QuickLinks - Content regulation
QuickLinks - Content regulation
Issue no. 384 - 24 February 2008
- CN - China Steps Up Internet Video Control
China will take a new step to tighten control of the Internet when rules go into force limiting online video-sharing to state companies. But regulators, wary of hurting a fast-growing industry, are expected to let private operators work around the restrictions. The rules are aimed at expanding a Chinese censorship system that tries to block Internet use to spread dissent while promoting it for business and education. Communist leaders are especially anxious about unflattering video showing up online ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August, a major prestige project.
- MA - Jail for Facebook spoof Moroccan
A Moroccan computer engineer has been sentenced to three years in jail for setting up a Facebook profile in the name of a member of the royal family. Fouad Mourtada was arrested on 5 February on suspicion of stealing the identity of Prince Moulay Rachid, younger brother of King Mohammed VI. The Casablanca court also ordered Mr Mourtada, 26, to pay a $1,300 fine.
- PK - Pakistan blocks YouTube website
Pakistan has blocked access to the popular YouTube website because of content deemed offensive to Islam. Its telecommunications authority ordered internet service providers to block the site until further notice. Reports said the content included Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that have outraged many.
- UK - Media regulation needs reform
Sir Christopher Meyer, the chairman of the press watchdog, today said that the system of media regulation was "pretty weird" and needed to be sorted out with a new communications act. Meyer, appearing before the House of Lords communications committee, said the system of separate media regulators including Ofcom, the Press Complaints Commission he chairs, the BBC Trust and the Advertising Standards Authority was a "typical British fudge" and needed rationalisation.
- UK - Ministers plan clampdown on 'unsuitable' video games
A legally enforceable cinema-style classification system is to be introduced for video games in an effort to keep children from playing damaging games unsuitable for their age, the Guardian has learned. Under the proposals, it would be illegal for shops to sell classified games to a child below the recommended age.
- US - Whistle while you work
From government to big business, if you have a dirty secret, Wikileaks is your nightmare. David Leigh and Jonathan Franklin on the site a US court has tried to muzzle. See also Wikileaks judge gets Pirate Bay treatment.
Issue no. 383 - 27 January 2008
- DE - Kritik an der Evaluierung des Jugendmedienschutzsystems
Die Analyse des komplizierten Systems des deutschen Jugendmedienschutzrechts sei bislang zu schlampig ausgefallen, meint eine Gruppe namhafter Juristen. In einem Artikel der Fachzeitschrift "MultiMedia und Recht" kritisieren sie den jüngst vorgestellten Bericht des Hans-Bredow-Instituts in Hamburg zur Evaluation des Jugendmedienschutzstaatsvertrages und Jugendschutzgesetzes. Die Juristen stellen den Bericht als "defizitäre Defizitanalyse" in Frage.
- TR - Turkey Bans YouTube for Second Time
A Turkish court has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube because of clips allegedly insulting the country's founding father. It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal in Turkey to insult the revered figure, whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices nearly 70 years after his death.
- UK - Crackdown on sales of violent video games
Ministers want to make it easier for parents to protect their children from violent games by introducing a new, simpler classification system based on age ratings used by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Under the new scheme, it would become illegal for retailers to sell any video game to a child who was younger than the age rating on the box. At present, only the most violent games are regulated. The majority of games receive an age rating based on a voluntary system run by Pan-European Game Information (PEGI). PEGI ratings are not legally enforceable, however.
- UK - High court sends Manhunt back to Video Appeals Committee release
The developer of controversial video game Manhunt 2 has failed in its latest attempt to release the game in the UK. A high court judge ruled that the Rockstar Games' title must be re-evaluated by an appeals committee. The British Board of Film Classification successfully argued that the game had been approved for release on a misinterpretation of the law by the a decision by the Video Appeals Committee (VAC). The latest ruling means that the VAC must now re-evaluate the game under new guidelines.
- UK - Watchdog puts stranglehold on ad for violent computer game
A TV advertisement for a computer game, Stranglehold, showing a shoot-out between four men was banned yesterday by the advertising watchdog for being too violent. After an investigation triggered by complaints from the public, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the advert breached advertising rules relating to violence and cruelty, and health and safety. The watchdog said the advert for the 18-rated game featured almost continuous shooting and realistic computer-generated scenes of violence.
Issue no. 382 - 6 January 2008
- AU - New rules for age-restricted internet and mobile content
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has determined new rules that for the first time implement a uniform approach for restricting access to MA15+ and R18+ content accessed through the internet or by mobile phones. The new Restricted Access Systems Declaration places obligations on all content service providers to check that individuals accessing restricted content provided in Australia are at least 15 years of age for MA15+ content or 18 years of age for R18+ content. Similar to previous obligations relating to stored content, the new rules provide that after receiving a complaint and investigating internet or mobile content, ACMA may require the content service provider to either remove the content or place the content behind specified access restrictions.
- CN - Fears for rights as Beijing 2008 nears
A few days ago, about 30 police officers broke into the home of Chinese activist Hu Jia and took him away.His wife, fellow activist Zeng Jinyan, is now under house arrest. At least 10 security personnel guard her home. Mr Hu's arrest comes as China celebrates the start of one of its most important years in recent history.
- CN - Unprecedented censorship measures to be applied to online video and audio files
(Reporters Without Borders)
Reporters Without Borders condemns new regulations jointly issued by the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) under which only websites that are licenced by both the MII and SARFT will be able to post videos and audio files online from 31 January.
- JP - Regulating the Japanese cyberspace, one step at a time
by shioyama. With little fanfare from local or foreign media, the Japanese government made major moves this month toward legislating extensive regulation over online communication and information exchange within its national borders. In a series of little-publicized meetings attracting minimal mainstream coverage, two distinct government ministries, that of Internal Affairs and Communications (Somusho) and that of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho), pushed ahead with regulation in three major areas of online communication: web content, mobile phone access, and file sharing.
- Saudis confirm detention of blogger
(New York Times)
An outspoken Saudi blogger, Fouah al-Farhan, is being held for "purposes of interrogation," the Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed.
- UK - Censors battle for Manhunt 2 ban
British censors are seeking a judicial review to block the sale of controversial video game Manhunt 2. Last week developer Rockstar won a hearing at the Video Appeals Committee to have a ban on the title lifted. But the British Board of Film Classification said that decision was based on an incorrect interpretation of the Video Recordings Act.
Issue no. 381 - 8 December 2007
- CN - A "journey to the Heart of Internet censorship" on eve of party congress
(Reporters Without Borders)
In partnership with Reporters Without Borders and Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a Chinese Internet expert working in IT industry has produced an exclusive study on the key mechanism of the Chinese official system of online censorship, surveillance and propaganda. This report shows how the CCP and the government have deployed colossal human and financial resources to obstruct online free expression. Chinese news websites and blogs have been brought under the editorial control of the propaganda apparatus at both the national and local levels.
- CN - China accused of rerouting search traffic to Baidu
Reports have surfaced that China is redirecting traffic from foreign search engines operated by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to homegrown Baidu.com. According to various reports online, some online users in China attempting to access Google.com, Microsoft's Live.com and Yahoo.com search sites have been redirected to China-based Baidu.com. Blog site TechCrunch reported that Chinese traffic to Google's blog search engine was being rerouted to Baidu. TechCrunch later published another article saying a similar situation was observed with the other two search giants.
- CN - Expert says world misunderstands China's Web controls
The Internet in China is not as restricted as sometimes believed in the West, with most controls actually coming from sites practising self-censorship, an academic who studies the Chinese Web said. But the government has also effectively stopped online dissent, defying expectations that the Communist Party would never survive broadband, said Rebecca MacKinnon, assistant professor of new media at Hong Kong University's Journalism and Media Studies Centre.
- DE - Court approves ban on link portal
According to the State Media Agency of Lower Saxony (NLM) the Administrative Court in Lüneburg has imposed an order to cease and desist to stop an internet provider from hosting a web page containing about 1400 links, some of them leading to pornographic web sites. According to the NLM, minors are able to access these pornographic offers because no appropriate age verification system is in place.
- FR - Le Forum des droits sur l´internet énonce la règle du jeu vidéo en ligne
Le Forum des droits sur l´internet a publié sa Recommandation « Jeux vidéo en ligne : quelle gouvernance ? ». Cette 25e Recommandation constitue le premier rapport français qui étudie le phénomène du jeu vidéo en ligne dans ses diverses composantes : sociologique, économique et juridique. Il traite de toutes les formes de jeux qui existent en ligne (jeux en ligne massivement multijoueur, jeux occasionnels et consoles de jeu connectées à internet), à l´exception des jeux d´argent.
- Report highlights blog censorship
Bloggers are now finding themselves prey to censorship from repressive governments as much as journalists in traditional media. Reporters Without Borders' annual study of press freedom says China is one of the worst offenders, having imprisoned 50 people for postings on the internet. The report says governments realise the internet is now a key tool in promoting democracy and are moving to curb it. Eritrea was ranked bottom on overall press freedom by the pressure group. The African nation took the 169th slot on the sixth annual worldwide press freedom index, behind North Korea at 168th and Turkmenistan at 167th.
- RU - Kremlin Seeks To Extend Its Reach in Cyberspace
The Kremlin and its allies are turning their attention to cyberspace, which remains a haven for critical reporting and vibrant discussion in Russia's dwindling public sphere. Allies of President Vladimir Putin are creating pro-government news and pop culture Web sites while purchasing some established online outlets known for independent journalism. They are nurturing a network of friendly bloggers ready to disseminate propaganda on command. And there is talk of creating a new Russian computer network - one that would be separate from the Internet at large and, potentially, much easier for the authorities to control.
- SG - Singapore bans Microsoft's video game for sex scene
Singapore has banned a Microsoft video game that contains a scene showing a human woman and an alien woman kissing and caressing each other. The Straits Times said Mass Effect, a highly anticipated futuristic-space adventure game from Microsoft, was banned by Singapore's Media Development Authority.
Issue no. 380 - 30 September 2007
- AU - Government seeks to ban more websites
The Australian Government has tabled a bill that will increase the power of police to ban websites that they deem crime or terrorism related. The bill was tabled in the Senate, without notice. This bill proposes to amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to expand the black lists URLs that is currently maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to include crime and terrorism related websites hosted domestically and overseas.
- EU - Experts doubt plan to block bomb recipes on Web
A European Union proposal to stop people from accessing bomb-making instructions online is fraught with technical difficulties, if not downright unworkable, Internet practitioners say. EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini says he is working on plans that would block Web searches for bomb recipes and oblige Internet service providers to prevent access to sites containing them.
- MM - Burmese junta tries to shut down internet and phone links
The Burmese junta was desperately trying to shut down internet and telephone links to the outside world after a stream of blogs and mobile phone videos began capturing the dramatic events on the streets. In the past 24 hours observers monitoring the flow of information have noticed a marked downturn, with the reported closure of cybercafes and the disconnection of mobile telephones.
- TK - Turkey blocks again YouTube
A Turkish court from the eastern city of Sivas decided on 18 September 2007 to order the ISPs to block the access to YouTube, considering that one of the video hosted there insulted Turkey's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish army.
- US - Verizon Reverses Itself on Abortion Messages
(New York Times)
Reversing course, Verizon Wireless will allow an abortion rights group to send text messages to its supporters on Verizon's mobile network. Last week, Verizon rejected a request from the abortion rights group Naral Pro-Choice America for a five-digit "short code". Such codes allow people interested in hearing from businesses, politicians and advocacy groups to sign up to receive text messages. Verizon is one of the two largest mobile carriers. The other leading carriers had all accepted Naral's request for the code.
Issue no. 379 - 2 September 2007
- CN - Chinese ISP introduces cartoon cops
Police in China have created a cartoon depiction of the Chinese internet police force that will be displayed to users every thirty minutes whilst browsing the web. The aim of the cartoon is to be a friendly reminder to users to abide by the laws of the land and to avoid anything that could be deemed illegal in China.
- CN - Government gets blog service providers to sign "self-discipline" pact
(Reporters Without Borders)
Reporters Without Borders condemns the "self-discipline pact" signed by at least 20 leading blog service providers in China including Yahoo.cn! and MSN.cn. Unveiled by the Internet Society of China (ISC), an offshoot of the information industry ministry, the pact stops short the previous project of making it obligatory for bloggers to register, but it can be used to force service providers to censor content and identify bloggers.
- TH - Thai legal experts, webmasters slam govt for illegally blocking websites
Internet law experts and webmasters lashed out at what they said was the government's illegal blocking of websites and the use of threats and intimidation tactics against webmasters by government officials. Paiboon Amornpinyokiart, an internet and IT law expert, said nowhere in the controversial Cyber Crime Act does it say the government has the authority to freely block websites. The law says any move to block a website must be backed by a court order.
Issue no. 378 - 5 August 2007
- FR - Second Life : Familles de France n'obtient pas l'interdiction
L´éditeur américain peut respirer. Les associations familiales déboutées, l´accès à son site ne sera pas restreint en France. Les fans du Linden Lab peuvent se rassurer. L´Union départementale des associations familiales de l´Ardèche et l'Association Familles de France ont vu l´ensemble de leur plainte déboutée par le Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris (TGI). L´accès à Second Life (SL) ne sera pas restreint. Familles de France reprochait, entre autre, à l´éditeur américain la présence de contenus à caractère pornographique trop aisément accessibles pour les mineurs. UDAF de l´Ardèche et autre / Linden Research et autres (Legalis.net) Tribunal de grande instance de Paris Ordonnance de référé 02 juillet 2007.
- UK - Web child fight videos criticised
Police chiefs have urged websites to remove violent video footage of children fighting, following an investigation by the BBC. Panorama found that films showing brutal fights between children are regularly uploaded to sharing websites. Police say the companies should monitor what is posted on their sites and remove any violent or criminal content. But YouTube, one of the sites found with footage, says it relies on users to "flag up" inappropriate films. The investigation found films showing children as young as 11 and 12 punching and kicking other youngsters.
Issue no. 377 - 5 July 2007
- CN - Web users rage against China's 'Great Firewall'
The blocking of Flickr is the latest casualty of China's ongoing battle to control its sprawling Internet. Wikipedia and a raft of other popular Web sites, discussion boards and blogs have already fallen victim to the country's censors.
- CN - Yahoo's China policy rejected
Yahoo shareholders have rejected plans for the company to adopt a policy that opposes censorship on the internet. Proposals to set up a human rights committee which would review its policies around the world, specifically China, were also heavily defeated.
- DE - German Flickr censorship causes web outcry
Flickr's introduction of content filters in Germany last week has provoked protests in blogs and web forums globally. While in most countries the photo sharing site's 'SafeSearch' function can be turned off by users interested in seeing all the photos available on Flickr, that option has been axed in Germany due to 'stricter legislation and penalties in that country', parent company Yahoo! said in a statement.
- DE - German legislation troubles the big Internet companies
Yahoo and Google seems to have problems adapting their business to the tough requirements of the German law regarding content harmful to minors and the implementation of the data retention directive, respectively. Yahoo has recently changed the way the content filter setting for its photo-sharing service Flickr works for German members so that they can't view photos labelled as "moderate" or "restricted" via the search function. The German draft law for the implementation of the data retention directive also raises problems with the online service providers. The draft foresees that providers of e-mail services will basically have to keep records of the following: the user's IP address for each e-mail sent and for each access to the inbox as well as the sender's network ID for every e-mail received. Peter Fleischer, Google privacy counsellor considered the draft law as "a severe blow to privacy " and praised the possibility to have anonymous email accounts.
- DE - Studie hält ausgeweitetes Verbot von "Killerspielen" nicht für erforderlich
Die Studie zur Evaluierung des Jugendschutzsystems im Bereich Video- und Computerspiele (PDF-Datei), die das Hamburger Hans-Bredow-Institut für Medienforschung im Auftrag des Bundesfamilienministeriums erstellt hat, spricht sich gegen eine Verschärfung des Verbots von "Killerspielen" aus. Ähnlich wie die SPD-Fraktion im Bundestag sehen die Forscher aber Vollzugsdefizite bei der Einhaltung der Regeln zur Verhinderung der Verbreitung gewalthaltiger Spiele.
- EU - Commission urges Greece to lift its ban on gaming machines
The European Commission has formally reminded the Greek authorities of its obligation to lift its total ban on gaming machines, including computer games. The European Court of Justice in Case C-65/05 of 26 October 2006 ruled that the Greek laws which ban the installation and operation of all gaming machines violate a number of internal market principles.
- UK - Brain game pulled over 'offence'
A video game which uses a term abusive to people with disabilities is being pulled by its manufacturer. MindQuiz, a brain training game for the Nintendo DS handheld console, was released in the UK by French software giant Ubisoft in March 2007.
- UK - Censors ban 'brutal' video game
British censors have banned a violent video game from the UK for the first time in a decade. The video game Manhunt 2 was rejected for its "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying", the British Board of Film Classification said. It means the Manhunt sequel cannot be legally supplied anywhere in the UK. see also A discussion of the BBFC's decision to ban Manhunt 2 (gamesindutry.biz) by Rob Fahey.
- US - FCC decision on broadcast expletives struck down
The U.S. Court of Appeals has invalidated the FCC's ban on "fleeting expletives," and in the process, cast doubt on the constitutionality of the agency's whole censorship regime. In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the "fleeting expletives" rule was "arbitrary and capricious," in violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act, because the agency gave no reasoned rationale for its change, in 2004.
- US - Take Two: Manhunt 2 Gets Adults-Only Rating
Take Two has confirmed that the upcoming Manhunt 2, scheduled for release July 10 on PlayStation 2 and Wii, has been given a preliminary rating of Adults Only by the ESRB. see also Take-Two delays plans to distribute 'Manhunt 2' and Manhunt 2 Ban Fallout, Game Rated AO By ESRB.
Issue no. 376 - 10 June 2007
- Censorship 'changes face of net'
Amnesty International has warned that the internet "could change beyond all recognition" unless action is taken against the erosion of online freedoms. The warning comes ahead of a conference organised by Amnesty, where victims of repression will outline their plights. The "virus of internet repression" has spread from a handful of countries to dozens of governments, said the group. Amnesty accused companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo of being complicit in the problem.
- CN - China stepping back from proposed blog rules
China will back down from a plan to require bloggers to use their real names when they register blogs, following an outcry over the proposal from the Internet industry. Instead, the government will promote a "self-discipline code" that will encourage, but not mandate, bloggers to register under their own names, the report said, citing draft guidelines published by the Internet Society of China.
- UK - Cathedral row over video war game
The Church of England is considering legal action against entertainment firm Sony for featuring Manchester Cathedral in a violent PlayStation video game. The Church says Sony did not obtain permission to use the interior in the war game Resistance: Fall of Man. The game, which has sold more than one million copies, shows a virtual shoot-out in the cathedral's nave in which hundreds of enemies are killed.
Issue no. 375 - 9 May 2007
- CN - China battles online porn
The Chinese government is launching a new crackdown on online pornography, complaining it has "perverted China's young minds." The Ministry of Public Security says the six-month campaign will target cyber strip shows and sexually explicit images, stories and audio and video clips.
- Flame on: Hateful discourse in blogs scare some users away
The free-for-all world of the Internet has never been constrained by the conventions of polite speech. Speaking up is part of the culture, and fiery comments won't disappear anytime soon. But in this anything-goes environment, sharp-edged retorts are showing they can easily become threatening and filled with hate.
Index page see also Internet policy, 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
QuickLinks is edited by Richard Swetenham firstname.lastname@example.org
- a free newsletter appearing approximately every two to three weeks. The newsletter is distributed by electronic mail through an "announcement only" mailing list.
- a Web site with frequent updates, an events page, news items organised by category as well as chronologically by issue and full text search.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.