Archive for the ‘Internet Censorship’ Category

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Raynic X The Premier League has secured a court order to help tackle rights-infringing video streams of football matches via Kodi set-top boxes. The order gives the league the means to have computer servers used to power the streams blocked.Until now, it could only go after individual video streams which were relatively easy to re-establish at different links.

There have been several arrests of people selling set-top boxes pre-installed with both Kodi software and additional third-party add-ons that make it possible to watch copyright-infringing film and TV streams.

According to a recent survey commissioned by the security firm Irdeto, Kodi boxes are particularly prevalent in the UK.

It reported that 11% of Brits that admitted to watching pirated streams in a survey said they did so via a Kodi box. Doing so is not thought to be illegal. Derbyshire County Council trading standards officers recently explained:

Accessing premium paid-for content without a subscription is considered by the industry as unlawful access, although streaming something online, rather than downloading a file, is likely to be exempt from copyright laws,

That might seem a surprising position for an enforcement department to take, but support for it comes from an authoritative quarter. The European Commission doesn’t believe that consumers who watch pirate streams are infringing. From the user’s perspective they equate streaming to watching, which is legitimate. The European Commission gave its view during the hearing of an important case currently before Europe’s highest court involving the Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, which wrote in its summary of the hearing:

The case concerns the sale of a mediaplayer on which the trader has loaded add-ons that link to evidently illegal websites that link to content. For a user such a player is plug & play . This king of pre-programmed player usually are offered with slogans like never pay again for the newest films and series and completely legal, downloading from illegal sources is prohibited but streaming is allowed . In summary the pre-judicial questions concern whether the seller of such a mediaplayer infringes copyright and whether streaming from an illegal source is legitimate use.

It has also been reported that the UK government is considering new laws against streaming pirated content, but discussions are at an early stage

Read more UK Internet Censorship at MelonFarmers.co.uk

House of Commons logoA group of MPs have tabled an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill that would force pornography websites to be blocked by ISPs if they fail to verify the age of their users.This is the second time such amendments have been suggested. The MPs involved are Claire Perry, David Burrowes, Fiona Bruce, Derek Thomas, Jeremy Lefroy, Caroline Ansell, Heidi Allen, Andrew Selous, Iain Duncan Smith, Maria Miller, Fiona Mactaggart.

Open Rights Group Executive Director Jim Killock said:

Perhaps these MPs have realised that plans to make all adult websites apply age verification are unworkable as foreign porn sites may simply not comply. They are now suggesting that websites who don’t comply should be blocked — even though their content is perfectly legal.

While child protection is important, this proposal is disproportionate. Censorship of this kind should be reserved for illegal and harmful content.

We are talking about potentially thousands of websites with legal material being censored, something that is unprecedented in the developed world.

The Digital Economy Bill has proposed that all pornography websites should be forced to verify the age of their users. This has sparked concerns that the privacy of adults could be violated. It is not yet clear how age verification will be implemented but it could lead to the collection of data on everyone who visits a porn website. This kind of information could be vulnerable to Ashley Madison style data breaches.

The Open Rights Group further commented:

open rights group 2016 logoThe amendment has been tabled because MPs understand that age verification cannot be imposed upon the entire mostly US-based pornographic industry by the UK alone. In the USA, age verification has been seen by the courts as an infringement on the right of individuals to receive and impart information. This is unlikely to change, so use of age verification technologies will be limited at best.

However, the attempt to punish websites by blocking them is also a punishment inflicted on the visitors to these websites. Blocking them is a form of censorship, it is an attempt to restrict access to them for everyone. When material is restricted in this way, it needs to be done for reasons that are both necessary for the goal, and proportionate to the aim. It has to be effective in order to be proportionate.

The goal is to protect children, although the level of harm has not been established. According to OfCom: More than nine in ten parents in 2015 said they mediated their child’s use of the internet in some way, with 96% of parents of 3-4s and 94% of parents of 5-15s using a combination of: regularly talking to their children about managing online risks, using technical tools, supervising their child, and using rules or restrictions. (1)

70% of households have no children. These factors make the necessity and proportionality of both age verification and censorship quite difficult to establish. This issue affects 30% of households who can choose to apply filters and use other strategies to keep their children safe online.

It is worth remembering also that the NSPCC and others tend to accept that teenagers are likely to continue to access pornography despite these measures. They focus their concerns on 9-12 years olds coming across inappropriate material, despite a lack of evidence that there is any volume of these incidents, or that harm has resulted. While it is very important to ensure that 9-12 year olds are safe online, it seems more practical to focus attention directly on their online environment, for instance through filters and parental intervention, than attempting to make the entire UK Internet conform to standards that are acceptable for this age group.

That MPs are resorting to proposals for website blocking tells us that the age verification proposals themselves are flawed. MPs should be asking about the costs and privacy impacts, and why such a lack of thought has gone into this. Finally, they should be asking what they can do to help children through practical education and discussion of the issues surrounding pornography, which will not go away, with or without attempts to restrict access.

Read more UK Internet Censorship at MelonFarmers.co.uk

open rights group 2016 logo The Government wants people who view pornography to show that they are over 18, via Age Verification systems. This is aimed at reducing the likelihood of children accessing inappropriate content.

To this end the Digital Economy Bill creates a regulator that will seek to ensure that adult content websites will verify the age of users, or face monetary penalties, or in the case of overseas sites, ask payment providers such as VISA to refuse to process UK payments for non-compliant providers.

There are obvious problems with this, which we detail elsewhere .

However, the worst risks are worth going into in some detail, not least from the perspective of the Bill Committee who want the Age Verification system to succeed.

As David Austen, from the BBFC, who will likely become the Age Verification Regulator said :

Privacy is one of the most important things to get right in relation to this regime. As a regulator, we are not interested in identity at all. The only thing that we are interested in is age, and the only thing that a porn website should be interested in is age. The simple question that should be returned to the pornographic website or app is, “Is this person 18 or over?” The answer should be either yes or no. No other personal details are necessary.

However, the Age Verification Regulator has no duties in relation to the Age Verification systems. They will make sites verify age, or issue penalties, but they are given no duty to protect people’s privacy, security or defend against cyber security risks that may emerge from the Age Verification systems themselves.

David Austen’s expectations are unfortunately entirely out of his hands.

Instead, the government appears to assume that Data Protection law will be adequate to deal with the privacy and security risks. Meanwhile, the market will provide the tools.

The market has a plethora of possible means to solve this problem. Some involve vast data trawls through Facebook and social media. Others plan to link people’s identity across web services and will provide way to profile people’s porn viewing habits. Still others attempt to piggyback upon payment providers and risk confusing their defences against fraud. Many appear to encourage people to submit sensitive information to services that the users, and the regulator, will have little or no understanding of.

And yet with all the risks that these solutions pose, all of these solutions may be entirely data protection compliant. This is because data protection allows people to share pretty much whatever they agree to share, on the basis that they are free to make agreements with whoever they wish, by providing ‘consent’.

In other words: Data protection law is simply not designed to govern situations where the user is forced to agree to the use of highly intrusive tools against themselves.

What makes this proposal more dangerous is that the incentives for the industry are poor and lead in the wrong direction. They have no desire for large costs, but would benefit vastly from acquiring user data.

If the government wants to have Age Verification in place, it must mandate a system that increases the privacy and safety of end users, since the users will be compelled to use Age Verification tools. Also, any and all Age Verification solutions must not make Britain’s cybersecurity worse overall, e.g. by building databases of the nation’s porn-surfing habits which might later appear on Wikileaks.

The Digital Economy Bill’s impact on privacy of users should, in human rights law, be properly spelled out (” in accordance with the law “) and be designed to minimise the impacts on people (necessary and proportionate). Thus failure to provide protections places the entire system under threat of potential legal challenges.

User data in these systems will be especially sensitive, being linked to private sexual preferences and potentially impacting particularly badly on sexual minorities if it goes wrong, through data breaches or simple chilling effects. This data is regarded as particularly sensitive in law.

Government, in fact has at its hands a system called Verify which could provide age-verification in a privacy friendly manner. The Government ought to be explaining why the high standards of its own Verify system are not being applied to Age Verification, or indeed, why the government is not prepared to use its own systems to minimise the impacts.

As with web filtering, there is no evidence that Age Verification will prevent an even slightly determined teenager from accessing pornography, nor reduce demand for it among young people. The Government appears to be looking for an easy fix to a complex social problem. The Internet has given young people unprecedented access to adult content but it’s education rather than tech solutions that are most likely to address problems arising from this. Serious questions about the efficacy and therefore proportionality of this measure remain.

However, legislating for the Age Verification problem to be “solved” without any specific regulation for any private sector operator who wants to “help” is simply to throw the privacy of the UK’s adult population to the mercy of the porn industry. With this mind, we have drafted an amendment to introduce the duties necessary to minimise the privacy impacts which could also reduce if not remove the free expression harms to adults.

Read more UK Internet Censorship at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Crown Prosecution Service Social media users who encourage flame wars or retweet the doxing (revealing identifying information with malicious intent) of others are set to be punished more severely by British prosecutors.The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)’s latest Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media target doxing, online mobs, fake social media profiles and other social media misbehaviour.

Also included in the latest version of the guidance is a specific encouragement to prosecutors to charge those who egg on others to break social media speech laws. Those who encourage others to commit a communications offence may be charged with encouraging an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007, warns the guidance.

In a Kafka-esque twist, the guidance also includes this chilling line, discussing how prosecutors can prove the criminal offence of sending a grossly offensive message, under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003:

The offence is committed by sending the message. There is no requirement that any person sees the message or be offended by it.

Another nasty touch is that the CPS will allow victims to decide whether crimes are deemed to be ‘hate crimes’ and therefore attract more severe penalties. The CPS policy consultation defines race/religion hate crimes as follows:

Crimes involving hostility on the basis of race or religion

The reporting and prosecution of hate crime are shaped by two definitions; one is subjective and is based on the perception of the victim and the other is objective and relies on supporting evidence.

Both the subjective and objective definitions refer to hostility, not hatred. There is no statutory definition of hostility and the everyday or dictionary definition is applied, encompassing a broad spectrum of behaviour.

We have an agreed definition with the police for identifying and flagging cases involving hostility on the basis of race or religion. The joint definition is:

Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or religion or perceived race or religion.

The equivalent paragraph an disability hate crime adds explaining how the CPS has waved its hands and extended the scope:

This definition is wider than the statutory definition, to ensure we capture all relevant cases:

The guidance also encourages prosecutors to treat social media crimes committed against persons serving the public more seriously than nasty words directed against their fellow members of the public. Similarly, coordinated attacks by different people should also attract greater prosecutorial attention.

Prosecution in all cases is said to be less likely if swift and effective action has been taken by the suspect and/or others, for example service providers, to remove the communication .

Read more Diary at MelonFarmers.co.uk

kink olympixxx Kink Olympixxx
Parliament, Westminster, London
Noon until 2pm

The Backlash Kink Olympixxx Changing the Rules For Adult Games

The Digital Economy Bill proposes severe restrictions on accessing pornography without protecting personal privacy and sexual liberty:

PERSONAL PRIVACY

The Digital Economy Bill currently before Parliament will introduce compulsory age verification without guaranteeing privacy protections for subscribers. This omission risks users’ personal details and private sexual preferences being exploited for commercial gain and/or leaked into the public domain.

SEXUAL LIBERTY

Consensual adult sex should not be outlawed, yet this Bill will prohibit the publication of depictions of sexual activities that are legal to perform. This Bill imposes a financial burden on free, amateur and niche commercial websites, affecting sexual minorities by denying them from freely expressing their sexuality.

THE SOLUTION

Since this Bill is out of step with technology and current sexual values we are calling for a Joint Committee on adult liberty to update our out-dated “obscenity” laws. Please join us at the Backlash Kink Olympixxx outside Parliament on Monday the 17th October 2016 between 12pm and 2pm where we will demonstrate the need for this.

SPEAKERS The Speakers are noted political campaigners, civil liberties advocates and sexual freedom campaigners who will include:

  • Myles Jackman — Obscenity Lawyer
  • Pandora Blake — Feminist Pornographer
  • Jim Killock — Open Rights Group
  • Guy Herbert — NO2ID
  • David Bridle — Editor, Boyz Magazine
  • Dr Chris Ashford — Professor of Law and Society
  • Dr Clarissa Smith — Professor of Sexual Cultures
  • Siobhan Knox and Alex Etchart — Sex Worker’s Opera
  • English Collective of Prostitutes
Read more UK Internet Censorship at MelonFarmers.co.uk

home affairs committee Government censors are struggling to stop the spread of extremist messages on the internet despite taking down 1,000 videos a week, the Home Secretary has admitted. Amber Rudd said she was in talks with social media websites about setting up a new industry standard board to agree the rules setting out when sites should be taken down.

The new home secretary was grilled by MPs on the House of Commons’ Home Affairs committee about what more could be done to force US sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to take action. It is alarming that these companies have teams of only a few hundred employees to monitor networks of billions of accounts Home Affairs select committee report

Rudd said that major internet companies could take more responsibility:

Because the speed these damaging videos get put up and then we manage to take down — at the moment we are taking down 1,000 a week of these sites — is too slow compared to the speed at which they are communicated.

I do think more can be done and we are in discussions with industry to see what more they are prepared to do.

We would like to see a form of industry standard board that they could put together in order to have an agreement of oversight and to take action much more quickly on sites which will do such damage to people in terms of making them communicating terrorist information.

Rudd said the new industry standards board could be similar to an existing board which protects children from sexual exploitation, presumably referring to the IWF.

The committee’s report said:

It is alarming that these companies have teams of only a few hundred employees to monitor networks of billions of accounts and that Twitter does not even proactively report extremist content to law enforcement agencies.

These companies are hiding behind their supranational legal status to pass the parcel of responsibility and refusing to act responsibly in case they damage their brands. If they continue to fail to tackle this issue and allow their platforms to become the ‘Wild West’ of the internet, then it will erode their reputation as responsible operators.

Internet companies should be required to co-operate with Britain’s counter-extremism police and shut down accounts immediately.

Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Result of Government Consultation

child safety online The Government has published a document summarising responses to its proposals to mandate restrictive age validation requirements for porn websites. 48% of responses opposed the proposals whilst 44% agreed with the proposals. However the government made clear that they will proceed with the proposed censorship law. The consultation document reads:

It is clear from our analysis of the consultation responses that this is an issue which tends to polarise opinion, with strongly held views on either side. Overall, there was a roughly even split between those supporting age verification (44%) and those not in favour (48%). Responses from individuals made up the vast majority of those which were submitted via our online questionnaire (94%). Over half of the individuals were men, the majority of whom were between 18 and 34 years old.

Crucially, however, many of the key organisations we work with in the online child protection sphere children’s charities, support and advice groups, the BBFC, internet service providers, and payment service firms and credit card companies indicated their support for the proposals, and the overriding policy goal of protecting children online.

Over a quarter (26%) of the individuals who responded indicated that they are parents or carers, and 23% of individuals said that they work with children (in the education and health sectors, working in or with churches, in voluntary roles, mentoring, and as researchers). In both groups, a majority supported the Government’s approach.

Notably, pornography providers who responded to the consultation also stated their support for the protection of children online, and (with caveats) the introduction of age verification controls to protect children from content which is not appropriate for them.

As was set out in our consultation, the Government’s preferred approach to delivering this commitment is to establish a new law, requiring age verification (AV) controls for online pornography this was the manifesto commitment, and following consideration of the consultation responses, remains the Government’s intention.

To underpin this, we will also establish a new regulatory framework, and we will ensure a proportionate approach by enabling the regulator to act in a sufficiently flexible and targeted way.

Following analysis of the responses to the consultation, Government will now take several next steps. We will:

  1. Bring forward legislation, in the Digital Economy Bill, to establish a new law requiring age verification for commercial pornographic websites and applications containing still and moving images, and a new regulatory framework to underpin it

  2. Continue to work with payments firms and ancillary companies to ensure that the business models and profits of companies that do not comply with the new regulations can be undermined

  3. Maintain ongoing engagement with pornography providers, age verification providers, and other parts of the industry, to ensure that the regulatory framework is targeted and proportionate, to achieve maximum impact and to enable compliance

  4. Continue to work on broader internet safety issues, including work led by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), and raising awareness and resilience

Digital Economy Bill

See Digital Economy Bill progress page from services.parliament.uk
See Digital Economy Bill [pdf] from publications.parliament.uk

House of Commons logo And indeed the new censorship law is included in the Digital Economy Bill introduced on 5th July 2016. Section 3 outlines the setting up of an internet porn censor and the remainder sets out website censorship options and financial penalties for contravening websites, their payment providers and advertisers.

The government is planning on passing the bill into law in spring 2017.

Section 3

  • 15 Internet pornography: requirement to prevent access by persons under the age of 18
  • 16 Meaning of pornographic material
  • 17 The age-verification regulator: designation and funding
  • 18 Parliamentary procedure for designation of age-verification regulator
  • 19 Age-verification regulator’s power to require information
  • 20 Enforcement of sections 15 and 19
  • 21 Financial penalties
  • 22 Age-verification regulator’s power to give notice of contravention to payment service providers and ancillary service providers
  • 23 Exercise of functions by the age-verification regulator
  • 24 Requirements for notices given by regulator under this
  • 25 Interpretation of this Part