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Extract: The hidden harms in the Online Safety Bill...

Former UK Supreme Court judge savages the government's censorship bill


Link Here18th August 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

Weighing in at 218 pages, with 197 sections and 15 schedules, the Online Safety Bill is a clunking attempt to regulate content on the internet. Its internal contradictions and exceptions, its complex paper chase of definitions, its weasel language suggesting more than it says, all positively invite misunderstanding. Parts of it are so obscure that its promoters and critics cannot even agree on what it does.

The real vice of the bill is that its provisions are not limited to material capable of being defined and identified. It creates a new category of speech which is legal but harmful. The range of material covered is almost infinite, the only limitation being that it must be liable to cause harm to some people. Unfortunately, that is not much of a limitation. Harm is defined in the bill in circular language of stratospheric vagueness. It means any physical or psychological harm. As if that were not general enough, harm also extends to anything that may increase the likelihood of someone acting in a way that is harmful to themselves, either because they have encountered it on the internet or because someone has told them about it.

This test is almost entirely subjective. Many things which are harmless to the overwhelming majority of users may be harmful to sufficiently sensitive, fearful or vulnerable minorities, or may be presented as such by manipulative pressure groups. At a time when even universities are warning adult students against exposure to material such as Chaucer with his rumbustious references to sex, or historical or literary material dealing with slavery or other forms of cruelty, the harmful propensity of any material whatever is a matter of opinion. It will vary from one internet user to the next.

If the bill is passed in its current form, internet giants will have to identify categories of material which are potentially harmful to adults and provide them with options to cut it out or alert them to its potentially harmful nature. This is easier said than done. The internet is vast. At the last count, 300,000 status updates are uploaded to Facebook every minute, with 500,000 comments left that same minute. YouTube adds 500 hours of videos every minute. Faced with the need to find unidentifiable categories of material liable to inflict unidentifiable categories of harm on unidentifiable categories of people, and threatened with criminal sanctions and enormous regulatory fines (up to 10 per cent of global revenue). What is a media company to do?

The only way to cope will be to take the course involving the least risk: if in doubt, cut it out. This will involve a huge measure of regulatory overkill. A new era of intensive internet self-censorship will have dawned.

See full article from spectator.co.uk

 

 

A bit of a censorship dilemma...

Meta calls for public comments about the police requested take down of drill music on Facebook


Link Here18th August 2022
Full story: Facebook Censorship since 2020...Left wing bias, prudery and multiple 'mistakes'

In January 2022, an Instagram account that describes itself as publicising British music posted a video with a short caption on its public account. The video is a 21-second clip of the music video for a UK drill music track called Secrets Not Safe by the rapper Chinx (OS). The caption tags Chinx (OS) as well as an affiliated artist and highlights that the track had just been released. The video clip shows part of the second verse of the song and fades to a black screen with the text OUT NOW. Drill is a subgenre of rap music popular in the UK, with a large number of drill artists active in London.

Shortly after the video was posted, Meta received a request from UK law enforcement to remove content that included this track. Meta says that it was informed by law enforcement that elements of it could contribute to a risk of offline harm. The company was also aware that the track referenced a past shooting in a way that raised concerns that it may provoke further violence. As a result, the post was escalated for internal review by experts at Meta.

Meta's experts determined that the content violated the Violence and Incitement policy, specifically the prohibition on coded statements where the method of violence or harm is not clearly articulated, but the threat is veiled or implicit. The Community Standards list signs that content may include veiled or implicit threats. These include content that is shared in a retaliatory context, and content with references to historical or fictional incidents of violence. Further information and/or context is always required to identify and remove a number of different categories listed at the end of the Violence and Incitement policy, including veiled threats. Meta has explained to the Board that enforcement under these categories is not subject to at-scale review (the standard review process conducted by outsourced moderators) and can only be enforced by Meta's internal teams. Meta has further explained that the Facebook Community Standards apply to Instagram.

When Meta took the content down, two days after it was posted, it also removed copies of the video posted by other accounts. Based on the information that they received from UK law enforcement, Meta's Public Policy team believed that the track might increase the risk of potential retaliatory gang violence, and acted as a threatening call to action that could contribute to a risk of imminent violence or physical harm, including retaliatory gang violence.

Hours after the content was removed, the account owner appealed. A human reviewer assessed the content to be non-violating and restored it to Instagram. Eight days later, following a second request from UK law enforcement, Meta removed the content again and took down other instances of the video found on its platforms. The account in this case has fewer than 1,000 followers, the majority of whom live in the UK. The user received notifications from Meta both times their content was removed but was not informed that the removals were initiated following a request from UK law enforcement.

In referring this matter to the Board, Meta states that this case is particularly difficult as it involves balancing the competing interests of artistic expression and public safety. Meta explains that, while the company places a high value on artistic expression, it is difficult to determine when that expression becomes a credible threat. Meta asks the Board to assess whether, in this case and more generally, the safety risks associated with the potential instigation of gang violence outweigh the value of artistic expression in drill music.

In its decisions, the Board can issue policy recommendations to Meta. While recommendations are not binding, Meta must respond to them within 60 days. As such, the Board welcomes public comments proposing recommendations that are relevant to these cases.

Respond via article from oversightboard.com

 

 

Jurassic attitudes...

The Hungarian media censor is investigating a children's cartoon on Netflix with gay characters


Link Here18th August 2022
Full story: Netflix Censorship...Streaming TV to a variety of censorship regimes
The Hungarian media censor has said it was investigating Netflix for potentially violating an anti-LGBT law, citing several complaints over a cartoon showing girls kissing.

The National Media and Communications Authority said it was checking whether an episode of a Netflix kids series named Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous had violated a law which prohibits the portrayal of homosexuality or transgender people in content shown to minors.

The Netflix series, rated for 7-year-olds and above, shows one of the main characters confessing her love to another girl and kissing her.

The censor said that if it found Netflix to have violated its law, it would have to inform the Dutch media authority, which oversees Netflix because the firm's European headquarters are in the Netherlands. The Dutch censor would in turn have the final say.

 

 

Banned by Edinburgh Fringe...

Venue bosses get all easily offended by Jerry Sadowitz


Link Here15th August 2022
A comedian has been cancelled by an Edinburgh Fringe venue after he got his penis out on stage and made jokes about disallowed topics on his opening night.

Jerry Sadowitz was scheduled to play at The not very pleasant Pleasance at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Friday and Saturday.

The censorial venue confirmed that it had been pulled because his material does not align with our values.

One female audience member told the Scottish Sun that Sadowitz  called Rishi Sunak a 'paki' and said the economy was awful because it is run by blacks and women.

The event listing carried a warning which read:

This show contains strong language and themes some may find distressing.

Revealing the decision, Sadowitz said on Twitter:

Did a show last night, 75 mins, thought it went well. Didn't see any walkouts. Today I'm told my show's been cancelled. Great stuff. I'm truly sorry for everyone who travelled to see the show tonight.

Offsite Comment: They finally came for Jerry Sadowitz

15th August 2022. See article from spiked-online.com by Simon Evans

Comedians dismiss cancel culture at their peril.

 

 

Not fit for purpose...

British Computer Society experts are not impressed by The Online Censorship Bill


Link Here15th August 2022
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media

Plans to compel social media platforms to tackle online harms are not fit for purpose according to a new poll of IT experts.

Only 14% of tech professionals believed the Online Harms Bill was fit for purpose, according to the survey by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Some 46% said the bill was not workable, with the rest unsure.

The legislation would have a negative effect on freedom of speech, most IT specialists (58%) told BCS.

Only 19% felt the measures proposed would make the internet safer, with 51% saying the law would not make it safer to be online.

There were nearly 1,300 responses from tech professionals to the survey by BCS.

Just 9% of IT specialists polled said they were confident that legal but harmful content could be effectively and proportionately removed.

Some 74% of tech specialists said they felt the bill would do nothing to stop the spread of disinformation and fake news.

 

 

Safer Messenger...

Testing End-to-End Encrypted Backups on Messenger


Link Here15th August 2022
Full story: Facebook Privacy...Facebook criticised for discouraging privacy
Meta writes:
  • We're testing secure storage on Messenger, a new feature that allows you to back up your end-to-end encrypted chats.

  • We're also starting a test of automatic end-to-end encrypted chat threads on Messenger and expanding other features.

People want to trust that their online conversations with friends and family are private and secure. We're working hard to protect your personal messages and calls with end-to-end encryption by default on Messenger and Instagram. Today, we're announcing our plans to test a new secure storage feature for backups of your end-to-end encrypted chats on Messenger, and more updates and tests to deliver the best experience on Messenger and Instagram.

See article from about.fb.com

 

 

Gambling on surveillance...

ICO called on to investigate the massive scale of data mining and snooping at the online betting company Sky Bet.


Link Here8th August 2022
Internet censors of the Information Commissioner's Office has been called on to implement  a full-scale probe into how the online betting industry is exploiting new technology to profile and target gamblers.

The move follows a complaint by  the campiagn group Clean Up Gambling. It alleges that Sky Bet and its partners are creating detailed behavioural profiles of customers and sharing thousands of data points with dozens of third parties.

Clean Up Gambling alleges that one advertising partner, Signal, owned by TransUnion, has a dossier of 186 attributes for an individual, including their propensity to gamble, their favourite games and their susceptibility to specific types of marketing.

TransUnion said it assists gambling companies in preventing fraud, confirming age and identity, checking affordability and protecting vulnerable customers, to support responsible gambling.

 

 

Massage Freaks (aka Beat Refle)...

Video game banned from a Nintendo release, cut for PC


Link Here5th August 2022
An upcoming and controversial Nintendo Switch game has been officially postponed and delayed indefinitely.

The game Massage Freaks was reported by ComicBook.com as the most NSFW game released on the Switch yet. Now it looks like it is Nintendo itself that has prevented the game from releasing on Switch this week, at least in its current form.

The game developer Qureate recently announced the game had changed names from Massage Freaks to Beat Refle and is no longer Switch bound. According to developer Qureate, the delay is the result of discussions with related parties. Nintendo isn't name-dropped, but it's unclear who else this could be referencing.  Querate said in a statement:

The Nintendo Switch version of 'Massage Freaks,' which was scheduled to be released on August 4, 2022, has been postponed after discussions with related parties, We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers.

Further background from article from en.wikipedia.org :

The game received criticism for its depiction of women, which was considered discriminatory and reminiscent of real-world sexual crimes at massage parlors in Japan. It was also noted that female characters in the game shared their first names with members of the idol group Hinatazaka46. Following the criticism, qureate delayed the Switch release indefinitely, cancelled preorders, and changed the characters' names. beat refle was silently released on Steam on July 31, 2022, albeit censored.

 

 

Offsite Article: Searching for privacy...


Link Here5th August 2022
DuckDuckGo is back in the good books after newly adding a block on Microsoft tracking cookies

See article from theverge.com



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