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Sky Broadband parental filter blocks jquery

The parental filter on Sky Broadband, one of the largest ISPs in the UK, blocked jquery, the widely used Javascript library, without which many websites cease to operate. While the block was in place, Sky advised customers that they could get the Web back by disabling the filter, or switching off the "phishing/malware" category.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has unilaterally decreed that these parental filters will soon be switched on by default for all broadband customers in the UK. But don't worry, the Great Firewall of Cameron won't make any mistakes, because the PM has decreed that Web companies must:

a) Censor all the bad things, but;

b) Don't censor the good things.

Whew, that's a relief.

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Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun!


Kevin C Pyle and Scott Cunningham's non-fiction, book-length comic Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun! is a marvellous and infuriating history of censorship, zero-tolerance, helicopter parenting, and the war on kids.

The comics form turns out to be just perfect for presenting this material. The book opens with a history of the fight over comics publishing in America, where the liar Frederic Wertham and his Seduction of the Innocents hoax led to a harsh regime of comics censorship, book banning, book burning, and decades of pseudoscientific vilification and dismissal of artists and the young people who loved their work. Presenting this story in a comics form only drives home how wrong Wertham and the Comics Code Authority were.

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Great Firewall of Cameron blocks game update because "XerathMageChainsExtended" contains "sex"

Redditor LolBoopje discovered that the UK's Great Firewall of Cameron -- the national censorwall put in place by the prime minister -- was blocking updates to the game League of Legends. The update archive contained two files, "VarusExpirationTimer.luaobj" and "XerathMageChainsExtended.luaobj" that had the word "sex" in them, triggering the censorship algorithm. The censorship is totally silent -- users got a "file not found" error -- and it was only some very clever sleuthing that revealed the error.

I've written at length about the worse-than-useless nature of censorware as a means of keeping kids from seeing bad stuff. One of the key points to note here is that silent failure: there is no way of telling how many of the timeouts, file-not-found errors, and other miscellaneous bugs in your daily Web experience are caused by the Great Firewall, and that is by design. It is a system that is intended to make it impossible to tell if it's working. That's not going to be pretty.

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Ukraine slides into full-blown dictatorship with brutal new law


(click for full)

Despite the valiant efforts of the motley opposition in Ukraine, the tame Ukrainian Parliament has passed a brutal law that slides the country into full-on dictatorship. Forbidden under the new law on penalty of high fines and imprisonment: driving cars in columns that are more than five vehicles long; setting up an unauthorized sound system; distribution of "extremist opinion"; "mass disruptions" (10-15 years imprisonment!); collecting information on police or judges; and more.

The new law also demolishes the trappings of democracy: you can be convicted in absentia based on unsubstantiated hearsay; MPs can be arrested during plenary sessions; the state can order arbitrary Internet censorship; and legal service of documents now consists of signatures or "any other data."

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Stamping Chinese banknotes with censorship-busting QR codes


An anonymous anti-censorship group is stamping Chinese banknotes with a QR code and the message "Scan and download software to break the Internet firewall." The stamps encode a URL for Freegate, a firewall-busting service. The stamps are widely suspected to be the work of Falun Gong, an outlawed religious sect that has a long history of supplying anti-censorship technology inside of mainland China, both to supply access to its own censored websites and to advertise the virtues of its belief-system to Chinese Internet users who are more interested in beating censorship than religion.

The money-stamping story has been big news in China, even attracting reportage in state-run media, where the comment-sections are full of Chinese Internet users complaining that the photos of the stamped money are too low-rez to be scanned in.

This isn't the first time that anti-corruption messages have been circulated through defaced currency: Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's fame runs the Stamp Stampede, which stamps messages condemning the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which opened the floodgates of unlimited, anonymous political campaign spending.

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Appeals court rules bloggers have same speech protections as journalists


A Ninth Circuit Appeals court has overturned a lower-court decision that said that bloggers weren't entitled to the same free speech protection as journalists. The case involved a 2011 blog post by Crystal Cox in which she alleged that a firm had engaged in tax fraud; the company she wrote about said that the allegation was false, and that Cox should be found guilty of libel because she wasn't a "journalist." The higher court found that, journalist or not, Cox's guilt turned not on the truth of her statement, but whether she was negligent, and could have discovered the truth.

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Copyright must accomodate free expression

Here's another great post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in honor of Copyright Week, explaining the relationship between copyright and free expression. Copyright is a monopoly on speech -- the right to decide, within limits, who can express themselves with certain words, tunes, and images -- so it's important that the law be structured so that monopoly doesn't jeopardize free debate and artistic expression.

Arts groups often have a blind spot here, staunchly defending free speech right up until it conflicts with copyright, and then stopping dead. But if you support free speech except where it conflicts with copyright, then your free speech movement is practically irrelevant to the age of the Internet, since all expression on the Internet involves making copies, and thus interacting with copyright.

Or as EFF's legal director Cindy Cohn likes to say, "We know you love the First Amendment, but we want you to share."

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Somali Al Qaeda affiliate orders Internet shutdown

Al-Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-affiliated faction in Somalia, has ordered the nation's ISPs to shut off the Internet, or else. The Somali government has ordered the ISPs not to shut down. Cory 13

Great Firewall of Cameron: the worst of all worlds for British parents

In my latest Guardian column, I explain how UK prime minister David Cameron's plan to opt the entire nation into a programme of Internet censorship is the worst of all worlds for kids and their parents. Cameron's version of the Iranian "Halal Internet" can't possibly filter out all the bad stuff, nor can it avoid falsely catching good stuff we want our kids to see (already the filters are blocking websites about sexual health and dealing with "porn addiction"). That means that our kids will still end up seeing stuff they shouldn't, but that we parents won't be prepared for it, thanks to the false sense of security we get from the filters.

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Guardian blocked in China

The Guardian has been blocked in China since Tuesday, though no one (apart from China's censors) knows why. Cory 8

Kickstarting Operator: a censorship-resistant, shape-shifting newsreader

Brandon Wiley -- a P2P developer I've known and respected for more than a decade -- writes, "The Operator news reader project was started in order to protect the most censored content on the Internet: news. Internet news has become a primary means of obtaining information in areas where broadcast media is censored. However, the increase prevalence of Internet filtering technology and its use for blocking access to news means that the people that are most dependent on Internet access for news are also the least likely to have it.

Operator News is an RSS news reader application which uses an adaptive cryptographic communication engine to circumvent Internet filtering which blocks access to news sources. Using covert communication channels, news content can be disguised as other sorts of traffic such as email, Skype, or chat. This is done automatically and requires no configuration from the user. The user simply sees their news appear in the application just as you'd expect.

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David Cameron to press: sign up for voluntary government control -- OR ELSE

David Cameron, whose government has participated in a programme of shameful intimidation of The Guardian over its publication of the Snowden leaks; has warned the British press that it had best sign up for a "voluntary" system of government regulation, or it will face "hideous statutory regulation." David, you keep using the word "voluntary." I do not think it means what you think it means. Cory 13

UK's new national firewall: O2's "parental control" list blocks Slashdot, EFF, and Boing Boing

The Great Firewall of Cameron is going live, with all British ISPs defaulting their customers to an "adult content filter" -- meaning that you have to call up and say, "I demand pornography!" or all the sites on the blacklist will be off-limits to you. Included in O2's "parental control blocklist" are such hotbeds of hardcore porn as Slashdot, EFF, Linux Today, Blogspot, No Starch Press, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and, of course, Boing Boing. The "parental control" list is something you have to ask for (not the default-on filter), but it's being actively marketed to parents as the responsible thing to do. For the record, I've switched my broadband to Andrews and Arnold, who oppose Internet censorship.

Prisoner on literary censorship in Guantanamo Bay


Writing from Guantanamo Bay via his lawyer, Shaker Aamer, the last UK citizen imprisoned at the camp, describes the Kafkaesque regime of censorship practiced by the camp guards. His lawyer brings him books every three months, but so far, guards have confiscated Russell Brand's memoirs (too sweary), "The Gulag Archipelago" and "The Rule of Law" by Lord Bingham. They allowed Dershowitz's "Blasphemy: How the Religious Right Is Hijacking Our Declaration of Independence," but redacted certain passages. Unsurprisingly, Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" did not attain the Gitmo stamp of approval. Aamer's favorite book is (of course), "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

The piece is written with admirable resilience and humour, but it's a reminder that the US government is still maintaining a torture camp where people who haven't been convicted of any crime are imprisoned indefinitely.

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Bob Hope Enterprises claims the Feds' Bob Hope Christmas Special is under copyright

Rogue archivist Carl Malmud writes, "In 2009, I wrote to Boing Boing to kick off our FedFlix program. The headline was The next year, Brian Stelter wrote this up for the New York Times, writing "Dust off a disc. Maybe it's video of a Bob Hope Christmas show, or maybe it's the Apollo 11 moon landing. Insert a blank disc. Duplicate."

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