Archive for the ‘UK Government Censorship’ Category

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Zulu DVD More than 12,000 people have hit out at 28 complainers who tried to get a screening of classic movie Zulu scrapped.The 28 who signed the anti-Zulu petition – accusing it of being racist – have been attacked by thousands of angry fans.

Organisers are standing by their decision to screen the beloved 1964 classic which will be shown at Folkestone’s Silver Screen Cinema on Saturday to raise aid for armed forces charity SSAFA.

A poll on this website attracted an astonishing 13,000 votes – with 92% voting in favour of showing the film.

kentonline.co.uk writes:

Whilst the film has caused some discussion in more recent times, it is important not to gloss over parts of our history that make us feel uncomfortable. Rather than censoring a subject, a viewing could form a basis for discussion about the deeper themes in the film.

Despite detractors claiming the film is racist, there are only three slight racial epithets used in the entire 130-minute-long show – and one is directed against the Irish. Another slur was quickly slapped down by another character, while the third was a soldier being called a dozy Welshman because he forgot his rifle.

The classic movie portrays the Zulu warriors as honourable combatants, whose overwhelming numbers are only narrowly defeated by the indefatigable British Empire forces.

The film has a bit of a history of being censored and banned. BBFC cuts were required for the original ‘U’ rated cinema release in 1964. Then when released in Apartheid South Africa in 1964 the film was banned for black audiences (as the government feared that its scenes of blacks killing whites might incite them to violence), apart from a few special screenings for its Zulu extras in Durban and some smaller Kwazulu towns.

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internet strategy Who is liable if a user posts copyrighted music to YouTube without authority? Is it the user or is it YouTube? The answer is of course that it is the user who would be held liable should copyright holders seek compensation. YouTube would be held responsible only if they were informed of the infringement and refused to take it down.This is the practical compromise that lets the internet work.

So what would happen if the government changed the liability laws so that YouTube was held liable for unauthorised music as soon as it was posted. There maybe millions of views before it was spotted. If YouTube were immediately liable they may have to pay millions in court judgements against them.

There is lot of blather about YouTube having magic Artificial Intelligence that can detect copyrighted music and block it before it us uploaded. But this is nonsense, music is copyrighted by default, even a piece that has never been published and is not held in any computer database.

YouTube does not have a database that contains all the licensing and authorisation, and who exactly is allowed to post copyrighted material. Even big companies lie, so how could YouTube really know what could be posted and what could not.

If the law were to be changed, and YouTube were held responsible for the copyright infringement of their posters, then the only possible outcome would be for YouTube to use its AI to detect any music at all and block all videos which contain music. The only music allowed to be published would be from the music companies themselves, and even then after providing YouTube with paperwork to prove that they had the necessary authorisation.

So when the government speaks of changes to liability law they are speaking of a massive step up in internet censorship as the likely outcome.

In fact the censorship power of such liability tweaks has been proven in the US. The recently passed FOSTA law changed liability law so that internet companies are now held liable for user posts  facilitating sex trafficking. The law was sold as a ‘tweak’ just to take action against trafficking. But it resulted in the immediate and almost total internet censorship of all user postings facilitating adult consensual sex work, and a fair amount of personal small ads and dating services as well.

The rub was that sex traffickers do not in any way specify that their sex workers have been trafficked, their adverts are exactly the same as for adult consensual sex workers. With all the artificial intelligence in the world, there is no way that internet companies can distinguish between the two.

When they are told they are liable for sex trafficking adverts, then the only possible way to comply is to ban all adverts or services that feature anything to do with sex or personal hook ups. Which is of course exactly what happened.

So when UK politicians speak of  internet liability changes and sex trafficking then they are talking about big time, large scale internet censorship.

And Theresa May said today via a government press release as reported in the Daily Mail:

Web giants such as Facebook and Twitter must automatically remove vile abuse aimed at women, Theresa May will demand today.

The Prime Minister will urge companies to utilise the same technology used to take down terrorist propaganda to remove rape threats and harassment.

Speaking at the G7 summit in Quebec, Mrs May will call on firms to do more to tackle content promoting and depicting violence against women and girls, including illegal violent pornography.

She will also demand the automatic removal of adverts that are linked to people-trafficking.

May will argue they must ensure women can use the web without fear of online rape threats, harassment, cyberstalking, blackmail or vile comments.

She will say: We know that technology plays a crucial part in advancing gender equality and empowering women and girls, but these benefits are being undermined by vile forms of online violence, abuse and harassment.

What is illegal offline is illegal online and I am calling on world leaders to take serious action to deal with this, just like we are doing in the UK with our commitment to legislate on online harms such as cyber-stalking and harassment.

In a world that is being ripped apart by identitarian intolerance of everyone else, its seems particularly unfair that men should be expected to happily put up with the fear of online threats, harassment, cyberstalking, blackmail or vile comments. Surely laws should be written so that all people are treated totally equally.

Theresa May did not say to much about liability law directly in her press release, but it is laid out pretty clearly in the government document just published, titled Government response to the internet strategy green paper [pdf]:

Taking responsibility

Platform liability and illegal harms

Online platforms need to take responsibility for the content they host. They need to proactively tackle harmful behaviours and content. Progress has been made in removing illegal content, particularly terrorist material, but more needs to be done to reduce the amount of damaging content online, legal and illegal.

We are developing options for increasing the liability online platforms have for illegal content on their services. This includes examining how we can make existing frameworks and definitions work better, as well as what the liability regime should look like in the long-run.

Terms and Conditions

Platforms use their terms and conditions to set out key information about who can use the service, what content is acceptable and what action can be taken if users don’t comply with the terms. We know that users frequently break these rules. In such circumstances, the platforms’ terms state that they can take action, for example they can remove the offending content or stop providing services to the user. However, we do not see companies proactively doing this on a routine basis. Too often companies simply do not enforce their own terms and conditions.

Government wants companies to set out clear expectations of what is acceptable on their platforms in their terms, and then enforce these rules using sanctions when necessary. By doing so, companies will be helping users understand what is and isn’t acceptable.

Clear Standards

We believe that it is right for Government to set out clear standards for social media platforms, and to hold them to account if they fail to live up to these. DCMS and Home Office will jointly work on the White Paper which will set out our proposals for forthcoming legislation. We will focus on proposals which will bring into force real protections for users that will cover both harmful and illegal content and behaviours. In parallel, we are currently
assessing legislative options to modify the online liability regime in the UK, including both the smaller changes consistent with the EU’s eCommerce directive, and the larger changes that may be possible when we leave the EU.

Worrying or what?

 

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BBFC logo Age verification has been hanging over us for several years now – and has now been put back to the end of 2018 after enforcement was originally planned to start last month.

I’m enormously encouraged by how many people took the opportunity to speak up and reply to the BBFC consultation on the new regulations .

Over 500 people submitted a response using the tool provided by the Open Rights Group , emphasising the need for age verification tech to be held to robust privacy and security standards.

I’m told that around 750 consultation responses were received by the BBFC overall, which means that a significant majority highlighted the regulatory gap between the powers of the BBFC to regulate adult websites, and the powers of the Information Commissioner to enforce data protection rules.

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matt hancockCulture Secretary Matt Hancock has issued to the following press release from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

New laws to make social media safer

New laws will be created to make sure that the UK is the safest place in the world to be online, Digital Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The move is part of a series of measures included in the government’s response to the Internet Safety Strategy green paper, published today.

The Government has been clear that much more needs to be done to tackle the full range of online harm.

Our consultation revealed users feel powerless to address safety issues online and that technology companies operate without sufficient oversight or transparency. Six in ten people said they had witnessed inappropriate or harmful content online.

The Government is already working with social media companies to protect users and while several of the tech giants have taken important and positive steps, the performance of the industry overall has been mixed.

The UK Government will therefore take the lead, working collaboratively with tech companies, children’s charities and other stakeholders to develop the detail of the new legislation.

Matt Hancock, DCMS Secretary of State said:

Internet Safety StrategyDigital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better. At the same time I have been clear that we have to address the Wild West elements of the Internet through legislation, in a way that supports innovation. We strongly support technology companies to start up and grow, and we want to work with them to keep our citizens safe.

People increasingly live their lives through online platforms so it’s more important than ever that people are safe and parents can have confidence they can keep their children from harm. The measures we’re taking forward today will help make sure children are protected online and balance the need for safety with the great freedoms the internet brings just as we have to strike this balance offline.

DCMS and Home Office will jointly work on a White Paper with other government departments, to be published later this year. This will set out legislation to be brought forward that tackles a range of both legal and illegal harms, from cyberbullying to online child sexual exploitation. The Government will continue to collaborate closely with industry on this work, to ensure it builds on progress already made.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Criminals are using the internet to further their exploitation and abuse of children, while terrorists are abusing these platforms to recruit people and incite atrocities. We need to protect our communities from these heinous crimes and vile propaganda and that is why this Government has been taking the lead on this issue.

But more needs to be done and this is why we will continue to work with the companies and the public to do everything we can to stop the misuse of these platforms. Only by working together can we defeat those who seek to do us harm.

The Government will be considering where legislation will have the strongest impact, for example whether transparency or a code of practice should be underwritten by legislation, but also a range of other options to address both legal and illegal harms.

We will work closely with industry to provide clarity on the roles and responsibilities of companies that operate online in the UK to keep users safe.

The Government will also work with regulators, platforms and advertising companies to ensure that the principles that govern advertising in traditional media — such as preventing companies targeting unsuitable advertisements at children — also apply and are enforced online.

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avsecure age verification cardAdults who want to watch online porn (or maybe by adults only products such as alcohol) will be able to buy codes from newsagents and supermarkets to prove that they are over 18 when online.One option available to the estimated 25 million Britons who regularly visit such websites will be a 16-digit code, dubbed a ‘porn pass’.

While porn viewers will still be able to verify their age using methods such as registering credit card details, the 16-digit code option would be a fully anonymous option. According to AVSecure’s the cards will be sold for £10 to anyone who looks over 18 without the need for any further identification. It doesn’t say on the website, but presumably in the case where there is doubt about a customer’s age, then they will have to show ID documents such as a passport or driving licence, but hopefully that ID will not have to be recorded anywhere.

It is hope he method will be popular among those wishing to access porn online without having to hand over personal details to X-rated sites.

The user will type in a 16 digit number into websites that belong to the AVSecure scheme. It should be popular with websites as it offers age verification to them for free (with the £10 card fee being the only source of income for the company). This is a lot better proposition for websites than most, if not all, of the other age verification companies.

AVSecure also offer an encrypted implementation via blockchain that will not allow websites to use the 16 digit number as a key to track people’s website browsing. But saying that they could still use a myriad of other standard technologies to track viewers.

The BBFC is assigned the task of deciding whether to accredit different technologies and it will be very interesting to see if they approve the AVSecure offering. It is easily the best solution to protect the safety and privacy of porn viewers, but it maybe will test the BBFC’s pragmatism to accept the most workable and safest solution for adults which is not quite fully guaranteed to protect children. Pragmatism is required as the scheme has the technical drawback of having no further checks in place once the card has been purchased. The obvious worry is that an over 18s can go around to other shops to buy several cards to pass on to their under 18 mates. Another possibility is that kids could stumble on their parent’s card and get access. Numbers shared on the web could be easily blocked if used simultaneously from different IP addresses.

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Old BaileyHigh Court judges have given the UK government six months to revise parts of its Investigatory Powers Act. The government has been given a deadline of 1 November this year to make the changes to its Snooper’s Charter.Rules governing the British surveillance system must be changed quickly because they are incompatible with European laws, said the judges.

The court decision came out of legal action by human rights group Liberty. It started its legal challenge to the Act saying clauses that allow personal data to be gathered and scrutinised violated citizens’ basic rights to privacy.

The court did not agree that the Investigatory Powers Act called for a general and indiscriminate retention of data on individuals, as Liberty claimed. However in late 2017, government ministers accepted that its Act did not align with European law which only allows data to be gathered and accessed for the purposes of tackling serious crime. By contrast, the UK law would see the data gathered and held for more mundane purposes and without significant oversight.

One proposed change to tackle the problems was to create an Office for Communications Data Authorisations that would oversee requests to data from police and other organisations.

The government said it planned to revise the law by April 2019 but Friday’s ruling means it now has only six months to complete the task.

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said the powers to grab data in the Act put sensitive information at huge risk.

Javier Ruiz, policy director at the Open Rights Group which campaigns on digital issues, said:

We are disappointed the court decided to narrowly focus on access to records but did not challenge the general and indiscriminate retention of communications data.

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wild west character
Your data’s safe with us

The Culture Secretary has vowed to end the Wild West for tech giants amid anger at claims data from Facebook users was harvested to be used by political campaigns.

Matt Hancock warned social media companies that they could be slapped with new rules and regulations to rein them in.

It comes amid fury at claims the Facebook data of around 50 million users was taken without their permission and used by Cambridge Analytica.

The firm played a key role in mapping out the behaviour of voters in the run-up to the 2016 US election and the EU referendum campaign earlier that year.

Tory MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Culture select committee, has said he wants to haul Mark Zuckerberg to Parliament to explain himself.

Hancock said:

Tech companies store the data of billions of people around the world – giving an unparalleled insight into the lives and thoughts of people. And they must do more to show they are storing the data responsibly,