Government to consult on automatic porn censorship proposals: “The Government is to consult on proposals that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to offer to block customers’ access to pornographic material by default.”
(Via OUT-LAW News.)
12,895 New Porn BitTorrent Lawsuits Filed Since December 23: “On December 16, 2010, things didn’t appear to be heading in a favorable direction for the likes of the USCG (US Copyright Group) or the bevy of other lawyers involved with P2P litigation. That’s because on that day, a judge in West Virginia ruled that instead of lumping thousands of defendants together in one lawsuit, the cases must be filed separately. This follows closely with other developments in these types of cases, which started when Judge Rosemary Collyer, who presides in the Far Cry case, ruled that only those defendants in her court’s jurisdiction could be sued.”
PRESS RELEASE: Schlock Horror! Stafford jury acquits fantasy porn defendant: “PRESS RELEASE: Schlock Horror! Stafford jury acquits fantasy porn defendant
By Nick | Published: January 7, 2011
For immediate release
Schlock Horror! Stafford jury acquits fantasy porn defendant
Prosecutors fail first test case to make mock erotic murder scenes illegal.
Kevin Webster, who downloaded erotic fantasy images with violent themes from the internet, (1) was found not guilty of possession of ‘extreme pornography’ (2) at Stafford Crown Court today. The jury were asked to decide whether obviously faked death images were in fact ‘realistic’ depictions of sexual violence; despite the prosecution having to accept, before the trial even began, that the images were clearly ‘staged’. In a victory for common sense and free speech the jury unanimously acquitted Mr Webster of all charges.
Mr Webster’s solicitor Myles Jackman of Audu and Co, who has now successfully defended a number of extreme pornography prosecutions (3), said: ‘The jury’s clear and unequivocal message is a damning blow to the credibility of the ill-conceived and prurient extreme pornography legislation. It has previously led to the state prosecuting the possession of dirty-jokes; and in Mr Webster’s case what were clearly unrealistic high-camp horror fantasy images’.
Expert witness Prof Feona Attwood of Sheffield Hallam University described the images in question as ‘less realistic than a British soap opera.’
According to Alexandra Dymock of Backlash, (4) the sexual civil liberties organisation who put Mr Webster in contact with his specialist legal team, said: ‘This ill-conceived, insufficiently researched and poorly written law has now been shown to be not only a waste of valuable legal aid and police resources, but that it is also out of step with the attitudes of ordinary members of the British public in the face of reasonable argument, even if they find the material itself distasteful.’
Backlash have petitioned the Coalition to include the extreme porn act in the forthcoming repeal bill and hope Mr Webster’s case illustrates the need for this repressive and intrusive legislation to be removed from the statute books.
Notes for editors
(4) Backlash http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/ is an umbrella organisation providing legal, academic and campaigning resources defending freedom of sexual expression.
A former Australian regulator recently speculated that there may be changes in the works for Australia’s smut regulation, suggesting that self-regulation may eventually follow. This is ahead of a review of the classification system that is being conducted by the Australian Law Review Commission (ALRC).…
(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
Regulating Sex, a seminar on sex and regulation will take place at the British Academy in London on 1 February 2011 from 1400 to 1700. The seminar focuses on the regulation of sex in relation to three key areas: media, labour and the internet.
* Laura Agustin, author of Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry (2007)
* Yaman Akdeniz, author of Internet Child Pornography and the Law (2008)
* Martin Barker, author of The Video Nasties (1984), Ill Effects: The Media-Violence Debate (2001), and The Crash Controversy (2001)
Julian Petley, author of Censoring the Word (2007) and Censorship: A Beginner’s Guide (2009) will introduce and chair the event.
The British Academy is located at 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Nearest tube: Charing Cross (Cockspur Street exit), Piccadilly Circus (Lower Regent Street exit)
Buses: Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Haymarket, Trafalgar Square
Wheelchair access: The British Academy has access for most wheelchairs.
The seminar is organized by the AHRC funded Onscenity
20 December 2010 Last updated at 12:45 GMT
Internet porn block ‘not possible’ say ISPs
Metal sieve, Eyewire A nationwide system to block pornography ‘at source’ is unlikely to prove effective, say experts.
Government plans to block pornography ‘at source’ are unlikely to prove effective, say ISPs.
The proposal to cut off access to pornographic material was floated by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey in an interview with the Sunday Times.
The government is talking to ISPs to set up a meeting at which the proposal will be discussed.
But, say experts, technical challenges mean any large scale filtering system is doomed to failure.
A spokesman for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, confirmed Mr Vaizey’s plan to talk to ISPs about setting up an age verification scheme to govern access to pornographic sites.
‘This is a very serious matter,’ said Mr Vaizey. ‘I think it’s very important that it’s the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children.’
‘I’m hoping they will get their acts together so we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.’
In response to the government proposal, Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of the Ispa industry body, said: ‘Ispa firmly believes that controls on children’s access to the internet should be managed by parents and carers with the tools ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down.’
Mr Lansman said its members provided parents with many different means of controlling what is accessible via the computers in their homes.
‘Online safety is a priority issue for the internet industry and ISPA will be discussing the options available to protect children with Government,’ he said.
‘ISPs currently block child abuse content which is illegal and widely regarded as abhorrent,’ said Mr Lansman. ‘Blocking lawful pornography content is less clear cut, will lead to the blocking of access to legitimate content and is only effective in preventing inadvertent access.’
BT, the UK’s largest ISP, said it would be ‘happy’ to take part in any discussion of the issues, but added: ‘There are many legal, consumer rights and technical issues that would need to be considered before any new web blocking policy was developed.’
‘Unfortunately, It’s technically not possible to completely block this stuff,’ said Trefor Davies, chief technology officer at ISP Timico.
He said the sheer volume of pornographic material online and the number of ways that people access it, via the web, file-sharing networks, news groups, discussion boards and the like, made the job impossible.
While some proponents of a national pornographic filtering scheme cite the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) as an example of how such a scheme might work, Mr Davies said it was not a good guide.
The IWF circulates a list to ISPs of sites found to be hosting illegal images of child sexual abuse.
However, said Mr Davies, the IWF draws up its list largely using information passed to it by the public. In addition it only tackles illegal content found on websites.
Such a system would not work if it was used to deal with millions of porn sites, chat rooms and bulletin boards, he said.
Experience with filtering systems, he said, shows that they are a very blunt tool that often blocks access to sites that could be useful.
‘You end up with a system that’s either hugely expensive and a losing battle because there are millions of these sites or it’s just not effective,’ he said.
‘The cost of putting these systems in place outweigh the benefits, to my mind,’ he said.
Mr Davies also feared that any wide-scale attempt to police pornographic content would soon be expanded to include pirated pop songs, films and TV shows.
‘If we take this step it will not take very long to end up with an internet that’s a walled garden of sites the governments is happy for you to see,’ he said.
His comment was echoed by Jim Killock, chair of the Open Rights Group which campaigns on digital liberties issues.
‘This is not about pornography, it is about generalised censorship through the back door,’ said Mr Killock.
‘This is the wrong way to go,’ he said. ‘If the government controlled a web blacklist, you can bet that Wikileaks would be on it.’
Miranda Suit, co-chair of Safer Media, which campaigns to make media safe for children, told the BBC that the pornography available on the internet was ‘qualitatively and quantitatively’ different from any that has gone before.
Ms Suit cited a report compiled by the US conservative think tank The Witherspoon Institute which suggested that easy access to pornography was damaging some young people.
‘Children are becoming addicted in their teens to internet pornography,’ she said. ‘They are being mentally damaged so they cannot engage in intimate relationships.’
Safer Media backed the government call to block pornography ‘at source’, said Ms Suit.
‘What we are talking about is censorship to protect our children,’ she said.
Ed Vaizey’s plan to block pornography online is doomed to fail because it simply won’t work
* Tom Scott
* guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 December 2010 12.20 GMT
* Article history
Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, said yesterday that he wants UK internet service providers to filter sexually explicit content. By default, your internet connection would be restricted to only allow appropriate sites – unless you call your ISP and ask them to turn the filter off. There are many reasons why this is a bad idea.
First, how do you define ‘explicit content’? Private web filtering companies have been struggling with that problem for years. Should advice pages for teenagers that have frank discussions about sex and sexual health be filtered?
Then there’s the issue of free speech – sooner or later, someone will try to use this filter to block politically sensitive sites. Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, gave the most telling quote: ‘We just want to make sure our children aren’t stumbling across things we don’t want them to see.’
And let’s not forget just how bad the public sector tends to be at managing IT projects, or how poor their digital security can be.
Those are all great reasons not to waste untold millions of pounds either creating a government ‘great firewall’, or requiring ISPs to do the same. But here’s the most important reason of all: it won’t work.
Any ‘think-of-the-children’ internet filter has a fundamental problem: if it’s effective enough to actually block adult content, it will also be irritating enough that almost everyone will turn it off.
An effective filter would have to censor Flickr, which has a large amount of adult imagery. It has to censor every blogging platform: Tumblr, for example, has a whole swathe of porn blogs, and there are untold numbers of sex bloggers writing reams of explicit text. And it has to censor YouTube, particularly if 4chan decide to flood it with porn again. Facebook could probably be let through, thanks to its strong filtering policies – although right now, most mobile providers block it for under-18s anyway.
If an adult content filter allows those sites through, it fails. And if it blocks those sites, then hardly anyone will use it – and it fails.
Even if a vaguely effective filter, which only removes obviously pornographic sites, would be enough for the proposal’s supporters, it’s still doomed. Not only because keeping up with the untold numbers of adult web pages that appear every day is a Sisyphean task, but also because children are not fools.
Most children understand computers better than their parents. Bypassing a filter is quite literally child’s play. It’s easy to use proxies, Tor, BitTorrent, an open wireless connection somewhere down the street or any number of other techniques when you’ve grown up with a keyboard in front of you.
It only takes one kid to know how to evade a web filter, and suddenly every one of their friends knows too. And all of their friends. And all of theirs.
If you want to protect children, get their parents involved in what they’re doing online – and for younger kids, the e-safety lessons that’ll start in schools next year are a great idea. But a Great British Firewall would be expensive, corruptible, and ultimately useless.
By John Hilvert
Dec 20, 2010 5:23 PM
Separate bills to end ‘Wild West’ approach.
The UK and French Governments have separately conceived plans to block internet pornography on an internet service provider level.
British communications minister Ed Vaizey reportedly planned to meet with ISPs about blocking pornography by default, so adults would have to opt-in to view it.
Although he hoped ISPs would decide to self-regulate, Vaizey said the UK Government was ‘keeping an eye on the situation’. He expected to introduce a new communications bill ‘in the next couple of years’.
Meanwhile, members of French General Assembly adopted a bill on December 15 to allow the Government to filter the internet without court intervention.
Article 4 of the so-called ‘LOPPSI 2′ (loi d’orientation et de programmation pour la performance de la sécurité intérieure – law on guidelines and programming for the performance of internal security), referred to the blocking of child pornography sites.
The bill was reportedly designed to ‘Fight against child pornography: the internet access providers must prevent access by internet users to illegal content’.
But some MPs among the assembly attacked Article 4, which in effect allowed the government to filter the Internet using a blacklist issued by the Ministry of Interior, without the intervention of the judiciary.
Critics of the measure argued it might also allow the ISP-level blocking of websites considered by the authorities as undesirable, without judiciary control.
This may also give the French police authority to install spyware on PCs, without the users’ knowledge and without having to justify their actions, critics argued.
One MP who voted against the measure was Lionel Tardy, UMP (Haute-Savoie).
‘Make no mistake: whatever features you put in place, such sites are created and disappear like the wind,’ he said.
‘As soon as they feel identified, these people change their address. I do not see what device, what order, will fight in real time against stealth sites that will move without stopping, which can be deployed on mirror sites.
‘We’re here to pass a law. You can put whatever you want in place, connect fifty addresses of banned sites to which you want to operators or ISPs to block them, two minutes later you will see 200 new sites are created and people will continue to access them as before.
‘It is a reality. The problem is international. By legislating in the French framework, we have it all wrong.
‘We must act at the source of the servers. It is possible through international agreements, since we know the countries that pose problem.’
Socialist politician Patrick Bloche, meanwhile, said Article 4 ‘is not talking about victims or perpetrators, those who make these images and movies. It needs to hunt them.’
He regretted that the Assembly had not voted for the reinstatement of the judiciary, because ‘without the safeguards of the judge, there is a risk of collateral damage’ – that non-pedophile sites might also be filtered.
However, Eric Ciotti for the Government countered, ‘We share your desire to avoid the risk of over-blocking. However, we are under a measure that falls within the administrative police: the interference of a magistrate referent – whose mode of designation is to remain unclear – does not seem relevant. Remember, it is always possible to appeal before the administrative courts to challenge these lists.’
After passing through the French National Assembly, the text will go back to the Senate at the beginning of 2011.
The Australian Government’s ISP-level internet filtering proposal has raised similar fears of over-blocking and censorship. The regime was expected to be introduced after mid-2011, with the Government reviewing its blacklist in the meantime.
Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.
By Rhett Pardon
Friday, Dec 17, 2010 Text size:
MARTINSBURG, Va. — A federal judge has quashed thousands of subpoenas that were requested in seven porn BitTorrent suits, ruling that the cases improperly join mass defendants together.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey, in each of the orders, threw out all of the defendants with the exception of one John Doe for each claim. As a result, 5,462 unnamed defendants have been pared from suits filed by Combat Zone, Elegant Angel, Third World Media and West Coast Productions.
Bailey, in his ruling, said that the cases reeked of misjoinder, finding that it is an ‘ undeniable fact that each defendant will also likely have a different defense.’
In each of the cases, Bailey said that he would sever all Doe defendants except the first Doe of each suit. He also said that because so many ISPs were identified with each suit, ‘[allegations making] the propriety of joinder even more tenuous.’
Bailey also said that if plaintiffs’ counsel want to proceed they can do so by filing fees for each of the amended complaints, which would be assigned separate civil action numbers, but only if the defendants are located in West Virginia, where the cases were filed.
In the seven cases, Time Warner Cable moved to quash subpoenas seeking the identities of accused filed sharers.
Kenneth Ford of the Adult Copyright Co., which filed the suits, did not immediately respond to XBIZ for comment.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed amicus briefs in the cases, lauded the judge’s ruling, calling it a ‘big victory in the fight against copyright trolls.’
The EFF said that the studios in the seven suits were ‘abusing the law in an attempt to pressure settlements.’
‘In these cases — as in many others across the country — the owners of the adult movies filed mass lawsuits based on single counts of copyright infringement stemming from the downloading of a pornographic film, and improperly lumped hundreds of defendants together regardless of where the IP addresses indicate the defendants live,’ the EFF said in a statement.
‘The motivation behind these cases appears to be to leverage the risk of embarrassment associated with pornography to coerce settlement payments despite serious problems with the underlying claims.’
The West Virginia order comes on the heels of a ruling by a judge in the District of Columbia earlier this month that dismissed hundreds of individuals from across the country named in the U.S. Copyright Group’s campaign due to lack of personal jurisdiction in Washington, D.C.
Permission for Porn the Minister argues for! Absolutely unbelievable. read the Guardian article below for details. Why would anyone need permission for some activity which is not deemed illegal? This is a serious attack not only on the right to receive information but also on the privacy and autonomy of individuals. Why would anyone living in the UK need permission to access pornography on the Internet? This is a moral crusade with the excuse of “protecting children” while completely ignoring the rights of adults. Any policy initiative need to distinguish between these two fundamental issues. I have written back in 1999 on a short book entitled Sex on the Net that “there is a real danger that the use of filtering and rating systems may transform the Internet into a “family friendly” medium, no more adventurous than the likes of the BBC.” Looks like I was not wrong after all…
With serious concerns for net neutrality, combined with the three-strikes-out approach being adopted for piracy and now the potential for a permission for porn policy the Internet development in the UK looks quiet bleak. (Dr. Yaman Akdeniz)
Government wants BT, Virgin and other internet providers to put access to pornography on ‘opt-in’ basis
* Caroline Davies
* guardian.co.uk, Sunday 19 December 2010 15.52 GMT
* Article history
Internet service providers are to be asked by the government to tighten up on website pornography to try to combat the early sexualisation of children.
Ministers believe broadband providers should consider automatically blocking sex sites, with individuals being required to opt in to receive them, rather than opt out and use the available computer parental controls.
Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, is to meet internet providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, ‘in the near future’ to discuss changing the way pornography enters private homes, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills confirmed. The move is designed to protect children from being exposed to pornography on the net.
‘This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it’s the ISPs that some up with solutions to protect children,’ Vaizey told the Sunday Times.
‘I’m hoping they will get their acts together so that we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.’
The action follows the success of moves by most British internet providers to prevent people inadvertently viewing child pornography websites.
Now ministers want to see adult pornography controlled with similar technology, with sites blocked unless people specifically request access to them. Internet providers had said implementing the scheme would be technically difficult and cost too much. However, some now seem willing to implement the scheme voluntarily.
Andrew Heaney, TalkTalk’s executive director of strategy and regulation, told the newspaper: ‘Our objective was not to do what the politicians want us but to do what is right for our customers. If other companies aren’t going to do it of their own volition, then maybe they should be leant on.’
Virgin Media said that it had already implemented the technology on its mobile service, but said that parents can control what their children see at home and online. A BT spokesman said they had a ‘clean feed’ system to stop access to illegal sites.
In a parliamentary debate last month, Claire Perry, a Conservative MP who has campaigned for tighter controls, said that 60% of nine- to 19-year-olds had found porn online, while only 15% of computer-literate parents knew how to use filters to block access to certain sites.
The MP said six companies – BT, Virgin, Talk Talk, BSkyB, Orange and 02 – streamed the internet to 90% of homes in the UK. Perry called on the government to put pressure on those companies to install default measures to stop children accessing pornography online.