Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

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sony clean versionSony have been regularly ‘sanitizing’ their movies but cutting down the violence and strong language so as to make them suitable for children. These versions are targeted at airlines and daytime TV but earlier this month Sony decided to make these sanitised versions available to download at home, choosing 24 titles:

50 First Dates, Battle Of The Year, Big Daddy, Captain Phillips, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Easy A, Elysium, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Goosebumps, Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2Hancock, Inferno, Moneyball, Pixels, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2Step Brothers, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, White House Down

The censorship cuts are typically very extreme. For example, the clean version of Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers – originally given an R rating for crude and sexual content according to Sony – has had 23 instances of violence taken out, 152 of bad language and 91 of sexual content.

The Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler romcom 50 First Dates had a PG13 for crude sexual humour and drug references. Its clean version has 10 violent moments taken out, 34 uses of bad language and 34 instances of sexual content.

Matt Damon sci-fi film Elysium , which also had an R rating for bloody violence, had 18 of those violent moments taken out, 63 uses of bad language and one instance of sexual content.

Horror comedy Goosebumps was a PG when it came out – so could be described as family-friendly already. But its clean version had four fewer incidences of violence, with five uses of bad language and five examples of nudity taken out too.

But now they’ve had to backtrack after filmmakers complained about the vandalisation of their works. After an outcry, the president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Man Jit Singh, said their directors were of paramount importance to us and they wanted to respect those relationships to the utmost:

We believed we had obtained approvals from the film-makers involved, for use of their previously supervised television versions as a value-added extra on sales of the full version. But if any of them are unhappy or have reconsidered, we will discontinue it for their films.

Seth Rogen was one of the first to react when news of Clean Version emerged. He pleaded, adding a swear word for emphasis, please don’t do this to our movies.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has said the hard-fought-for rights that protect a director’s work and vision are at the very heart of our craft and a thriving film industry.

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open rights group 2016 logo A Freedom of Information request to the DCMS has revealed that porn company MindGeek suggested that the BBFC should potentially block millions of porn sites if they didn’t comply with Age Verification requirements outlined in the Digital Economy Act.

MindGeek, who are also developing Age Verification technology, said that the Government’s plans to prevent children from seeing pornography would not be effective unless millions of sites could be blocked.

Notes made by the company and sent to the DCMS state:

A greylist of 4M URLs already exists from Sky, but lets assume that’s actually much smaller as these URLs will I suspect, be page- level blocks, not TLDs. The regulator should contact them all within that 12 months, explaining that if they do not demonstrate they are AV ready by the enforcement date then they will be enforced against. “On the enforcement date, all sites on the greylist turn black or white depending upon what they have demonstrated to the regulator.

Corey Price, VP of Pornhub, separately noted:

It is our corporate responsibility as part of the global tech community to promote ethical and responsible behavior. We firmly believe that parents are best placed to police their children’s online activity using the plethora of tools already available in modern operating systems. The law has the potential to send a message to parents that they no longer need to monitor their children’s online activity, so it is therefore essential that the Act is robustly enforced.

Despite the law, those seeking adult content can still circumvent age verification using simple proxy/VPN services. Consequently the intent of the legislation is to only protect children who stumble across adult content in an un-protected environment. There are over 4 million domains containing adult content, and unless sites are enforced against equally, stumbling across adult content will be no harder than at present. If the regulator pursues a proportionate approach we may only see the Top 50 sites being effected 203 this is wholly unacceptable as the law will then be completely ineffective, and simply discriminate against compliant sites. We are therefore informing, and closely monitoring the development of the regulations, to be published later this year, to see if they achieve the intended goals of the Act.

MindGeek could stand to gain commercially if competitor websites are blocked from UK visitors, or if the industry takes up their Age Verification product.

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said:

There is nothing in the Act to stop the BBFC from blocking 4.6 million pornographic websites. The only constraint is cash.

This leaves the BBFC wide open to pressure for mass website blocking without any need for a change in the law.

When giving evidence to the Public Bill Committee , the chief executive of the British Board of Film Classification, David Austin implied that only tens of sites would be targeted:

We would start with the top 50 and work our way through those, but we would not stop there. We would look to get new data every quarter, for example. As you say, sites will come in and out of popularity. We will keep up to date and focus on those most popular sites for children.

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flower pot men
  Banned on Twitter

If you’re looking to follow news and advocacy about an anticipated Vermont legislature vote this week on legalizing marijuana, a search for the latest tweets that use the combined terms Vermont and marijuana will for many Twitter users yield zero results.

Same goes for searches for tweets using the terms pot, weed or cannabis. The latest results for jackass and jerk , words generally printed without censorship by news outlets, also yield a blank page with a message claiming: Nothing came up for that search, which is a little weird. Maybe check what you searched for and try again.

The omissions are examples of a new censorship syste introduced by Twitter, with users required to opt out of a filter to see uncensored results.

Top results for restricted terms still appear, but results for the most recent posts and for photos, videos and news content tabs do not.

 

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DCMS logoBritain has some ludicrous and dated prohibitions on aspects of porn that are commonplace in international porn sites. For example the government requires that the BBFC cut fisting, squirting, gagging on blow jobs, dialogue references to incest or underage sex.It would be ludicrous to expect all of the worlds websites to remove such commonplace scene from all its films and videos. The originally proposed porn censorship law would require the BBFC to identify sites with this commonplace material, and ISPs would have then been forced to block these sites. Of course this would have meant that more or less all websites would have had to be banned.

Someone has obviously pointed this out to the government, perhaps the Lords had spotted this in their scrutiny.

The Daily Mail is now reporting that this censorship power will be dropped form the Digital Economy Bill. The age verification requirement will stand but foreign websites complying with age verification will not then be blocked for material transgressing some of the stupid UK prohibitions.

A source at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has acknowledged that the proposals were imperfect , but said the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which covers sex shops, was too outdated to be used to regulate the internet.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport actually went further and said extreme material, including violent pornography and cartoons depicting child sex abuse, will be allowed to stay online as long as distributors put in place checks to ensure it cannot be viewed by children. (But note that downloading films including what is defined as extreme pornography and cartoon child porn would still be illegal). There will be no change to the capability of the IWF to block child porn (and occasionally, illegal adult porn).

Of course pro-censorship campaigners are not impressed by the lost opportunity for total porn censorship. Helen Lewington, of the morality campaign group Mediawatch-UK, claimed that the decision to allow extreme sites to operate behind the age verification barrier risked giving them a veneer of respectability .  She called on peers to reject the amendments this evening. She added:

We are deeply concerned by the Government’s apparent change of direction. These proposals will permit some forms of violent pornography to be viewed behind age verification checks.

This will unhelpfully allow what is illegal offline to be legally viewed online, and may in the long term lead to some regarding such material as acceptable.’

Pro censorship campaigner John Carr revealed that the government will now be reviewing the rules on what is currently prohibited from UK adult porn. He set out his pro-censorship stall by claiming that reducing censorship for adults would somehow endanger children. He claimed:

In his speech on the Digital Economy Bill, last Monday night in the House of Lords, Lord Ashton referred to the Secretary of State’s announcement in the context of there being a need for a wider discussion about the effects of pornography in society as a whole, not solely in respect of children. I would hope there will be an opportunity to contribute to that aspect of the review. I accept it was never envisaged that the Digital Economy Bill was to be a trigger for a wider debate about what sorts of pornography are more or less acceptable, whether being viewed by children or not. However, just because children cannot view certain types of material that have been put behind an age verification wall, it does not mean that its continued availability to adults does not constitute a threat to children. Such material might encourage, promote or appear to legitimize or condone harmful behaviours which either directly or indirectly put children at risk.

Offsite Comment: Lib Dems lay into the governments censorship efforts

19th March 2017 See  article from libdemvoice.org by Brian Paddick

Lib Dems logoTo add to the list of obnoxious new laws such as the new offence of driving while being a suspected illegal immigrant and giving the police unfettered access to innocent people’s web histories, the Tories have waded into the swamp of online pornography and they are completely out of their depth.

The Digital Economy Bill, another universal answer to everything they couldn’t get through when we had one hand on the reins of power, professes to protect children from online pornography.

Nonetheless, if we are to prohibit access to online adult material unless there is an age-verification solution in place, the privacy of those who are being forced to part with their sensitive personal information in order to verify their age, must be protected. We have already seen user databases for a couple of major porn sites, containing sensitive personal information, being hacked and the details traded on the dark web. When details of users of the Ashley Madison site were leaked, it reportedly led to two suicides.

…read the full  article from libdemvoice.org

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European Parliament logoMembers of the European Parliament have approved extraordinary measures to censor speakers accused of  hate speech. MEPs granted the parliament’s president authority to pull the plug on live broadcasts of parliamentary debate deemed to include racist speech and to purge any such material from online records.

Inevitably the rules are vaguely worded and will be manipulated or used as a tool of censorship. Tom Weingaertner, president of the Brussels-based International Press Association  commented:

This undermines the reliability of the Parliament’s archives at a moment where the suspicion of ‘fake news’ and manipulation threatens the credibility of the media and the politicians.

However the censorship has some British support. Richard Corbett, a Labour MEP who backed the rule said:

There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate,

What if this became not isolated incidents, but specific, where people could say: ‘Hey, this is a fantastic platform. It’s broad, it’s live-streamed. It can be recorded and repeated. Let’s use it for something more vociferous, more spectacular

Rule 165 of the parliament’s rules of procedure allows the chair of debates to halt the live broadcast in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a member. The would also be a fine for transgressors of around 9,000 euros.

The new rule, which was not made public by the assemble until it was reported by Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper, offending material could be deleted from the audiovisual record of proceedings, meaning citizens would never know it happened unless reporters were in the room.

Weingaertner said the IPA was never consulted on that.

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pc shipThe Royal Navy has banned posters of glamour models so as not to offend women sailors after some complained of feeling intimidated by the soft porn.

Perhaps the banning of public space pin ups is understandable in these PC times but the Navy’s rules go further and effectively ban sailors from all but a tiny portion of available porn.

Sailors were told about the ban when they were given an amended version of the Royal Navy’s Queen Regulations. A new section titled Pin-ups and Pornography reads:

Possession of films/videos and all forms of digital media (e.g DvDs, or downloads from the internet) that have been certified by the British Board of Film Censors is permitted.  All other pornographic material is prohibited.

A Naval source told The Sun about these miserable rules:

To be fair, this is part of the service coming into the 21st Century, being more inclusive and not offending women.

But a lot of the lads are moaning about this because porn has been rife across the fleet for generations, and this is the result of a few people complaining.

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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