Posts Tagged ‘‘Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace’’

ATVOD Begins Internet Censorship

June 28, 2014

Amnesiaclinic, one of the commenters over on Vox Political, posted this video from Not UK Column News as a comment to Mike’s article on the conviction of Cameron’s aide for possessing paedophile material. The video is by the two or three leaders of UK Column, a website which includes videos, critically examining and reporting current events. It seems to be part of the British Constitution Group, an organisation which believes that the British constitution has been undermined and corrupted by the rich and powerful. I really don’t know who British Constitution Group are, nor what, if any, their political affiliation is. A casual glance at their website shows that they are concerned with the destruction of the NHS, and also with the apparent theft and kidnapping of children by NATO officials. If this is the case, then they’re really similar to organisations like Index on Censorship, which report suppressed or censored news.

The two male presenters in this video, with a female co-presenter looking on from the rear of the car, describe the way ATVOD, the statutory body regulating On-Demand Video, has decided that because they have videos which they consider to be ‘television-like’ on their Youtube Channel, Not UK Column News therefore constitutes an On-Demand Video service which needs to be regulated. They therefore hit them with the legal paperwork requiring them to register with them. Rather than submit to this attempt at censorship, UK Column News has simply taken down its videos from Youtube. They take the view that this is the beginning of the censorship of the Internet.

The two presenters state that ATVOD was initially set up in 2003 to stop TV companies putting on their websites material which was unsuitable for broadcast. This largely seems to have been pornography. The two UK Column presenters note that ATVOD’s material about itself discusses its work in closing down and protecting children from on-line porn. Peter Johnson, the head of ATVOD, was a former member of the British Board of Film Classification. The UK Column people state that the boundaries of the sexual content that is considered permissible in film has expanded, and so it seems that Johnson has simply jumped from regulating the pornographic to the political. The other head of ATVOD is Rachel Evans, a woman, who holds a long, long line of directorships. So long, in fact, that it takes about five minutes for one of the presenters to read them out. They remark on the fact that in her list of directorships and official positions, she does not mention that she was part of Liberty, a group that campaigned for paedophiles. They also remark that while ATVOD claims that the majority of the board adjudicating a case must be independent, in practice they are anything but. The so-called independent members have strong links to the broadcasting companies. Indeed, key BBC personnel had a role in formulating the body’s policies, and then, when it came to regulating the Beeb over a particular case, the Corporation was eventually acquitted. It’s clearly a case of conflict of interest, but not according to ATVOD, which insists that it is independent. The two state that Johnson himself admitted that ATVOD’s role is essentially to police the established broadcasters’ competitors. They see ATVOD as having moved far beyond its original remit to suppress any competition to the main television, no matter how small or trivial they are.

They also point out that by ATVOD’s own admission, the scope of the laws which regulate On-Demand Video providers are unclear, and ATVOD itself has no clear guidelines on this issue, as it states that these arise as each individual, different case is dealt with. They therefore see this as an admission that ATVOD are basically making them up as they go along. If this is all true, then ATVOD is something of a kangaroo court, whose lack of precise legal boundaries make it a threat to free speech and discussion in this country.

This is vitally important at this particular time. Last Sunday there was a demonstration by 50,000 people, including MPs and media ‘slebs, against government austerity. Despite the fact that it was held right outside Broadcasting House, it was not covered in anything except a derisory way by the media in this country. It was not mentioned in the papers, and only received the barest moments of coverage on the BBC’s rolling news channel and radio. This looks like a concerted attempt by the British media class to avoid covering anything that might send Cameron and his cronies into ‘a fearful bate’, as the great philosopher and educationalist Nigel Molesworth would sa. Even if it is only incompetence, an excuse I find much less than plausible, it still shows the vital necessity of alternative sources of news outside the official channels controlled by the Beeb and the empires of Murdoch, Dacre, Desmond and co. The grand hope of the Libertarian Net pioneers when it was set up was that the web would allow ordinary citizens to circumvent the restrictions of tyrannical and repressive governments. See the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, as an example of this. During the Arab Spring and the Green Revolution in Iran, dissidents used social media and the internet to get around official censorship. It’s why the Internet and the freedom of information it represents is feared by the Communist authorities in Beijing, who have erected the Great Firewall of China. The same attitude appears to be shared by the Internet regulators here in the UK. A number of left-wing websites have warned that the British authorities would try to clamp down on websites offering critical political material. Pride’s Purge was hit a while ago, when the Net authorities tried to restrict access because the site contained ‘adult content’. Well, it does in the sense that it deals with politics, which is a business for adults, rather than the kind of material sold on the tops shelves of newsagents or broadcast by Richard Desmond’s specialist TV station.

This is a warning: the authorities are trying to close down dissent, and the two from UK Column News are correct when they state that this is the thin end of the wedge. Here’s the video, and see if you agree with them.