Posts Tagged ‘Internet Censorship’

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matt hancockCulture Secretary Matt Hancock has issued to the following press release from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

New laws to make social media safer

New laws will be created to make sure that the UK is the safest place in the world to be online, Digital Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The move is part of a series of measures included in the government’s response to the Internet Safety Strategy green paper, published today.

The Government has been clear that much more needs to be done to tackle the full range of online harm.

Our consultation revealed users feel powerless to address safety issues online and that technology companies operate without sufficient oversight or transparency. Six in ten people said they had witnessed inappropriate or harmful content online.

The Government is already working with social media companies to protect users and while several of the tech giants have taken important and positive steps, the performance of the industry overall has been mixed.

The UK Government will therefore take the lead, working collaboratively with tech companies, children’s charities and other stakeholders to develop the detail of the new legislation.

Matt Hancock, DCMS Secretary of State said:

Internet Safety StrategyDigital technology is overwhelmingly a force for good across the world and we must always champion innovation and change for the better. At the same time I have been clear that we have to address the Wild West elements of the Internet through legislation, in a way that supports innovation. We strongly support technology companies to start up and grow, and we want to work with them to keep our citizens safe.

People increasingly live their lives through online platforms so it’s more important than ever that people are safe and parents can have confidence they can keep their children from harm. The measures we’re taking forward today will help make sure children are protected online and balance the need for safety with the great freedoms the internet brings just as we have to strike this balance offline.

DCMS and Home Office will jointly work on a White Paper with other government departments, to be published later this year. This will set out legislation to be brought forward that tackles a range of both legal and illegal harms, from cyberbullying to online child sexual exploitation. The Government will continue to collaborate closely with industry on this work, to ensure it builds on progress already made.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Criminals are using the internet to further their exploitation and abuse of children, while terrorists are abusing these platforms to recruit people and incite atrocities. We need to protect our communities from these heinous crimes and vile propaganda and that is why this Government has been taking the lead on this issue.

But more needs to be done and this is why we will continue to work with the companies and the public to do everything we can to stop the misuse of these platforms. Only by working together can we defeat those who seek to do us harm.

The Government will be considering where legislation will have the strongest impact, for example whether transparency or a code of practice should be underwritten by legislation, but also a range of other options to address both legal and illegal harms.

We will work closely with industry to provide clarity on the roles and responsibilities of companies that operate online in the UK to keep users safe.

The Government will also work with regulators, platforms and advertising companies to ensure that the principles that govern advertising in traditional media — such as preventing companies targeting unsuitable advertisements at children — also apply and are enforced online.

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Read more eu.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Image: Facepalm , Brandon Grasley, CC-BYThe EU is mooting a new copyright regime for the largest market in the world, and the Commissioners who are drafting the new rules are completely captured by the entertainment industry, to the extent that they have ignored their own experts and produced a farcical Big Content wishlist that includes the most extensive internet censorship regime the world has ever seen, perpetual monopolies for the biggest players, and a ban on European creators using Creative Commons licenses to share their works.

Under the new rules, anyone who allows the public to post material will have to maintain vast databases of copyrighted works claimed by rightsholders , and any public communications that matches anything in these databases has to be blocked. These databases have been tried on much more modest scales — Youtube’s Content ID is a prominent example — and they’re a mess. Because rightsholders are free to upload anything and claim ownership of it, Content ID is a font of garbagey, sloppy, fraudulent copyright abuse: five different companies claim to own the rights to white noise ; Samsung claims to own any drawing of its phones ; Nintendo claims it owns gamers’ animated mashups ; Sony claims it owns stock footage it stole from a filmmaker whose work it had censored; the biggest music companies in the world all claim to own the rights to “Silent Night” , a rogues’ gallery of sleazy copyfraudsters claim to own NASA’s spacecraft landing footage — all in all, these systems benefit the large and the unethical at the cost of small and nimble.

That’s just for starters.

Since these filter systems are incredibly expensive to create and operate, anyone who wants to get into business competing with the companies that grew large without having to create systems like these will have to source hundreds of millions in capital before they can even enter the market. Youtube 2018 can easily afford Content ID; Youtube 2005 would have been bankrupted if they’d had to build it.

And then there’s the matter of banning Creative Commons licenses.

In order to bail out the largest newspapers in the EU, the Commission is proposing a Link Tax — a fee that search engines and sites like Boing Boing will have to pay just for the right to link to news stories on the web. This idea has been tried before in Spain and Germany and the newspapers who’d called for it quickly admitted it wasn’t working and stopped using it.

But the new, worse-than-ever Link Tax contains a new wrinkle: rightsholders will not be able to waive the right to be compensated under the Link Tax. That means that European creators — who’ve released hundreds of millions of works under Creative Commons licenses that allow for free sharing without fee or permission — will no longer be able to choose the terms of a Creative Commons license; the inalienable, unwaivable right to collect rent any time someone links to your creations will invalidate the core clause in these licenses.

Europeans can write to their MEPs and the European Commission using this joint Action Centre ; please act before it’s too late.

The European Copyright Directive was enacted in 2001 and is now woefully out of date. Thanks in large part to the work of Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, many good ideas for updating European copyright law were put forward in a report of the European Parliament in July 2015. The European Commission threw out most of these ideas, and instead released a legislative proposal in October 2016 that focused on giving new powers to publishers. That proposal was referred to several of the committees of the European Parliament, with the Parliament’s Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee taking the lead.

As the final text must also be accepted by the Council of the European Union (which can be considered as the second part of the EU’s bicameral legislature), the Council Presidency has recently been weighing in with its own “compromise” proposals (although this is something of a misnomer, as they do little to improve the Commission’s original text, and in some respects make it worse). Not to be outdone, German MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Axel Voss last month introduced a new set of his own proposals [PDF] for “compromise,” which are somehow worse still. Since Voss leads the JURI committee, this is a big problem.

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California state sealThere is no shortage of hostility towards Facebook at the moment, as a result of recent revelations about their exploitation of user data and dissemination of supposed ‘fake news’.And the Californian Government has taken this to a whole new level and come up with a tradition approach to demand that all online news in the state is censored by government approved ‘fact checkers’.

California State Senator Richard Pan introduced the bill SB1424 Internet: social media: false information: strategic plan. that requires any online communication to be run through government-approved censors fact-checkers.

This bill would require any person who operates a social media Internet Web site with a physical presence in California to develop a strategic plan to verify news stories shared on its Web site. The bill would require the plan to include, among other things, a plan to mitigate the spread of false information through news stories, the utilization of fact-checkers to verify news stories, providing outreach to social media users, and placing a warning on a news story containing false information.

Although the bill initially suggests that this would apply only social media companies, the definitions confirm that it would apply to all internet communications from individuals, and companies large and small. The scope is defined in the bill:

As used in this section, social media means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.

conservativedailynews.com notes:

The bill stands little chance of passing and, if it did, would face serious challenges in court as an infringement of The First Amendment, but it is astonishing that a legislator would even consider such a thing in America.

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MicrosoftThe US has just passed an internet censorship bill, FOSTA, that holds internet companies responsible if users use their services to facilitate sex trafficking. It sounds a laudable aim on paper, but in reality how can say Microsoft actually prevent users from using communication or storage services to support trafficking?Well the answer is there is no real way to distinguish say adverts for legal sex workers from those for illegal sex workers. So the only answer for internet companies is to censor and ban ALL communications that could possibly be related to sex.

So there have been several responses from internet companies along these lines. Small ad company Craigslist has just taken down ALL personal ads just in case sex traffickers may be lurking there. A Craigslist spokesperson explained:

Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services.

Last week, several online porn performers who use Google Drive to store and distribute their adult content files reported that the service had suddenly and without warning blocked or deleted their files, posing a threat to their income streams.

And now it seems that Microsoft is following suit for users of its internet services in the USA. Microsoft has now banned offensive language, as well as nudity and porn, from any of its services — which include Microsoft Office, XBox and even Skype.

The broad new ban was quietly inserted into Microsoft’s new Terms of Service agreement, which was posted on March 1 and which takes effect on May 1 . The new rules also give Microsoft the legal ability to review private user content and block or delete anything, including email, that contains offensive content or language.  The rules do not define exactly what would constitute offensive language.

In theory, the new ban could let Microsoft monitor, for example, private Skype chats, shutting down calls in which either participant is nude or engaged in sexual conduct.

So wait a sec: I can’t use Skype to have an adult video call with my girlfriend? I can’t use OneDrive to back up a document that says ‘fuck’ in it? asked civil liberties advocate Jonathan Corbett, in a blog post this week. If I call someone a mean name in Xbox Live, not only will they cancel my account, but also confiscate any funds I’ve deposited in my account?

denofgeek.com answers some of these queries:

Seemingly aware of the tentative nature of this policy, Microsoft included a couple of disclaimers. First off, the company notes that it cannot monitor the entire Services and will make no attempt to do so. That suggests that Microsoft is not implementing live monitoring. However, it can access stored and shared content when looking into alleged violations. This indicates that part of this policy will work off of a user report system.

Microsoft also states that it can remove or refuse to publish content for any reason and reserves the right to block delivery of a communication across services attached to this content policy. Additionally, the punishments for breaking this code of conduct now include the forfeiture of content licenses as well as Microsoft account balances associated with the account. That means that the company could theoretically remove games from your console or seize money in your Microsoft account.

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DCMS logoIn a press release the DCMS describes its digital strategy including a delayed introduction of internet porn censorship. The press release states:

The Strategy also reflects the Government’s ambition to make the internet safer for children by requiring age verification for access to commercial pornographic websites in the UK. In February, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) was formally designated as the age verification regulator.

Our priority is to make the internet safer for children and we believe this is best achieved by taking time to get the implementation of the policy right. We will therefore allow time for the BBFC as regulator to undertake a public consultation on its draft guidance which will be launched later this month.

For the public and the industry to prepare for and comply with age verification, the Government will also ensure a period of up to three months after the BBFC guidance has been cleared by Parliament before the law comes into force. It is anticipated age verification will be enforceable by the end of the year.

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governmet germany logoA German law requiring social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove reported hate speech without enough time to consider the merits of the report is set to be revised following criticism that too much online content is being blocked.The law, called NetzDG for short, is an international test case and how it plays out is being closely watched by other countries considering similar measures.

German politicians forming a new government told Reuters they want to add an amendment to help web users get incorrectly deleted material restored online.

The lawmakers are also pushing for social media firms to set up an independent body to review and respond to reports of offensive content from the public, rather than leaving to the social media companies who by definition care more about profits than supporting free speech.

Such a system, similar to how video games are policed in Germany, could allow a more considered approach to complex decisions about whether to block content, legal experts say.

Facebook, which says it has 1,200 people in Germany working on reviewing posts out of 14,000 globally responsible for moderating content and account security, said it was not pursuing a strategy to delete more than necessary. Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for EMEA public policy said:

People think deleting illegal content is easy but it’s not. Facebook reviews every NetzDG report carefully and with legal expertise, where appropriate. When our legal experts advise us, we follow their assessment so we can meet our obligations under the law.

Johannes Ferchner, spokesman on justice and consumer protection for the Social Democrats and one of the architects of the law said:

We will add a provision so that users have a legal possibility to have unjustly deleted content restored.

Thomas Jarzombek, a Christian Democrat who helped refine the law, said the separate body to review complaints should be established, adding that social media companies were deleting too much online content. NetzDG already allows for such a self-regulatory body, but companies have chosen to go their own way instead. According to the coalition agreement, both parties want to develop the law to encourage the establishment of such a body.

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matt hancockThe UK’s digital and culture secretary, Matt Hancock, has ruled out creating a new internet censor targeting social media such as Facebook and Twitter.In an interview on the BBC’s Media Show , Hancock said he was not inclined in that direction and instead wanted to ensure existing regulation is fit for purpose. He said:

If you tried to bring in a new regulator you’d end up having to regulate everything. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to make sure that the regulations ensure that markets work properly and people are protected.

Meanwhile the Electoral Commission and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee are now investigating whether Russian groups used the platforms to interfere in the Brexit referendum in 2016. The DCMS select committee is in the US this week to grill tech executives about their role in spreading fake news. In a committee hearing in Washington yesterday, YouTube’s policy chief said the site had found no evidence of Russian-linked accounts purchasing ads to interfere in the Brexit referendum.