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Extract: Onlne Censorship Bill...

Index on Censorship has commissioned a legal opinion by Matthew Ryder KC and finds that the powers conceived would not be lawful under our common law and the existing human rights legal framework


Link Here30th November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

There has been significant commentary on the flaws of the Online Safety Bill, particularly the harmful impact on freedom of expression from the concept of the duty of care over adult internet users and the problematic legal but harmful category for online speech. Index on Censorship has identified another area of the Bill, far less examined, that now deserves our attention. The provisions in the Online Safety Bill that would enable state-backed surveillance of private communications contain some of the broadest and powerful surveillance powers ever proposed in any Western democracy. It is our opinion that the powers conceived in the Bill would not be lawful under our common law and existing human rights legal framework.

The legal opinion shows how the powers conceived go beyond even the controversial powers contained within the Investigatory Powers Act (2016) but critically, without the safeguards that Parliament inserted into the Act in order to ensure it protected the privacy and the fundamental rights of UK citizens. The powers in the Online Safety Bill have no such safeguards as of yet.

The Bill as currently drafted gives Ofcom the powers to impose Section 104 notices on the operators of private messaging apps and other online services. These notices give Ofcom the power to impose specific technologies (e.g. algorithmic content detection) that provide for the surveillance of the private correspondence of UK citizens. The powers allow the technology to be imposed with limited legal safeguards. It means the UK would be one of the first democracies to place a de facto ban on end-to-end encryption for private messaging apps. No communications in the UK -- whether between MPs, between whistleblowers and journalists, or between a victim and a victims support charity -- would be secure or private. In an era where Russia and China continue to work to undermine UK cybersecurity, we believe this could pose a critical threat to UK national security.

See full article from indexoncensorship.org

 

 

Curtailing free speech and taking away our protection from hackers and thieves...

The UK government announces that its Online Censorship Bill returns to Parliament on 5th December


Link Here 26th November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The Times is reporting that the government's Online Censorship Bill will return to the House of Commons on December 5th with a few amendments re 'harmful but legal' content.

Rishi Sunak is to introduce a compromise over the Online Safety Bill that will involve users being able to filter out legal but harmful content without it being removed by tech platforms.

The bill  has been paused while the government takes out provisions that alarmed free speech advocates. Of particular concern were sections that would have led to tech platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Google removing content that was deemed to be legal, but harmful to adults.

The government will also detail a new offence about sharing deep fake porm. Those who share pornographic deepfakes,explicit images or videos that have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent, could be jailed under the proposed changes. It is not clear how the government will take on the international porn websites where faked porn of celebrities is commonplace. Perhaps the government will have to block them all.

Meanwhile the censorship bill is causing further criticisms over governments powers to degrade encryption. This is used to keep British people safe from hackers, blackmailers  and thieves, not to mention snooping by malicious governments most notably China and Russia.

The Open Rights Group explains in an article from openrightsgroup.org :

The Online Safety Bill requires ALL online speech to be monitored for harmful content, including the private conversations you have on your phone with friends and family. Companies like Whatsapp and Signal will be required by law to break end-to-end encryption, so the Government can automatically scan your messages.

They say encryption is dangerous, but the opposite is true. Encryption keeps your information and transactions safe from criminals. It ensures your private messages stay private. If the UK Government can break encryption to read your messages, that means scammers, hackers and foreign governments can too. Save encryption, Protect the security of your phone

If they get their way, your phone will be turned into a spy in your pocket. Billions of personal messages will be ready to be hacked, sold and exploited. The Government's plan to access your private messages will help criminals and make us less safe.

 

 

Ofcom will demand that all website users hand over dangerous identity data to any website that asks...

And ICO claims that its data protection rules will keep us 'safe'....just like laws against burglary have put an end to break ins


Link Here26th November 2022

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and Ofcom have set out how we will work together to ensure coherence between the data protection and the new online safety regimes.

Our joint statement builds on our existing cooperative approach to regulation - and on our close working relationship established as co-founders of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum.

In anticipation of Ofcom taking on new duties in 2023 under the Online Safety Bill, the statement sets out our shared regulatory aims. We want:

  • people who use online services to have confidence that their safety and privacy will be upheld and that we will take prompt and effective action when providers fail in their obligations; and

  • providers of online services of all sizes to comply with their obligations and to continue to innovate and grow, supported by regulatory clarity and free from undue burden.

To achieve this, the ICO and Ofcom will work closely together to achieve maximum alignment and consistency between the data protection and online safety regimes. We will:

  • maximise coherence by ensuring our policies are consistent with each other's regulatory requirements -- and consult closely when preparing codes and guidance. We will seek solutions that enhance users' safety and preserve their privacy. Where there are tensions between privacy and safety objectives, we will provide clarity on how compliance can be achieved with both regimes; and

  • promote compliance by setting clear expectations for industry on what they must do to meet both their online safety and data protection requirements. That includes particular support through the transition for small and emerging firms to help them thrive and grow. We will take action against services that don't meet their obligations, sharing information and intelligence as appropriate and coordinating approaches to enforcement.

 

 

Offsite Article: The Online Safety Bill will make life harder for victims...


Link Here 22nd November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The chilling effect of this new legislation will be violation of privacy and infringement of free speech online. By Monica Horten

See article from newstatesman.com

 

 

Rework to the Online Censorship Bill...

The Government is discussing reworking the free speech curtailing censorship of 'legal but harmful' content into something more optional for adults


Link Here20th November 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The Telegraph is reporting on significant changes being considered by the government to its Online Censorship Bill.

The government is considering backing off from the government defined censorship of 'legal but harmful' content on most websites available in the UK. The government has rightfully been taking stick for these free speech curtailing measures, particularly as the censorship is expected to be implemented mostly by mostly woke US internet giants who clearly don't care about free speech, and will over censor to ensure that they don't get caught up in the expense of getting it wrong by under censoring.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan is said to be considering the option for adults to be able to self censor 'legal but harmful' content by clicking a filter button that will order websites to block such content. Of course children will not be able to opt out of that choice. And of course this will men that age and identity verification has to be in place to esnsure that only adults can opt out.

A Culture Department spokesman said:

The Secretary of State has committed to strengthen protections for free speech and children in the Online Safety Bill and bring the bill back to the Commons as soon as possible. It remains the Government's intention to pass the bill this session.

 

 

Prescription Gin...

Take one swig when riled by joke censors


Link Here20th November 2022
Prescription Gin offers the service to customise labels with a jokey prescription label with a customer specified name and dosage.

One example came to the attention of the trade organisation, the Portman Group, who act as drink label censors. The customer specified dosage read:

Take ONE swig before each exam. GOOD LUCK!

The Portman Group went on to ban the label under two counts of its censorship rules:

  • A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as drink-driving, binge-drinking or drunkenness.

  • A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest that the product has therapeutic qualities, can enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood or behaviour.

The drinks company, MixPixie, commented:

The company addressed the concern raised by the complainant that one of the bottles featured on its website included the front label text take one swig before each exam. Good luck!. The company explained that the product was personalised and that this particular product had been ordered by a customer. The company explained that when a customer bought the product, they had to confirm that they were over 18 years of age. Additionally, the company pointed out that when Royal Mail delivered its products, they could not hand it to anyone under-18. The company then stated that the complainant had presumed that this particular bottle was for a young person doing exams, but that in reality, it was most likely that this order was for a mature student.

The company stated that to resolve this particular issue with the complaint, it had removed this photo from its product page.

The Portman Group censor panel commented:

The Panel discussed the producer's formal response to the complaint and noted that the producer had stated that it could not be held responsible for what a customer chose to include but that it had the ability to vet what had been written before sending the label to be printed and could contact the customer to change it or issue a refund if the proposed text was inappropriate for an alcoholic product. The Panel sought to remind the producer that it did have responsibility for the entirety of the product, including the customisable element, as ultimately the producer could regulate the customisable content. The Panel noted that once the producer chose to incorporate the customer's personalisation on the product, the product in its entirety became the responsibility of the producer as it had willingly, and knowingly, printed the label onto its branded product.

The Panel discussed whether the product suggested that it had therapeutic qualities, could enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood or behaviour. The Panel considered that the product was deliberately, and overtly, designed to look like a prescription medicine and that such medicines were synonymous with being used to cure and relieve physical and/or mental ailments. The Panel reiterated the points made during discussion under other Code rules and noted the usage of the exact replica of a pharmacy cross, small medicinal bottle shape and medicinal liquid colour which, when combined, suggested that the product had therapeutic qualities. The Panel also noted that the front of the bottle stated, POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: MAY INCLUDE EXTREME RELAXATION, GIDDINESS AND HAPPINESS. The Panel considered that this directly suggested that the product could help a consumer to relax and that it would also result in happiness after consumption. The Panel considered that these phrases also suggested that the product had a therapeutic effect and that it could change someone's mood. The Panel therefore concluded that the product breached rule 3.2(j).



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