Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

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iwf 2017 The Internet Watch Foundation released its Annual Report covering 2017 on April 18, 2018 The The IWF searches for and removes online child sexual abuse imagery and the report shows that more of this disturbing material is being found than ever before.Whilst the IWF concentrates on its commendable work against child abuse images it does have a wider remit to censor adult content deemed to be criminally obscene, and also to censor cartoons and other non-photographic imagery sexually depicting under 18s.

However in this annual report the IWF has announced that it no longer has any remit over adult porn. It writes:

6.4 Wider remit work

5,439 reports of alleged criminally obscene adult content were made to us. Almost all were not hosted in the UK, so they were not in our remit.

3,471 reports of alleged non-photographic images of child sexual abuse were made to us. None of these images were hosted in the UK, so they were not within our remit.

One URL depicted criminally obscene adult content hosted in the UK received from a public source.

On 1 August 2017, criminally obscene adult content hosted within the UK was removed from IWF’s remit.

Presumably that role now belongs to the new internet porn censors at the BBFC. Anyway it is surely good for the IWF to rid itself of that toxic task, so it can concentrate on its good work that is supported by more or less everyone.

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rsph logoA survey commissioned by the Royal Society for Public Health has claimed that four in five people want social media firms to be regulated to ensure they do more to protect kids’ mental health. Presumably the questions were somewhat designed to favour the wished of the campaigners.Some 45% say the sites should be self-regulated with a code of conduct but 36% want rules enforced by Government.

The Royal Society for Public Health, which surveyed 2,000 adults, warned social media can cause significant problems if left unchecked.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously claimed that social media could pose as great a threat to children’s health as smoking and obesity. And he has accused them of developing seductive products aimed at ever younger children.

The survey comes as MPs and Peers today launch an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) that will probe the effect of social media on young people’ mental health. It will hear evidence over the coming year from users, experts and industry, with the aim of drawing up practical solutions, including a proposed industry Code of Conduct. Labour MP Chris Elmore, who will chair the APPG.

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Old BaileyA businessman fighting for the right to be forgotten has won a UK High Court action against Google.The unnamed businessman who won his case was convicted 10 years ago of conspiring to intercept communications. He spent six months in jail. He as ked Google to delete online details of his conviction from Google Search but his request was turned down.

The judge, Mr Justice Mark Warby, ruled in his favour on Friday.

But he rejected a separate but similar claim made by another businessman who had committed a more serious crime. The other businessman, who lost his case, was convicted more than 10 years ago of conspiring to account falsely. He spent four years in jail.

Google said it would accept the rulings.

We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are in the public interest, it said in a statement:

We are pleased that the Court recognised our efforts in this area, and we will respect the judgements they have made in this case.’

Explaining the decisions made on Friday, the judge said one of the men had continued to mislead the public while the other had shown remorse.

But how is Google the right organisation to arbitrate on matters of justice where it is required to examine the level of remorse shown by those requesting censorship?

Read more eu.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Image: Facepalm , Brandon Grasley, CC-BYThe EU is mooting a new copyright regime for the largest market in the world, and the Commissioners who are drafting the new rules are completely captured by the entertainment industry, to the extent that they have ignored their own experts and produced a farcical Big Content wishlist that includes the most extensive internet censorship regime the world has ever seen, perpetual monopolies for the biggest players, and a ban on European creators using Creative Commons licenses to share their works.

Under the new rules, anyone who allows the public to post material will have to maintain vast databases of copyrighted works claimed by rightsholders , and any public communications that matches anything in these databases has to be blocked. These databases have been tried on much more modest scales — Youtube’s Content ID is a prominent example — and they’re a mess. Because rightsholders are free to upload anything and claim ownership of it, Content ID is a font of garbagey, sloppy, fraudulent copyright abuse: five different companies claim to own the rights to white noise ; Samsung claims to own any drawing of its phones ; Nintendo claims it owns gamers’ animated mashups ; Sony claims it owns stock footage it stole from a filmmaker whose work it had censored; the biggest music companies in the world all claim to own the rights to “Silent Night” , a rogues’ gallery of sleazy copyfraudsters claim to own NASA’s spacecraft landing footage — all in all, these systems benefit the large and the unethical at the cost of small and nimble.

That’s just for starters.

Since these filter systems are incredibly expensive to create and operate, anyone who wants to get into business competing with the companies that grew large without having to create systems like these will have to source hundreds of millions in capital before they can even enter the market. Youtube 2018 can easily afford Content ID; Youtube 2005 would have been bankrupted if they’d had to build it.

And then there’s the matter of banning Creative Commons licenses.

In order to bail out the largest newspapers in the EU, the Commission is proposing a Link Tax — a fee that search engines and sites like Boing Boing will have to pay just for the right to link to news stories on the web. This idea has been tried before in Spain and Germany and the newspapers who’d called for it quickly admitted it wasn’t working and stopped using it.

But the new, worse-than-ever Link Tax contains a new wrinkle: rightsholders will not be able to waive the right to be compensated under the Link Tax. That means that European creators — who’ve released hundreds of millions of works under Creative Commons licenses that allow for free sharing without fee or permission — will no longer be able to choose the terms of a Creative Commons license; the inalienable, unwaivable right to collect rent any time someone links to your creations will invalidate the core clause in these licenses.

Europeans can write to their MEPs and the European Commission using this joint Action Centre ; please act before it’s too late.

The European Copyright Directive was enacted in 2001 and is now woefully out of date. Thanks in large part to the work of Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, many good ideas for updating European copyright law were put forward in a report of the European Parliament in July 2015. The European Commission threw out most of these ideas, and instead released a legislative proposal in October 2016 that focused on giving new powers to publishers. That proposal was referred to several of the committees of the European Parliament, with the Parliament’s Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee taking the lead.

As the final text must also be accepted by the Council of the European Union (which can be considered as the second part of the EU’s bicameral legislature), the Council Presidency has recently been weighing in with its own “compromise” proposals (although this is something of a misnomer, as they do little to improve the Commission’s original text, and in some respects make it worse). Not to be outdone, German MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Axel Voss last month introduced a new set of his own proposals [PDF] for “compromise,” which are somehow worse still. Since Voss leads the JURI committee, this is a big problem.

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California state sealThere is no shortage of hostility towards Facebook at the moment, as a result of recent revelations about their exploitation of user data and dissemination of supposed ‘fake news’.And the Californian Government has taken this to a whole new level and come up with a tradition approach to demand that all online news in the state is censored by government approved ‘fact checkers’.

California State Senator Richard Pan introduced the bill SB1424 Internet: social media: false information: strategic plan. that requires any online communication to be run through government-approved censors fact-checkers.

This bill would require any person who operates a social media Internet Web site with a physical presence in California to develop a strategic plan to verify news stories shared on its Web site. The bill would require the plan to include, among other things, a plan to mitigate the spread of false information through news stories, the utilization of fact-checkers to verify news stories, providing outreach to social media users, and placing a warning on a news story containing false information.

Although the bill initially suggests that this would apply only social media companies, the definitions confirm that it would apply to all internet communications from individuals, and companies large and small. The scope is defined in the bill:

As used in this section, social media means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.

conservativedailynews.com notes:

The bill stands little chance of passing and, if it did, would face serious challenges in court as an infringement of The First Amendment, but it is astonishing that a legislator would even consider such a thing in America.

Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

home affairs committeeThe UK’s parliamentary Communications Committee has announced a new inquiry into internet censorship. It writes:

The Committee wishes to explore how the regulation of the internet should be improved, including through better self-regulation and governance, and whether a new regulatory framework for the internet is necessary or whether the general law of the UK is adequate. This inquiry will consider whether online platforms which mediate individuals’ use of the internet have sufficient accountability and transparency, adequate governance and provide effective behavioural standards for users.

The committee is now accepting submissions from the public and those likely to be impacted by internet censorship decisions and policy,

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MicrosoftThe US has just passed an internet censorship bill, FOSTA, that holds internet companies responsible if users use their services to facilitate sex trafficking. It sounds a laudable aim on paper, but in reality how can say Microsoft actually prevent users from using communication or storage services to support trafficking?Well the answer is there is no real way to distinguish say adverts for legal sex workers from those for illegal sex workers. So the only answer for internet companies is to censor and ban ALL communications that could possibly be related to sex.

So there have been several responses from internet companies along these lines. Small ad company Craigslist has just taken down ALL personal ads just in case sex traffickers may be lurking there. A Craigslist spokesperson explained:

Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services.

Last week, several online porn performers who use Google Drive to store and distribute their adult content files reported that the service had suddenly and without warning blocked or deleted their files, posing a threat to their income streams.

And now it seems that Microsoft is following suit for users of its internet services in the USA. Microsoft has now banned offensive language, as well as nudity and porn, from any of its services — which include Microsoft Office, XBox and even Skype.

The broad new ban was quietly inserted into Microsoft’s new Terms of Service agreement, which was posted on March 1 and which takes effect on May 1 . The new rules also give Microsoft the legal ability to review private user content and block or delete anything, including email, that contains offensive content or language.  The rules do not define exactly what would constitute offensive language.

In theory, the new ban could let Microsoft monitor, for example, private Skype chats, shutting down calls in which either participant is nude or engaged in sexual conduct.

So wait a sec: I can’t use Skype to have an adult video call with my girlfriend? I can’t use OneDrive to back up a document that says ‘fuck’ in it? asked civil liberties advocate Jonathan Corbett, in a blog post this week. If I call someone a mean name in Xbox Live, not only will they cancel my account, but also confiscate any funds I’ve deposited in my account?

denofgeek.com answers some of these queries:

Seemingly aware of the tentative nature of this policy, Microsoft included a couple of disclaimers. First off, the company notes that it cannot monitor the entire Services and will make no attempt to do so. That suggests that Microsoft is not implementing live monitoring. However, it can access stored and shared content when looking into alleged violations. This indicates that part of this policy will work off of a user report system.

Microsoft also states that it can remove or refuse to publish content for any reason and reserves the right to block delivery of a communication across services attached to this content policy. Additionally, the punishments for breaking this code of conduct now include the forfeiture of content licenses as well as Microsoft account balances associated with the account. That means that the company could theoretically remove games from your console or seize money in your Microsoft account.