Xbiz reports that UK Internet users can now sign an online petition to protest the invasive, privacy-killing requirements of the recently passed “Investigative Powers Bill.” The bill, if approved, would require that ISPs monitor and store large amounts of information about Internet users’ browsing histories. Combined with the proposed adult-website age-verification measure, the UK would mandate the collection and storage of highly sensitive and intimate information about users, increasing the risks of misuse by hackers, blackmailers, and rogue agencies.
xHamster Asks U.K. Users to Sign Petition
xHamster.com today started urging users in the U.K. to sign a petition calling for the repeal of the Investigatory Powers Bill, which recently wended its way through Parliament and now awaits royal assent, which would turn the piece of legislation into law. Read More>>
Via DSL Reports:
Trump Appoints Third Net Neutrality Critic to FCC Advisory Team
President-elect Trump today added yet another fierce critic of net neutrality to his FCC transition team. The incoming President chose Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at the broadband-industry-funded American Enterprise Institute, to help select the new FCC boss and guide the Trump administration on telecom policy.
Via XBIZ, lawmakers in both the US and UK have separately proposed measures to censor or tax access to mature content online:
Legislative Attempts to Filter Porn in the U.S. Are Mounting
New Mexico will join about two dozen other states that will slate legislative attempts in 2017 to force ISPs and makers of PCs and mobile devices to install porn filters. Read more>>
Despite previous attempts, introducing mandatory filters in the U.S. for objectionable content has never come to fruition, because such proposals would be struck down as violations of both the 1st Amendment and the Commerce Clause, which does not permit individual states to regulate Internet commerce by filtering.
U.K. Digital Economy Bill Moves Forward to House of Lords
Members of the House of Commons today approved the third reading of the U.K. Digital Economy Bill, effectively sending the draft legislation to the House of Lords for consideration. Read more>>
Impact on the adult industry:
Studio Heads Weigh In on Trump as President
Donald Trump triumphed last night, and now the adult entertainment biz is trying to figure out what it all means. Read more>>
“… Trump went on record saying that pornography should be illegal,” (Penthouse owner Kelly) Holland said. “Face it, Trump is the puppet. The strings will be pulled by his ultra-conservative vice president, [Mike] Pence, his presumptive attorney general, [Rudy] Giuliani and the rest of the alt-right that will pull the strings.
Impact on the Internet:
From DSL Reports:
Trump Could Spell Big Trouble for Broadband, Net Neutrality
While Hillary Clinton was seen as overly-cozy with telecom in her own right, new President elect Donald Trump is already laying the ground work for an administration that could spell major trouble for broadband consumers, broadband competition, and the nation’s new net neutrality rules. Trump has made it clear he vehemently opposes net neutrality, despite repeatedly making it clear he’s not entirely certain what net neutrality even is.
More from DSL Reports
On a positive note for companies like AT&T, Trump has given every indication that he opposes net neutrality — despite seemingly not understanding what it is. And while his telecom policy proposals have been murky at best, a Republican-controlled FCC is likely to kill numerous policy efforts including cable box reform and efforts to bring additional competition to bear on industry incumbents.
More from Gizmodo:
Donald Trump does not support net neutrality. Actually, he thinks it will lead to the censorship of conservative media. “Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media,” he tweeted in 2014.
Even as the American organizations CDT and FSC work to promote consumer privacy for adult websites, UK authorities continue to plow ahead with their ill-conceived plan to require mandatory age verification for consumers to access adult material. (A similar plan in the US was defeated in court partly over First Amendment concerns regarding the right to receive controversial speech anonymously.) The UK has designated the British Board of Film Classification to perform age verification, but astonishingly, the law makes no provision to protect the privacy of adult-website visitors.
As described in this petition, “The Digital Economy Bill currently before Parliament will introduce compulsory age verification without guaranteeing privacy protections for subscribers. This omission risks users’ personal details and private sexual preferences being exploited for commercial gain and/or leaked into the public domain.”
Discussion of the Digital Economy Bill by The Independent
Update: adult industry stakeholders held a protest outside Parliament today against the bill, which they say “imposes state censorship and surveillance of consensual adult sexual content in the U.K.”
Ars Technica has posted the most comprehensive article I have seen thus far about the four US presidential candidates’ positions on Internet law and policy. I was surprised that Donald Trump confuses Net Neutrality with the completely unrelated 20th century radio and television “Fairness Doctrine,” and I am disappointed that he feels that ISP’s can effectively self regulate on price and service in the absence of meaningful competition. Hillary Clinton says that she champions Net Neutrality and consumer protection, but the fact that she accepts money from anti-competition ISP lobbyists calls into question the sincerity of her commitment.
Libertarian Gary Johnson strongly opposes governmental surveillance but otherwise believes that ISP’s should be completely unregulated, regardless of the potential harm to consumers. Green Party candidate Jill Stein, although a medical doctor, promotes pseudoscience claims including the dubious assertion that WiFi radiation is a health hazard. She also holds peculiar views on gender and censorship.
First Amendment lawyer J. D. Obenberger recently wrote at Xbiz:
Censorship starts here with porn. It always does. And, as always, this repression of speech starts with the proclaimed aim of “protecting the children.” Given the haphazard record of actual prosecution for distribution of porn and its selectivity against the lowest hanging fruit, least capable of defending itself, the thought that porn is a pretextual target for more sinister and wider purposes — and to justify the acquisition of tools for general censorship — has special appeal.
He might well have been referring to the USA or the UK, where officials have recently argued for laws prohibiting strong encryption on the pretense of preventing crime, but in this case he was writing about his experience visiting Russia, which can serve as a cautionary tale for Western democracies.
The article itself is fascinating and well worth a read: http://www.xbiz.com/articles/legal/210029
I have not been able to post as much as I would like because of recurring medical issues, but two stories relevant to our community are in the news.
First, the BBC recently published a report repeating the old canard that frequent porn use supposedly causes erectile disorder in young men by desensitizing them to real-life sexual stimuli. Maxim, although generally considered more of a “lad’s mag” than a serious news publication, responded to the BBC claims with a well-sourced article citing two scientific studies showing that porn use is not inherently harmful.
Second, the dominant US Internet provider, Comcast, has indicated its desire to charge ISP customers additional fees for privacy, similar to what AT&T has been doing to certain fiber Internet subscribers. Caroline Craig has an excellent article at Infoworld explaining the current privacy situation in the US and the FCC’s new role in protecting consumers from intrusive practices by ISP’s, which, due to lack of meaningful competition, can impose onerous conditions on customers at will.
According to XBIZ and other news outlets, GOP presidential candidate (and former Playboy cover model) Donald Trump has signed an anti-porn pledge promulgated by a notorious pro-censorship organization called “Enough is Enough.” Most of the pledge is standard “save the children” fare with scant reference to adult erotica, but concerningly, it also affirms the false claim made this year by the Utah legislature — and now enshrined in the GOP platform — that online adult content is a hazard to public health.
The pledge also calls on private companies to partner with the government in “voluntary” efforts to reduce the supposed threat of minors seeing adult content, which sounds to me like an attempt to reinvigorate the age-verification and de-anonymization schemes which the US Government promoted in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s before they were mostly struck down by the courts. Such partnerships could also include more surveillance and data sharing by private companies, ostensibly to protect minors from being chatted at by perverts, but effectively invading everyone’s online privacy along the lines of the proposed “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA).”
Trump Signs Pledge to Crack Down on Porn If Elected
In a development that could sway stakeholders in the industry, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump signed a pledge two weeks ago stating he would aggressively enforce existing laws that prevent the sexual exploitation of children, including federal obscenity laws, child pornography laws, sexual predation laws and the sex trafficking laws. Read more>>
With Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) having now endorsed his rival, Hillary Clinton, Andrew Jay Schwartzman of the Benton Foundation describes the two remaining US major-party presidential candidates’ positions on Net Neutrality:
The presumptive nominees have already staked out positions supporting (Hillary Clinton) and opposing (Donald Trump) network neutrality. A Trump-appointed FCC would presumably stop utilizing Title II powers and refrain from enforcing the network neutrality rules, but a formal recision of the FCC’s decision would take some time and would require some legal gymnastics. There is plenty of time to address that scenario if and when it happens.
Nonetheless, according to DSL Reports, even Mrs. Clinton continues to accept money from anti-Neutrality Internet providers such as AT&T:
AT&T’s Top Lobbyist Backs Hillary Clinton
Net Neutrality Now