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police npcc logoHome Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a new national hub to tackle online hate crime.

It will be run by police officers for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) with the aim of ensuring that online cases are managed effectively and efficiently.

The hub will receive complaints through Truevision, the police website for reporting hate crime, following which they will be assessed and assigned to the local force for investigation. Specialist officers will provide case management and support and advice to victims of online hate crime.

Its functions will include combining duplicate reports, trying to identify perpetrators, referring appropriate cases to online platforms hosting relevant content, providing evidence for local recording and response, and updating the complainant on progress. It will also provide intelligence to the National Intelligence Model, the police database that gathers intelligence on a range of crimes.

The Home Office said the hub will ensure all online cases are properly investigated and will help to increase prosecutions for online hate crimes. It should also simplify processes and help to prevent any duplication in investigations.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

The national online hate crime hub that we are funding is an important step to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report the vile abuse to which they are being subjected.

The hub will also improve our understanding of the scale and nature of this despicable form of abuse. With the police, we will use this new intelligence to adapt our response so that even more victims are safeguarded and perpetrators punished.

The hub is expected to be operational before the end of the year.

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PTC logoUS moralists of the Parents Television Council are calling on Hollywood to take gun violence seriously by evaluating and lowering its use on TV shows and in films. PTC President Tim Winter spouted:

We agree with Disney’s Bob Iger that gun violence should be taken seriously, and in that vein, we are calling on the entire entertainment industry to evaluate its own incessant, and ever-more-realistic daily rehearsals of gun violence — and graphic violence in general — on its TV shows and in its movies. Hollywood needs to take seriously its own role in contributing to normalizing violence. Mr. Iger and other industry leaders cannot claim their content does not have real-life impact when their very economic existence is based on advertising, the sole purpose of which is to change the behavior of each viewer.

We urge the entertainment industry to evaluate and ideally lower portrayals of violence and specifically, gun violence.

But before US campaign groups attempt to deflect people away from gun control, perhaps they could take a quick glance towards Europe. Europeans watch pretty much the same amount of violent Hollywood films and TV as American viewers. And yet suffer vastly less killing from gun rampages. A most cursory correlation of evidence suggestion that many lives are saved in Europe through our stringent gun control laws.

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Ofcom logoThe BBC is facing a court battle after it defied Ofcom orders to publish figures on complaints about its shows.

Channel 4 and ITV already disclose the numbers, and release detailed information about objections to their programmes every two weeks. But the BBC nsists on keeping that information a secret. Perhaps this more about revealing political accusations of bias rather than trivial whinges by the ‘easily offended.

Now TV censor Ofcom has waded in and told the BBC it has no choice but to become more transparent. Ofcom insiders have also made it clear that they are prepared to go to court over the matter if the BBC digs its heels in. Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, regards it as an important point of principle.

Kevin Bakhurst, an Ofcom director and a former BBC news boss, has told Corporation executives they need to comply. In a strongly worded letter, seen by the Mail, he said:

The greater transparency we propose is necessary to build and maintain public confidence in the operation of the BBC… and to provide public accountability.

Ofcom has given the BBC until the November 19 to comply with orders and publish fortnightly complaints bulletins that go into the same level of detail as Ofcom’s reports about Channel 4, ITV, Five, Sky and other broadcasters.

BBC bosses will then have to publish the exact number of complaints the Corporation receives about every programme that registers 100 or more objections. Every time a complaint sparks an investigation, it will also be forced to disclose full details of the complaints, the points of principles at stake and the outcome of its probe.

A BBC spokesman has responded:

The BBC is already the most transparent broadcaster on complaints, including publishing data every month and responding on our website, and numbers are often influenced by orchestrated political campaigns but of course we are considering Ofcom’s letter.

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gchq logoA challenge to GCHQ’s use of non-specific warrants to authorise the bulk hacking of smartphones, computers and networks in the UK is starting at the court of appeal.The case, brought by the campaign group Privacy International (PI), is the latest twist in a protracted battle about both the legality of mass snooping and the primacy of civil courts over an intelligence tribunal that operates partly in secret.

The original claim dates back to 2014 and was brought at the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) following revelations by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden. The IPT hears complaints about government surveillance and the intelligence services. Some of its hearings are held behind closed doors.

PI, along with seven internet service providers, argued that computer network exploitation (CNE) carried out by GCHQ , the government monitoring station in Cheltenham, breaches human rights.

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amber ruddHome secretary Amber Rudd used her keynote speech at the Conservative party conference in Manchester to announce new laws, which would see anyone caught repeatedly watching extremist content on the internet to face up to 15 years jail.At present laws prohibiting material that could be useful to terrorists only apply to hardcopy or downloaded material . They do not apply to material that is not actually in one’s possession.

Security and digital rights experts have dumped on the home secretary’s proposal for the new laws, calling the move incredibly dangerous. Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, said:

This is incredibly dangerous. Journalists, anti-terror campaigns and others may need to view extremist content, regularly and frequently.

People tempted towards extremism may fear discussing what they have read or seen with anyone in authority. Even potential informants may be dissuaded from coming forward because they are already criminalised.

Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said:

This shocking proposal would make thoughtcrime a reality in the UK. Blurring the boundary between thought and action like this undermines the bedrock principles of our criminal justice system and will criminalise journalists, academics and many other innocent people.

We have a vast number of laws to tackle terror. The Government’s own reviewer of terror legislation Max Hill QC has said repeatedly that we need fewer, not more. A responsible Home Secretary would listen to the evidence — not grandstand for cheap political points at the expense of our fundamental freedoms.

In terms of how people would be identified — it’s hard for us to say without seeing more detail about the proposals. It’s likely identifying people would mean intrusive surveillance measures like those in the Investigatory Powers Act. In terms of enforceability — it’s likely to be really difficult because so many people will be caught up who have a legitimate reason and will then run that defence.

Shashank Joshi, a research fellow at the security think tank RUSI, told BuzzFeed News that Rudd’s proposal lacked specific detail and ran the risk of criminalising parts of some newspapers:

The risk is that [Rudd] runs into the same problems as her predecessor, Theresa May, did in 2015, when she sought to ban ‘extremism’, Joshi said. These are broad and nebulous terms, and they require very careful definition in order to avoid curbing legitimate free speech.

Otherwise we would risk criminalising some of the material that appears in certain mainstream newspaper columns.

Amber Rudd also decided to bang on about prohibiting encryption, even rather haplessly admitting that she did not understand who it worked.

Again campaigners were not impressed. Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, noted:

Amber Rudd needs to be realistic and clear about what she wants. It is no better saying she wishes to deny criminals the use of encryption than to say she wishes to deny them access to gravity. And if she succeeds in pushing them off major platforms, terrorists may end up being harder to detect.

Lib Dem Ed Davey also weighed in:

Encryption keeps us all secure online. It allows businesses to operate and thrive securely. Any weakening of encryption will ultimately make us all less safe. For if you weaken encryption, you run the risk of letting in the bad guys

But this Conservative government can only see things in black and white — ignoring the realities of technology. The Home Secretary’s key note speech called on tech giants to work together and, with government, to take down extremist content faster than ever before. My party completely support her in that mission. The only way we will defeat this scourge is to band together — exchange information, invest in new technologies and present a united front.

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Norway flagNorway’s Culture Ministry is determined to revoke a century-old law on municipal cinema licensing in order to fight censorship and promote free speech.The Norwegian government’s proposal to reform the cinema concession law is aimed at ensuring more diversity and breadth in film choice, but it is facing resistance from the entrenched players.

According to Eva Liestøl, speaking for Norway’s film censors at the Norwegian Media Authority, whinged that enabling competition in the cinema industry may have far-reaching consequences. She said:

A revocation of licensing, combined with today’s simplified film production technology, can lead to a marked growth of Bollywood, Netflix, pop-up and downright porno cinemas.

The Media authority proposes that if local authority licensing is scrapped it should be replaced by a national cinema register in order to supervise, among other things, the observance of age limits.

The cinema concession act is 104 years old and dates back to 1913. The main argument from the government’s side is that the concession practice violates the constitution, because the municipalities, by deciding what is to be shown in the cinema, in practice indulge in censorship that can hinder the freedom of expression.

Arild Kalkvik, who chairs the Norwegian Association of Cinema Directors is inevitably unimpressed by freedom of expression, saying:

The termination of the licensing procedure, however, will unleash free market forces, which means that virtually anyone will be able to start a cinema anywhere and show anything they want. This can lead to the emergence of unserious actors who just want to take the cream off the milk with brief stints, which, you know, go well combined with alcohol sales

The law change has been in a consultation phase since this summer.

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Posters USA - Blade Runner 2049 Movie Poster GLOSSY FINISH - FIL608 Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 UK / USA / Canada Sci-Fi thriller by Denis Villeneuve.
Starring Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas. IMDb

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

India’s film censors at the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) have demanded cuts before granting an adults-only ‘A’ rating for Blade Runner 2049.

All the nude shots, frontal and back have been deleted. It was pointed out to them that the nudity is computer generated rather than real, but this did not sway the censors.

There were also cuts to blur liquor bottles wherever they are shown.