On December 17th, Tumblr permanently banned adult content from its platform. Under the new community guidelines, any image that depicts sex acts, real-life human genitalia, or (with a few exceptions) female nipples will be hidden from public view. Despite the company’s claims, the new guidelines will not create a “better, more positive” Tumblr.
Removals of Alex Jones's content from online platforms raise questions about content regulation, censorship and who chooses what we can see, and shine a harsh light on the challenges tech companies face in applying their own content guidelines.
While the bill's sponsors contend that it aims to stop sex trafficking, the bill does not help sex trafficking victims confront their abusers but does significantly curtail online speech.
US Copyright Office Leads Inquiry to Tighten Online Content Takedown Procedure; UPDATE: Comment from The Authors Guild
A proposed change to the "notice and takedown" internet copyright procedure potentially threatens freedom of expression online.
Lansdowne public librarian Abbe Klebanoff came to us last week, dismayed over Sony's censorship of a video she and her students had made to encourage teens to read. The video takes Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and transformed the song into "Read It", with a dance to boot. When the kids tried to upload the video to YouTube, Sony sent them [...]
Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) has introduced the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP) to replace last year’s failed Combating Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). Supposedly a new and improved version of COICA, the PROTECT IP act is aimed at denying access to "pirate" or "rogue" websites "dedicated to infringing activities,” [...]
On Wednesday we featured an RSAnimate video about mutual knowledge as an essential element of dissent, as demonstrated by Wikileaks. Today we feature an RSAnimate on how authoritarian regimes can leverage dissent on the Internet for their own end: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk8x3V-sUgU The speaker, Evgeny Morozov, notes a few phenomena of interest. First, in China, how blogs critical of local governance are [...]
In a victory for academic freedom, the Tribunal de Grand Instance de Paris has ruled against a libel case brought against Prof. Joseph Weiler for GlobalLawBooks.org's review of The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. ICTY and ICTR Precedents, by Dr Karin N. Calvo-Goller. The judge ruled that Calvo-Goller engaged in forum shopping by selecting France as the venue [...]
Censorship incidents on the web are more and more common, but it's still rare when they happen to an anti-censorship organization like the NCAC. Network Solutions, a company providing web services, has threatened to remove TheFileroom.org, an interactive archive of worldwide censorship cases administered by the National Coalition Against Censorship, unless a photograph of two naked children by Nan Goldin, [...]
The United States has a tradition of generally broad protection of freedom of speech, which has persisted in the Internet age. Thus American courts have struck down most laws attempting to limit content on the Internet, including provisions of the Communications Decency Act restricting indecent speech on the Internet (in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997)) [...]
In an impassioned speech at the Newseum in Washington on January 21, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attacked countries who limit the free circulation of peaceful dissent and religious ideas on the Internet and those who use the Internet for the "darker purposes" of promoting violence and making sexual advances on minors. She also spoke about the increasing concern over [...]
Niche-Niche: Wikipedia refuses to remove content contrary to German lawyer’s cease and desist letters
The First Amendment provides American-based websites with the freedom to report on newsworthy events, including those that happen in other countries to citizens of other countries. Yet, the global nature of the Internet opens it up to legal challenges from countries with more restrictive speech regimes. Last fall, for instance, lawyers for the convicted murderers of German actor Walter Sedlmayr [...]
On Monday, October 19th, the Yes Men, a group of artist/political activists, set up a mock website that looked like the Chamber of Commerce’s, and held a mock press conference where they announced that the Chamber was shifting its opposition to serious efforts to address global warming. Major news sources were fooled into reporting the story. In response, the Chamber [...]
Having trouble accessing a website? Suspect it might be more than just a faulty connection or technical malfunction? Visit Herdict.org, a website designed to track reports of censored web sites around the world. There, you can report anonymously that a site is inaccessible and see if other people are having the same problem. There is no way to determine whether [...]
This morning NCAC woke up to a mailbox full of hundreds of complaints against AT&T’s blocking access to img.4chan.org. The mass outrage over AT&T’s action had by that time also reached the company and led to the rapid unblocking of the site. AT&T denied any attempt to censor based on content and issued the following statement justifying the block as [...]
On Monday, The Telegraph reported on Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s talk at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. In it, he chastised censorious governments, saying completely effective internet censorship was unattainable and governments trying to do so were doomed to fail. Schmidt’s comments neatly skirt Google’s complicity with governments’ censorship by claiming that they warn governments that internet censorship can fail, [...]
The Iranian government, never a proponent of free expression, has ramped up its practice of filtering its citizens’ access to social networking websites following Friday’s election and the ensuing protests. For instance, the Iranian government has blocked access to Twitter from servers located in Iran. The Iranian government’s efforts, however, have been thwarted by a complicated network of non-Iranian proxy [...]
The ACLU and the ACLU of Tennessee filed suit in Federal Court against two Tennessee school districts, charging the schools are unconstitutionally blocking students from accessing online information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. NCAC was involved in an initial response and has been following the case. Now see the story in flowchart form: See it in full effect [...]
In February 2009, NCAC and the ACLU of Tennessee jointly responded to a situation at a Knoxville, TN high school where internet filters are currently blocking constitutional protected material on the web, specifically sites that provide political and educational content around LGBT issues. The censorship was discovered by Andrew Emmitt, a senior at Central High School: When I found out [...]
Recently NCAC was contacted by a high school student who was having difficulty accessing particular LGBT websites from his school. Upon further investigation this student uncovered the likely culprit- an internet filtering policy that includes the blocking of “Sites that provide information, promote, or cater to gays, lesbians, swingers, other sexual orientations or practices, or a particular fetish.” The policy [...]
The latest scandal around Facebook's ban on images of nursing mothers, which show a glimpse of the areola or nipple, only presents us with the latest case of nipplephobia - an extreme panic reaction at the view of the female nipple (to my knowledge the male nipple fails to exert such power). Facebook's action was a misguided enforcement of its [...]
Gene Policinski of the First Amendment Center sheds some light on the topic of internet censorship in a recent article in the North Country Gazette. He argues that, while the first amendment does not apply to private companies, privately owned internet companies have an unprecedented amount of control over the speech of large groups of people. For hundreds of millions [...]
UPDATE: Earlier today, Yelp users were protesting the lawsuit by posting a rash of negative comments about Biegel on Yelp. Since then, these negative comments have been removed, presumably by Yelp, which, according to its terms of service, "reserves the right (but has no obligation) to remove or suppress User Content from the Site at its sole discretion for any [...]
Ethan Zuckerman, who founded Global Voices Online, has an excellent talk in which he explains how web 2.0 services (that allow people to socially network, share LOL cats, and organize politically) play a critical role in getting around government censorship. You can read it here, with images he used at the talk. One gem, which is helpful demonstrates how porn [...]
The UK culture secretary Andy Burnham has recently spoken out about making the internet safer by adopting a rating system similar to the movie ratings. His take on the web: “quite a dangerous place.” According to the Telegraph: His plans to rein in the internet, and censor some websites, are likely to trigger a major row with online advocates who [...]
Slate’s Emily Bazelon has a piece today on the Lori Drew case. The terrible backstory: in 2006, Drew, her daughter, and her assistant, created a fake Myspace profile of a 16 year old boy and sent messages to a teen neighbor, Megan Meier. After exchanging flirtatious messages, the “16-year-old” then wrote, “The world would be a better place without you.” [...]
From Good Magazine. A beautifully-made video on international internet censorship. Two of the companies cited for supporting internet censorship systems - Microsoft and Google - have joined other companies and organizations to support the Global Network Initiative: The Initiative is founded upon new Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy – supported by specific implementation commitments and a framework for [...]
by Joan E. Bertin In Holland, Michigan, a small town near Grand Rapids, there’s a pitched battle over Internet censorship in the library. It’s only one salvo in what promises to be another long, drawn-out culture war. On February 22, voters in Holland will be asked to decide whether the city should withdraw funding from the district library if the [...]
Holland, Michigan On February 22 the community defeated, 55 to 44, a proposal to require filters on all Herrick District Library computers. For an article in The Holland Sentinel, click here. Background (Posted January 2000): On February 22, 2000, Holland, Michigan, will vote on a proposal to force the city to withdraw funding from the Herrick District Library unless the [...]