Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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twitter 2015 logoTwitter has introduced a new censorship system with the unlikely sounding capability to detect abusive tweets and suspend accounts without waiting for complaints to be flagged. Transgressions results in the senders receiving half-day suspensions.The company has refused to provide details on specifically how the new system works, but using a combination of behavioral and keyword indicators, the filter flags posts it deems to be violations of Twitter’s acceptable speech policy and issues users suspensions of half a day during which they cannot post new globally accessible tweets and their existing tweets are visible only to followers.

From the platform that once called itself the free speech wing of the free speech party, these new tools mark an incredible turn of events. The anti-censorship ethic seems to have been lost in a failed attempt to sell the company after prospective buyers were unhappy with the lack of censorship control over the platform.

Inevitably Twiiter has refused to provide even outline ideas of the indicators it is using, especially when it comes to the particular linguistic cues it is concerned with. While offering too much detail might give the upper hand to those who would try to work around the new system, it is important for the broader community to have at least some understanding of the kinds of language flagged by Twitter’s new tool so that they can try and stay within the rules.

It is also unclear why Twitter chose not to permit users to contest what they believe to be a wrongful suspension. Given that the feature is brand-new and bound to encounter plenty of unforeseen contexts where it could yield a wrong result, it is surprising that Twitter chose not to provide a recovery mechanism where it could catch these before they become news.

And the first example of censorship was quick to follow. Many outlets this morning picked up on a frightening instance of the Twitter algorithm’s new power to police not only the language we use but the thoughts we express. In this case a user allegedly tweeted a response to a news report about comments made by Senator John McCain and argued that it was his belief that the senator was a traitor who had committed formal treason against the nation. Twitter did not respond to a request for more information about what occurred in this case and if this was indeed the tweet that caused the user to be suspended, but did not dispute that the user had been suspended or that his use of the word traitor had factored heavily into that suspension.

See  article from forbes.com

Is it politically correct to censor the language of the American African community?…Moonlight has been significantly cut by the Indian film censors for an Adults only ‘A’ rating

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Poster Moonlight 2016 Barry Jenkins Moonlight is a 2016 USA drama by Barry Jenkins.
Starring Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp and Duan Sanderson. BBFC link IMDb

Three time periods – young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult – in the life of black-American Chiron is presented.

The Indian film censors of the CBFC have cut the film for Indian cinema release. Two sex scenes have been excised and strong language has been cut for an adults only ‘A’ rating. For comparison the BBFC passed the film 15 uncut for strong language, sex, sex references, drugs misuse Further details of the cuts are as follows:

[ Spoilers! hover or click text ]

The BBFC provide a good description of the sex scenes and strong language in the BBFC Insight:

There is occasional use of strong language (‘fuck’, motherfucker’), and frequent racial language (‘nigga’) used informally between black characters. There is also use of homophobic language in a scene in which an adult explains to a young boy that ‘faggot is an offensive term.

Scenes of sexual activity include implied masturbation and penetration, and in one scene a character wakes up following a wet dream . Strong verbal references are made to oral sex and intercourse.

Meanwhile the CBFC cut entirely two of the film’s love-making sequences, one homosexual and the other heterosexua

Noting that gay sex cannot be shown in an Indian film since homosexuality is still not legalised, the cuts to the sensitively designed sequence showing the film’s young teenage protagonist gets a hand-job from his best friend, seems a bit harsh. A source said:

The censor board has ordered the entire hand-job to go. We only hear the protagonist say he is sorry for what happened. Indian audiences will not get what he’s feeling sorry for.

Also, ordered out of the film is a dream sequence showing the protagonist’s best friend making out with a girl.

Besides these two cuts the soundtrack has been cleared of all expletives included bitch , dick , fuck and motherfucker .

The source added:

The CBFC has done a sanskari job [seems to mean politically correct cleanup] on the language of the American African community.

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queens solitaire gamesA banner ad for a solitaire game, seen on the lock screen of a phone that was running the AVG Cleaner app in October 2016, featured three women in bikinis posing in a suggestive manner.

A complainant challenged whether the ad had been inappropriately and irresponsibly placed, as it had appeared untargeted on a device used by children.

Queens Solitaire Games, whose product was promoted by the ad, did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.

AVG Technologies UK Ltd, in whose app the ad appeared, stated that, in order to prevent improper ads from appearing in their apps, their ad providers automatically blocked ads referencing several categories, including sex and sexuality. However, on rare occasions, inappropriate ads could bypass this screening. They said that this usually happened when the advertiser categorised or named the ad in a misleading manner. When made aware of such an incident, they immediately blocked the ad manually on all ad networks and sent it to their ad providers for investigation.

ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld

The ASA was concerned by Queens Solitaire Games’ lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

We considered that the sexualised nature of the images meant that they should not appear in media that might be seen by children. While the app was unlikely to appeal to children, we considered that, if installed on a device used by children, it could easily be seen by them. Furthermore, we noted that the ad had appeared on the screen of a phone while it was locked, increasing the chance of it being seen by children. We considered that Queens Solitaire Games held primary responsibility for ensuring that the content and placement of the ad complied with the CAP Code, and that they should have correctly flagged the content of the ad to the publisher. However, we considered that AVG Technologies was also responsible for ensuring that ads in their apps were targeted appropriately. We acknowledged that they had systems in place to prevent ads with sexual content from appearing in their apps, and welcomed their prompt action to remove inappropriate ads. However, we were concerned that their procedures had not been adequate to prevent the ad from appearing in an inappropriate medium in this case. We therefore concluded that the ad had been placed irresponsibly.

The ad must not appear again in media that might be seen by children. We told Queens Solitaire Games to ensure that ads were appropriately targeted. We referred Queens Solitaire Games to CAP’s Compliance team.

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facebook loginSecretary of Homeland Security John Kelly told Congress this week that the Department of Homeland Security is exploring the possibility of asking visa applicants not only for an accounting of what they do online, but for full access to their online accounts. In a hearing in the House of Representatives, Kelly said:

We want to say for instance, What sites do you visit? And give us your passwords. So that we can see what they do on the internet. And this might be a week, might be a month. They may wait some time for us to vet. If they don’t want to give us that information then they don’t come. We may look at their204we want to get on their social media with passwords. What do you do? What do you say? If they don’t want to cooperate, then they don’t come in.

TechCrunch’ s Devin Coldewey pointed out, asking people to surrender passwords would raise “obvious” privacy and security problems. But beyond privacy and security, the proposed probing of online accounts204including social media and other communications platforms204would, if implemented, be a major threat to free expression.

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Blood Diner Blu ray Rick Burks Blood Diner is a 1987 USA comedy horror by Jackie Kong.
Starring Rick Burks, Carl Crew and Roger Dauer. BBFC link IMDb

Two cannibals/health food diner owners are on a wacky quest to restore life to the five million year old goddess Shitaar. Aided by their uncle’s brain and penis, the two set about getting the required parts – virgins, assorted body parts from whores, and the ingredients for a “blood buffet”. Their adversaries are the police: the chief with a Russian accent, the “player” detective, and the new Yorker with an Australian accent.

The BBFC has just passed the film 18 uncut for strong gory violence, sexualised nudity after all previous BBFC cuts were waived for Lionsgate Video release in 2017.

Presumably Lionsgate will repeat the recent US hit by releasing it on the Vestron Video label made famous during the video nasty period.

UK Censorship History

Substantially cut by the BBFC for 18 rated 1989 VHS. Later rated 18 uncut for 2017 home video. Uncut and MPAA Unrated in the the US.

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Vietnam flagVietnam has adopted a new film censorship regime that has age related categories including for the first time, an 18 adults only rating.The new system commenced in 2017 and includes four categories: (P) general audiences and a series of age based rankings C13, C16 and C18.

Officials will classify films based on levels of gore, profanity, violence, nudity and sex displayed, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The ministry said it will also consider a film’s drug-related content, which must suit a film’s content or carry an anti-drug message.

Gratuitous drug-related content will continue to be censored. Censors will likewise permit sex and violence in C18 films so long as it is not gratuitous in nature. However sex and violence, considered mainstream in most countries, in movies such as Fifty Shades Darker and John Wick 2 is obviously deemed gratuitous in Vietnam.  Both films seem to have run into censor trouble.

General Audience films (rated category P) will not contain any horrific, violent or sexual content; they will not make any reference to drug use or production.

Last year, film censors in Vietnam proposed a controversial ban on sex scenes that lasted over five seconds in local films, and full-frontal female nudity. The rules were not officially included in the official rating system for 2017.

Vietnam’s cinemas previously used just two ratings, G for general viewers and NC16 for viewers aged 16 and up.

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open rights group 2016 logo Ten years jail for filesharing: or in fact any minor copyright infringement where there is a loss by not getting what one might get or cause a risk of further infringement.Clause 27 of the Digital Economy Bill will mean that more or less any wrongful use where somebody hasn’t paid a licence fee (think of memes) is a crime. Causing “risk” to the copyright holder means almost by definition ordinary file sharing is a criminal rather than civil infringement.

Is the government really intending to threaten teenagers with prison? Why has the Digital Economy Bill been left with such a stupid legal change? Both the government and the Intellectual Property Office said they just wanted to bring online infringement into line with “real world” fake DVD offences. They were worried about the difficulties with charging people who run websites that help people download copyright works.

However, that isn’t how they offence is drawn up: and the government has now been told in Parliament twice that they are both criminalising minor infringements and helping copyright trolls. Copryight trolls, we should remember, specialise in threats concerning file sharing of niche pornographic works in order to frighten and embarass people into payment, often incorrectly, and to our knowledge, have never taken anyone to court in the UK .

The answers have been startlingly bad. Kevin Brennan stated , for Labour:

The Open Rights Group has expressed concern about the Government’s insistence that there needs to be “reason to believe” that infringement will cause loss or “the risk of loss”. Its fear is that that phrase, “the risk of loss”, could capture quite a wide range of behaviour, perhaps beyond the scope of what the Government say they intend. In particular, its concern is the extent to which that phrase will capture file sharing.

Copyright trolls get their profits when a certain number of people are scared enough to respond to those notifications and pay up. Frequently these accusations are incorrect, misleading and sent to account holders who did not sanction any such further file sharing. However, as I understand it, sending that kind of speculative threat to consumers is, unfortunately, perfectly legal. Some are concerned that if the Bill retains the concept of risk of loss, it could aid the trolls by enabling them to argue with more credibility that account holders may face criminal charges and a 10-year prison sentence.

Matt Hancock gave a non-answer:

We recognise that the maximum sentence of 10 years, even if only for the most serious cases, must be carefully targeted. Consequently, clause 26 also makes changes to the existing offence of online copyright infringement to make it clearer when that offence is committed and who should be considered liable. The amendments speak to some of those points.

The concept of prejudicial effect in the existing legislation will be replaced with a requirement that the infringer intends to make a monetary gain for themselves or knows or has reason to believe their actions will expose the rights holder to a loss or risk of loss in money. I will come to the debate around definition of that in more detail.

The point of this clarification is to act as a safeguard to ensure that the increased maximum penalty is applied only to serious criminals who deserve it and will not apply to those who share material accidently or without knowledge of the consequences.

In the Lords, Labour suggested returning to the current definition of “prejudicial effect”: which (as Matt Hancock says) suffers the same problem of being very wide and catching people it should not.

The government have failed to give any serious answers. The Opposition, Labour and Liberal Democrat should be able to see that an egregious mistake is being made, and they have the ability to force a change.

The problem is really easily fixed. The government simply need to put in thresholds to ensure that only significant damage or serious risk is caused. We have an amendment prepared and published.

Why does the government want to help copyright trolls bully grannies and criminalise file sharers whose actions may be idiotic, but hardly criminal? The government needs to fix this before it becomes law and abuse of copyright ensues.