Posts Tagged ‘UK Parliament’

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Houses of Parliament Web browser risk to child safety

We are deeply concerned that a new form of encryption being introduced to our web browsers will have terrible consequences for child protection.

The new system 204 known as DNS over HTTPS — would have the effect of undermining the work of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF); yet Mozilla, provider of the Firefox browser, has decided to introduce it, and others may follow.

The amount of abusive content online is huge and not declining. Last year, the IWF removed more than 105,000 web pages showing the sexual abuse of children. While the UK has an excellent record in eliminating the hosting of such illegal content, there is still a significant demand from UK internet users: the National Crime Agency estimates there are 144,000 internet users on some of the worst dark-web child sexual abuse sites.

To fight this, the IWF provides a URL block list that allows internet service providers to block internet users from accessing known child sexual abuse content until it is taken down by the host country. The deployment of the new encryption system in its proposed form could render this service obsolete, exposing millions of people to the worst imagery of children being sexually abused, and the victims of said abuse to countless sets of eyes.

Advances in protecting users’ data must not come at the expense of children. We urge the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport to address this issue in the government’s upcoming legislation on online harms.

  • Sarah Champion MP;
  • Tom Watson MP;
  • Carolyn Harris MP;
  • Tom Brake MP;
  • Stephen Timms MP;
  • Ian Lucas MP;
  • Tim Loughton MP;
  • Giles Watling MP;
  • Madeleine Moon MP;
  • Vicky Ford MP;
  • Rosie Cooper MP;
  • Baroness Howe;
  • Lord Knight;
  • Baroness Thornton;
  • Baroness Walmsley;
  • Lord Maginnis;
  • Baroness Benjamin;
  • Lord Harris of Haringey

The IWF service is continually being rolled out as an argument against DoH but I am starting to wonder if it is still relevant. Given the universal revulsion against child sex abuse then I’d suspect that little of it would now be located on the open internet. Surely it would be hiding away in hard to find places like the dark web, that are unlikely to stumbled on by normal people. And of course those using the dark web aren’t using ISP DNS servers anyway.

In reality the point of using DoH is to evade government attempts to block legal porn sites. If they weren’t intending to block legal sites then surely people would be happy to use the ISP DNS including the IWF service.

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Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

new filters An informal group of MPs, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing has published a report calling for the establishment of an internet censor. The report clams:

  • 80% of the UK public believe tighter regulation is needed to address the impact of social media on the health and wellbeing of young people.
  • 63% of young people reported social media to be a good source of health information.
  • However, children who spend more than three hours a day using social media are twice as likely to display symptoms of mental ill health.
  • Pressure to conform to beauty standards perpetuated and praised online can encourage harmful behaviours to achieve “results”, including body shame and disordered eating, with 46% of girls compared to 38% of all young people reporting social media has a negative impacted on their self-esteem.

The report titled, #NewFilters to manage the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing , puts forward a number of policy recommendations, including:

  • Establish a duty of care on all social media companies with registered UK users aged 24 and under in the form of a statutory code of conduct, with Ofcom to act as regulator.
  • Create a Social Media Health Alliance, funded by a 0.5% levy on the profits of social media companies, to fund research, educational initiatives and establish clearer guidance for the public.
  • Review whether the “addictive” nature of social media is sufficient for official disease classification.
  • Urgently commission robust, longitudinal research, into understanding the extent to which the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing is one of cause or correlation.

Chris Elmore MP, Chair of the APPG on Social Media on Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing said:

“I truly think our report is the wakeup call needed to ensure – finally – that meaningful action is taken to lessen the negative impact social media is having on young people’s mental health.

For far too long social media companies have been allowed to operate in an online Wild West. And it is in this lawless landscape that our children currently work and play online. This cannot continue. As the report makes clear, now is the time for the government to take action.

The recommendations from our Inquiry are both sensible and reasonable; they would make a huge difference to the current mental health crisis among our young people.

I hope to work constructively with the UK Government in the coming weeks and months to ensure we see real changes to tackle the issues highlighted in the report at the earliest opportunity.”

Read more parl.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

home affairs committee People convicted of insulting people online should be named and shamed on a government register of offenders under new laws to censor social media, says an all-party committee of MPs.The Commons petitions committee claimed new laws were needed to combat online harms because current legislation was not fit for purpose and self-regulation by the social media firms had failed.

The committee was responding to a petition, backed by more than 220,000 people, from reality TV star and model Katie Price who demanded new online laws and a register of offenders after her disabled son, Harvey, was viciously trolled for his condition, colour and size.

The MPs believe a criminal law, which covered online abuse and included proper recognition of hate crimes against disabled people, will achieve what the petition is looking for from a register, as criminal convictions will show up as part of a Disclosure and Barring Service check, said the MPs.

The committee said a high proportion of abusive content related to football with most shockingly the name of Harvey Price used by fans as an insult for someone’s ability as a footballer.

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home affairs committee Parliament’s fake news inquiry has published a cache of seized Facebook documents including internal emails sent between Mark Zuckerberg and the social network’s staff. The emails were obtained from the chief of a software firm that is suing the tech giant. About 250 pages have been published, some of which are marked highly confidential.

Facebook had objected to their release.

Damian Collins MP, the chair of the parliamentary committee involved, highlighted several key issues in an introductory note. He wrote that:

  • Facebook allowed some companies to maintain “full access” to users’ friends data even after announcing changes to its platform in 2014/2015 to limit what developers’ could see. “It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted,” Mr Collins wrote
  • Facebook had been aware that an update to its Android app that let it collect records of users’ calls and texts would be controversial. “To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features,” Mr Collins wrote
  • Facebook used data provided by the Israeli analytics firm Onavo to determine which other mobile apps were being downloaded and used by the public. It then used this knowledge to decide which apps to acquire or otherwise treat as a threat
  • there was evidence that Facebook’s refusal to share data with some apps caused them to fail
  • there had been much discussion of the financial value of providing access to friends’ data

In response, Facebook has said that the documents had been presented in a very misleading manner and required additional context.

See Mark Zuckerberg’s response on Facebook

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House of Commons logo[The trouble with discriminatory laws such as this is that they encourage hatred of others rather than diffusing the issue. Identity politics is very aggressive. Lynch mobs gather to push for for the most severe punishments for the most trivial of transgressions. Police and the prosecuting authorities always seem to side with the complainant and the resulting injustice is noted by more or less everyone in society. It succeeds only in winding everybody up and chipping away at any remaining respect for the way that the authorities run our lives. In an equal society everybody should have exactly the same rights to be protected form the ill intent of others].

The Labour MP Stella Creasy has put forward an amendment to the upskirting bill, due to be debated in the Commons this Wednesday, that would add misogyny as an aggravating factor in England and Wales. This would enable courts to consider it when sentencing an offender and require police forces to record it.

Creasy hopes this will be the first step towards recognising misogyny as a hate crime. Creasy said:

Upskirting is a classic example of a crime in which misogyny is motivating the offence. We protect women in the workplace from discrimination on grounds of their sex, but not in the courtroom — with upskirting, street harassment, sexually based violence and abuse a part of life for so many it’s time to learn from where misogyny has been treated as a form of hate crime and end this gap.

The Guardian understands that the Law Commission, which has called for a fundamental review of all hate crime legislation, supports the spirit of Creasy’s amendment.

In Scotland, the Holyrood government will shortly launch a consultation on the reform of all aspects of hate crime legislation, after an independent report recommended including gender , as well as age, as a hate crime in law. Although the National Police Chiefs’ Council rejected a proposal to extend the policy nationwide in July, it has set up a working group to examine the issue.

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rsph logoA survey commissioned by the Royal Society for Public Health has claimed that four in five people want social media firms to be regulated to ensure they do more to protect kids’ mental health. Presumably the questions were somewhat designed to favour the wished of the campaigners.Some 45% say the sites should be self-regulated with a code of conduct but 36% want rules enforced by Government.

The Royal Society for Public Health, which surveyed 2,000 adults, warned social media can cause significant problems if left unchecked.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously claimed that social media could pose as great a threat to children’s health as smoking and obesity. And he has accused them of developing seductive products aimed at ever younger children.

The survey comes as MPs and Peers today launch an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) that will probe the effect of social media on young people’ mental health. It will hear evidence over the coming year from users, experts and industry, with the aim of drawing up practical solutions, including a proposed industry Code of Conduct. Labour MP Chris Elmore, who will chair the APPG.

Read more uk_internet_censors.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

home affairs committeeThe UK’s parliamentary Communications Committee has announced a new inquiry into internet censorship. It writes:

The Committee wishes to explore how the regulation of the internet should be improved, including through better self-regulation and governance, and whether a new regulatory framework for the internet is necessary or whether the general law of the UK is adequate. This inquiry will consider whether online platforms which mediate individuals’ use of the internet have sufficient accountability and transparency, adequate governance and provide effective behavioural standards for users.

The committee is now accepting submissions from the public and those likely to be impacted by internet censorship decisions and policy,