary action, and I encourage all video on demand and games platforms to adopt the new best practice standards set out by the BBFC and Video Standards Council.

The BBFC is looking at innovative ways to open up access to its classifications to ensure that more online video content goes live with a trusted age rating. Today the BBFC and Netflix announce a year-long self-ratings pilot which will see the online streaming service move towards in-house classification using BBFC age ratings, under licence.

Netflix will use an algorithm to apply BBFC Guideline standards to their own content, with the BBFC setting those standards and auditing ratings to ensure consistency. The goal is to work towards 100% coverage of BBFC age ratings across the platform.

Mike Hastings, Director of Editorial Creative at Netflix, said:

The BBFC is a trusted resource in the UK for providing classification information to parents and consumers and we are excited to expand our partnership with them. Our work with the BBFC allows us to ensure our members always press play on content that is right for them and their families.

David Austin added:

We are fully committed to helping families chose content that is right for them, and this partnership with Netflix will help us in our goal to do just that. By partnering with the biggest streaming service, we hope that others will follow Netflix’s lead and provide comprehensive, trusted, well understood age ratings and ratings info, consistent with film and DVD, on their UK platforms. The partnership shows how the industry are working with us to find new and innovative ways to deliver 100% age ratings for families.