QuickLinks - Content regulation
QuickLinks - Content regulation
Issue no. 375 - 9 May 2007
- Gamers affected by violence... on the telly and the big screen, that is
The British Board of Film Classification isn't the first place that gamers expect to find research on video games and the reasons that people play them, but the BBFC has just released such a report as part of its attempt to better understand the attitudes of gamers and those who don't play them. The BBFC's even-handed report also delves into the question of game violence, but always with an eye to understanding rather than judgment. Their findings? Despite some parental fears, gamers consistently understand the distinction between the real-world and an onscreen fantasy, and don't confuse the two. The report is lengthy but well worth reading, if only to see a model of how to seek understanding before leaping to polemical conclusions.
- TH - Thailand blocks YouTube for clip mocking king
Thailand's military-appointed government blocked access to video-sharing Web site YouTube after its owner, Google, declined to withdraw a video clip mocking the country's monarch. Communications Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom told Reuters he ordered a block of the entire site from Thailand after the ministry's attempts to block the offending page last week failed. See also YouTube tries to resolve Thai ban (BBC). YouTube executives said they would not take down material that did not violate policies but would show authorities how to block individual items.
- TK - Turkey to block 'insulting' Web sites
A parliamentary commission approved a proposal allowing Turkey to block Web sites that are deemed insulting to the founder of modern Turkey, weeks after a Turkish court temporarily barred access to YouTube. Parliament plans to vote on the proposal, though a date was not announced. The proposal indicates the discomfort that many Turks feel about Western-style freedom of expression, even though Turkey has been implementing widespread reforms in its bid to join the European Union.
- US - MySpace Photo Costs Teacher Education Degree
Teacher in training Stacy Snyder was denied her education degree on the eve of graduation when Millersville University apparently found pictures on her MySpace page "promoting underage drinking." As a result, the 27-year-old mother of two had her teaching certificate withheld and was granted an English degree instead. In response, Snyder has filed a Federal lawsuit against the Pennsylvania university asking for her education diploma and certificate along with $75,000 in damages.
- US - Web can ruin reputation with stroke of a key
(San Francisco Chronicle)
The first postings appeared soon after Sue Scheff, who runs a Web-based referral service for parents with troubled teenagers, advised a woman from Louisiana to withdraw her twin sons from a boarding school in 2002. Scheff is a victim of an emerging phenomenon: online smear campaigns, which can wreak havoc in the victims' professional and business lives at the touch of a few keystrokes.
Issue no. 374 - 1 April 2007
- CN - Former website editor-in-chief jailed for six years
The former editor-in-chief of a Chinese website has been given a six-year prison term for subversion, according to a statement from the Ningbo Intermediate People's Court in east China's Zhejiang Province. The court ruled that Zhang Jianhong, former editor-in-chief of a website named "Aiqinhai", or "Aegean Sea", had written articles which defamed the Chinese government and amounted to agitation aimed at toppling the government.
- US - Net porn ban faces another legal setback
U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed in Philadelphia permanently barred prosecutors from enforcing the Child Online Protection Act, or COPA, saying it was overly broad and would undoubtedly 'chill a substantial amount of constitutionally protected speech for adults.' The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Even though politicians enacted COPA nearly a decade ago as part of an early wave of Internet censorship efforts, the courts have kept it on ice and it has never actually been enforced. The law makes it a crime for commercial Web sites to make "harmful to minors" material publicly available, with violators fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for up to six months. See COPA Struck Down Again by Court, COPA Struck Down, Part 2 and The COPA Decision, Part 3: Implications for Age Verification and Social Networking (Progress & Freedom Foundation) by Adam Thierer.
Issue no. 373 - 11 March 2007
- EG - Egypt's bloggers test state media control
Egyptian bloggers have come into the spotlight, on the one hand as an important forum for political debate, on the other as the target of government attempts to limit their freedom of expression. Earlier this month, Abdel-Karim Suleiman, a 22-year-old former law student at al-Azhar Islamic university, became the first Egyptian jailed for his blogging when he was handed a four-year prison sentence. Blogs also provide a platform for religious and social minorities whose issues rarely find space in traditional media.
- FR - French to limit violent net clips
French people could be prevented from posting images or videos of violent acts online under new laws. Part of a new youth delinquency law targets "happy slapping", the recording of violent acts to entertain the attacker's friends. The law makes it illegal for anyone but professional journalists to film and broadcast violent events in France. Press freedom advocates say the ban could restrict citizens reporting on subjects such as police brutality.
- MY - Court cases unite Malaysian bloggers
Defamation suits slapped on two popular Malaysian bloggers by the government-linked New Straits Times Press (NSTP) have galvanized the country's bloggers into action. But, a legal expert warns that bloggers are just as accountable as print journalists for defamatory remarks.
- TK - Turkish court bans YouTube access
Access to the popular video-sharing website YouTube has been suspended in Turkey following a court order. The ban was imposed after prosecutors told the court that clips insulting former Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had appeared on the site.
Issue no. 372 - 25 February 2007
- CN - China's Hu vows to 'purify' Internet
Chinese Communist Party chief Hu Jintao has vowed to 'purify' the Internet, state media reported, describing a top-level meeting that discussed ways to master the country's sprawling, unruly online population. Hu made the comments as the ruling party's Politburo - its 24-member leading council - was studying China's Internet, which claimed 137 million registered users at the end of 2006. Hu, a strait-laced communist with little sympathy for cultural relaxation, did not directly mention censorship. see Hu Jintao asks Chinese officials to better cope with Internet (People's Daily Online).
- EG - Egypt blogger jailed for 'insult'
An Egyptian court has sentenced a blogger to four years' prison for insulting Islam and the president. Abdel Kareem Soliman's trial was the first time that a blogger had been prosecuted in Egypt. He had used his web log to criticise the country's top Islamic institution, al-Azhar university and President Hosni Mubarak, whom he called a dictator.
- EU to study ways to keep violent video games from kids
European justice and interior ministers agreed to look at ways to prevent the sale of violent video games to children across Europe amid worries that national controls are too lax. EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini told reporters at the end of two-day EU talks here that he and German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries "encouraged member states to prevent, to ban violent video games."
- FR - Towards a committee for French on-line services regulation ?
French Internet regulation history seems to repeat itself, as shows a recently unveiled administrative decree project, which aims at creating a 'National Commission for the deontology of on-line public communication services'.
Issue no. 371 - 28 January 2007
- DE - "Killerspiele": Selbstkontrolleinrichtung wehrt sich gegen Verleumdung
Die Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) hat in der anhaltenden Debatte um ein Verbot von "Killerspielen" die Kritik des bayerischen Innenministers Günther Beckstein und des Kriminologen Christian Pfeiffer an ihrer Prüftätigkeit zurückgewiesen. Pfeiffer betreibe "seit Längerem eine Kampagne gegen die USK", heißt es in einer Mitteilung der seit der jüngsten Reform der Jugendschutzgesetzgebung im Rahmen der "Ko-Regulierung" staatlich beaufsichtigten Einrichtung.
- EU - Hindus opposing EU swastika ban
Hindus in Europe have joined forces against a German proposal to ban the display of the swastika across the European Union. Ramesh Kallidai of the Hindu Forum of Britain said the swastika had been a symbol of peace for thousands of years before the Nazis adopted it. He said a ban on the symbol would discriminate against Hindus.
- EU - Media pluralism
Responding to continuing concerns from the European Parliament and non-governmental organisations about media concentration, and its possible effects on pluralism and freedom of expression, Commissioner Viviane Reding and Vice-President Margot Wallström presented to fellow Commissioners three-steps on media pluralism in the European Union. 1. A Commission Staff Working Paper on Media Pluralism 2. An independent study on media pluralism in EU Member States to define and test concrete and objective indicators for assessing media pluralism in the EU Member States (in 2007). 3. A Commission Communication on the indicators for media pluralism in the EU Member States (in 2008).
- EU - Minister uneins über Verbot von "Killerspielen"
Die Justiz- und Innenminister der EU konnten sich bei ihrem Ratstreffen in Brüssel nicht auf gemeinsame Aktionen zur Verschärfung des Jugendschutzes einigen. Vor allem auf Druck von EU-Justizkommissar Franco Frattini beschäftigten sich die Vertreter des Gremiums der nationalen Regierungen mit einem europaweiten Verbot brutaler Computerspiele und Gewaltvideos. "Die EU hat hier keine Gesetzgebungskompetenz", erteilte Bundesjustizministerin Brigitte Zypries einem koordinierten Vorgehen aber eine deutliche Absage.
- New Tool to Circumvent Government Censorship on Web
Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto announces tool to help Internet users circumvent government censorship of the Web. The Psiphon software, developed by CitizenLab at the University of Toronto, is downloaded onto a computer in an uncensored country, becoming the host computer.
- Web journalist jailings 'reflect power of internet'
The number of online journalists being jailed is increasing as authoritarian states seek to control news on the internet. In its annual survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found that as at December 1, 134 journalists were imprisoned, an increase of nine from last year.
Issue no. 370 - 3 December 2006
- CN - The great firewall of China
Hugo de Burgh, a journalism professor and expert on China, argued that only a "tiny" proportion of people in the world's most populous state were in prison for journalism or blogging. Speaking at a debate entitled the Great (Fire)Wall of the Internet, Professor de Burgh said it was important not to overstate the curbs on free speech in China, which were often a legacy of confused laws and perpetrated by local officials. His remarks drew opposition from several of those present at the debate, organised by the London School of Economics and Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).
- DE - Bischof Huber: Internet erhöht Gewaltbereitschaft Jugendlicher
Der Ratsvorsitzende der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Bischof Wolfgang Huber, hat das Internet für die erhöhte Gewaltbereitschaft Jugendlicher verantwortlich gemacht. "Was im Internet möglich ist, stellt eine große Gefahr dar. Jugendliche tauchen auf manchen Internetseiten in eine Welt der Gewalt ein, die dann real wird", sagte Huber im Gespräch mit der "Welt am Sonntag". Huber äußerte sich vor dem Hintergrund des Amoklaufes von Emsdetten. Am Donnerstag war an einem Berliner Gymnasium ein weiterer Amoklauf verhindert worden.
- DE - New calls for a ban on "killer games"
After a massacre at a school in the German town of Emsdetten, the dispute about whether killer games are one of the causes for the increase in violence among young people has heated up again in Germany, as has the call for a ban on such games.
- DE - Niedersachsens Innenminister startet Bundesratsinitiative gegen "Killerspiele"
Mit einer Bundesratsinitiative will Niedersachsens Innenminister Uwe Schünemann (CDU) ein Verbot von gewaltverherrlichenden Computerspielen erreichen. Ziel sei ein Herstellungs- sowie ein Verbreitungsverbot, sagte ein Sprecher des Ministeriums gegenüber dpa. Ein Herstellungsverbot sei zwar schwer umsetzbar, da der Großteil der Baller-Spiele im Ausland programmiert werde. Ein Verbot zur Verbreitung in Deutschland sei allerdings ein wichtiger erster Schritt. Siehe auch Kritik an "naiver Scheindebatte" um das Verbot von "Killerspielen".
- DE - Studien: Computerspiele können aggressiv machen
Der Konsum von gewaltverherrlichenden Computerspielen erhöht Studien der Universität Potsdam zufolge die Aggressionsbereitschaft bei Kindern, Jugendlichen und Erwachsenen. Experimente belegen, dass solche Spiele aggressive Gedanken und Gefühle sowie aggressives Verhalten begünstigen, teilte die Potsdamer Universität mit.
- 'Enemies of the internet' named
A list of 13 'enemies of the internet' has been released by human rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF). For the first time, Egypt has been added to the list while Nepal, Libya and the Maldives have all been removed. The list consists of countries that RSF believes are suppressing freedom of expression on the internet.
- IT - Italians mull computer games sales ban to kids
Italian MPs debated if computer games featuring sex and violence are sending their country's children berserk. The meeting was convened after the proposed release of Rule of Rose, a computer game some fear will corrupt Italian children, erupted into an international tizz - within the computer games industry and some corridors in Brussels, at least. A consensus emerged that retailers should be made legally answerable to PEGI, the European ratings system for computer games, set up in 2003. Even retailers are warming to the idea.
- IT - Italy investigating Google over bullying video
Italian prosecutors put two Google Italy representatives under investigation as part of an inquiry into how a video of teenagers harassing an autistic classmate surfaced on its video site, a judicial source said. The two are accused of failing to check on the content of the video posted on the Internet search engine's Web site. The video, which sparked outrage in the country, showed four teenagers beating and poking fun at a 17-year-old disabled boy in a classroom in the northern Italian city of Turin.
- US - Study: Effects of violent games linger in brain
Teens who play violent video games show increased activity in areas of the brain linked to emotional arousal and decreased responses in regions that govern self-control, a study presented at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting found. The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to record tiny metabolic changes in brain activity in 44 adolescents who were asked to perform a series of tasks after playing either a violent or nonviolent video game for 30 minutes.
- US - Video game industry gets annual report card from watchdog group
Issued by the National Institute on Media and the Family, the 11th Annual MediaWise Video Game Report Card attempts to provide a 'snapshot' of the video game industry and its relationship with parents, teens, and children.
Issue no. 369 - 5 November 2006
- CN - China: We don't censor the Internet. Really
by Declan McCullagh. While many countries block off some Web sites, China has long drawn heightened scrutiny because of the breadth and sophistication of its Internet censorship. Which is why it came as a surprise when a Chinese government official claimed at a United Nations summit that no Net censorship existed at all. The only problem: Few cases of Net censorship are as carefully and publicly documented as the Great Firewall of China. see also Firms defend dealings with China Keyword: IGF.
- GR - Greek blogger arrest infuriates world
The arrest of a blogger by Greek police just days before Athens hosts the inaugural meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) has left the blogosphere in uproar and the authorities with egg on their face.
- IGF - Assault on State Censorship
by Milton Mueller. The Internet Governance Forum has opened the opportunity for a major assault on Internet blocking and filtering, and put repressive governments on the defensive by heightening awareness of the practice and pressuring them to justify it or change it. There were no less than three sessions devoted to content regulation and control. Each of these sessions was dominated by anti-censorship advocates, access to knowledge advocates and critics of overbearing state control of internet content. See transcript of plenary session on Openness, descriptions of workshops on content regulation and Freedom of Expression and Internet content filtering and blocking by national states.
- IGF - Druck auf Firmen wegen Zusammenarbeit mit autoritären Staaten
Cisco, Microsoft, Yahoo und Google hatten sich in einer lebhaften Debatte beim Internet Governance Forum in Athen erneut gegen den Vorwurf zu wehren, sie würden mit den Machthabern autoritärer Staaten gemeinsame Sache machen auf Kosten der Internetnutzer in Ländern wie China oder dem Iran.
- IR - Iran bans fast internet to cut west's influence
Iran's Islamic government has opened a new front in its drive to stifle domestic political dissent and combat the influence of western culture - by banning high-speed internet links. Service providers have been told to restrict online speeds to 128 kilobytes a second and been forbidden from offering fast broadband packages.
Issue no. 367 - 23 September 2006
- UK - Banned spy novel published on net
Sacked spy Richard Tomlinson has defied the UK's secret services by posting the first chapter of his spy novel online.
- UK - Call to ban pro-suicide websites
The UK government should make it illegal for internet sites to incite or advise people on how to commit suicide, a charity says. Papyrus, set up to tackle young suicide, said the risk posed by pro-suicide websites was not being taken seriously enough. The charity said the 1961 Suicide Act should be amended to make it illegal to publish such material on the web.
- US - Acceptable nudity?
When is nudity acceptable on the news? Ever since the infamous 'nipplegate' incident involving Janet Jackson's costume malfunction, television channels in America have been especially sensitive to any bare flesh. So Allan Little's piece from Swaziland saw a group of BBC World producers studying the US rule book very carefully... since we broadcast on American cable networks, and have to respect 'local' laws.
Issue no. 365 - 15 August 2006
- VN - Filtering in Vietnam emphasizes politics
(South China Morning Post)
Looking at internet filtering practices in Vietnam, one could conclude that the government was more worried about politics than porn. OpenNet Initiative (ONI) university researchers said in a report that the practices ran counter to the government's own statements. see also Press Release.
Issue no. 364 - 7 July 2006
- CN - China aims to enhance censorship of Internet
(New York Times)
The Chinese authorities have announced their intention to greatly increase efforts to police and control the Internet, along with other communications technologies, like instant messaging and mobile telephones. Cai Wu, director of the powerful Information Office of the State Council, or China's Cabinet, said that new control measures were needed 'because more and more harmful information is being circulated online.'
Issue no. 363 - 25 June 2006
- CN - China Tightens Grip on Web
The French organization Reporters Without Borders has condemned the Chinese government for its increasing censorship of the internet. RWB claims that the Chinese government has expanded its efforts to block Chinese citizens from accessing Google, Google News and Google Mail, and that software programs like Dynapass, Freegate and Ultrasurf, which were designed to allow users to bypass China's censorship methods, have been "neutralized". see also Google.com accessible again inside China (RSF).
- CN - Google Committed To Staying In China
Google is committed to doing business in China despite criticism the company has faced for abiding by Chinese government censorship restrictions.
- CN - Yahoo 'Strictest' Censor in China
Yahoo is stricter than any other search engine in China when enforcing censorship, said a journalism-advocacy group. Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said their tests showed that Yahoo.cn blocked a higher percentage of politically sensitive results than Google.cn or the beta version of msn.cn.
- UK - Film censor wants internet power
The UK film censor wants to control and classify films on the internet. The British Board of Film Classification has said that it would like to give web-delivered films certificates in the same manner as it does for cinema and DVD releases. Web-delivered films do not have to be passed by the censor either for cutting or for classification in the UK, which the BBFC believes could lead to consumers being misled.
- US - Row over GTA sex scenes settled
The publishers of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas have settled a dispute with the Federal Trade Commission in the US over secret sex scenes in the game. Take-Two agreed to clearly disclose relevant content on the game's packaging and not to misrepresent rating or content descriptions.
Issue no. 362 - 11 June 2006
- Amnesty to target net repression
Internet users are being urged to stand up for online freedoms by backing a new campaign launched by human rights group Amnesty International. The campaign will highlight abuses of rights the net is used for, and push for the release of those jailed for speaking out online. It will also name hi-tech firms aiding governments that limit online protests. Called Irrepressible.info, the campaign will revolve around a website with the same name.
- China, the Internet's Broken Link
by Phil Windley. Danny Weitzner from the W3C discussed the Internet and Society called "China: A Broken Link on the Web". Is it the case that if everyone's a publisher, then too is every government a filter and interceptor? He starts off noting the story of Yahoo! "helping jail a Chinese writer" and made some interesting points: Yahoo! has no basis for ignoring Chinese law while obeying the laws of other countries; that leaves the choice of simply not doing business in China: there's an argument that being in China and obeying the law is better for the cause of freedom in China than not being there at all.
- DE - Jugendschutz.net beanstandete 2005 fast 2000 Internetangebote
Die Zentralstelle jugendschutz.net in Mainz hat im vergangenen Jahr bundesweit fast 2000 pornografische, rechtsextreme oder gewaltverherrlichende Internetangebote beanstandet. Das war im Vergleich zum Jahr 2004 eine Steigerung um 12 Prozent.
- UK - Journalists call for Yahoo boycott
The union representing journalists in the U.K. and Ireland called on its 40,000 members to boycott all Yahoo products and services to protest the Internet company's reported actions in China. The National Union of Journalists sent a letter to Dominique Vidal, Yahoo Europe's vice president, denouncing the company for allegedly providing information to Chinese authorities about journalists. The union also said it would stop using all Yahoo-operated services.
Index page see also Internet policy, Protection of minors, Filtering and rating
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