Archive for the ‘Internet Blocking’ Category

Read more eu.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Italy flag When the EU voted for mandatory copyright censorship of the internet in September, Italy had a different government; the ensuing Italian elections empowered a new government, who oppose the filters.

Once states totalling 35% of the EU’s population oppose the new Copyright Directive, they can form a “blocking minority” and kill it or cause it to be substantially refactored. With the Italians opposing the Directive because of its draconian new internet rules (rules introduced at the last moment, which have been hugely controversial), the reputed opponents of the Directive have now crossed the 35% threshold, thanks to Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium and Hungary.

Unfortunately, the opponents of Article 11 (the “link tax”) and Article 13 (the copyright filters) are not united on their opposition — they have different ideas about what they would like to see done with these provisions. If they pull together, that could be the end of these provisions.

If you’re a European this form will let you contact your MEP quickly and painlessly and let them know how you feel about the proposals.

That’s where matters stand now: a growing set of countries who think copyright filters and link taxes go too far, but no agreement yet on rejecting or fixing them.

The trilogues are not a process designed to resolve such large rifts when both the EU states and the parliament are so deeply divided.

What happens now depends entirely on how the members states decide to go forward: and how hard they push for real reform of Articles 13 and 11. The balance in that discussion has changed, because Italy changed its position. Italy changed its position because Italians spoke up. If you reach out to your countries’ ministry in charge of copyright, and tell them that these Articles are a concern to you, they’ll start paying attention too. And we’ll have a chance to stop this terrible directive from becoming terrible law across Europe.

Advertisements
Read more inus.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

US Supreme Court After the recent censorship purge of over 800 independent media outlets on Facebook, the Supreme Court is now hearing a case that could have ramifications for any future attempts at similar purges.The United States Supreme Court has agreed to take a case that could change free speech on the Internet. Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702, the case that it has agreed to take, will decide if the private operator of a public access network is considered a state actor.

The case could affect how companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and YouTube are governed. If the Court were to issue a far-reaching ruling it could subject such companies to First Amendment lawsuits and force them to allow a much broader scope of free speech from its users.

DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Melendez claimed that they were fired from Manhattan Neighborhood Network for speaking critically of the network. And, though the case does not involve the Internet giants, it could create a ruling that expands the First Amendment beyond the government.

Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

elspeth howeElspeth Howe, a member of the House of Lords, has written an article in the Telegraph outlining her case that the remit for the BBFC to censor internet porn sites should be widened to include a wider range of material that she does not like.This seems to tally with other recent news that the CPS is reconsidering its views on what pornographic content should be banned from publication in Britain.

Surely these debates are related to the detailed guidelines to be used by the BBFC when either banning porn sites, or else requiring them to implement strict age verification for users. It probably explains why the Telegraph recently reported that the publication of the final guidelines has been delayed until at least the autumn.


Categories of Porn

For clarity the categories of porn being discussed are as follows:

Current Proposed
offline online offline online
Softcore 18 BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Hardcore R18 BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Beyond R18
(proposal by CPS)
banned BBFC uncut BBFC uncut BBFC uncut
Cartoon Porn
(proposal by Howe))
banned BBFC uncut banned banned
Extreme porn banned banned banned banned
Child porn banned banned banned banned
  • Softcore porn rated 18 under BBFC guidelines

    – Will be allowed subject to strict age verification

  • Vanilla hardcore porn rated R18 under current BBFC guidelines

    – Will be allowed subject to strict age verification

  • Beyond R18 hardcore porn that includes material historically banned by the CPS claiming obscenity, ie fisting, golden showers, BDSM, female ejaculation, and famously from a recent anti censorship campaign, face sitting/breath play. Such material is currently cut from R18s.

    – Such content will be allowed under the current Digital Economy Act for online porn sites
    – This category is currently banned for offline sales in the UK, but the CPS has just opened a public consultation on its proposal to legalise such content, as long as it is consensual. Presumably this is related to the government’s  overarching policy: What’s illegal offline, is illegal online.

  • Extreme Porn as banned from possession in the UK under the Dangerous Pictures Act. This content covers, bestiality, necrophilia, realistic violence likely to result in serious injury, realistic rape

    – This content is illegal to possess in the UK and any websites with such content will be banned by the BBFC regardless of age verification implementation

  • Cartoon Porn depicting under 18s

    – This content is banned from possession in the UK but will be allowed online subject to age verification requirements

  • Photographic child porn

    This is already totally illegal in the UK on all media. Any foreign websites featuring such content are probably already being blocked by ISPs using lists maintained by the IWF. The BBFC will ban anything it spots that may have slipped through the net.


‘What’s illegal offline, is illegal online’

Elspeth Howe writes:

I very much welcome part three of the Digital Economy Act 2017 which requires robust age verification checks to protect children from accessing pornography. The Government deserves congratulations for bringing forward this seminal provision, due to come into effect later this year.

The Government’s achievement, however, has been sadly undermined by amendments that it introduced in the House of Lords, about which there has been precious little public debate. I very much hope that polling that I am placing in the public domain today will facilitate a rethink.

When the Digital Economy Bill was introduced in the Lords, it proposed that legal pornography should be placed behind robust age verification checks. Not surprisingly, no accommodation for either adults or children was made for illegal pornography, which encompasses violent pornography and child sex abuse images.

As the Bill passed through the Lords, however, pressure was put on the Government to allow adults to access violent pornography, after going through age-verification checks, which in other contexts it would be illegal to supply. In the end the Government bowed to this pressure and introduced amendments so that only one category of illegal pornography will not be accessible by adults.

[When  Howe mentions violent pornography she is talking about the Beyond R18 category, not the Extreme Porn category, which will be the one category mentioned that will not be accessible to adults].

The trouble with the idea of banning Beyond R18 pornography is that Britain is out of step with the rest of the world. This category includes content that is ubiquitous in most of the major porn websites in the world. Banning so much content would be simply be impractical. So rather than banning all foreign porn, the government opted to remove the prohibition of Beyond R18 porn from the original bill.

Another category that has not hitherto come to attention is the category of cartoon porn that depicts under 18s. The original law that bans possession of this content seemed most concerned about material that was near photographic, and indeed may have been processed from real photos. However the law is of most relevance in practical terms when it covers comedic Simpsons style porn, or else Japanese anime often featuring youthful, but vaguely drawn cartoon characters in sexual scenes.

Again there would be problems of practicality of banning foreign websites from carry such content. All the major tube sites seems to have a section devoted to Hentai anime porn which edges into the category.

In July 2017, Howe introduced a bill that would put Beyond R18 and Cartoon Porn back into the list of prohibited material in the Digital Economy Act. The bill is titled the Digital Economy Act 2017 (Amendment) (Definition of Extreme Pornography) Bill and is still open, but further consideration in Parliament has stalled, presumably as the Government itself is currently addressing these issues.

The bill adds in to the list of prohibitions any content that has been refused a BBFC certificate or would be refused a certificate if it were to be submitted. This would catch both the Beyond Porn and Cartoon Porn categories.

The government is very keen on its policy mantra: What’s illegal offline, is illegal online and it seems to have addressed the issue of Beyond 18 material being illegal offline but legal online. The government is proposing to relax its own obscenity rules so that Beyond R18 material will be legalised, (with the proviso that the porn is consensual). The CPS has published a public consultation with this proposal, and it should be ready for implementation after the consultation closes on 17th October 2018.

Interestingly Howe seems to have dropped the call to ban Beyond R18 material in her latest piece, so presumably she has accepted that Beyond R18 material will soon be classifiable by the BBFC, and so not an issue for her bill.
Still to be Addressed

That still leaves the category of Cartoon Porn to be addressed. The current Digital Economy Act renders it illegal offline, but legal online. Perhaps the Government has given Howe the nod to rationalise the situation by making banning the likes of Hentai. Hence Howe is initiating a bit of propaganda to support her bill.  She writes:

The polling that I am putting in the public domain specifically addresses the non-photographic child sex abuse images and is particularly interesting because it gauges the views of MPs whose detailed consideration of the Bill came before the controversial Lords amendments were made.

According to the survey, which was conducted by ComRes on behalf of CARE, a massive 71% of MPs, rising to 76% of female MPs, stated that they did not believe it was right for the Digital Economy Act to make non-photographic child sex abuse images available online to adults after age verification checks. Only 5% of MPs disagreed.

There is an opportunity to address this as part of a review in the next 18 months, but things are too serious to wait .The Government should put matters right now by adopting my very short, but very important two-clause Digital Economy Act (Amendment) (Extreme Pornography) Bill which would restore the effect of the Government’s initial prohibition of this material.

I — along with 71 per cent of MPs — urge the Government to take action to ensure that the UK’s internet does not endorse the sexual exploitation of children.

I haven’t heard of this issue being discussed before and I can’t believe that anybody has much of an opinion on the matter. Presumably therefore, the survey presented out of the blue with the questions being worded in such a way as to get the required response. Not unusual, but surely it shows that someone is making an effort to generate an issue where one didn’t exists before. Perhaps an indication that Howe’s solution is what the authorities have decreed will happen.

Read more eu.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Poland flagThe Polish government is demanding that ISPs snitch on their customers who attempt to access websites it deems illegal.

The government wants to make the restrictions stricter for unauthorised online gambling sites and will require local ISPs to inform it about citizens’ attempts to access them. According to the Panoptykon Foundation, a digital rights watchdog, the government will compile a central registry of unauthorized websites to monitor.

According to the digital rights body, the government seeks to introduce a chief snooper that would compel data from ISPs disclosing which citizens tried to access unauthorised websites. In addition, the ISPs would have to keep the smooping requests secret from the customer.

Local organisations are unsurprisingly worried that the censorship’s expansion could turn out to be the first of many steps in an online limitation escalation.

Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Old BaileyThe UK Supreme Court has today ruled that trade mark holders are not able to compel ISPs to bear the cost of implementing orders to block websites selling counterfeit goods.Jim, Alex and Myles at the Supreme CourtOpen Rights Group acted as an intervener in this case. We argued that Internet service providers (ISPs) as innocent parties should not bear the costs of website blocking, and that this was a long-standing principle of English law.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

This case is important because if ISPs paid the costs of blocking websites, the result would be an increasing number of blocks for relatively trivial reasons and the costs would be passed to customers.

While rights holders may want websites blocked, it needs to be economically rational to ask for this.

Solicitor in the case David Allen Green said:

I am delighted to have acted, through my firm Preiskel, successfully for the Open Rights Group in their intervention.

We intervened to say that those enforcing private rights on internet should bear the costs of doing so, not others. This morning, the UK Supreme Court held unanimously that the rights holders should bear the costs.

The main party to the case was BT who opposed being forced to pay for costs incurred in blocking websites. Now rights-holders must reimburse ISPs for the costs of blocking rights-infringing material.

Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, one of five n the panel, ruled:

There is no legal basis for requiring a party to shoulder the burden of remedying an injustice if he has no legal responsibility for the infringement and is not a volunteer but is acting under the compulsion of an order of the court.

It follows that in principle the rights-holders should indemnify the ISPs against their compliance costs. Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 allows rights-holders to go to court and get a blocking order — the question in the current case is who stumps up for the costs of complying with that order?

Of course this no asks the question about who should pay for mass porn website blocking that will be needed when the BBFC porn censorship regime stats its work.

Read more inee.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

telegram logoA demonstration in Moscow against the Russian government’s effort to block the messaging app Telegram quickly morphed on Monday into a protest against President Vladimir Putin, with thousands of participants chanting against the Kremlin’s increasingly restrictive censorship regime.The key demand of the rally, with the hashtag #DigitalResistance, was that the Russian internet remain free from government censorship.

One speaker, Sergei Smirnov, editor in chief of Mediazona, an online news service , asked the crowd. Is he to blame for blocking Telegram?  The crowd responded with a resounding Yes!

Telegram is just the first step, Smirnov continued. If they block Telegram, it will be worse later. They will block everything. They want to block our future and the future of our children.

Russian authorities blocked Telegram after not being provided with decryption keys. The censors also briefly blocked thousands other websites sharing hosting facilities with Telegram in the hop of pressurising the hosts into taking down Telegram.

The censorship effort has provoked anger and frustration far beyond the habitual supporters of the political opposition, especially in the business sector, where the collateral damage continues to hurt the bottom line. There has been a flood of complaints on Twitter and elsewhere that the government broke the internet.

Read more eu.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

stop censorship in the guise of copyright logoDirective on copyright in the Digital Single Market destined to become a nightmare

OPEN LETTER IN LIGHT OF THE 27 APRIL 2018 COREPER I MEETING

Your Excellency Ambassador, cc. Deputy Ambassador,

We, the undersigned, are writing to you ahead of your COREPER discussion on the proposed Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market.

We are deeply concerned that the text proposed by the Bulgarian Presidency in no way reflects a balanced compromise, whether on substance or from the perspective of the many legitimate concerns that have been raised. Instead, it represents a major threat to the freedoms of European citizens and businesses and promises to severely harm Europe’s openness, competitiveness, innovation, science, research and education.

A broad spectrum of European stakeholders and experts, including academics, educators, NGOs representing human rights and media freedom, software developers and startups have repeatedly warned about the damage that the proposals would cause. However, these have been largely dismissed in rushed discussions taking place without national experts being present. This rushed process is all the more surprising when the European Parliament has already announced it would require more time (until June) to reach a position and is clearly adopting a more cautious approach.

If no further thought is put in the discussion, the result will be a huge gap between stated intentions and the damage that the text will actually achieve if the actual language on the table remains:

  • Article 13 (user uploads) creates a liability regime for a vast area of online platforms that negates the E-commerce Directive, against the stated will of many Member States, and without any proper assessment of its impact. It creates a new notice and takedown regime that does not require a notice. It mandates the use of filtering technologies across the board.

  • Article 11 (press publisher’s right) only contemplates creating publisher rights despite the many voices opposing it and highlighting it flaws, despite the opposition of many Member States and despite such Member States proposing several alternatives including a “presumption of transfer”.

  • Article 3 (text and data mining) cannot be limited in terms of scope of beneficiaries or purposes if the EU wants to be at the forefront of innovations such as artificial intelligence. It can also not become a voluntary provision if we want to leverage the wealth of expertise of the EU’s research community across borders.

  • Articles 4 to 9 must create an environment that enables educators, researchers, students and cultural heritage professionals to embrace the digital environment and be able to preserve, create and share knowledge and European culture. It must be clearly stated that the proposed exceptions in these Articles cannot be overridden by contractual terms or technological protection measures.

  • The interaction of these various articles has not even been the subject of a single discussion. The filters of Article 13 will cover the snippets of Article 11 whilst the limitations of Article 3 will be amplified by the rights created through Article 11, yet none of these aspects have even been assessed.

With so many legal uncertainties and collateral damages still present, this legislation is currently destined to become a nightmare when it will have to be transposed into national legislation and face the test of its legality in terms of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Bern Convention.

We hence strongly encourage you to adopt a decision-making process that is evidence-based, focussed on producing copyright rules that are fit for purpose and on avoiding unintended, damaging side effects.

Yours sincerely,

The over 145 signatories of this open letter — European and global organisations, as well as national organisations from 28 EU Member States, represent human and digital rights, media freedom, publishers, journalists, libraries, scientific and research institutions, educational institutions including universities, creator representatives, consumers, software developers, start-ups, technology businesses and Internet service providers.

EUROPE  1. Access Info Europe. 2. Allied for Startups. 3. Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER). 4. Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties). 5. Copyright for Creativity (C4C). 6. Create Refresh Campaign. 7. DIGITALEUROPE. 8. EDiMA. 9. European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA). 10. European Digital Learning Network (DLEARN). 11. European Digital Rights (EDRi). 12. European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA). 13. European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES). 14. European University Association (EUA). 15. Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU 16. Lifelong Learning Platform. 17. Public Libraries 2020 (PL2020). 18. Science Europe. 19. South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO). 20. SPARC Europe.

AUSTRIA  21. Freischreiber Österreich. 22. Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA Austria).

BELGIUM  23. Net Users’ Rights Protection Association (NURPA)

BULGARIA  24. BESCO — Bulgarian Startup Association. 25. BlueLink Foundation. 26. Bulgarian Association of Independent Artists and Animators (BAICAA). 27. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. 28. Bulgarian Library and Information Association (BLIA). 29. Creative Commons Bulgaria. 30. DIBLA. 31. Digital Republic. 32. Hamalogika. 33. Init Lab. 34. ISOC Bulgaria. 35. LawsBG. 36. Obshtestvo.bg. 37. Open Project Foundation. 38. PHOTO Forum. 39. Wikimedians of Bulgaria.  C ROATIA  40. Code for Croatia

CYPRUS  41. Startup Cyprus

CZECH R EPUBLIC  42. Alliance pro otevrene vzdelavani (Alliance for Open Education)
43. Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic. 44. Czech Fintech Association. 45. Ecumenical Academy. 46. EDUin.

DENMARK  47. Danish Association of Independent Internet Media (Prauda) E STONIA. 48. Wikimedia Eesti

FINLAND  49. Creative Commons Finland. 50. Open Knowledge Finland. 51. Wikimedia Suomi.

FRANCE  52. Abilian. 53. Alliance Libre. 54. April. 55. Aquinetic. 56. Conseil National du Logiciel Libre (CNLL). 57. France Digitale. 58. l’ASIC. 59. Ploss Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (PLOSS-RA). 60. Renaissance Numérique. 61. Syntec Numérique. 62. Tech in France. 63. Wikimédia France.

GERMANY  64. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Medieneinrichtungen an Hochschulen e.V. (AMH). 65. Bundesverband Deutsche Startups. 66. Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V. (dbv). 67. eco — Association of the Internet Industry. 68. Factory Berlin. 69. Initiative gegen ein Leistungsschutzrecht (IGEL). 70. Jade Hochschule Wilhelmshaven/Oldenburg/Elsfleth. 71. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). 72. Landesbibliothekszentrum Rheinland-Pfalz. 73. Silicon Allee. 74. Staatsbibliothek Bamberg. 75. Ubermetrics Technologies. 76. Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg). 77. University Library of Kaiserslautern (Technische Universität Kaiserslautern). 78. Verein Deutscher Bibliothekarinnen und Bibliothekare e.V. (VDB). 79. ZB MED — Information Centre for Life Sciences.

GREECE  80. Greek Free Open Source Software Society (GFOSS)

HUNGARY  81. Hungarian Civil Liberties Union. 82. ICT Association of Hungary — IVSZ. 83. K-Monitor

IRELAND  84. Technology Ireland

ITALY  85. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights. 86. Istituto Italiano per la Privacy e la Valorizzazione dei Dati. 87. Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD). 88. National Online Printing Association (ANSO).

LATVIA  89. Startin.LV (Latvian Startup Association). 90. Wikimedians of Latvia User Group.

LITHUANIA  91. Aresi Labs.

LUXEMBOURG.   92. Frënn vun der Ënn.

MALTA
93. Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning

NETHERLANDS  94. Dutch Association of Public Libraries (VOB) 95. Kennisland.

POLAND  96. Centrum Cyfrowe. 97. Coalition for Open Education (KOED). 98. Creative Commons Polska. 99. Elektroniczna BIBlioteka (EBIB Association). 100. ePan@stwo Foundation. 101. Fundacja Szkola z Klasa@ (School with Class Foundation).  102. Modern Poland Foundation.  103. Os@rodek Edukacji Informatycznej i Zastosowan@ Komputerów w Warszawie (OEIiZK). 104. Panoptykon Foundation. 105. Startup Poland. 106. ZIPSEE.

PORTUGAL  107. Associação D3 — Defesa dos Direitos Digitais (D3). 108. Associação Ensino Livre. 109. Associação Nacional para o Software Livre (ANSOL). 110. Associação para a Promoção e Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação (APDSI).

ROMANIA  111. ActiveWatch. 112. APADOR-CH (Romanian Helsinki Committee). 113. Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI) 114. Association of Producers and Dealers of IT&C equipment (APDETIC). 115. Center for Public Innovation. 116. Digital Citizens Romania. 117. Kosson.ro Initiative. 118. Mediawise Society. 119. National Association of Public Librarians and Libraries in Romania (ANBPR).

SLOVAKIA  120. Creative Commons Slovakia. 121. Slovak Alliance for Innovation Economy (SAPIE).

SLOVENIA  122. Digitas Institute. 123. Forum za digitalno dru@bo (Digital Society Forum).

SPAIN  124. Asociación de Internautas. 125. Asociación Española de Startups (Spanish Startup Association)
126. MaadiX. 127. Sugus. 128. Xnet.

SWEDEN  129. Wikimedia Sverige

UK  130. Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA). 131. Open Rights Group (ORG). 132. techUK.

GLOBAL  133. ARTICLE 19. 134. Association for Progressive Communications (APC). 135. Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT). 136. COMMUNIA Association. 137. Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA). 138. Copy-Me. 139. Creative Commons. 140. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). 141. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL). 142. Index on Censorship. 143. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR). 144. Media and Learning Association (MEDEA). 145. Open Knowledge International (OKI). 146. OpenMedia. 147. Software Heritage