Archive for the ‘Internet Censorship’ Category

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bbfc av graphic logo The UK will become the first country in the world to bring in age-verification for online pornography when the measures come into force on 15 July 2019.It means that commercial providers of online pornography will be required by law to carry out robust age-verification checks on users, to ensure that they are 18 or over.

Websites that fail to implement age-verification technology face having payment services withdrawn or being blocked for UK users.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the new laws. They have confirmed that they will begin enforcement on 15 July, following an implementation period to allow websites time to comply with the new standards.

Minister for Digital Margot James said that she wanted the UK to be the most censored place in the world to b eonline:

Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online. The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first, and we’ve taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content. We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.

Government has listened carefully to privacy concerns and is clear that age-verification arrangements should only be concerned with verifying age, not identity. In addition to the requirement for all age-verification providers to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, the BBFC have created a voluntary certification scheme, the Age-verification Certificate (AVC), which will assess the data security standards of AV providers. The AVC has been developed in cooperation with industry, with input from government.

Certified age-verification solutions which offer these robust data protection conditions will be certified following an independent assessment and will carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol. Details will also be published on the BBFC’s age-verification website, ageverificationregulator.com so consumers can make an informed choice between age-verification providers.

BBFC Chief Executive David Austin said:

The introduction of age-verification to restrict access to commercial pornographic websites to adults is a ground breaking child protection measure. Age-verification will help prevent children from accessing pornographic content online and means the UK is leading the way in internet safety.

On entry into force, consumers will be able to identify that an age-verification provider has met rigorous security and data checks if they carry the BBFC’s new green ‘AV’ symbol.

The change in law is part of the Government’s commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, especially for children. It follows last week’s publication of the Online Harms White Paper which set out clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe online, how these responsibilities should be met and what would happen if they are not.

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ico censorship proposal This is the biggest censorship event of the year. It is going destroy the livelihoods of many. It is framed as if it were targeted at Facebook and the like, to sort out their abuse of user data, particularly for kids.However the kicker is that the regulations will equally apply to all UK accessed websites that earn at least earn some money and process user data in some way or other.  Even small websites will then be required to default to treating all their readers as children and only allow more meaningful interaction with them if they verify themselves as adults. The default kids-only mode bans likes, comments, suggestions, targeted advertising etc, even for non adult content.

Furthermore the ICO expects websites to formally comply with the censorship rules using market researchers, lawyers, data protection officers, expert consultants, risk assessors and all the sort of people that cost a grand a day.

Of course only the biggest players will be able to afford the required level of red tape and instead of hitting back at Facebook, Google, Amazon and co for misusing data, they will further add to their monopoly position as they will be the only companies big enough to jump over the government’s child protection hurdles.

Another dark day for British internet users and businesses.

The ICO write in a press release

Today we’re setting out the standards expected of those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children, when they process their personal data.

Parents worry about a lot of things. Are their children eating too much sugar, getting enough exercise or doing well at school. Are they happy?

In this digital age, they also worry about whether their children are protected online. You can log on to any news story, any day to see just how children are being affected by what they can access from the tiny computers in their pockets.

Last week the Government published its white paper covering online harms.

Its proposals reflect people’s growing mistrust of social media and online services. While we can all benefit from these services, we are also increasingly questioning how much control we have over what we see and how our information is used.

There has to be a balancing act: protecting people online while embracing the opportunities that digital innovation brings.

And when it comes to children, that’s more important than ever. In an age when children learn how to use a tablet before they can ride a bike, making sure they have the freedom to play, learn and explore in the digital world is of paramount importance.

The answer is not to protect children from the digital world, but to protect them within it.

So today we’re setting out the standards expected of those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children, when they process their personal data. Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services has been published for consultation.

When finalised, it will be the first of its kind and set an international benchmark.

It will leave online service providers in no doubt about what is expected of them when it comes to looking after children’s personal data. It will help create an open, transparent and protected place for children when they are online.

Organisations should follow the code and demonstrate that their services use children’s data fairly and in compliance with data protection law. Those that don’t, could face enforcement action including a fine or an order to stop processing data.

Introduced by the Data Protection Act 2018, the code sets out 16 standards of age appropriate design for online services like apps, connected toys, social media platforms, online games, educational websites and streaming services, when they process children’s personal data. It’s not restricted to services specifically directed at children.

The code says that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration when designing and developing online services. It says that privacy must be built in and not bolted on.

Settings must be “high privacy” by default (unless there’s a compelling reason not to); only the minimum amount of personal data should be collected and retained; children’s data should not usually be shared; geolocation services should be switched off by default. Nudge techniques should not be used to encourage children to provide unnecessary personal data, weaken or turn off their privacy settings or keep on using the service. It also addresses issues of parental control and profiling.

The code is out for consultation until 31 May. We will draft a final version to be laid before Parliament and we expect it to come into effect before the end of the year.

Our Code of Practice is a significant step, but it’s just part of the solution to online harms. We see our work as complementary to the current initiatives on online harms, and look forward to participating in discussions regarding the Government’s white paper.

The proposals are now open for public consultation:

The Information Commissioner is seeking feedback on her draft code of practice Age appropriate design — a code of practice for online services likely to be accessed by children (the code).

The code will provide guidance on the design standards that the Commissioner will expect providers of online ‘Information Society Services’ (ISS), which process personal data and are likely to be accessed by children, to meet.

The code is now out for public consultation and will remain open until 31 May 2019. The Information Commissioner welcomes feedback on the specific questions set out below.

You can respond to this consultation via our online survey , or you can download the document below and email to ageappropriatedesign@ico.org.uk .

lternatively, print off the document and post to:

Age appropriate design code consultation
Policy Engagement Department
Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

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web user The legislators behind the Digital Economy Act couldn’t be bothered to include any provisions for websites and age verifiers to keep the identity and browsing history of porn users safe. It has now started to dawn on the authorities that this was a mistake. They are currently implementing a voluntary kitemark scheme to try and assure users that porn website’s and age verifier’s claims of keeping data safe can be borne out.It is hardly surprising that significant numbers of people are likely to be interested in avoiding having to register their identity details before being able to access porn.

It seems obvious that information about VPNs and Tor will therefore be readily circulated amongst any online community with an interest in keeping safe. But perhaps it is a little bit of a shock to see it is such large letters in a mainstream magazine on the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents.

And perhaps anther thought is that once the BBFC starting ISPs to block non-compliant websites then circumvention will be the only way see your blocked favourite websites. So people stupidly signing up to age verification will have less access to porn and a worse service than those that circumvent it.

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tory exit 1 The Daily Mail writes:

Totalitarian-style new online code that could block websites and fine them 2£20million for harmful content will not limit press freedom, Culture Secretary promises

Government proposals have sparked fears that they could backfire and turn Britain into the first Western nation to adopt the kind of censorship usually associated with totalitarian regimes.

Former culture secretary John Whittingdale drew parallels with China, Russia and North Korea. Matthew Lesh of the Adam Smith Institute, a free market think-tank, branded the white paper a historic attack on freedom of speech.

[However] draconian laws designed to tame the web giants will not limit press freedom, the Culture Secretary said yesterday.

In a letter to the Society of Editors, Jeremy Wright vowed that journalistic or editorial content would not be affected by the proposals.

And he reassured free speech advocates by saying there would be safeguards to protect the role of the Press.

But as for the safeguarding the free speech rights of ordinary British internet users, he more or less told them they could fuck off!

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  online harms The Government writes:

In the first online safety laws of their kind, social media companies and tech firms will be legally required to protect their users and face tough penalties if they do not comply.

As part of the Online Harms White Paper, a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Home Office, a new independent regulator will be introduced to ensure companies meet their responsibilities.

This will include a mandatory ‘duty of care’, which will require companies to take reasonable steps to keep their users safe and tackle illegal and harmful activity on their services. The regulator will have effective enforcement tools, and we are consulting on powers to issue substantial fines, block access to sites and potentially to impose liability on individual members of senior management.

A range of harms will be tackled as part of the Online Harms White Paper , including inciting violence and violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material.

There will be stringent requirements for companies to take even tougher action to ensure they tackle terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse content.

The new proposed laws will apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user generated content or interact with each other online. This means a wide range of companies of all sizes are in scope, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines.

A regulator will be appointed to enforce the new framework. The Government is now consulting on whether the regulator should be a new or existing body. The regulator will be funded by industry in the medium term, and the Government is exploring options such as an industry levy to put it on a sustainable footing.

A 12 week consultation on the proposals has also been launched today. Once this concludes we will then set out the action we will take in developing our final proposals for legislation.

Tough new measures set out in the White Paper include:

  • A new statutory ‘duty of care’ to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services.

  • Further stringent requirements on tech companies to ensure child abuse and terrorist content is not disseminated online.

  • Giving a regulator the power to force social media platforms and others to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address this.

  • Making companies respond to users’ complaints, and act to address them quickly.

  • Codes of practice, issued by the regulator, which could include measures such as requirements to minimise the spread of misleading and harmful disinformation with dedicated fact checkers, particularly during election periods.

  • A new “Safety by Design” framework to help companies incorporate online safety features in new apps and platforms from the start.

  • A media literacy strategy to equip people with the knowledge to recognise and deal with a range of deceptive and malicious behaviours online, including catfishing, grooming and extremism.

The UK remains committed to a free, open and secure Internet. The regulator will have a legal duty to pay due regard to innovation, and to protect users’ rights online, being particularly mindful to not infringe privacy and freedom of expression.

Recognising that the Internet can be a tremendous force for good, and that technology will be an integral part of any solution, the new plans have been designed to promote a culture of continuous improvement among companies. The new regime will ensure that online firms are incentivised to develop and share new technological solutions, like Google’s “Family Link” and Apple’s Screen Time app, rather than just complying with minimum requirements. Government has balanced the clear need for tough regulation with its ambition for the UK to be the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business, and the new regulatory framework will provide strong protection for our citizens while driving innovation by not placing an impossible burden on smaller companies.

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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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The Guardian The Observer today published an article generally supporting the upcoming porn censorship and age verification regime. It did have one interesting point to note though:

Brexit’s impact on the pornography industry has gone unnoticed. But the chaos caused by the UK’s disorderly exit from the European Union even stretches into the grubbier parts of cyberspace.

A new law forcing pornography users to prove that they are adults was supposed to be introduced early next month. But sources told the Observer that it may not be unveiled until after the Brexit impasse is resolved as the government, desperate for other things to talk about, believes it will be a good news story that will play well with the public when it is eventually unveiled.