Censorship

Cameron Announces Crackdown On Free Pornography

Friday, 31 July, 2015 - 17:00

For immediate release.

David Cameron has today announced a crackdown on free pornography sites. In a statement he says that free porn "could be shut down within months" and "I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down".

Wonga censors Twitter critics - where's our right to parody?

Payday lender Wonga has forced Twitter to take down a user's parody advert by making a copyright claim. User @Brandy_Snap created the parody based on satirical arist William Hogarth's 1732 painting of a spendthrift held in a debtor's prison. @Brandy_Snap's parody superimposes the face of Earl, Wonga's "marketing character", on top of Hogarth's unfortunate debtor. It adds the words: "Fed up of final demands, whining relatives and debtors' prison?" and reproduces the Wonga logo with the added strapline: "Your soul is ours."

Twitter removed @Brandy_Snap's image from their tweet after Wonga's copyright complaint to Twitter which claims:

Earl's face has been doctored onto a painting in the tweet found at the URL above. Unauthorised use of all or a substantial part of a copyright work is an infringing act. The "wonga.com" trade mark device (blue stylised speech bubble with the words "wonga.com" in white) has been reproduced without consent. Unauthorised use of all or a substantial part of a copyright work (which the copyright owner asserts in addition to its trade mark rights) is an infringing act.

The United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) gives copyright holders the power to ask online publishers and web hosting providers such as Twitter to remove what they consider to be infringing material. In return, publishers are protected from legal action as long as they comply promptly with takedown requests.

Should public libraries block payday loan websites?

Several UK councils are now blocking access to payday loan websites in their libraries and on their public wifi networks. Some, such as Nottingham City Council, are also redirecting users trying to visit those sites to the website of the local credit union. Usually this web blocking is part of a wider anti-debt strategy designed to help local people manage their money better that might include debt advice and personal finance courses.

This is a fundamental shift in how public libraries think about providing internet access. Public libraries have always blocked some websites. They block illegal material such as child abuse images and political extremism. And they block legal pornography because viewing it could be disruptive and offensive to some patrons beyond the person who’s choosing to view it. But blocking the websites of legal businesses because the council disagrees with some of their commercial practices takes us into the realm of paternalism: restricting access to information for the individual’s supposed own good.

Inside Default Web Blocking - Part 2

Pro-Ana Content

Last year one of the many nasties due to be blocked was websites which encourage people to develop eating disorders, aka 'Pro-Anorexic' content. The content doesn't appear to be blocked under any of the various filters, suggesting that the ISPs may have realised the problems in this area - namely that an unrealistically proportioned, air-brushed model on a mainstream fashion publication can unfortunately be as self-image damaging as any 'legitimate' weight loss tips.

With the situation as it stands today, in this issue, at least, ISPs seem to have decided that mental health in the UK is an issue more complex than one which can be addressed by attempting to block websites.

Sex Education

BT's (fully optional in this case) filter has already come under heavy criticism for blocking 'gay and lesbian lifestyle' content, before back-peddling to sex education only.

BT's filter whilst claiming 'not [to] discriminate between heterosexual and LGBT content' clearly blocks sites such as gaytimes.co.uk (but not pinknews.co.uk) and does in fact effectively block a range of sex education sites such as the sexual health charity http://www.fpa.org.uk and http://www.contraceptioneducation.co.uk

As this is (for now, at least) a fully opt-in category, the potential for wider damage is fortunately limited.

Inside Default Web Blocking - Part 1

After sustained government pressure, 3 of the 4 major UK ISPs now offer web filtering products to their customers.   What filtering is going on? How effective is it? What's next?   These are questions with complex answers. The UK does not, as yet, have as invasive a system as the Great Firewall of China, but features nearly all of the same technologies, problems and circumvention techniques. In this two-part article, I will focus on the new ISP content filters and their varying implementations.   As a expert in internet and networking technologies as well as internet regulatory measures, I took it upon myself to analyse, in detail, the current state of UK web blocking by compiling information from a number of government, media and industry data sources in order to analyse issues with both the available filtering categories and the consistency of their implementation.

ORGZINE How the Government turned anti social media

Loz Kaye responds to David Cameron's potential idea of a social media block in 'emergencies'.

It is typical of this Government’s approach to set out an unfeasible course of action, then expect others to implement it - in this case “the police, the intelligence services and industry “. It turns the police into passive observers and reactors, rather active participants working in a proportionate manner with communities. It was this that restored calm to our streets - not squaddies, bullets, or water cannon - and certainly not censorship. We need to look at root causes, not blame channels of communication.

Monday, 15 August, 2011 - 22:00

Blocking Newzbin2 paves the way for internet censorship

The court decision to allow BT to block the 'pirate' site means Hollywood is dictating our internet policy.

In a significant test case brought by six major Hollywood studios, the UK's high court has forced BT to block access for its customers to the so-called "pirate" site Newzbin2. This was hailed as a victory for the creative industries. But it was a defeat for the web and British freedom of expression. We now have the tools for state-supported censorship of the internet.

Friday, 29 July, 2011 - 22:00

Web blocking. The Collateral Damage.

Loz Kaye's picture

The last time I was in the (now closed) Ancoats walk in health centre I noticed something pretty sobering. A poster with information about help for victims of domestic abuse with tear off slips with contact details at the bottom.

Half of the strips were torn off.

Each torn strip represents a moment of someone seeking vital information to get help. It's that act of courage to seek information that has now become collateral in Cameron's web block firewall.

Opinion: Claire Perry’s “Porn Filter” Is Internet Censorship v1.0

Editor's picture
I closed my last article, Why is the UK the Most Censored Nation in Europe?, by writing (with reference to British censorship) “...you ain’t seen nothing yet.” After having studied the rise of the British censorship bureaucracy in recent decades, one thing was crystal-clear to me: authoritarians had fought hard to introduce tight censorship of video and TV, and the Internet was a threat to their control, as well as their livelihoods (censorship, it should be known, is a lucrative business).

Monday’s launch of David Cameron’s War on Porn meant a busy day for me. I started out with a stint on Radio 4’s Today Programme at 7:15, and by 1:30pm, I was on a Sky News panel: my thirteenth media appearance of the day.

Cameron’s initiative against the “poison” of pornography covered three main announcements. In reality, two of them were largely meaningless, and apparently designed to provide cover for the third: Britain’s first full step into physical censorship of the Internet.

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