Archive for the ‘EU’ Category

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ireland government logo The Irish Communications Minister Richard Bruton has scrapped plans to introduce restrictions on access to porn in a new online safety bill, saying they are not a priority.The Government said in June it would consider following a UK plan to block pornographic material until an internet user proves they are over 18. However, the British block has run into administrative problems and been delayed until later this year.

Bruton said such a measure in Ireland is not a priority in the Online Safety Bill, a draft of which he said would be published before the end of the year.

It’s not the top priority. We want to do what we committed to do, we want to have the codes of practice, he said at the Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in. We want to have the online commissioner – those are the priorities we are committed to.

An online safety commissioner will have the power to enforce the online safety code and may in some cases be able to force social media companies to remove or restrict access. The commissioner will have responsibility for ensuring that large digital media companies play their part in ensuring the code is complied with. It will also be regularly reviewed and updated.

Bruton’s bill will allow for a more comprehensive complaint procedure for users and alert the commissioner to any alleged dereliction of duty. The Government has been looking at Australia’s pursuit of improved internet safety.

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ig metall logo You’d think YouTube would be keen on supporting creators who generate content and income for the company. But Google is obviously a bit too rich to care much, and so content creators have to live with the knowledge that their livelihoods could easily be wiped out by even the most trivial of political or PC transgressions.YouTube arbitrarily bans and demonitises those from a long list of no-noes, including being on the political right, offending the easily offended, being politically incorrect, or of course saying something corporate advertisers don’t like.

Needless to say there is a long list of aggrieved creators that have an axe to grind with YouTube, and plenty more who are walking on eggshells trying to make sure that they are not the next victims.

And now they’re fighting back. An obscure ‘YouTubers union’ has joined forces with IG Metall — Germany an Europe’s largest industrial union, to form the campaigning group FairTube.

FairTube has called for the following from YouTube and given it until 23 August to engage with it, or else.

  • Publish all categories and decision criteria that affect monetization and views of videos
  • Give clear explanations for individual decisions — for example, if a video is demonetized, which parts of the video violated which criteria in the Advertiser-Friendly Content Guidelines?
  • Give YouTubers a human contact person who is qualified and authorized to explain decisions that have negative consequences for YouTubers (and fix them if they are mistaken)
  • Let YouTubers contest decisions that have negative consequences
  • Create an independent mediation board for resolving disputes (here the Ombuds Office of the Crowdsourcing Code of Conduct can offer relevant lessons)
  • Formal participation of YouTubers in important decisions, for example through a YouTuber Advisory Board

At first glance one may wonder if the union has any way to generate a little leverage over YouTube but they have been thinking up a few ideas:

  • Contesting the status of YouTube creators as self-employed, thus creating a greater duty of care on YouTube towards its creators.
  • Claiming GDPR violations due to YouTube’s refusal to give creators the data it stores about them and which it does share with advertisers.
  • Old fashioned collective action — not so much striking as spreading the word and joining the union to put collective pressure on YouTube and its own Google.

Lets hope they are on the right tracks.

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avms 2019 Requirements for Video Sharing Platforms in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is the regulatory framework governing EU-wide coordination of national legislation on all audiovisual media. The government launched a consultation on implementing the newly introduced and amended provisions in AVMSD on 30 May, which is available here .

One of the main changes to AVMSD is the extension of scope to cover video-sharing platforms (VSPs) for the first time. This extension in scope will likely capture audiovisual content on social media sites, video-sharing sites, pornography sites and live streaming services. These services are required to take appropriate measures to: protect children from harmful content; protect the general public from illegal content and content that incites violence or hatred, and; respect certain obligations around commercial communications.

The original consultation, published on 30 May, outlined the government’s intention to implement these requirements through the regulatory framework proposed in the Online Harms White Paper . However, we also indicated the possibility of an interim approach ahead of the regulatory framework coming into force to ensure we meet the transposition deadline of 20 September 2020. We now plan to take forward this interim approach and have written to stakeholders on 23 July to set out our plans and consult on them.

This open letter and consultation sent to stakeholders, therefore, aims to gather views on our interim approach for implementing requirements pertaining to VSPs through appointing Ofcom as the national regulatory authority. In particular, it asks questions regarding:

  • how to transpose the definition of VSPs into UK law, and which platforms are in the UK’s jurisdiction;

  • the regulatory framework and the regulator’s relationship with industry;

  • the appropriate measures that should be taken by platforms to protect users;

  • the information gathering powers Ofcom should have to oversee VSPs;

  • the appropriate enforcement and sanctions regime for Ofcom;

  • what form the required out of court redress mechanism should take; and

  • how to fund the extension of Ofcom’s regulatory activities from industry.

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70 years of the FSK The German film censors of the FSK started up 70 years ago. After World War II, according to the Allies, a post was supposed to replace military censorship and thus block propaganda films with National Socialist content. Politicians wanted to seize the opportunity and connect it with a state control authority for the protection of minors.Although there is no legal obligation in Germany to have films examined by the FSK, according to the Youth Protection Act, cinema and video films must be provided with an age-approval mark. That is, a film that has no FSK certificate, may only be seen or purchased by adults.

Saying that, the rules for selling 18 rated videos seem very onerous in Germany and it has led to large numbers of films being cut for the easier to retail 16 rating.

The FSK charges film distributors 1000 euro for its age rating. A movie is rated by five examiners. The odd number is important because it is decided by a simple majority. The chairman is the Permanent Representative of the Supreme State Youth Authorities, in addition to a youth protection expert, for example, from the youth welfare office, and a public representative, for example, of churches, the Central Council of Jews or the Federal Youth. Two examiners are selected by the FSK although they must be independent of the film industry.

Going self rated in 2020

Age ratings can be self applied for online films so an FSK rating is not required. In addition, the online streaming competition is rather diminishing the market for DVDs. And the declining DVD sales makes the censorship fees every more burdensome.

So to tray and reduce costs the FSK wants to start a new test procedure next year. The distributors will fill in a questionnaire with information, such as hard violence, explicit sex scenes or similar. A computer program calculates an age rating. Releases of 18+ years or for controversial/contested cases will still be consider by an FSK panel.

In addition to the cost savings, the FSK hopes with the new system to find a connection on the international market.

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Pirate Party The Pirate Party political movement owes its early success to sticking up for The Pirate Bay, following a raid in Sweden. In recent years Pirates have delivered many excellent politicians and Marcel Kolaja, one of the new MEPs, has just been elected as a Vice-President of the EU Parliament.4 Pirate MEPS were elected at the last European Election with one from Germany and three from the Czech Republic.

During the last term, the excellent Julia Reda was at the forefront of many lawmaking discussions, particularly with regard to the new Copyright Directive. While Reda recently left Parliament, the new MEPs obviously have similar ambitions.

With 426 votes, Marcel Kolaja was elected with an absolute majority in the second voting round. He will serve as one of the fourteen Vice-Presidents tasked with replacing the President as chair of the plenary if needed, as well as a variety of other tasks.

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brexit party turn their backs
Brexit party MEPs show their disrespect of EU institutions by turning their backs on the EU anthem

German politicians have proposed that people who desecrate the European flag could be faced with a prison sentence.

German politicians, in the east German state of Saxony, are now trying to use the law to force people to respect EU symbols. Saxony state’s justice minister has drafted a bill that, if passed, would mean that anyone who denigrates the EU anthem or removes, destroys, damages, or makes useless or unrecognisable the EU flag could face up to three years’ imprisonment or a hefty fine.

There is already a similar law in Germany to protect German flags and symbols and this change would extend the principle to EU equivalents

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poland government logo Poland is challenging the EU’s copyright directive in the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) on grounds of its threats to freedom of speech on the internet, Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said on Friday.

The complaint especially addresses a mechanism obliging online services to run preventive checks on user content even without suspicion of copyright infringement. Czaputowicz explained at a press conference in Warsaw:

Poland has charged the copyright directive to the CJEU, because in our opinion it creates a fundamental threat to freedom of speech on the internet. Such censorship is forbidden both by the Polish constitution and EU law. The Charter of Fundamental Rights (of the European Union – PAP) guarantees freedom of speech.

The directive is to change the way online content is published and monitored. EU members have two years to introduce the new regulations. Against the directive are Poland, Holland, Italy, Finland and Luxembourg.