QuickLinks - Content regulation
QuickLinks - Content regulation
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Issue no. 413 - 20 February 2011
EU - Hungary's new media law
Speech by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda. Open Hearing on Freedom of the Press in Hungary European Parliament, Brussels 11 January 2011.
FR - Le CSA veut réguler les contenus vidéo sur le Net
Michel Boyon, président du CSA, souhaite mettre en place un label pour distinguer les contenus mis en ligne sur des sites comme YouTube et Dailymotion. Il veut avoir le pouvoir d´ordonner le retrait de vidéos illicites.
HU - Hungary rejects Western media law attacks
Hungary has dismissed Western critics of a new media law and insisted that it remains committed to press freedom. The law, which came into force with the start of the year, created a new authority with powers to monitor and impose fines on the media. Some European politicians and newspapers have expressed concern that the regulator will lack independence. But Hungary, which has just assumed the EU presidency, says the concerns are unfounded. Under the new law Hungary's media authority, the NMHH, oversees all public news production and has the power to fine broadcasters and newspapers for violating "public interest, public morals or order".
The slide from self-regulation to corporate censorship
European Digital Rights has published a
on the increasing tendency for governments to ask, demand or coerce Internet intermediaries to carry out surveillance, policing, judging and sanctioning measures on their customers. The document looks at the causes for this development, case studies of the damage caused by such policies and a selection of the European and international initiatives to spread this approach in the future. See also
UK - Jeremy Hunt considers online TV crackdown
The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, plans to look at cracking down on rules covering online television. Hunt admitted that while he did not believe it was possible to introduce blanket regulation for the internet, he was keen to put online content rules under scrutiny. Today, TV content on the internet is subject to no regulations – even if it was made by a traditional broadcaster and streamed over broadband – meaning that there are no taste and decency or impartiality requirements. Hunt explicitly ruled out regulating Google-owned video-sharing website YouTube, however. He said his real focus is on so-called IPTV [internet protocol television] services, providing broadcast-like content delivered online.
Issue no. 412 - 28 November 2010
CN - The march of the netizens
In a country where the media, despite increasing commercialisation, remains under the ultimate control of the ruling Communist Party, and where other types of civic space are limited, the internet has rapidly developed into one of the major channels for Chinese citizens to exchange information and express their views.
TR - Turkey lifts two-year ban on YouTube
Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube, two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos deemed insulting to the country's founder. Transport Minister Binali Yildirim, who is in charge of internet issues, said the government had been in contact with Google, which owns YouTube. Mr Yildirim said there was no longer any reason to ban the website, because the offending videos had been removed. Insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk or "Turkishness" is illegal in Turkey. The video clip prompting the ban was reportedly posted by Greek users of the website and dubbed Ataturk and Turks homosexuals.
UK - Met Police take down protest advice blog
A website that offered advice to protesters has been shut down at the behest of the Metropolitan Police, prompting criticism from a legal human rights organisation. The Fitwatch website was taken offline by hosting company JustHost.com, after the firm received a letter from police. Fitwatch administrator Emily Apple said in a Guardian blog post that the police had requested the website be taken offline as it was "attempting to pervert the course of justice". Apple said that a Fitwatch blog post had prompted the police action. The blog post offered advice to students involved in protests against tuition fee rises at Millbank Tower, which resulted in smashed windows, and a fire extinguisher being thrown from a roof. Millbank houses the Conservative Party headquarters.
Issue no. 411 - 3 October 2010
EU - Protecting freedom of expression
by Neelie Kroes. I've had good feedback about some earlier Tweets on an important debate in the European Parliament. You can read the full text of my two speeches. The first is my opening remarks, the second (perhaps more interesting) is the response I gave to the more than 50 MEPs who spoke passionately on the issue. Such free and long and passionate debates are what our democracy is all about.
Google calls for pressure on Internet censors
Google's Chief Legal Officer David Drummond legal chief called for pressure on governments that censor the Internet, such as China and Turkey, arguing that their blocking access to websites not only violates human rights but unfairly restrains U.S. trade.
Google releases censorship tools
Google's new Transparency Report is a set of tools designed to show censorship levels around the globe. Civil liberty groups welcomed the tool but called on Google to provide even more detail about the requests. Earlier this year, Google released details about how often countries around the world ask it to hand over user data or to censor information. The new map and tools follows on from that and allows users to click an individual country to see how many removal requests were fully or partially complied with, as well as which Google services were affected.
RU - Microsoft Changes Policy Over Russian Crackdown
(New York Times)
Microsoft announced sweeping changes to ensure that the authorities in Russia and elsewhere do not use crackdowns on software piracy as an excuse to suppress advocacy or opposition groups, effectively prohibiting its lawyers from taking part in such cases. The company was responding to criticism that it had supported tactics to clamp down on dissent. see also
Above the Law - Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent
US - Craigslist dumps 'adult service' adverts
The online marketplace Craigslist has closed the controversial "adult services" listing in the US. The company has not said why it took the decision, but it has faced an ongoing barrage of criticism from attorneys general and advocacy groups. They have claimed the listing was a virtual tool for pimps and prostitutes. The section has now been replaced with a black and white bar that reads "censored". An "erotic" service is still active outside the US. see also
Craigslist is hub for child prostitution, allege trafficked women
US - AGs call on Craigslist to banish adult ads
Craigslist adult services takedown could lead to more crime, Microsoft researcher says
(Washington Post) and
Danah Boyd's post
Issue no. 410 - 6 August 2010
EU - EDRi and EuroISPA attack EC's demands for notice and takedown
EDRi and the European ISP Association (EuroISPA) have prepared a joint civil society/industry position on the European Commission's draft informal recommendation for the takedown of websites which have been accused of being illegal. The recommendation's scope is nominally restricted to child abuse websites, terrorism and racism. However, the proposal already represents a "mission creep" of aspects of policies used for the removal of child abuse websites and, therefore, further "mission creep" into other areas can be considered inevitable.
Google says China licence renewed by government
The Chinese government has renewed Google's licence to operate in China, ending a long-running stand-off between the two. Google gave no details of the licence renewal. There had been speculation China would revoke the licence after Google began redirecting Chinese users to its unfiltered search site in Hong Kong. But, in a conciliatory move towards Beijing, Google said it would no longer automatically redirect users.
IS - Iceland - first steps for a new media haven
Iceland's Parliament has recently accepted a proposal by Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) asking the Icelandic Government to find "ways to strengthen freedoms of expression and information freedom in Iceland, (and provide) strong protections for sources and whistleblowers." Its approval by the Parliament may turn Iceland into a haven for media, with one of the strongest freedom of expression and whistleblowing protection laws. The IMMI has proposed several legal reforms including the limitation of the scope of an exception to existing source protection laws, the increase of protections for whistleblowers employed by the state and the creation of a law similar to the free speech-protecting anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation against Public Participation) law of California.
TR - Turkey goes into battle with Google
A ban on YouTube was imposed by a court in Ankara on 5 May 2008, after a series of 17 temporary bans the preceding year. The grounds by the courts given each time varied, but they followed a number of complaints from Turkish citizens about videos on YouTube deemed insulting to Kemal Ataturk, the country's revered first president. In 2007 the government passed a sweeping law regulating the internet, known as Law No 5651. It allows a court to block any website where there is "sufficient suspicion" that a crime has occurred. The eight crimes listed include child pornography, gambling, prostitution, and "crimes against Ataturk". Insulting or denigrating Ataturk was already a crime. The Turkish government refuses to publish statistics, but campaigners for internet freedom estimate that more than 4,000 websites are currently blocked, making internet censorship in Turkey amongst the heaviest in the world.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: more revelations to come
Whistleblowing site Wikileaks says it has a 'backlog' of further secret material after publication of Afghanistan war logs.
Issue no. 409 - 6 June 2010
CN - China Passes Tighter Information Law
(New York Times)
China’s legislature has imposed tighter requirements on Web and telecommunications companies to shield the nation’s state secrets, which are often defined as including a broad array of information the authorities deem detrimental to security. The amendment to the state secrets law, set to take effect Oct. 1, obligates network operators and service providers to cooperate with the police, state security officials and prosecutors in investigating leaks of state secrets. On discovering a leak, they must promptly block it and report it to higher authorities. Regulatory or security authorities would punish those who fail to comply.
CN - China's Web "firewall" should be WTO issue -EU's Kroes
China's Internet "firewall" is a trade barrier and needs to be tackled within the framework of the World Trade Organisation, Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, told reporters in Shanghai. Dutch-born Kroes, who is also in charge of Europe's digital agenda, said the firewall was a trade barrier as long as it blocked communication for Internet users, preventing the free flow of information.
Issue no. 407 - 28 March 2010
CN - China shuts down 140,000 porn mobile WAP sites in 5 months
China shut down or blocked more than 140,000 mobile WAP sites offering pornography for mobile phone users in a five-month crackdown, Zhou Huilin, deputy director of the national office against pornographic and illegal publication, said the move had "clearly cleansed the Internet environment." "In the next stage, we'll target serious criminal activity related to porn mobile WAP sites with servers overseas, as many such sites were moving their servers overseas to avoid supervision," he said.
CN - China warns Google to comply with censorship laws
China's top internet official has warned that Google will "pay the consequences" if it continues to go against Chinese law. Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong was speaking at China's annual legislation session. Google announced in January that it would no longer comply with China's internet censorship laws. It warned that it may shut down google.cn because of censorship and a hacking attack on the portal. See also
Google to shut China search engine
(FT). Google has drawn up detailed plans for the closure of its Chinese search engine and is now "99.9 per cent" certain to go ahead as talks over censorship with the Chinese authorities have reached an apparent impasse.
Report names 'enemies of the Internet'
by Reporters Without Borders, which fights for freedom of the press across the world, has cited several nations for their attempts to restrict freedom on the Net. The list of Internet enemies includes what Reporters Without Borders calls "the worst violators of freedom of expression on the Net." Those nations are Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, North Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Uzbekistan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. Turkey and Russia are also currently on Reporters Without Borders "Under Surveillance" list. In Russia, the Kremlin has arrested and prosecuted bloggers and censored Web sites that it considers extremist. In Turkey, Web sites that discuss the army, the Kurds and Armenians, and other topics considered taboo are blocked. Further, two democratic countries are on the "Under Surveillance" watch list: Australia, which has been trying to push through an Internet filtering system, and South Korea, which sets up laws that are imposing too many restrictions on Internet users.
Issue no. 406 - 21 February 2010
AU - Conroy tells Facebook to boost security
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has demanded social networking giant Facebook detail how it will prevent cyber-vandalism in the wake of the defacing of an online memorial site for 12-year-old school stabbing victim Elliott Fletcher. Senator Conroy's blast came as Facebook, in its first public comments since Monday night's attack on the website, defended its reliance on users to report offensive material before taking action.
CN - China introduces tougher measures to combat providers of online porn
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has pledged fresh measures to fight offensive content transmitted by mobile phones and websites. China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, the country's three mobile carriers, have been required to examine the quality of their business partners. The MIIT also asked the Internet service providers to supervise the content of websites and close irregular websites.
Issue no. 405 - 24 January 2010
AU - Australia could soon have the most restrictive internet regime in the Western world
(Sydney Morning Herald)
Senator Stephen Conroy's consultation paper on mandating the filtering of internet sites by Australian internet service providers suggests that Australia could soon have the most restrictive internet regime in the Western world. The incorporation of international lists of overseas-hosted child sexual abuse material would be sufficient to align mandatory Australian practices with the voluntary practices of most liberal democracies. Indeed, the implication is that it might total the sum of all other jurisdictions' voluntary filter lists. However, the commitment to add other content that is only prohibited in Australia will mean that the scope of the content to be captured will be much more extensively drawn than in equivalent nation.
CN - China Closes Down The Internet
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has released regulations, dated Dec. 15, requiring the registration of all Web sites. MIIT's justification was the need to eliminate sexual content. As a Ministry spokesman stated, "This is about mobile pornography, it's not referring to any other issue." The explanation, however comforting it sounds, is disingenuous. The wording of the rules is broad enough to cover all sites, domestic and foreign, whether or not they carry sex-themed material. "Domain names that have not registered will not be resolved or transferred," the regulations state. In other words, unregistered sites will become unavailable to users in China. see also
Blacklist, White List? China's Internet Censors Spawn Confusion
(WSJ) by Loretta Chao.
CN - China says 5,394 arrested in Internet porn crackdown
Chinese police said the crackdown on Internet pornography had brought 5,394 arrests and 4,186 criminal case investigations in 2009 - a fourfold increase in the number of such cases compared with 2008. The announcement said the drive would deepen in 2010.
CN - Google: A new approach to China
(Official Google Blog)
In mid-December, Google detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident was something quite different. First, this attack was not just on Google. Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information, rather than the content of emails themselves. Third, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers. These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered - combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web - have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China. See also
Hillary Clinton calls on China to probe Google attack
China Rebuffs Clinton on Internet Warning
(New York Times).
CN - Timeline: China and net censorship
As Google considers withdrawing from China, the BBC looks at the highs and lows of internet access and freedom in the most populous country in the world.
IN - Yahoo, Flickr and Microsoft introduce access filters
A Guardian investigation has discovered that several internet companies have quietly introduced filters to prevent Indian users from accessing sexual content. The Yahoo search engine and Flickr photo-sharing site (owned by Yahoo) altered their sites earlier this month to prevent users in India from switching off the safe-search facility. The block also applies to users in Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea. Microsoft has also barred Indian users of its Bing search engine from searching for sexual content. Users who do try to search for sexual material receive a notice informing them that "your country or region requires a strict Bing SafeSearch setting, which filters out results that might return adult content". The clampdown is understood to be in response to recent changes to India's Information Technology Act of 2000, which bans the publication of pornographic material.
Issue no. 404 - 21 December 2009
CN - China expands porn sting by shutting P2P video sites
(IDG News Service)
Chinese regulators have taken a wide-ranging war against online porn one step further by closing a series of popular BitTorrent and other video-sharing Web sites in recent days. The move against video-sharing sites comes as efforts grow to stamp out porn elsewhere too. Regulators have cranked up their work to eradicate porn accessed by mobile phone and called for more control of vulgar content in online PC games. Last week state media also criticized Google and local rival Baidu over pornographic search results.
CN - China tightens Internet controls in the name of fighting porn, piracy, and cybercrime
China's blocking of overseas websites - including Facebook, Twitter, and thousands of other websites including this blog - is more extensive and technically more sophisticated than ever. Controls over domestic content have also been tightening. The past few weeks have seen four new moves which are not officially or overtly aimed at political content, but which have implications for the way in which the government controls all conveyors of all kinds of speech. First, late November saw the launch of a mobile porn crackdown. The draconian way in which this crackdown is being implemented involves a great deal of collateral damage for non-pornographic content. Second, Chinese the state-run media is going after the search engines again for turning up smutty results when users search for smutty information. Third, last week the government shut down more than 500 file-sharing websites as part of an anti-porn and anti-piracy crackdown, on the grounds that these websites don't have proper licenses. Fourth, CNNIC, the organization which runs the .cn top-level domain has announced that it is no longer accepting domain name applications from individuals.
CN - Website porn tip-offs surge as China offers cash rewards to informers
Tip-offs on Internet and mobile WAP sites containing pornographic contents have surged in China as authorities announced to give each qualified informer with up to 10,000 yuan (1,465 U.S. dollars) in reward. Since the announcement, the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center had received more than 13,000 online tip-offs and more than 500 phone calls, 10 times the usual daily number. The center, together with ministries and the National Office against Pornographic and Illegal Publication, issued a circular encouraging the public to report on websites and mobile WAPsites that contain obscene information or put on illegal advertisements of sex products. China has launched several rounds of crackdowns on online pornography. In mid-November, the crackdown was extended to WAP sites that can be accessed by mobile handsets.
Issue no. 403 - 24 November 2009
CN - China wants fewer monsters, more 'culture' in online games
(IDG News Service)
Online games in China should move away from "lowbrow" content such as monster hunting, Chinese regulators said, highlighting the uncertain regulatory conditions faced by game operators in the country. The game features the regulators dislike, especially monster hunting as the main way for players to gain experience points and new powers, exist in virtually all hit online games. Game operators should also limit highly popular systems that let players kill other human-controlled characters, the country's culture ministry said in a statement on its Web site.
Protection of minors
Filtering and rating
Links to news items about legal and regulatory aspects of Internet and the information society, particularly those relating to information content, and market and technology.
QuickLinks consists of
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a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
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