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EU Censorship News

2011: Jan-March

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31st March   

Update: Holy Inquisition...

Maltese Attorney General cites his imaginary god to justify persecution of author of college magazine erotic story
Link Here

The writer of a controversial short story must realise that there is God above everything and everyone, who is surely greater than the greatest of egos, Attorney General Peter Grech said in his appeal against the writer's acquittal.

Alex Vella Gera was accused of distributing pornography and offending public morals through his short story Li Tkisser Sewwi, which was published in the October 2009 edition of student newspaper Ir-Realta . The newspaper's editor, Mark Camilleri, was similarly charged.

Both were acquitted by Magistrate Audrey Demicoli on March 14. In her decison, the magistrate noted that the story adopted an in your face style to make readers uncomfortable and make them think, and said that the writing could not be considered pornographic or obscene under the legal definition -- which states that obscene material is that which simply aims to corrupt its reader.

The magistrate added noted that the prosecution did not prove what public morals were or how these were offended. She also said that the 2 were exercising their freedom of expression, and that the newspaper's intended audience, university and Junior College students, were mature enough to process it.

But the Attorney General has filed an appeal against both acquittals, stating that Magistrate Demicoli's verdict was erroneous and unreasonable. He dismissed claims that the writing in question had any artistic merit or was in the general interest, stating, at one point, that not every writer could compare himself to DH Lawrence, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce.

This writing is, from start to finish, without pause, without a change in style, an explicit reproduction of sexual acts, including some violent ones, anal and vaginal, with a clear erotic meaning apart from a detailed description of sexual organs and diseases with disgusting consequences which are the result of sexual abuse, Grech wrote in his appeal.

He said that freedom of expression was far from absolute and could be made to bow down completely in the interest of defence, public security, public order, morality, public decency and public health.

He also criticised the drawing attached to the controversial story, a tube of glue, stating that it was evocative and could be understood as a representation of a phallic symbol with semen coming out of it.

He insisted that the charges brought against Vella Gera were proven beyond doubt, and urged the Court to find him guilty and sentence him accordingly.


31st March   

Update: Fitna to Continue...

Court case against Geert Wilders continues on
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders will face trial on charges of incited hatred and discriminations against Muslims, after a judge rejected a request to dismiss the case. Wilders was charged with insulting Muslims by comparing Islam to Nazism.

Wilders argues that he is exercising his freedom of speech when he criticises Islam and had won the right last month to seek a dismissal of the case.

But presiding judge Marcel van Oosten said the case would go ahead. He rejected most of the defence's objections but did agree with the defence that part of the indictment against Wilders should be dropped.

The judges said that including the quotes describing the Koran as fascist and that it should be banned were going beyond the brief set out by the Amsterdam appeals court.

The main trial will resume on April 13.


31st March   

Police Censors...

Irish police pave the way for internet blocking
Link Here

Irish ISPs and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about efforts by police to introduce a blocking system initially aimed at preventing Irish internet users accessing sites containing child pornography.

The National Bureau of Criminal Investigation has written to ISPs asking them to nominate a contact who could help implement such a system.

In the letter, Det Supt John McCann says police will investigate and identify those domains and sub-domains being used to distribute 'child pornography' as defined under Irish law. When internet users try to access these sites the ISP is requested to display a special Stop! page , explaining the material requested is illegal under Irish law.

A copy of the letter seen by The Irish Times says the authorities will not seek information identifying ISP customers but they will seek information about other sites visited by these customers in an effort to identify other domains that may warrant being blocked. The letter was sent last December 28th.

ISPs are concerned that this is a unilateral action by police with no legislative basis. At least one ISP has told the police that negotiation about the system should be done with a industry-wide representative body rather than dealing with individual service providers.

Some in the industry are concerned that if ISPs agree to block child pornography, they could subsequently be asked to block access to other types of material, such as that protected by copyright.

Update: Dubious Idea

31st March 2011. Based on article from

Digital Rights Ireland is a campaign group that opposes Internet censorship. It has rightfully noted that monitoring the internet activity of browsers who attempt to access block sights is a gross infringement of privacy laws.

Digital Rights Ireland has therefore written to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner:

One particularly unusual feature of the Garda proposals seeks to monitor internet use without any legislative basis whatsoever. Although acknowledging that a customer may have accessed a [blocked] site inadvertently the proposals go on to request that in such cases ISPs should provide details of other websites visited by the user, along with other technical details .

As you know, disclosure of such information would not be permitted under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011 and indeed the disclosure of browsing histories without Ministerial approval would appear to be an offence under section 98 of the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act 1983. It is, therefore, quite remarkable that disclosure of this information is being sought on an entirely non-legislative basis and without any reference to the legislation which is already in place in this area. Such disclosure would also give rise to very serious data protection concerns, particularly as it is very often possible to identify users based on details of the URLs which they have visited, and the other technical details sought will make identification easier again.


29th March   

Fallout from Japanese Disaster...

European TV channels ban the Simpsons
Link Here

Controllers at several European TV channels have pulled Simpsons shows in case they 'cause offence' after the Japan disaster.

They want to stop the hit cartoon poking fun at nuclear danger during the battle to save the tsunami-hit Fukushima plant.

Bungling Homer Simpson works at disaster-prone Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, run by money-grabbing Mr Burns, in the hit show. It is a running joke that safety at the plant, that has blown up or come close to meltdown several times, is notoriously slack. Beer-swilling Homer is a Nuclear Safety Inspector, but repeatedly puts the town at risk by neglecting his duties and falling asleep. He even casually tosses away a radioactive rod he finds in his clothes during the hit show's title sequence.

German channel Pro7 was the first to stop the fun. ORF in Austria and SF in Switzerland were quick to follow suit. The Austrian channel is thought to have taken the most extreme action, banning eight episodes until a review next month.

The censored shows include one that features scientists Marie and Pierre Curie dying of radiation poisoning and another which contains jokes about a nuclear meltdown.

TV channels in Japan have no plans to stop the show.


25th March   

TV Trial...

Amanda Knox appeals for ban on US TV programme about her case
Link Here

Amanda Knox, the US student jailed for murdering Meredith Kercher, has appealed to a civil court in Perugia, Italy, to prevent distribution over the internet of a made-for-television film about her case.

The film, called Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy , was broadcast by America's Lifetime network last month and can now be downloaded from the internet.

Knox, who is appealing against her 26-year sentence for stabbing the British student in 2007, told the court she was devastated by this invasion into my life and the way I'm being exploited . Knox told the judge she had seen a trailer for the film. I consider it the pinnacle of the repeated violations by the media against my person, my personality and my story, she said. It does not correspond with the truth.

After the court hearing, Carlo Dalla Vedova, a lawyer representing Knox, called for its removal from the internet, pointing out that one site was now offering the film with Italian subtitles. The case was adjourned to 4 July.


24th March   

Offsite: Torturous Insult...

European Court clears Basque parliamentarian of royal insult
Link Here

In a Chamber judgment in the case Otegi Mondragon v. Spain which is not final (3 months open for appeal), the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

  • A violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the criminal conviction of the spokesperson for a left-wing Basque separatist parliamentary group for causing serious insult to the King of Spain, following comments made to the press during an official visit by the King to the province of Biscay.

The applicant, Arnaldo Otegi Mondragon was the spokesperson for Sozialista Abertzaleak, a left-wing Basque separatist parliamentary group in the Parliament of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country.

In February 2003, on an order by the Audiencia Nacional, the premises of the daily newspaper Euskaldunon Egunkaria were searched and then closed on account of its presumed links with the terrorist organisation ETA. Ten people were arrested, including the newspaper's main editors. Following five days in secret detention, they complained that they had been subjected to ill-treatment in police custody.

During a press conference in San Sebastian on 26 February 2003, when the King of Spain was attending the inauguration of an electricity power station in the province of Biscay, the applicant, as spokesperson for his parliamentary group, stated in reply to a journalist's question that the inauguration, with Juan Carlos of Bourbon, was a genuine political disgrace . He said that the King, as supreme head of the Guardia Civil (police) and of the Spanish armed forces was the person in command of those who had tortured those detained in the police operation against the Egunkaria newspaper. He called the King he who protects torture and imposes his monarchical regime on our people through torture and violence .

In April 2003 the public prosecutor lodged a criminal complaint against the applicant for serious insult against the King .

...Read the full article


20th March   

Update: Public Morality Undefined and Uninfringed...

Writer cleared in Maltese obscenity case
Link Here

The Labour Party welcomed the acquittal of Mark Camilleri, editor of student newspaper Ir-Realta and writer Alex Vella Gera, who had been accused of publishing pornographic and obscene material.

The party said it felt that the law against the distribution of porn and obscene material should be used for their purpose only, and not to threaten imprisonment for authors and writers. It urged the government not to appeal the sentence and instead to modernise the laws on freedom of artistic expression, in agreement with the opposition.

Following the court judgement, Camilleri said an apology was the least that University Rector Juanito Camilleri could do after having reported the case, and added that it would be good if he stepped down.

Vella Gera described the verdict as a step for freedom of expression in Malta and said artists would therefore not feel they should resort to self-censorship.

Vella Gera had written the article entitled Li tkisser sewwi, a graphic piece of fiction about sexual violence. The 1,300-word story was a first-person narrative by a sex-craved Maltese man who spoke in degrading and sexual terms about women, whom he treats like objects.

The newspaper was distributed at the University before being banned and reported to the police by Prof Camilleri. The editor and the writer were accused of distributing obscene or pornographic material and for undermining public morals or decency, under both the Criminal Code and the Press Act.

The court said the prosecution had produced no evidence to define public morality in Malta and how it had been infringed. The court felt that public morality was something which changed over time, and what offended public morals 20 or 30 years ago did not necessarily do so now as realities changed, including the media.

Furthermore, the publication was limited to students of the University and the Junior College, who were mature students who had free access to a variety of media including books, newspapers and the internet.

It had not been shown how Ir-Realta offended their morality. The writer had exercised his freedom of expression through a literary work and no crime had resulted, the court said.


19th March   

Building New Dams...

Netherlands enters the new territory of internet audio/visual censorship
Link Here

The Dutch Media Commission (Commissariaat voor de Media) said it will now begin registering audiovisual media services on the internet. The commission will also extend its monitoring of mobile services.

The regulator began last year with an inventory of web content. Web content providers must also abide by rules for, for example, advertising time, or forbidding the broadcast of certain age restricted programmes at certain times of the day.

The commission noted the difficulty in monitoring RTL Netherlands because of its statutory registration in Luxembourg. A something situation applies to monitoring a number of porn channels registered in the Netherlands, but which are aimed at other countries.

This is the first time some media companies have come under Dutch government regulation. The commission last year created a new registration licensing and monitoring department, as well as a new enforcement division.

The Dutch ministry of education, culture and science will have to modify certain rules in order to determine which web radio stations should be regulated and how much the monitoring duties will cost.


18th March   

The Right to be Forgotten...

EU announces a new form of censorship
Link Here
Full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU

  "Maybe you've been at a party, up until four in the morning and you or someone you know posts photos of you .

Well, it's a harmless bit of fun, but being unable to erase this can threaten your job or access to future employment."

The European Union is to enshrine a right to be forgotten online to ensure that, among other things, prospective employers cannot find old Facebook party photos of someone wearing nothing but a lampshade.

In a speech to the European parliament, the EU justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, warned companies such as Facebook that: A US-based social network company that has millions of active users in Europe needs to comply with EU rules.

In a package of proposals to be unveiled before the summer, the commissioner intends to force Facebook and other social networking sites to make high standards of data privacy the default setting and give control over data back to the user.

The package will also include the right to opt out of advertising and personalisation data being collected via website cookies.

I want to explicitly clarify that people shall have the right -- and not only the possibility -- to withdraw their consent to data processing, Reding said. The burden of proof should be on data controllers -- those who process your personal data. They must prove that they need to keep the data, rather than individuals having to prove that collecting their data is not necessary.

Reding's spokesman, Matthew Newman, said that the laws would make the EU the first jurisdiction to deliver a right to be forgotten .

Maybe you've been at a party, up until four in the morning and you or someone you know posts photos of you . Well, it's a harmless bit of fun, but being unable to erase this can threaten your job or access to future employment.

The rules would give consumers a specific right to withdraw their consent to sharing their data: And after you have withdrawn your consent, there shouldn't even be a ghost of your data left in some server somewhere. It's your data and it should be gone for good.


18th March   

Updated: A Little Less Repressive...

Hungary passes a few amendments to its widely condemned media law
Link Here
Full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

The Hungarian parliament has now adopted amendments to their much criticised and repressive media law passed in December 2010.

The favourable report given by the European Commission following the vote was commented as premature by Reporters Without Borders.

If the dubious notion of balanced reporting no longer applies to blogs, it does still concern other audiovisual media as well as Internet on-demand contents. The law also no longer applies to foreign media unless they are broadcasting to the Hungarian people and are based abroad with the aim of circumventing Hungarian law .

The range of offences punished by the law has been restricted slightly and centred on the concept of incitement of hatred or discrimination. On the other hand journalists must still respect public morality and human dignity - notions that have yet to be defined by the Media Council - or face astronomical fines.

Finally, the Hungarian media will no longer have to get accreditation from the authorities before they start broadcasting. They will have to do so within 60 days of kicking off their operations, however, or face a fine of 3,700 euros.

Update: European Parliament Unimpressed

11th March 2011.  See  article from

The European Parliament on Thursday criticized Hungary's changes to its controversial media law as insufficient, following a similar finding by the Organization for Security and Cooperation earlier this week.

A resolution tabled by the Socialists and Democrats, Liberal and Democrats, Green, and European United Left groupings was adopted with 316 votes in favour, 264 against and 33 abstentions.

Lawmakers in Strasbourg called for further review and expressed regret over the fact that the European Commission had only found fault with a few facets of the law.

When the commission doesn't defend basic rights, we will take up the fight, Hannes Swoboda of Austria said on behalf of the Social Democrats.

Update: Demonstrations

18th March 2011. Based on article from

Tens of thousands of demonstrators protested Hungary's media law in Budapest on Tuesday, on the day marking the anniversary of the 1848-49 revolution and war of independence from Habsburg rule and the day of press freedom.

Anna Vamos, the protest's chief organiser, said demonstrators were dissatisfied with amendments to the media law and believed they failed to bring the legislation in line with European Union norms. They also protested the media authority's power to arbitrary levy fines on media outlets.

The organisers said the demonstration was the biggest civil protest since the 1989 regime change.

Demonstrations against the media law were also held in the Hungarian cities of Debrecen and Gyula, as well as at the Hungarian embassies in Berlin and Bucharest and at Hungary's Consulate General and UN representation in New York.


17th March   

Update: Registering Discontent...

Poland Prime Minister to back down on power to refuse registration to websites with video content
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Poland...In the name of dangerous gambling

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that he wanted a change in a controversial draft law that would censor websites.

Tusk said he would ask the upper house of parliament to scrap sections of the draft law that would require website owners providing audio-visual material to register with the National Broadcasting Council.

Critics said the law amounted to censorship because the council would have the power to turn down websites seeking registration.

The draft law was passed by the lower house of parliament and is now set for the Senate..

Some 10,800 internet have supported a Facebook page with the messgae: Government, leave the internet alone.


16th March   

Update: Why is MySpace TurkeysSpace?...

Turkey's overwide blocking of websites to be investigated by the European Court of Human Rights
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

A European court has asked Turkish authorities to explain their use of the country's law to ban websites, responding to applications by two complainants who say the bans violate their right to freedom of expression.

Users of different websites are being punished because others infringe legal provisions, said complainant Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber-rights activist and a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University. He applied to the European Court of Human Rights on April 6, arguing that the Turkish government's ban on the website violated his rights.

The decision to consider the case is a landmark one, Akdeniz said, explaining that it was the first time the court had taken up a complaint related to Internet bans.

The court's final decision will set an important precedent for all Council of Europe member countries, Akdeniz told the Hu rriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

Responding to the applications by Akdeniz and another Turkish complainant, the European court issued a request last month to Turkish authorities, asking them to answer by June 9, three questions of a general nature about the use of Turkish law to ban certain websites. The court asked Turkish authorities for explanations regarding the application of legal provisions to ban websites, Akdeniz told the Daily News.

Fellow complainant Ahmet Yıldırım, a doctoral student at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, applied to the European court Jan. 12, 2010, saying his personal website on Google Sites, which he used to publish his academic work, had been banned by Turkey.


12th March   

Petition: A Spanish Film...

Film festival director allegorically screwed by the state
Link Here
Full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

A Serbian Film has got into more trouble in Spain.

The Barcelona public prosecutor has lodged a complaint against Sitges festival director Angel Sala, accusing him of screening child pornography. It is unclear whether the suit has been or will be admitted to court.

According to Spanish press sources, the Barcelona prosecutor's charge of child pornography relates to two rape scenes, one involving a newborn baby, another a boy of around 11 years of age. The baby in question was in fact a doll with legs animated by animatronics.

The Barcelona prosecutor's move has stirred a wave of protests in Spain. Writing in the El Pais, film director David Trueba argued Monday that If we believe that everything shown on a screen is real, Christopher Lee will be arrested one day accused of biting young virgins' jugular veins.

A Serbian Film played uncut at October's Sitges, stirring a wide range of reactions from critics and nutters. The showing moved Spain's Catholic Confederation of Family and Student Parents (Concapa) to lodge a complaint with Barcelona's public prosecutor for minors.

That prompted a San Sebastian judge to serve a provisional injunction on Tale, banning its screening at early November's San Sebastian's Fantasy and Terror Film Week in early November.

Update: Film Festival Directors respond

11th March 2011. Based on press release from

SITGES International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia wishes to show its complete support for Angel Sala and, by extension, the decisions that he has made while exercising his role as Director of the Festival.

Regarding the recent statements concerning the screening of A Serbian Film , the Festival wants to state that the above mentioned title is not a pornographic film, but, in fact, a fictional horror film, and is not meant as an attack or humiliation against the sexual dignity of minors.

SITGES wants to thank all the support it has received from its audience, other film festivals and important cultural figures.

A Serbian Film was screened after carrying out all necessary informative and control measures in order to prevent any minors from accessing the screening. These measures consisted of information placed in the Festival media to guarantee awareness about the content of the film to the audience before its viewing, as well as demanding proof of age from viewers entering the theatre.

A Serbian Film has also been screened at the two most prestigious markets in the world, the Cannes Film Market and Film Festival and the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California, and will be commercially distributed in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

SITGES wants to thank again all support shown, as well as to express its respect to all the criticism that has given room to a necessary debate about the importance of freedom of speech and creation in the programming of film festivals.

SITGES International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia considers that it has acted rigorously in providing the audience with all the information it might require beforehand. Nevertheless, the rise of critical voices will make the Festival reflect on their communication mechanisms in the future, emphasizing child protection, and defending freedom of speech and creation as it has done from the beginning.

Support letter by directors of Spanish film festivals

We, the undersigned, directors of Spanish film festivals, wish, in view of the leak to the press published this weekend, to state our surprise at the legal action taken against Angel Sala, director of the Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia, for having included in the 2010 programme of the said event, at sessions for adults only, A Serbian Film, which it is claimed contains violent, pornographic scenes conflicting with the rights of the child.

Over and above our surprise at pinning responsibility of this kind on a cultural programmer, and not on those theoretically responsible for the content in question (the director and the producers, if anyone at all), we wish to recall, in addition to our support of A'ngel Sala, that the film has been screened over the last twelve months in festivals in Brussels, Montreal, London, Oporto, Austin, San Francisco, Toronto, Sofia, Hamburg, Helsinki, Puchon (South Korea), Ravenna and Stockholm, among others. A Serbian Film has also enjoyed screening at the two most prestigious film markets in the world: Cannes, and the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California. All of this without anyone, to date, having taken legal steps of any kind against the film, those responsible for it or its programmers.

We must also add that the film has won prestigious awards including three at Montreal (Best Film; Gold Award for Best European Film and Most Innovative Film); the Audience Award at the Fantasporto Festival in Oporto (less than a week ago); and the Best Screenplay Award at the FIPRESCI Festival in Serbia.

We also condemn the fact that behaviour such as that shown by the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Barcelona appears to be taking us back to times of censorship limitations on freedom of expression and cultural programming that we sincerely believed belonged to the past.

Signed by:

Javier Angulo (Festival de Valladolid)
Josetxo Cerdan Los Arcos (Punto de Vista / Pamplona)
Jose' Luis Cienfuegos (Festival de Gij'n)
Jose' Luis Rebordinos (Festival de San Sebastian)
Carmelo Romero (Festival de Cine Espanol de Malaga)
Jose' Sa'nchez Montes (Festival de Granada / Cines del Sur)
Claudio Utrera (Festival de Las Palmas)
Javier Marti'n Dominguez (Festival de Sevilla)
Eduardo Tri'as (Festival de Huelva)
Josemi Beltra'n (Semana de Cine Fantastico y de Terror de San Sebastian)

Petition: Condemnation of Public Prosecutor

12th March 2011. See  article from

Eli Roth, director of Hostel ,  has also taken up the fight against film festival censorship.

He wrote to his followers on Twitter:

If Angel Sala does in fact go to jail festivals will stop showing any controversial or edgy films and censorship will win. Whatever you think of A Serbian Film a film festival director should not spend a year in jail for exhibiting a filmmaker's work.

Please sign the petition from

Comment: Unreal

9th March 2011. Thanks to Angelus

Having seen today's article about A Serbian Film , it seemed to me that the debate throws the so-called dangerous cartoons law into sharp relief.

In this film we have a situation where illegal sex acts involving children are apparently being depicted, but the actual depiction is not of itself criminal simply because it isn't real . Similarly, in Catherine Breillat's film Anatomy of Hell (Anatomie de l'Enfer) , a scene apparently showing a boy inserting his finger into a young girl's vagina was passed uncut by the BBFC once it had been established that the said female body part was not real but actually a foam prosthetic.

So, what would happen if an artist recreated one of those scenes as a drawing and someone was then subsequently prosecuted for possession of it? Would it be a defence, as it evidently would be for a video, that the child depicted was not actually real? Unfortunately, no. So what exactly is it that's so dangerous about drawings that they must be regulated even more tightly than photographic images?

Comment: Clarification on Comic Books

10th March 2011. Thanks to Kochin

The law only makes non-real depictions illegal to possess if they are are pornographic or a sex work as the BBFC refers to them. To answer your question a non-pornographic comic book adaptation of Anatomy of Hell would not be illegal even if contained such scenes. Even if 50% or more of the pages of a comic book consist of explicit sex acts it does not necessarily mean the book is pornographic.

Consider this work for instance, which is widely available from popular UK book stores like Amazon etc: Lost Girls

The BBFC can pass cartoon depictions of actual (non-real) underage sex so long as they are not pornographic, and so long as they do not believe they are credibly likely to harm . For instance maybe a cartoon adaptation of Anatomy of Hell traced directly from the film would be passed.

Comment: Film vs Drawing

11th March 2011. Thanks to Angelus who reiterates his point:

For any film, "sex work" or not, containing even a single image of a sex act between an adult and a child, possession of that film would (quite rightly) constitute a serious criminal offence. However, if it can be proved that the sex act did not involve a real child then it is legal and it may be certificated by the BBFC. The difference is that in the first case, there actually was a sex act committed against a real child, but in the second case, even though the act is realistically depicted, the "child" was not real.

Therefore, in the case of a photographic image, we must conclude that it is not simply the depiction of the sex act that is illegal, the act depicted must have actually taken place for the law to have been broken. However, for a drawing (and I was careful to use the example of an isolated drawing, not one in context in a comic book), it is the depiction of the act that is illegal, irrespective of whether it actually took place or not.


10th March   

Replying to Criticism...

Slovakia to remove the intimidatory right of reply from its media law
Link Here

Slovakia has tabled an amendment to parts of its repressive media law.

The previous left-wing government of Robert Fico introduced a strict code three years ago, ordering newspapers to print every response from anyone mentioned in a news article -- which critics saw as a way to intimidate journalists investigating corruption among politicians.

The law had been condemned by human rights watchdogs including the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The amended code, published on the government's website, would limit the right of reply only to cases when the published information is false, incorrect or incomplete.

The new centre-right coalition of Iveta Radicova has pledged to improve freedom of media and is expecting to enact the proposed legislation in July.


9th March   


Spanish Google resist censoring a page listing that someone would rather forget about
Link Here

In a case that could have EU-wide implications a Spanish court is asking Google to remove data about a private individual from its index. This is known in Europe as the right to be forgotten.

The immediate case at hand involves a Spanish plastic surgeon who was featured in a critical profile by newspaper El Pais in 1991. The underlying dispute between the surgeon and his patient was resolved and it's not clear from an article in the Wall Street Journal how meritorious the claims were or precisely how the dispute was resolved. The doctor is still practicing, and therein lies the problem.

When users do a search on Dr. Guidotti Russo the critical article comes up on page one of Google, with potential economic consequences for the plastic surgeon. Accordingly he wants to get that article removed from the Google index and the Spanish court and Spanish Data Protection Authority are backing him.

Google is fighting and arguing that Spanish privacy regulators have exceeded their authority and that the move amounts to censorship. The crazy thing is that the newspaper itself isn't being asked to take down the article --- just Google.

The European Commission, as part of its data-protection overhaul, has proposed recognizing the right to be forgotten . France's Senate has also approved similar proposals, which have yet to be ratified by the National Assembly. The right to be forgotten rules may therefore become law in the next two years as the EU's privacy policies get overhauled.

How it would be implemented and what the duties and burdens imposed on online publishers and search engines would be is somewhat unclear. That's where it would create a bureaucratic nightmare where individuals and, by extension, companies could exercise censorship control over what appears about them online and in search results.

On balance the right to know (especially where entities and public figures are involved) should trump the novel right to be forgotten.


9th March   

Update: A Little Less Repressive...

Hungary passes a few amendments to its widely condemned media law
Link Here
Full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

The Hungarian parliament has now adopted amendments to their much criticised and repressive media law passed in December 2010.

The favourable report given by the European Commission following the vote was commented as premature by Reporters Without Borders.

If the dubious notion of balanced reporting no longer applies to blogs, it does still concern other audiovisual media as well as Internet on-demand contents. The law also no longer applies to foreign media unless they are broadcasting to the Hungarian people and are based abroad with the aim of circumventing Hungarian law .

The range of offences punished by the law has been restricted slightly and centred on the concept of incitement of hatred or discrimination. On the other hand journalists must still respect public morality and human dignity - notions that have yet to be defined by the Media Council - or face astronomical fines.

Finally, the Hungarian media will no longer have to get accreditation from the authorities before they start broadcasting. They will have to do so within 60 days of kicking off their operations, however, or face a fine of 3,700 euros.


6th March   

Update: We Dare is Actually Not Very Daring...

Investigating the hype for the party game We Dare
Link Here
Full story: We Dare...Daring to include minor sex references in a game

Due to be released on Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 later this year, We Dare features over 35 mini-games that take a distinctly adult approach, with marketing materials encouraging two players to kiss a Wii Remote simultaneously, spank each other to control on-screen avatars, and striptease to a variety of songs.

With its highly suggestive trailer and product description, Cubed3 queried PEGI on the seemingly low 12+ age rating.

PEGI stated that they do not look at the surrounding context of a game, only the in-game content. The suggestive naughtiness by the human actors in the YouTube trailer did not figure in the decision for the game rating:

PEGI does not take into account the context of a game when rating it, we only look at the contents of the game. [We Dare] has been rated as a PEGI 12 because it contains mild swearing, minor assault on a human-like character and words/activities that amount to obvious sexual innuendo, explicit sexual descriptions or images and sexual posturing.

       However PEGI:

Do demand that these types of artwork [are] on the same level as the game. In the case of We Dare, the cover and trailer are in correspondence with our guidelines.

It was considered that We Dare might justify a higher rating due to a specific (sexual) atmosphere , but this proposal was rejected by the Video Standards Council, an independent organisation that verifies PEGI ratings for use in the UK:

The game itself is in fact less sexual/offensive than the marketing campaign leads us to believe (for example, you cannot see real spanking in the game. There is a 'stripping game' but you don't have to undress; throwing away keys or anything that reduces your weight is good enough).


3rd March   

Insultingly Easily Offended...

John Galiano up for prosecution for being a drunken arsehole in a bar
Link Here

Fashion designer John Galliano, will face trial over an incident at a Paris cafe' during which he allegedly hurled anti-Semitic and racist abuse at Geraldine Bloch and her companion Philippe Virgiti. He allegedly called her a 'dirty jew face'

The Paris Prosecutors Office has issued a statement saying it has decided to put John Galliano on trial following a police investigation. The proceedings could take place in the second quarter of this year, and Galliano could face up to six months in prison, and up to EUR22,500 in fines, if convicted.

Earlier Galliano, who was fired from his role as creative director of Christian Dior over the allegations, issued a personal statement completely denying the claims made against him, renouncing anti-Semitism and racism, and apologising unreservedly for any offence his behaviour has caused.

In another drunken tirade now on YouTube Galiano hurls a few more insulting remarks eg “People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed.”

Update: Fined

11th September 2011. See  article from

British fashion designer John Galliano, who has admitted anti-Semitic insults at a Paris restaurant, has been given suspended fines totalling 6,000 euros ( £ 4,250; $8,400).

The designer, fired by the Dior fashion house over the affair, said he had no recollection of the two events and denied being racist.

Galliano apologised for his behaviour at a one-day trial in June. He blamed drug and alcohol addictions for his outburst.

The BBC's Christian Fraser, in Paris, says the greatest punishment has been the damage to Galliano's career; he was sacked by Dior after his arrest and the cost to his reputation has been far bigger than any fine a court can impose.

Our correspondent says the judges were convinced that this was a man who needed help rather than punishment.


1st March   

Freedom of Expression and Criticism...

European Parliament criticises Turkey over the lack of press freedom
Link Here

The European Parliament in a draft resolution has called on the Turkish government to uphold the principles of press freedom and condemned the violent police crackdown on student demonstrations at Ankara University in December.

The European Parliament is concerned about the deterioration of freedom of the press, some acts of censorship and the growing self-censorship within the Turkish media, including on the Internet, said the draft resolution, written by the European Parliament's rapporteur on Turkey, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The draft evaluated Turkey's 2010 progress report and made recommendations for this year's upcoming report. It is expected to be adopted in the European Parliament within the next two weeks.

Though the resolution welcomes a number of the government's symbolic and goodwill gestures, as well as a number of concrete steps, in the areas of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, protection of minorities and cultural rights, it said systematic improvements are needed to fully recognize the rights of minorities.

The text also calls for a new media law in Turkey in order to achieve full freedom of the press, saying such as law must address issues of independence, ownership and administrative control.

The text welcomes Turkey's new radio and TV laws, drawing attention to the increase in the legal percentage of Turkish media companies that foreign entities are allowed to own. It expresses concern, however, at the fact that broadcasting can be stopped on grounds of national security without the use of a court order or ruling by a judge.

In the resolution, the European Parliament says it notes with concern the practice of bringing criminal prosecutions against journalists communicating evidence of human-rights violations and other issues in the public interest, especially over articles about breaching the confidentiality of a criminal investigation and attempting to influence the judiciary.

It considers the criminalization of opinions as a key obstacle to the protection of human rights in Turkey and deplores disproportioned restrictions to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, the draft says.


25th February   

Hooligan Villages...

Cartoon likening party policies to concentration camps causes trouble in the Netherlands
Link Here

The Dutch public broadcaster VARA published a website cartoon which took a pot shot at Geert Wilder's far right PVV party.

The cartoon by Adriaan Soeterbroek likened a policy to create hooligan villages to Nazi concentration camps.

Wilders was not impressed and said: it was a disgusting cartoon. It must be removed from that website immediately, or the PVV will not attend the VARA provincial elections debate .

The cartoon has now been removed following death threats to staff.

The VARA says it removed the cartoon after careful consideration, saying that while freedom of expression is a key right some of its staff felt too threatened to continue working. The broadcaster has reported the incident to the police.


24th February   

Betting on Censorship...

Norway considers state internet censorship in the name of protecting its monopoly on betting
Link Here

Norway is deciding whether to start ISP blocking of online gambling sites that allow players from their country to gamble on the internet within Norway's borders.

The reason for this extreme censorship measure is that it has become apparent that even though legislation was passed in July of 2010 to block all financial transactions to all offshore gambling sites, players that gamble at these online gaming websites have increased despite the new ban.

A survey was taken and the results showed that about 4% of Norwegians over the age of 18 years old are still gambling at offshore gaming sites.

Besides the suggestion to block IP addresses, Norway is also considering taking legal action against operators that still accept players from Norway. The Culture of Censorship Minister has said that the need to consider filtering IP addresses of online gambling sites may be necessary.


17th February   

Update: Hypnotised by an Alien...

Italian police take down satirical blog about Berlusconi
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law

Italian Postal Police have closed an internet blog after an article was posted on February 4 that stated I want to kill Berlusconi and described the Italian prime minister as a hypnotizing alien.

The web master, Valieria Rossi was questioned by police at the central police station in Savona. The site,, was blocked and Rossi's computers were confiscated by police.

The Bologna public prosecutor ordered the action taken under slander, threats and instigation to criminal association laws.


16th February   

Update: Necessary and Proportionate...

EU Parliament committee backs EU wide website blocking proposal
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law

The EU has taken a step towards common rules against those who sexually abuse children and post images of the abuse on the internet.

A committee of Euro MPs backed an EU draft directive calling for child abuse images to be removed at source.

Where removal is impossible - for example, because web pages are hosted outside the EU - then the abuse images may be blocked by national authorities.

MEPs aim to adopt the new rules later this year, after further negotiations.

MEPs insisted that any moves to block access to images on the web must be accompanied by transparent procedures and provide adequate safeguards so that the restriction is limited to what is necessary and proportionate .

The safeguards would include informing users of the reason for the block and informing content providers and users of their right to appeal.


15th February   

Update: Pressing the Case...

Major newspaper takes government to court over unconstitutional media repression
Link Here
Full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

Hungary's largest-circulation national daily has turned to the Constitutional Court over the new media package, the paper said.

Editor-in-Chief Karoly T Voros submitted complaints that the legislation curbed press freedom and freedom of opinion in 16 areas, the paper said.

Among the complains listed, were the new media authority's supervision over print media, powers to impose fines, regulatory powers over new media, and the requirement that reporting must be balanced in the printed media.


15th February   

Update: No Pride in Hungary...

Budapest Gay Pride banned over media law protest
Link Here
Full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

Hungarian police have blocked this year's annual Budapest Gay Pride parade with organisers claiming that it was a politically motivated ban.

The Budapest police chief has withdrawn the permission that was granted earlier to the organisers of the 2011 gay pride march, Sandor Steigler, head of the organising Rainbow Mission Foundation, told AFP.

The organisation was preparing a court appeal, he added.

Last week, the organisers of the march applied for an extension to their usual downtown route, which police had earlier accepted. The extension would have taken the march in front of parliament, where marchers planned to protest against Hungary's controversial media law and the upcoming new constitution, both perceived as detrimental to the cause of gay rights, Steigler said.

It was this protest against the repressive new media law that seems to have triggered the Gay Pride ban.


15th February   

Update: Every Which Way But Lose...

Court case against Geert Wilders has no tenable outcome
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has been granted the right to challenge the charges against him of inciting hatred.

The ruling was made by a new panel of judges appointed after the initial trial collapsed in October when Wilders complained of bias against him.

One of the judges told the court that if the objections were successful, the case will be closed .

The charges against him of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims, Moroccans and other groups date back to remarks he made in 2006 and 2008. He called Islam fascist and compared the Koran to Hitler's book Mein Kampf.

The prosecution told his initial trial last year that the comments were not criminal.

The first trial eventually fell apart when a separate panel decided that the judges' decision not to allow expert witnesses to provide evidence that Islam is in fact a violent religion. This decision was found to be biased against Wilders and a retrial was ordered.

Update: Trial Date

16th February 2011. See  article from

The trial of PVV leader Geert Wilders on discrimination and inciting hatred charges will resume on March 14 when his lawyer Bram Moszkowicz will restate his opening remarks to the Amsterdam court, news agency ANP reports.

The public prosecutor will respond two days later.

The court is expected to decide whether the case should continue or be abandoned on March 30.


13th February   

Update: Unappealing Children's Charities...

Nutters rant against right of appeal for websites blocked under new EU proposed law
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law

The European parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee (LIBE) will meet in Strasbourg tomorrow, when it is expected to approve a controversial measure that would compel EU member states to inform internet publishers that their images are to be deleted from the internet or blocked for reasons of child pornography.

Publishers will also have to be informed of their right to appeal against any removal or blocking.

The measure would make the UK's system for blocking and removing child pornography without informing the publisher illegal.

MEPs seem more concerned with the rights of child pornographers than they do with the rights of children who have been sexually abused to make their foul, illegal images, said John Carr, the secretary of the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety (And an adviser to the UK government on child internet safety!)


Surely it is non-child porn publishers that can appeal. If they can show that their sites are legal then it is absolutely correct that they should be able to prove their point.

On the other hand, child pornographers would simply have no case on which to make an appeal, their material is illegal, and will stay removed or blocked.


11th February   

Update: Hammering in the Wedge in the EU...

European Parliament set for first vote on mandatory website blocking
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law

Cecilia Malmstrom, the European commissioner for home affairs, is worried that MEPs' amendments to a draft directive on the sexual abuse and exploitation of children would make it more difficult for EU member states to block access to websites carrying child pornography.

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee is to vote on the European Commission's proposal and MEPs' amendments on 14th February.

At present, it is up to member states whether they want to block websites such content. The Commission is seeking to introduce an obligation on all member states to block access in cases where their removal is impossible.

A majority of member states back the mandatory blocking of internet sites but the measure has run into trouble with MEPs. Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg have also openly rejected the measure.

Some of the hundreds of amendments to the draft regulation put forward by MEPs would introduce EU-wide rules that would make it more difficult for member states to continue blocking websites. Many MEPs are concerned about the implications of website blocking for freedom of speech.

I am a liberal, I consider free speech as a fundamental value and I have fought for that all my life, so accusations that I'm trying to censor the internet and limit freedom of speech really go to my heart because that is absolutely not what I'm trying to do, Malmstro m said. But I have seen those pictures; they have nothing to do with freedom of speech. This is a horrible violation.

She also rejected the slippery-slope argument -- the notion that once the EU imposed rules on blocking access to one type of website, it could do so for other types in the future. I intend in no way to propose any other type of blocking for any other thing, but this particular crime demands particular attention.


10th February   

Update Censorstorm...

Bulletstorm cut in Germany
Link Here
Full story: Bulletstorm...Nutters claim 'worst game in the world'

The nutter hyped Bulletstorm has been given a USK 18+ rating by the German Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Even with an 18+ rating, the game had to be significantly cut by removing ragdoll physics effects, blood, blood splatter, and dismemberment.

The game was rated M (mature 17+) by the ESRB, the US game ratings organisation.

In the UK. the BBFC rated the game 18 uncut with the comment: Contains frequent strong bloody violence and strong language


4th February   

Update: Premier League Doesn't Understand EU Offside Rules...

European Court suggestion that free trade law allows subscription to mainland European TV services
Link Here
Full story: No Free Trade for Satellite TV...Subscription to EU channels whilst in the UK

Pub landlord Karen Murphy is defending her right to show English Premier League matches in her pub using a fully paid up subscription to Greek satellite TV.

In a decision that could change the way sports rights are sold across the continent, the European court of justice was advised that forbidding pubs from buying in cheap football coverage from overseas operators was incompatible with European free trade laws.

Murphy was taken to court by a company representing the league over her decision to import a Greek decoder to show the games rather than paying Sky, which holds the rights in the UK. She has fought the case all the way to the highest European court.

Juliane Kokott, one of the eight advocate generals of the European court of justice, advised that selling on a territory-by-territory basis represented a serious impairment of freedom to provide services , adding that the economic exploitation of the [TV] rights is  not undermined by the use of foreign decoder cards as the corresponding charges have been paid for those cards .

Because Murphy had paid the legitimate rights holder in Greece, she was entitled to receive its satellite broadcasts. Whilst those charges are not as high as the charges imposed in the UK there is ... no specific right to charge different prices for a work in each member state, Kokott said. Selling on a basis of territorial exclusivity was tantamount to profiting from the elimination of the internal market .

Kokott's opinion is not binding, but the Luxembourg court usually follows the advice of advocate generals. The court is expected to deliver its verdict later this year. As well as the criminal case against Murphy, civil cases against two importers of the decoder cards are being considered in parallel.


2nd February   

Free Speech Show Trial Defused...

Lars Hedegaard acquitted of hate speech after over generalising about honour crime
Link Here
Full story: Blasphemy in Denmark...Danish Not So Free Speech

The president of the Danish Free Press Society has been acquitted on racism charges in something of a show trial.

Lars Hedegaard was accused over a statement which was made to a blogger: Girls in Muslim families are raped by their uncles, their cousins, or their fathers.

The court ruled that it does not constitute racism or hate speech explaining that although it found Hedegaard's comments to be insulting, the acquittal was handed down due to the fact that Hedegaard did not know that his controversial comments would be published.

Hedegaard had previously expressed regret for the statements, which were made during a 35-minute interview at a Christmas party with the author of the blog However, he had maintained that what he said did not constitute racism under the Danish penal code.

Hedegaard released a statement following his acquittal.

My detractors – the foes of free speech and the enablers of an Islamic ascendancy in the West – will claim that I was acquitted on a technicality, the statement read. That is absolutely true. However, the public prosecutor has been privy to the circumstances surrounding my case for a year – and yet he chose to prosecute me. Obviously in the hope that he could secure a conviction given the Islamophile sentiment among our ruling classes. My acquittal is therefore a major victory for free speech.


31st January   

Peeping into the Ministry of Vague Laws...

Sweden proposes law against unauthorised photography
Link Here

The Swedish Ministry of Injustice wants to add unauthorised photographing to the Swedish criminal code.

What we're trying to do is come up with laws that make it illegal to take pictures that are clearly meant to be insulting and violate a person's privacy without criminalizing pictures taken around the table at a dinner party, for example, injustice ministry spokesman Martin Valfridsson told The Local.

Injustice ministry officials have been wrestling with a workable formulation for legislation to prohibit the practice since 2008. The original proposal only covered pictures taken in people's homes, and after a flood of negative comments, the ministry decided to rework the proposal entirely.

Under the latest proposal, people would be punished with fines or up to a year in prison for taking pictures that constitute an intrusion in the private sphere which individuals ought to be guaranteed against other individuals. Furthermore, the new statute would outlaw picture taking that irrespective of place, occurs in a way which is obtrusive, intrusive, or hidden and that is meant to be a serious violation of a person's privacy as an individual.

The proposal also tries to take the work of journalists into account, providing an exception to the prohibition of photographing people in sensitive situations if a reporter is trying to show that a public figure is doing something inappropriate.

Despite the exemption, the chair of Sweden's main journalists union, Journalistförbundet, slammed the new proposal, arguing it risked putting restrictions on working journalists. The proposal is sloppy and poorly defined, which is bad when it actually deals with freedom of speech, which is one of our core values, Agneta Lindblom Hulthén told the TT news agency.


29th January   

Dangerous Drawings...

Swedish fine reduced for possession of manga images of children
Link Here

A Swedish appeals court has ruled that a translator of Japanese cartoons had violated a ban against possession of child pornography, upholding a previous conviction.

The translator had appealed a district court ruling from June that his collection, included images that violated a 1999 law.

The law that bans possession or production of child pornography covers all images, including drawings, the appeals court said. The law was tightened last year making it an offence to view child pornographic images for instance on the internet.

However, the court lowered the fines issued by a district court from 25,000 kronor (£2,400) to 5,600 kronor (£540) .

The case has generated debate on social media sites and among fans of the Japanese cartoon-style who argued that freedom of speech protected the man's right to keep the images.

Meanwhile the National Library Considers its Collection

See  article from

Sweden's National Library has sought guidance from the government after determining that 21 magazines in its collection feature child pornography.

We want to know if we should allow them to be available for viewing for research purposes, and if so, how we should determine who should be allowed to see them, Communications Director Urban Rybrink told The Local. At the moment these are locked up and inaccessible pending guidance from the government.

The collection at the library was built up in the years between 1971, when the possession, distribution and display of child pornography was legalized in Sweden, until 1980, when the law was repealed. Rybrink explained that the library is tasked with maintaining a copy of all printed material published in Sweden.


28th January   

Updated: Valley of the Wolves Palestine...

Political pressures lead to a German block on a Turkish film said to show Israel in a bad light
Link Here

The Turkish film series Valley of the Wolves is not known for its delicacy. Now, distribution of the most recent movie in the series has been blocked in Germany.

The Valley of the Wolves formula is simple: Turks are honorable and courageous; action hero Polat Alemdar, played by Turkish movie star Necati Amazbased, can do no wrong; Americans are suspect; and Israelis are inhuman and brutal.

The newest installment,  Valley of the Wolves Palestine, is based on the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish aid ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza in May 2010, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turks on board the ship.

Of particular political concern are allegations that Israel and Israelis are portrayed negatively in the film. Furthermore, the planned release date of Jan. 27, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is seen as insensitive.

To release a film like this on such an important day of remembrance is beyond tasteless and insensitive to the feelings of the victims, said German parliamentarian Philipp Missfelder, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Kerstin Griese, a German parliamentarian with the center-left Social Democrats, called the movie problematic, because it glorifies violence and anti-Israeli sentiment.

This has proven too much for Germany's film censorship board, the FSK which has so far refused to grant the film an age rating certificate, which automatically places it in the adult category. German law forbids adult-rated films from being marketed using posters and other forms of public advertising.

The film board will meet again on Thursday to review the decision.

Update: Passed 18

28th January 2011. Based on article from

Germany's FSK film censors passed Turkish film Kurtlar Vadisi: Filistin (Valley of the Wolves: Palestine) with an adults only rating.

The distribuotrs, Pera, said that it can be shown immediately but it wasn't immediately clear that it was shown on Thursday – International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Austrian cinemas did show show it on the day as planned with a self imposed 18 rating..

FSK issued a statement saying that children under the age of 18 are not permitted to see the film. They added that Valley of the Wolves contains propaganda tendencies and repetitive violence.

The film cost $10 million to make, making it the most expensive in Turkish cinematic history.

Politicians from the Green Party and the Christian Social Union criticized the film this week. Philipp Missfelder, a member of the ruling Christian Democratic Party, said it disrespects victims of the Holocaust, and Jerzy Montag of the Green Party called the movie irresponsible.


27th January   

PC Morality...

Sex education under the cosh in Sweden because one person complained to the police about the morality of animated teen sex
Link Here

Animated teen sex scenes in a sex education film has led to the film being reported to the police for violating laws against endangering the moral upbringing of young people.

The film, Sex on the map (Sex på kartan) , was co-produced by the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) and the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (UR) and broadcast last week on Sveriges Television (SVT).

One individual then reported the public broadcaster to the police. According to the complaintant, the film depicts minors having sex and is directed toward Swedish high school students and thus qualifies as the crime of leading youth astray.

According to the statute, someone can be convicted of the crime for distributing pictures or images featuring content which can be dehumanising or otherwise cause serious danger for the moral upbringing of young people.

Cecilia Bäcklander, the programme director rejected the claims: This is a very well thought out film that has been planned for several years with RFSU. We're not guilty of endangering young people or leading them astray. This is an educational film . We've consulted our lawyers throughout the production .

The complaint, which was filed with the police in Stockholm, has been forwarded to Sweden's Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern), who is charged with assessing whether or not the matter falls within the framework of Sweden's laws governing freedom of expression.


21st January   

Monsieur Hulot's Law...

France to excuse 'cultural heritage' from ban on the promotion of smoking
Link Here

French MPs have voted to overturn rules that resulted in legendary comedian Jacques Tati losing his beloved pipe and existentialist writer Jean-Paul Sartre ditching his trademark cigarette.

A parliamentary commission voted for a bill that would exclude cultural heritage from the stringent health legislation passed in 1991 that forbids direct or indirect promotion of smoking.

Last year posters for a Tati retrospective in Paris showed the late actor and director with his pipe replaced by a yellow toy windmill. Critics slammed the poster as an overdose of political correctness.

The cultural affairs committee almost unanimously backed the bill, which must now go before parliament, that would exclude cultural heritage from the anti-smoking law.


19th January   

Update: Less Dead Space in Germany...

Dead Space 2 game cut for a delayed German release
Link Here
Full story: Games Censorship in Germany...German politicians target video games

The German release of Dead Space 2 has been delayed until February. The delay was caused by censorship issues as the game had to be cut to keep the German authorities happy.

The friendly fire option has been  removed from the multiplayer portion of the game.

Apparently, the German government was uneasy with a player killing their own teammates.

Thankfully the single player portion of the title will remain unaltered.

Producers Electronic Arts said in a translated press release that the game will be released on 03:02:11 for PS3 and Xbox 360 only. The Wii release still seems mired in censorship difficulties and will not get released at this time.


19th January   

Update: In the EU Sin Bin...

Hungary's immoral media law is unbalancing the EU
Link Here
Full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

The EU''s Digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes told an Extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee that the EU had been in touch with the Hungarian government and had deep concerns about the nature of a new media law, which came into force on 1 January 2011.

The law made those responsible for material published in Hungary - both through traditional channels and online - subject to heavy fines and sanctions if their coverage is deemed to be unbalanced or immoral .

Kroes said that in addition to writing to the Hungarian authorities in December, raising specific concerns regarding their compliance with the EU AVMS Directive, she has also visited Budapest to discuss the matter. She believes that the Media Law may risk jeopardising fundamental rights in a number of ways, including its requirement that all media - including online media such as forums and blogs - be registered, and by making the Media Authority subject to political control through the appointment process.

The Media Law seems to raise a problem under the AVMS Directive because its provisions appear to apply also to media firms established in other Member States, which would be contrary to the country of origin principle, she said.

...Read the full article

Update: Promises

6th February 2011. See  article from

The European Union said on Tuesday that Hungary had given a clear indication it could change a hotly-contested media law that is embarrassing the bloc as it seeks to promote democratic standards elsewhere.

A spokesman for Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the executive European Commission charged with defusing a row that has overshadowed Budapest's six-month chairmanship of the 27-state grouping, said she had received a reply to queries raised with the Hungarian government.

Jonathan Todd said she had detected a clear indication in today's letter that they are prepared to modify the law if need be and that her staff were eager to quickly discuss technical aspects... as soon as possible.


18th January   

Police Pissed...

Sculpture depicting pissing policewoman winds up the German authorities
Link Here

Marcel Walldorf's life-size sculpture of a policewoman in full riot gear pissing on the floor has some Germans pissed .

The sculpture, entitled Petra , which has already captured the prestigious Leinemann Foundation Award for fine arts, was put on display in Dresden last week.

Local security officials were not amused. The artist has received letters of condemnation from state security services and local officials.

The gallery however, told AFP news service that despite official outrage, response from the public has been overwhelmingly positive .


18th January   

Chilling Demands...

Google resist Spanish demand to censor specified newspaper articles from search listings
Link Here

Google has said it will challenge Spain's data protection authority Agencia Española de Protección de Datos demand to remove 100 defamatory articles in newspapers and official gazettes from its search listings.

The search engine has been quoted in a Guardian story arguing that it acts only as an intermediary and therefore it cannot be held responsible for all content on the internet. Google's director of external relations for Europe Peter Barron said: Requiring intermediaries like search engines to censor material published by others would have a profound, chilling effect on free expression without protecting people's privacy.

The data regulator said the only way to block access to sensitive material published by some sites is by doing so in the search engine listings.


17th January   

Update: Orbanistan...

Hungarians take the street to demonstrate against repressive new media law
Link Here
Full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

An estimated 10,000 Hungarians have demonstrated Friday against what critics describe as Europe's most restrictive media law. Under the legislation, media in Hungary can face heavy fines and sanctions if authorities deem their coverage unbalanced or immoral.

Thousands of Hungarians sang Friday that if they would be a flag they wouldn't wave, or if they would be a rose, they wouldn't flourish.

Hungarian journalists aren't the only people concerned about what critics call Europe's most restrictive media law. Activist Sonja Andrassew of environmental group Greenpeace says she fears the legislation will make it more difficult to criticize environmental policies. We think that the environmental protection is also [about] free press. So if we want to say our opinion about the environment, the global warming or anything we need the press to be free to write down our opinion, she said.

Critics say that with the media law the center-right government is turning Hungary into Orbanistan , a reference to Prime minister Viktor Orban and autocratic Central Asian nations.


16th January   

Damned by the Church...

Italian Big Brother ejects 3 contestants over religious cussing
Link Here

Grande Fratello , the Italian version of Big Brother , has disqualified three contestants after the Catholic Church complained about blasphemy.

Big Brother, a flag ship programme on Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset network, has been forced into a humiliating climb down after the Church objected to contestants on the reality television show uttering blasphemous insults.

The swearing by three male contestants infuriated the Catholic Church, with the attack led by Avvenire , an influential daily newspaper owned by the Catholic Bishops' Conference.

The offending remarks were bleeped when they were broadcast, but according to media insiders included Mannaggia la Madonna – Damn the Virgin Mary – and Dio maiale , which literally translates as God pig and is considered highly offensive by Italians.

The show's presenter, Alessia Marcuzzi, read out a statement saying the programme would not tolerate language that offends the sensitivity of the public .

For the powerful Catholic lobby, the matter was made worse by the fact that one of the offending contestants, Massimo Scattarella, had been kicked out of the previous Big Brother series for blasphemy, but had been readmitted by public vote for the 11th season.


15th January   

Blocking New Laws...

Euro ISPs unimpressed by EU proposed mandate of ISP website blocking
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in EU...EU introduces swathes of internet censorship law

The European Commission has drafted new laws to force ISPs to block child porn. The measure will be voted on by the European Parliament next month. The technical solutions envisaged are broadly based on arrangements in the UK, where all major ISPs block access to child abuse websites named on a list maintained by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

If the laws are passed as proposed, the UK government will get powers to force the small ISPs who do not use the IWF blocklist – who serve less than 2% of British internet users – to fall into line. Last year the Home Office abandoned a pledge to enforce 100% compliance.

Although voluntary, the British system is not without controversy, and EuroISPA, the European ISP trade association, is lobbying MEPs to reject the move to enforce it across the bloc.

Malcolm Hutty, the President of EuroISPA, said: In order to make the Directive on child sexual exploitation as strong as possible, emphasis must be placed on making swift notice and takedown of child sexual abuse material focused and effective. Blocking, as an inefficient measure, should be avoided. Law enforcement authorities' procedures for rapid communication to internet hosting providers of such illegal material must be reviewed and bottlenecks eliminated.


13th January   

Update: Spanking Brand New Law...

Max Mosley petitions European court for privacy protection from the press
Link Here
Full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

Max Mosley, the former president of Formula One, was in a European court on 10 January hoping to secure a new law barring newspapers from publishing details of people's private lives without forewarning.

Mosley is asking the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to make it illegal for a newspaper to publish intrusive material without prior notification. He claimed that it was a great fallacy to think this would inhibit press freedom.

But campaigners have warned that a prior notification rule could damage valid investigative journalism as well as suppressing kiss and tell journalism, by giving anyone who does not like what is about to appear about them in the press time to seek an injunction to prevent publication.

The UK Government opposes Mosley's application.

It's really a very simple thing that if a newspaper is going to write something about your private life, or something you might reasonably wish to keep reasonably private, that they should tell you beforehand, Mosley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: The fact of the matter is, in 99 cases out of 100, if they are going to write something about someone of any real interest, they will approach the person.

But Geoffrey Robinson QC warned: The vast scope of the new law which is contended for is so vague as to be unworkable.


12th January   

Update: Conducting the Opposition...

Hungarian writers and musician campaign against new media censorship law
Link Here
Full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

Hungarian writers and musicians have descended on Brussels to add their voices to the chorus of criticism aimed at censorship being introduced by Prime Minister Victor Orban.

The criticism centres on a new media law which came into force on 1 January. Opponents say it will muzzle press freedom and endanger independent media.

Adam Fischer, one of the world's leading conductors, stood down at the end of last year as music director at the Hungarian State Opera in protest at the increasingly heavy and restrictive hand of government: A lot of the attention has focussed on the new law but the problems run far deeper . Even more worrying are changes to the national constitution that are being drafted and the rise of anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia in Hungarian society,

Fischer pointed to the latest attack in which Hungarian pianist Andras Schiff became the butt of anti-Semitic remarks in a national newspaper after he wrote a column criticising new government measures.

Neelie Kroes, the EU's Digital Communications Commissioner, reminded Orban of his pledges to make adjustments if EU experts find the law falling short of full respect of the European values on media freedom . The European Commission is currently examining the text.


10th January   

Throwing Shoes...

Maltese TV show suspended over throwing shoes at photos of president
Link Here

Malta's satirical television programme VIP Xow has been suspended by the national broadcaster after the station editor found a clip aired in last Monday's show to be illegal and in bad taste.

The offensive part involved a game in which contestants were asked to hurl shoes at three tins featuring photos of President George Abela, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Labour leader Joseph Muscat. According to law it is illegal to ridicule the President.

Following a meeting of the Public Broadcasting Services' editorial board, the VIP Xow producers were informed their programme was being suspended with immediate effect. The decision was taken on grounds that the board had to ensure laws were respected and that the station's reputation was not prejudiced.

On last Monday's show,  Prof. Arnold Cassola was one of four guests. When it was his turn to play the shoe-throwing game, the tins were brought very close to him so he could hit them easily, knock them down and finally win something – a play on his party's lack of electoral success.

The decision taken by PBS to black out the game was criticised by the Front Against Censorship. Despite not being aired on TVM, the clip was uploaded onto Facebook and the video-sharing website You Tube. It was then removed from circulation after the VIP Xow team were advised to withdraw it by their lawyer.


9th January   

Update: Warning It's On...

Hungarian media censor moves into rapid action
Link Here
Full story: Media Censorship in Hungary...Repressive media censor established in 2011

Hungary's newly established media censor has opened an inquiry into a small private radio station, Tilos, for broadcasting the song Warning, it's on by US rapper Ice-T, Agence France-Presse reported. 

Hungary's new legislation came into force on 1 January 2011.

A letter from the new media authority, published on the radio station's website, said Ice-T's song was gangster-rap and could influence the development of minors in a negative way because it was broadcasted in the afternoon hours. Tilos should have broadcast it after 21:00, it said.

Hungarian websites said the letter recalled the Communist days of the 1960s and 1970s when censors warned against the destructive potential of punk music.

Update: Censors back down

17th January 2011. See  article from

After a public outcry, the Council backed down this week, but radio announcers are concerned that the media authority now watches over their shoulders.


4th January   

Booked for Dissent...

Swedish hockey referee suspended over Mohammed cartoon on his Facebook page
Link Here

A referee has been suspended by the Swedish Hockey Association over a cartoon of Mohammed on his Facebook page

According to sources, SÄPO [the Swedish security police] were contacted.

We had a meeting with this person and we agree that he should take a time out, said Swedish Hockey Association's security chief censor Peter Anderson.

According to Sportbladet the referee was confronted with information that he published a cartoon of Mohammed on his Facebook page. The Security manager also had a transcript of the page

The referee admitted that he posted the picture and referred to the right to freedom of expression, said a source.

Peter Anderson would not comment, but later gave a brief comment: We had a meeting with a person who is a district referee. During the meeting, we agreed he should take time out the rest of the season. For reasons which I definitely do not want to go into, says Peter Anderson.

According to Sportbladet, the Hockey Association has had contact with the Security Police concerning the potential threat that publishing the cartoon can bring.

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