A select committee has called for more regulation and greater safety on the Internet. But politicians should be careful what they wish for, says Bill Thompson
It would be nice to think that the latest call to ‘do something’ about online content from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee was grounded in some new development that made it trivial for websites to identify adult-oriented content, an online identity system which reliably linked social network profiles with age verification for all users, or the release of a user-friendly but unbreakable watermarking scheme that could identify copyrighted material whenever it appeared on an Internet-accessible computer.
Read the Index on Censorship article and read the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report here.
Times Higher Education: Researchers have no ‘right’ to study terrorist materials
17 July 2008, By Melanie Newman
Nottingham v-c warns that academics may face prosecution. Melanie Newman reports
Academics have no ‘right’ to research terrorist materials and they risk being prosecuted for doing so, the vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham has told his staff.
In a statement issued to the university last week, Sir Colin Campbell says: ‘There is no ‘right’ to access and research terrorist materials. Those who do so run the risk of being investigated and prosecuted on terrorism charges. Equally, there is no ‘prohibition’ on accessing terrorist materials for the purpose of research. Those who do so are likely to be able to offer a defence to charges (although they may be held in custody for some time while the matter is investigated). This is the law and applies to all universities.’
Sir Colin issued the statement to advise staff to note ‘additional points’ that have emerged since the arrest in May of a Nottingham masters student and a clerk on suspicion of possessing extremist material.
The student, Rizwaan Sabir, who is studying Islamic terrorism, said he had downloaded a copy of an al-Qaeda training manual for use in his MA dissertation and PhD application and had forwarded it to the administrator, Hicham Yezza, for printing. After six days in detention, neither was charged.
Sir Colin referred to a letter of advice issued to Mr Sabir by the police after his release.
The letter warned Mr Sabir that he risked re-arrest if found with the manual again and added: ‘The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes.’
Sir Colin says in his statement: ‘It is understood that the police drafted this letter having considered all of the statements made by a range of university staff and they also consulted their legal advisers on it.’
By Mark Sweney, Guardian.co.uk, Thursday July 31 2008
A hardline letter sent by the BPI at the 11th hour threatened to undermine a deal to tackle illegal filesharing, prompting the government to express its displeasure of the music industry body in a terse response to record label executives.
The BPI’s letter, signed by the body’s chief executive, Geoff Taylor, was sent to Baroness Vadera, the business minister; the UK’s six biggest internet service providers; and the Motion Picture Association of America, the Hollywood studios’ trade organisation.
It was sent on the morning of July 23, the day the memorandum of understanding was due to be signed by the government and the various music, film and internet industry signatories.
In the letter the BPI, which represents the UK recorded music industry, said it welcomed the MoU, but thought it was important to ‘clarify’ that it did not consider the agreement to be an ‘exhaustive solution’.
The letter reiterated the BPI’s strong views on enforcement of copyright protection, reminding the signatories that the MoU did not mean a ‘waiver’ of existing legal rights.