Posts Tagged ‘DCMS’

Read more gcnews.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

matt hancockMatt Hancock MP was appointed Secretary of State for Digital, Censorship, Media and Sport on 8 January 2018. He was previously Minister of State for Digital from July 2016 to January 2018.Matt Hancock is the MP for West Suffolk, having been elected in the 2010 general election.  Since July 2016 he has served at DCMS as Minister of State for Digital and is responsible for broadband, broadcasting, creative industries, cyber and the tech industry.

The Secretary of State has overall responsibility for strategy and policy across the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The department’s main policy areas are:

  • arts and culture
  • broadcasting
  • creative industries
  • cultural property, heritage and the historic environment
  • gambling and racing
  • libraries
  • media ownership and mergers
  • museums and galleries
  • the National Lottery
  • sport
  • telecommunications and online
  • tourism

Hancock has already been working on the new law to serve up porn viewers on a platter to scammers, fraudsters, blackmailers and identity thieves, so there is unlikely to be a change of direction there.

Advertisements
Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

dcms age verification risk assessment The UK government slipped out its impact assessment of the upcoming porn censorship law during the Christmas break. The new law requires porn websites to be blocked in the UK when they don’t implement age verification.The measures are currently due to come into force in May but it seems a tight schedule as even the rules for acceptable age verification systems have not yet been published.

The report contains some interesting costings and assessment of the expected harms to be inflicted on porn viewers and British adult businesses.

The document notes the unpopularity of the age verification requirements with a public consultation finding that 54% of respondents did not support the introduction of a law to require age verification.

However, the government has forged ahead, with the aim of stopping kids accessing porn on the grounds that such content could distress them or harm their development.

The governments censorship rules will be enforced by the BBFC, in its new role as the UK porn censor although it prefers the descriptor: age-verification regulator . The government states that the censorship job will initially be funded by the government, and the government is assuming this will cost £4.5 million based upon a range of estimates from 1 million to 8 million.

The government has bizarrely assumed that the BBFC will ban just 1 to 60 sites in a year. The additional work for ISPs to block these sites is estimated £100,000 to £500,000 for each ISP. Probably to be absorbed by larger companies, but will be an expensive problem for smaller companies who do not currently implement any blocking systems.

Interestingly the government notes that there wont be any impact on UK adult businesses notionally because they should have already implemented age verification under ATVOD and Ofcom censorship rules. In reality it will have little impact on UK businesses because they have already been decimated by the ATVOD and Ofcom rules and have mostly closed down or moved abroad.

Te key section of the document summarising expected harms is as follows.

The policy option set out above also gives rise to the following risks:

  • Deterring adults from consuming content as a result of privacy/ fraud concerns linked to inputting ID data into sites and apps, also some adults may not be able to prove their age online;
  • Development of alternative payment systems and technological work-arounds could mean porn providers do not comply with new law, and enforcement is impossible as they are based overseas, so the policy goal would not be achieved;
  • The assumption that ISPs will comply with the direction of the regulator;
  • Reputational risks including Government censorship, over-regulation, freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
  • The potential for online fraud could raise significantly, as criminals adapt approaches in order to make use of false AV systems / spoof websites and access user data;
  • The potential ability of children, particularly older children, to bypass age verification controls is a risk. However, whilst no system will be perfect, and alternative routes such as virtual private networks and peer-to-peer sharing of content may enable some under-18s to see this content, Ofcom research indicates that the numbers of children bypassing network level filters, for example, is very low (ca. 1%).
  • Adults (and some children) may be pushed towards using ToR and related systems to avoid AV where they could be exposed to illegal and extreme material that they otherwise would never have come into contact with.

The list does not seem to include the potential for blackmail from user data sold by porn firms, or else stolen by hackers. And mischievously, politicians could be one of the groups most open to blackmail for money or favours.

Another notable omission, is that the government does not seem overly concerned about mass VPN usage. I would have thought that the secret services wanting to monitor terrorists would not be pleased if a couple of million people stared to use encrypted VPNs. Perhaps it shows that the likes of GCHQ can already see into what goes on behind VPNs.

Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

DCMS logoThe Government has formally proposed that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) be designated as the regulator for the age verification of online pornography in the UK.

Age verification will mean anyone who makes pornography available online on a commercial basis must ensure under 18s in the UK cannot access it. This is part of the Government’s continuing work to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

The BBFC has unparalleled expertise in classifying content and has a proven track record of interpreting and implementing legislation as the statutory authority for age rating videos under the Video Recordings Act.

This, along with its work with industry on the film classification system and more recently classifying material for mobile network operators, makes them the preferred choice for regulator.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock said:

One of the missions of age verification is to harness the freedom of the internet while mitigating its harms. Offline, as a society we protect children from viewing inappropriate adult material by ensuring pornography is sold responsibly using appropriate age checks. It is now time that the online world follows suit. The BBFC are the best placed in the world to do this important and delicate task.

David Austin, Chief Executive Officer at BBFC said:

The BBFC’s primary aim is to protect children and other vulnerable groups from harmful content and we are therefore pleased to accept the Government’s proposed designation.

Age-verification barriers will help to prevent children accessing or stumbling across pornographic content online. The UK is leading the way with this age-verification regime and will set an international precedent in child protection.

The government’s proposal must be approved by Parliament before the BBFC is officially designated as the age-verification regulator.

The regulator will notify non-compliant pornographic providers, and be able to direct internet service providers to prevent customers accessing these sites. It will also notify payment-services providers and other ancillary service providers of these sites, with the intention that they can withdraw their services.

The Government will shortly also publish guidance on how the regulator should fulfil its duties in relation to age verification.

Response: The BBFC will struggle to ensure that Age Verification is safe, secure and anonymous

15th December 2017 See  article from  strangethingsarehappening.com

open rights group 2016 logo Responding to the news that the BBFC are in line to be appointed Age Verification regulator, Jim Killock Executive Director of the Open Rights Group said:

The BBFC will struggle to ensure that Age Verification is safe, secure and anonymous. They are powerless to ensure people’s privacy.

The major publisher, MindGeek, looks like it will dominate the AV market. We are very worried about their product, AgeID, which could track people’s porn use. The way this product develops is completely out of BBFC’s hands.

Users will not be able to choose how to access websites. They’ll be at the mercy of porn companies. And the blame lies squarely with Theresa May’s government for pushing incomplete legislation.

Killock also warned that censorship of porn sites could quickly spiral into hundreds or thousands of sites:

While BBFC say they will only block a few large sites that don’t use AV, there are tens of thousands of porn sites. Once MPs work out that AV is failing to make porn inaccessible, some will demand that more and more sites are blocked. BBFC will be pushed to block ever larger numbers of websites.

Response: How to easily get around the UK’s porn censorship

15th December 2017 See  article from vpncompare.co.uk

vpn compare logoOf course, in putting together this hugely draconian piece of legislation, the British Government has overlooked one rather glaring point. Any efforts to censor online content in the UK can be easily circumvented by anyone using a VPN.

British-based subscribers to a VPN service such as IPVanish or ExpressVPN will be able to get around any blocked sites simply by connecting to a server in another democratic country which hasn’t chosen to block websites with adult content.

As much as Governments try to censor online content, so VPN will offer continue to offer people access to the free and uncontrolled internet they are legally entitled to enjoy.

…Read the full  article from vpncompare.co.uk

Read more ow.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Ofcom logoThe BBC is refusing an order to pay £9 million a year to the TV censor Ofcom, in a behind-the-scenes row over the cost of the corporation’s new censorship regime.

Ofcom, which will take on responsibility for censoring the BBC in April, is locked in a private battle after warning BBC executives that it wants to appoint double the number of staff the BBC Trust, the broadcaster’s current ruling body, currently employs to censor the broadcaster.

The move will add more than £5 million to the regulatory bill currently footed by the licence fee payer, roughly equivalent to what the BBC spends on a six-part drama series .

The corporation is understood to have appealed to Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, to force Ofcom to reduce its fees. Sue Owen, permanent secretary at the DCMS, is understood to have written to Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, calling on her to cut the planned fees, but White is said to have argued that the proposed charges are ‘reasonable’.

The corporation is said to be particularly annoyed that Ofcom has demanded £6.5 million for the past financial year, which covers a period before the broadcaster assumes its full regulatory duties.

Ofcom insists that it will have a more wide-ranging role than the Trust, and will have to hold the BBC to account on new political correctness issues such as diversity targets.

Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

DCMS logo The Government is working with the UK music industry, BBFC and digital service providers like Vevo and YouTube to take further action to protect children from viewing inappropriate videos on the internet.

Many children have easy access to music videos online and some parents are rightly concerned that some of these contain imagery or lyrics not appropriate for a young audience.

In October 2014 a Government-backed pilot to introduce age ratings for online music videos was launched by the BBFC and BPI in conjunction with Vevo and YouTube, working with major UK music labels to introduce a new ratings system that would allow digital service providers to clearly display an easily recognisable age rating on videos posted on the web.

UK labels supply videos ahead of release to the BBFC, and then pass on the rating and guidance given by the BBFC when releasing their videos to the two digital service providers involved — Vevo and YouTube – who display it when the videos are broadcast online.

Building on the pilot, the Government has now as part of its manifesto commitment agreed with the UK music industry and with the digital service providers that the measures trialled will be now be made permanent for videos produced in the UK by artists who are represented by major labels.

As well as working with Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, the Government is also encouraging independent UK music labels to follow suit so that the digital service providers can display appropriate age ratings on their videos too. We can announce today that independent UK music labels will now take part in a six month pilot phase.

Joanna Shields, Minister for Internet Safety and Security, said:

Movies in the cinema and music DVDs are age rated to inform the viewer and help parents to make informed choices. We welcome this voluntary step from industry to bring internet services in line with the offline world.

Keeping children safe as they experience and enjoy all the benefits the Internet has to offer is a key priority for this Government’s One Nation approach to help families across Britain. We will continue to work with industry to develop ways to help parents to better protect children online from inappropriate music videos with explicit adult or violent content.

Clear age ratings are the first step but initial findings of independent research commissioned by the BBFC shows that up to 60 per cent of children aged 10 to 17 are watching music videos that they do not think their parents would approve of.

To help address this, Vevo are exploring plans to link these age ratings to additional technology on their platform that can support age controls.

On YouTube, when record labels upload a UK-produced music video rated 18 by the BBFC, they are able to age-gate access to users signed in as over 18. The new age ratings also complement YouTube’s existing restricted mode which helps parents screen out content they may not feel is right for their children. To date 132 music videos have been submitted by UK labels to the BBFC for certification and, of these, only one has been given an 18-rating — Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Couple of Stacks’.

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said:

Britain is a world leader in making exciting and original music, in part because our artists have a freedom to express themselves that we rightly cherish. While we must continue to uphold this principle, it is equally important that music videos are broadcast in a responsible way and that parents are given the tools to make more informed viewing decisions on behalf of their families.

UK record labels value the opportunity to work with Government to build on the pilot and, as a key next step, we encourage Vevo, YouTube and other digital service providers to look at how they can make filters available to parents so they can use age ratings to screen out any inappropriate content.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said:

We welcome this agreement. Parents want to see clear and recognisable age ratings on online music videos and we look forward to building on the success of the pilot, in partnership with the industry, so that the public can have the trusted signposting which they seek.

Nic Jones, EVP International at Vevo, said:

Vevo have been participating in the BBFC’s age ratings pilot since its inception and welcome news that that scheme is to be permanently backed by UK major labels. We are very pleased that the UK independent labels — such an important part of the UK music landscape will now be part of this scheme. At Vevo we support artists and their creativity, however, we understand the importance and value that age ratings provide parents and music fans to help inform their viewing, enabling them to make choices about what content they wish to watch.

Vevo will be working with the BBFC as the scheme rolls out to make sure that age ratings are displayed in the most effective way on our platform, to provide the necessary guidance for audiences in a clear way. We are also committed to making the age ratings work as effectively as possible and will continue to explore how additional technology on the platform can support age controls to ensure that explicit content is watched only by age appropriate audiences.

Candice Morrissey, Content Partnerships Manager at YouTube EMEA, said:

We have been working with the participants in this pilot to help them display the BBFC’s age ratings on their music videos on YouTube. These ratings are in addition to the controls we already provide on YouTube including the ability for uploaders to add age warnings to videos and a restricted mode.

Government and industry are also working together to look at how lessons learned in the UK could help international partners who share our concerns to adopt a similar approach.

Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

DCMS logo Porn websites will be forced to check users are over 18 under a new crackdown to stop children accessing explicit material.

Mobile phone companies and credit card firms will have to ensure that someone proves they are aged 18 or over before being given access to adult websites.

Now it has emerged that plans are being drawn up to force adult websites to carry out checks on the age of users. It would cover pornography sites, as well as those selling guns and other age-restricted material, the Sunday Times reported.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is working on the plans with Treasury minister Andrea Leadsom, who oversees regulation of the banking system.

However, the new rules would only cover UK-based websites to begin with.  It is already nearly impossible to run a British adult website due to onerous age verification rules and critics have noted that only one of the 1,266 adult websites visited from the UK in December 2013 was a service that is regulated in this country.

It seems very unlikely that these new rules will have any impact onthe availability of porn to children. Even if new downloadswere stopped tomorrow there’s probably already enough knocking around and hard drives and memory sticks to last several lifetimes of playgroundswopsies. The only effect it will have is to add to the mountain of red tape, administrative costs and restrictive regulations that is impoverishing the west.

Offsite Comment: Why age checks on porn sites will do more harm than good

28th October 2014. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk by Martin Daubney

Telegraph logo The Government’s plan to introduce age verification checks only shows that politicians remain too scared to approach the porn problem in a meaningful manner.

…Read the full article

Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

DCMS logo On the 7th July 2014, the UK Government Department of Culture, Media, Sport and Censorship notified the European Commission of its draft regulation toincorporateATVOD’s impractical age verification rules for accessing hardcore porn on the internet into UK law.The DCMS document states:

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014

Main Content

Part 4A of the Communications Act 2003 (inserted by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2009 and 2010) transpose the requirements of Directive 2010/13/EU in relation to on-demand programme services. Section 368E(2) provides that on-demand material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen must only be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it. This draft instrument amends section 368E in two ways. First, it provides that any material that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has issued a R18 classification certificate in respect of (or any material that would have been issued such a certificate) (hard-core pornography) must not be included in an on-demand service unless it is behind effective access controls which verify that the user is aged eighteen or over. Secondly, it provides that any material that the BBFC has refused to give a classification certificate in respect of (or any material that would have been refused such a certificate) must not be included in an on-demand service at all.

Brief Statement of Grounds

In 2010 the Department wrote to Ofcom raising concerns about whether section 368E would in practice provide sufficient safeguards to protect children from sexually explicit material. Ofcom’s report in 2011 recommended that the Government introduce new legislation to prohibit R18 material from being included in on-demand services unless mandatory restrictions are in place and prohibit altogether material whose content the BBFC would refuse to classify. The co-regulators, Ofcom and the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), were concerned that the evidence for children being caused harm by exposure to R18 material is inconclusive and the legislative protections currently in place were not sufficiently clear to provide certainty in this area. In the interim period pending legislative changes the co-regulators, adopting a precautionary approach, interpreted section 368E(2) as requiring R18 material to be behind access controls. This instrument has the effect of removing any uncertainty from the regulatory framework providing clarity to consumers and providers of on-demand services. It also provides the same level of protection that exists on the high street in relation to the sale of hard-copy DVDs to the provision of on-demand services. In a converging media world these provisions must be coherent. The BBFC classification regime established under the Video Recordings Act 1984 is a tried and tested system of what content is regarded as harmful for minors. This Act was notified as a technical standard – Notification No. 2009/495/UK.

Reference Documents

  • References of the Basic Texts: Part 4A of the Communications Act 2003
  • ATVOD Rules and Guidance and research report
  • Video Recordings Act 1984
  • BBFC Guidelines
  • Ofcom Report: Sexually Explicit Material and Video On Demand Services, 2011
  • Exploratory Memorandum

TBT aspect

No – The draft has no significant impact on international trade