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Category Archives: Censorship

Zuckerberg on Chinese censorship: Is that the internet we want? – TechCrunch

Posted: October 23, 2019 at 9:46 am

China is exporting its social values, political ads are an important part of free expression and the definition of dangerous speech must be kept in check, Facebooks CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued today in a speech at Georgetown University.

He criticized how American companies that do business with China were becoming influenced by the countrys values. While our services like WhatsApp are used by protestors and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy practices, on TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the U.S.! Zuckerberg said. Is that the Internet that we want?

Because Facebook couldnt come to an agreement with Chinese censors and thereby doesnt operate in the nation, Now, we have more freedom to speak out and stand up for the values that we believe in and fight for free expression around the world. While he didnt mention Apple, the NBA and Blizzard, which are amidst scandals about cowing to Chinese policy, the shade thrown at them was clear.

Zuckerberg spoke today for 40 minutes at Georgetown University and then did a Q&A to share his thoughts on speech and how we might address the challenges that more voice and the internet introduce, and the major threats to free expression around the world. He discussed how We want the progress of free expression without the tension, leading people to advocate for pulling back on free expression. Where do you draw the line?

Zuckerberg says that Facebook now has 35,000 people working on security, and the companys security budget is higher now than the whole revenue of the company when it IPOd, which was $5 billion in 2012. Facebook removes or downranks content that is objectively dangerous. Still, he says that he doesnt want to let the definition of what is dangerous expand beyond whats absolutely necessary.

Coining a new phrase, Zuckerberg noted that People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society.

On allowing political ads on Facebook even if they carry misinformation, Zuckerberg argues that political ads can be an important part of voice, especially for local candidates, up and coming challengers and advocacy groups that the media might not otherwise cover. That way they can get their voice into the debate. While that may be true, the same system allows whichever group or candidate has the most funding to dominate the narrative.

I recently argued that Facebook should drop all political ads until regulation to prevent their use to spread misinformation was passed. President Trump is spending more than many of his Democratic party rivals combined while using lies about them planning to remove the second amendment to raise money.

Still, Zuckerberg argues, Banning political ads favors incumbents and whoever the media chooses to cover. He did not address who spends the most or how Facebook could still offer free expression of candidates to their own followers even if it banned political ads. He essentially drew no distinction between freedom of speech and freedom of reach aka paid amplification through ads. Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri echoed this sentiment, equating ads and speech, tweeting I believe that people deserve to hear what politicians are saying and make up their own minds. After some discussion, though, Mosseri admitted I often wish we could ban political ads, but said it would be complex to define what did and didnt qualify as one.

Relying on favoring incumbents argument ignores how President Trump has spent $4.9 million on Facebook ads this year compared to $9.6 million spent by the 23 Democratic candidates combined, and that Trump had outspent them all put together as of March. Banning political ads wouldnt prevent candidates from saying what they want and being judged, but it would stop richer candidates speech from having more weight.

Overall, Zuckerberg sounded more passionate and empathetic than in his recent testimonies on Capitol Hill. He seemed to take on some of the cadence and tone of former President Barack Obama, pitching up his voice to stress the urgency of challenges facing democracy. However, the speech format allowed Zuckerberg to avoid immediate pushback on his points, such as why political advertising favors challengers if its incumbents with the most money to spend. Zuckerberg did hold a Q&A after his speech, but the stream of that wasnt broadcast from his Page like the prepared remarks, and he mostly reiterated points from the speech.

Zuckerberg drove home one important theme threaded throughout the talk, though. He attempted to link the idea of U.S. companies potentially policing free expression to protect safety and elections with how China censors speech. And while other companies like the NBA and Blizzard that do significant business with the country try to downplay its influence, Zuckerberg spoke up about how the tentacles of Chinas values are choking off speech far beyond its borders.

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Report On Global Social Media Censorship Shows Russia, India, And Turkey Are Still Leading The Censor Pack – Techdirt

Posted: at 9:46 am

from the and-all-these-US-companies-are-giving-them-a-boost dept

Millions of people around the globe are using blogging services and social media platforms created by US companies to communicate with each other. Unfortunately, these US companies have been helping censorial governments shut their citizens up by complying with a large variety of content removal requests.

While it is generally a best practice to follow local laws when offering services in foreign countries, it's always disappointing when US companies respect laws that have been created solely for the purpose of stifling dissent, silencing critics, and putting marginalized people at the risk of even greater harm.

Paul Bischoff of Comparitech has compiled information from a number of companies' transparency reports to produce an easily-readable snapshot of worldwide censorship as enabled by US tech companies. And the countries you'd expect to be demanding the censorship of the most content are the ones you'll see taking top spots at various platforms. Russia, Turkey, and India all top the charts, both in the number of demands made and the actual amount of memory-holed content.

Russia must be home to one of the last large Blogger userbases, considering how often the country targets this platform. Russia alone accounted for 53% of the 115,000 removal requests received by Google, which also covers search engine listings and YouTube. Russia's takedown demands have been steadily escalating over the past half-decade, jumping from 2,761 in 2015 to 19,192 in the first half of 2018 alone. Most of Russia's requests are supposedly "national security" related, but that still leaves plenty to spread around to cover other things the government disapproves of, like nudity, drug abuse, and defamation.

Turkey comes in at a very distant second. It too likes to claim stuff is either defamation or a threat to national security, but it prefers to perform its vicarious censorship on a different social media platform: Twitter.

Turkey jumps into the top spot here, accounting for 55.23 percent of the overall number of requests (54,652). Russia is a distant second with 21.17 percent of the overall number.

But Russia is gaining ground

[T]he largest number of content removal requests came last year with 23,464 (an 84% increase on the previous year). [...]Russia and Turkey... made up 21.25 and 59.67 percent of the requests in 2018, respectively.

Yes, Twitter is Turkey's playground. The easily-offended head of state (and all of his easily-offended officials) love to use content removal requests to silence critics and bury unflattering coverage. Unfortunately, Twitter has been all too helpful when it comes to Turkey oppressing its citizens via third parties. Sure, much of the blocking only affects Turkey, but that's where dissenting views are needed the most.

Bischoff's report is worth reading in full. It breaks down the raw data of transparency reports into easily-digestible chunks that show which platforms which countries censor most, as well as the type of complaints these countries are sending most often.

You'll also see why one of the biggest censors in the world barely shows up in these reports. China doesn't need third parties' help to control what its citizens see online. It begins this censorship at home by blocking content across multiple platforms (and, often, the platforms themselves), some of which are homegrown services far more popular with Chinese users than their American equivalents. A lack of data doesn't mean China is taking a hands-off approach to content moderation. It simply means the Chinese government rarely has to put its hands on anything outside the country to achieve its aims.

One of the more minor players in the global takedown playground is Wikimedia. Outside of the occasional DMCA takedown request, Wikimedia rarely gets hassled by anyone, much less world governments. But the requests it does get are far weirder than the run-of-the-mill censor-by-proxy requests delivered to social media platforms. Wikimedia is one of the few American entities that has told the Turkish government to beat it when Turkey asked for negative (but apparently factual) content to be removed. It also had to explain to members of an unnamed political party how Wikipedia -- and the First Amendment -- actually work.

A lawyer reached out to us on behalf of a lesser-known North American political party that was unhappy with edits to English Wikipedia articles about the party and one of its leaders. Her clients apparently wanted previous, more promotional versions of the articles restored in place of the later versions. To better engage in discussions with the community, we encouraged them to familiarize themselves with Wikipedias recommendations on style and tone and the policy restricting use of promotional language. We also advised that one of the best ways to resolve their concerns is to engage with the community directly.

And it has only removed one piece of content ever that wasn't the result of a valid DMCA takedown request:

According to Wikimedia, a blogger visiting Burma/Myanmar posted a redacted photo of his visa on his website. Somehow, a version of his visa picture without his personal information removed ended up on an English Wikipedia article concerning the countrys visa policy.

He wrote to us, asking to remove the photo, wrote Wikimedia. Given the nature of the information and the circumstances of how it was exposed, we took the image down.

Tech advances have accelerated the pace of global censorship. When you're dealing with the world's greatest communication tool -- the internet -- you kind of have to take the good with the bad. Geoblocking content to stay in the good graces of foreign governments may seem like the "lesser of several evils" approach, but even if it's the approach that will result in the least amount of collateral damage, it's still something that encourages authoritarians to continue being authoritarian.

Filed Under: censorship, free speech, india, russia, studies, turkey

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Blizzard Gaming Boycott Is The Tip Of The Chinese Censorship Iceberg – The Federalist

Posted: at 9:46 am

If youve somehow managed to browse the internet without hearing about the Blizzard debacle, let me catch you up: Blizzard Entertainment is a gaming company that runs Hearthstone, an online card game with competitive tournaments. A Hong Kong-based player named Ng Wai Chung (alias Blitzchung) used a pro-democracy slogan during a post-match interview that was being live-streamed, and Blizzard suspended Blitzchung for six months, withholding his prize money to appease the Chinese government.

It may sound like a small incident, but it created a huge online backlash culminating in a boycott, which led to Blizzard reducing Blitzchungs suspension and returning his prize money. A large-scale boycott may seem like a disproportionate response, and, if this event had occurred in isolation, it would be disproportionate.

But Blitzchungs ban did not occur in isolation. This is just one of many recent cases in which other countries have changed their policies to appease the Chinese government, and these policy changes have affected people outside China. In July of last year, several American airline companies changed their websites to make it look as if Taiwan were not a sovereign country, at the request of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The NBA recently groveled to the CCP because a team manager criticized the Chinese government on Twitter. Apple recently pulled an app from its app store that helps Hong Kong protesters track the police, although this move was recently reversed. Over and over again, CCP censorship has insinuated itself into global business by leveraging the lucrative Chinese market. The Blizzard boycott was just the tip of the censorship iceberg.

We can set up the problem like this: The Chinese government will never budge on censorship, but Western consumers will raise hell when they feel they are being subjected to it and this, in turn, has been at least partially effective, as is evident in the cases of Blizzard and Apple. So far, the trend has been Western companies walking a very thin line between losing access to the Chinese market and losing their customer base everywhere else.

This cant last forever. The Chinese government will not be content with repeated incidents of this kind, and Western consumers will prove allergic to CCP censorship. Moreover, the U.S. government is showing itself increasingly willing to challenge China economically. The U.S.-China trade war has exacerbated all of this a great degree. Something has to give.

A full geopolitical examination of the U.S.-China relationship is far, far beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say, the current state of economic conflict is not entirely due to the Trump administration. This confrontation was a long time coming, and the reasons for it go far deeper than Trump.

So when you hear a dispatch from the White House saying America is reaching the first phases of a trade deal with China, dont be fooled this is far from over. The United States, even if it hammers out a deal with China, will still make policy changes to decouple its economy from Chinas. This conflict is far more profound than the election of a hotheaded American president, and it will continue long after hes out of office.

There are three factors: the stubbornness of the Chinese government, the stubbornness of Western consumers, and the trade war and deeper economic conflict between the American and Chinese governments. Of those three factors, something has to give. Either Western consumers must accept a certain amount of CCP censorship, the CCP must cease its efforts to promote its own interest via censorship (and other underhanded means), or economies that do not wish to bend the knee to the CCP must decouple themselves from China. Ill discuss each in turn.

Keep in mind that these are extreme outcomes. Various mixtures of each are possible. Each one is a kind of limit scenario, a pure outcome relating to one of the three factors giving way. I do not expect any of these three to pan out exactly as described, but this is useful for illustrative purposes.

First possibility: With the rise of China, commonly prophesied among economists and geopolitical pundits, it may be that Chinas economic power becomes so overwhelming that foreign companies will be unable to resist CCP censorship. If the Chinese economy is so dominating that no multinational can compete without access to it, then all multinationals are effectively subject to China.

The world would live under de facto Chinese censorship. You and I and other private individuals may be able to criticize the Chinese government on our own time, but no person who is remotely prominent would dare to say a word against the CCP, since doing so could easily result in the loss of ones career.

This may sound like doom-mongering, and I will concede that it is unlikely, but its also not impossible. This is what happens if the first factor, Western stubbornness, fails.

Second possibility: With China suffering from the trade war and the United States in a hurry to decouple itself from the Chinese economy, it may turn out that the foretold pax sinica was a mirage all along. If thats true, then Chinas various economic problems, such as its (most likely permanent) status as a net importer of food, the demographic time-bomb of its aging population, and civil unrest such as that seen in Hong Kong, will all come home to roost just as the West begins to crank up the heat.

While the shrinking of the Chinese economy will cause economic problems worldwide, it would have at least one positive effect: The CCP would no longer have a big enough bargaining chip to enforce its censorship on foreign countries. Perhaps it would be possible to convince the CCP to do this without removing Chinas economic clout, but Im pessimistic about that possibility and cannot see the Chinese government removing its censorship. This is what happens if the second factor, Chinese stubbornness, fails.

Third possibility: If the trade war ends in long-term decoupling without terminal economic problems for either side, then a simple economic decoupling may defang the CCPs influence on foreign companies without forcing it to drop its censorship. This seems unlikely, given the interconnectivity of the world in the information age. On the other hand, much of that exchange of information sits on an underlying economic entanglement, which, in this scenario, would drop out.

As I said before, these are three extreme scenarios, and in the short to medium term, none can manifest purely without admixture of the others. In the long term, however, I do think the overall geopolitical situation will be strongly characterized by one of these three. The only question is, which one?

Caleb Beers is an older millennial writer living in Ohio, who writes on topics including politics, philosophy, and literature. In his spare time he self-publishes novels and plays the guitar.

Blizzard Gaming Boycott Is The Tip Of The Chinese Censorship Iceberg - The Federalist

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The night the censors drove old ‘Dixie’ down – Washington Examiner

Posted: at 9:46 am

Winston-Salem, North Carolina, operates on a more liberal compass heading than much of the South. But it carries the unfortunate distinction of having hosted the Dixie Classic Fair since 1956.

The word Dixie, NPR reported, offends enough locals (and one assumes outsiders) that the city is censoring it out of existence.

Some local skeptics questioned whether the name Dixie Classic Fair should be stripped from history, puzzled that next to go might be Dixie Cups. For good measure, lets throw in Dixieland, Dixie Mart, Winn-Dixie, and the Dixie Chicks. These all may somehow offend, and the absurdity of changing them won't be enough to pause hit the "pause" button on the non-stop movie of censorship.

Censorship has long been the first refuge of scoundrels, and history isnt always forgiving of their cause. Stalin erased Nikolai Yezhov from a now-famous official propaganda photo, which only served to keep the functionarys name alive well beyond his historical due. The salting of Carthage after the Third Punic War one of Romes more memorable mop-up operations might be the only thing keeping Carthages name alive two millennia later. And who can forget about Galileo? His name lives on, whereas that of Pope Urban VIII, who tried to silence him, is almost forgotten.

Taking offense to words and symbols is as natural as breathing. Censoring them out of existence is operating on a far grander scale. When I was growing up in California, a group of atheists decided that places with Christian saints names had to go, ostensibly for violating the separation of church and state. But this was really because, as atheists, they just hated Christianity.

Think of the audacity: the logistics of changing every offending name, from San Anselmo to San Francisco to Los Angeles, and every Zion in between (thats every persons drivers license, every official document, every newspaper masthead, etc.). It would have bankrupted many of these municipalities and all just for the fun of it. The coup failed, but not without extravagant legal fees, paid mostly by the citizenry. Every time I pass the highway sign at Grass Valley that reads, San Francisco, 143 Miles my heart sings, not simply because Im going back to the city of my birth, but because, despite a tiny few ill-intentioned and censorious atheists, it is still San Francisco.

Most recently, and coincidentally, was the San Francisco Board of Educations decision (these are educators mind you) to censor an anti-racist mural in a local high school. The Life of Washington, painted in 1936 by an avowed left-wing agitator to depict the evils of slavery and exploitation in the founding of the nation, is ironically the very thing todays leftists would trip over themselves to erect in public. Its depiction of slaves and Native Americans could not be more poignant.

But because the very liberal Board of Education has become hyper-sensitive to the supposed hyper-sensitivity of students, this piece of history had to go. This time, the censors won, but not without embarrassment since some in the media were actually watching and wondering, This is What Educators Do?

By the way, student attitudes towards the mural before, during, and since the controversy remained decidedly apathetic. So much for the little dears' sensitivity.

Meanwhile, as the grievance industry pursues its metaphorical March to the Sea with all of Sherman's subtlety, its worth revisiting someone whose legacy has a dog in this fight: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He may not have known he belongs in the censorship battles, but he does.

King, deeply a son of the South, was unequivocal about the pasts eventual reckoning. The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice, he said, and liberals like to quote him on that. But one may ask if, for King, that means all of history or just some selections from a drop-down menu that suits the tenor of the current era.

A basic reading of the man offers a simple answer. For King, the pastor and prophet, the linearity of Christianity promises redemption and salvation, but one must live within human history to get there. The problem of this history is both our fate and our calling. It is not a trifle.

How dare you invoke King, some will say, and not without good intention, though certainly fueled by emotion and mistrust. Those who defend censorship in the name of soothing bruised sensitivities would do well to recognize that King himself was as much a maker of history as he was its victim. The glory of King cannot exist without the shame of the past. Yin and yang are inseparable. Destroy one, you destroy the other.

Two quotes in a teachable moment are always better than one. George Santayanas all-purpose cheer for history Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it itself always bears repeating. Would King subscribe to an updating of his own words? "The arc of history is long, but it bends towardscensorship?"

Daniel Keefe is a writer in Montclair, N.J.

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Seems censorship is in place in Bengal: Governer Jagdeep Dhankhar – Economic Times

Posted: at 9:46 am

KOLKATA: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Tuesday wondered whether some sort of censorship was in place in the state after district officials refused to meet him citing ongoing administrative tour of the chief minister. Governor Dhankhar termed the refusal of the district officials to attend a meeting called by him as "unconstitutional".

He had last week expressed his desire to hold meetings with district magistrates, bureaucrats and elected representatives of North and South 24 Parganas districts, a tour of which he has begun from Tuesday.

However, the office of the Governor on Monday evening received letters from the district magistrates of the two districts mentioning that the officials would not be able to attend his meetings as they will be busy with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's ongoing tour of north Bengal, Raj Bhavan sources said.

However, the officials said that other arrangements for his tour will be made, the sources said.

"I am astonished to receive the letters from the district officials in which they have expressed their inability to attend the meetings, that too four days since my intimation. I do not know whether some sort of censorship is in place in West Bengal," the Governor told over the phone.

"Despite this, I will continue my tour of the districts," he added.

Dhankhar has been at the loggerheads with the state government over several issues - ranging from his seating position at the Durga Puja carnival to comments on his security - since he rushed to Jadavpur University on September 19 to 'rescue' Union minister Babul Supriyo who had been gheroed by a section of students.

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Netflix Dodges Bid to Halt Release of ‘The Laundromat’ – Hollywood Reporter

Posted: at 9:46 am

A defamation suit from Mossack Fonseca is thrown out of Connecticut court on the eve of the release of the Steven Soderbergh film.

The law firm of Mossack Fonseca was no more successful in attempting to halt Netflix's release of The Laundromat as they were three years ago in attempting to lock down more than 11 million of the firm's documents. Just before the Steven Soderbergh film began streaming on Friday, a federal judge decided thatMossack Fonseca had no business bringing a defamation and trademark suit over the movie in Connecticut court.

The 2016 leak of documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca known by the "Panama Papers" revealed how the world's powerful attempted to shelter their money. The scandal inspiredThe Laundromat, which stars Meryl Streep investigating the death of her husband and discovering the firm's allegedly shady dealings.

Earlier this week, Jrgen Mossack (played by Gary Oldman) and Ramn Fonseca (Antonio Banderas) filed suit over the film. They claimedThe Laundromatfalsely cast them as criminals and illicitly used the firm's logos. As American prosecutors continue to investigate associates and clients of Mossack Fonseca, the two named partners at the firm sought to stop distribution with concern that the movie's release could shape public opinion and potentially interfere with their rights to a fair trial should they ever be arrested.

In response, Netflix called the suit "laughable," and an "affront to established First Amendment principles," but the move from the streaming giant that most immediately dodged a requested restraining order was bringing a jurisdictional challenge.

On Thursday night, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Arterton recognized that neither of the parties had much connection withConnecticut and that the plaintiff hadn't sufficiently established why the state's long-arm statute provided cause to adjudicate the dispute there. As such, the case was transferred to California.

Here's the full order.

Netflix was pleased by the ruling and used the firm's failed censorship attempt as an opportunity to promote the film.

Said a spokesperson, "This lawsuit was a frivolous legal stunt designed to censor creative expression. Steven Soderberghs film tells an important story about the exploitation of innocent people and the misuse of the worlds financial system. Fortunately, you can now watch The Laundromat the film that Mossack and Fonesca tried to censor on Netflix.

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China Star Wars censorship: Why the rumors aren’t true – Inverse

Posted: at 9:46 am

Ever since Mark Hamill announced that Luke would appear as a Force ghost in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, fans have wondered if anyone else would join him from the Jedi afterlife. However, one pesky rumor making the rounds online seems to have some Star Wars fans worried Lucasfilm will remove Force ghosts entirely, due to Chinas strict standards for distributing movies made beyond its borders.

Since the Chinese box office is usually a huge source of international revenue for Hollywood studios, fans speculated that theyd been removed to appease Chinese moviegoers. While its unclear how the rumors got started, Star Wars fans were beside themselves wondering whether Chinas apparent (and false) hatred of ghosts and spirits would somehow affect the story of The Rise of Skywalker. Well, not only are the rumors false, but the notion of Chinas wholesale opposition to the depiction of ghosts on film simply isnt true.

The knowledgeable u/Yazman took to Reddit to make clear that any and all rumors about Chinas power over the final cut of The Rise of Skywalker are simply untrue. Not only that, but they stem from ignorance of the culture and the history of high-grossing movies in that market.

In fact, Chinese culture allows ghosts in film when its just ancestors, wise spirits, benign/friendly ghosts, or the story is a family-friendly one, the redditor notes. What the Chinese government bans are portrayals of violent ghosts, or spirits who intend to harm the living. As an example, Disneys Coco was well-received in China, grossing more than $17 million in its opening weekend. The Pixar film revolves around spirits, the dead, and the afterlife. Clearly, the ghost ban has been overstated.

Then, of course, theres the fact that the latest Star Wars trilogy (and Solo, for that matter) has not been a financial success in China, especially compared to other American films. Star Wars has been a huge element of American popular culture since the 70s, but the original trilogy wasnt even released in cinemas there until 2015, to drum up excitement ahead of The Force Awakens. The Chinese filmgoing audience doesnt have the same decades-long attachment to these characters that we do.

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens dropped in China, it grossed around $124 million. Thats not a bad number, sure, but then along came The Last Jedi, which included Force ghost Yoda (and yes, he remained in the film).

The Last Jedi only grossed a measly $42.5 million. Thats a huge drop in box office numbers. In fact, the Chinese market is so uninterested in Star Wars films that even Skyscraper, the forgettable Dwayne Johnson action flick, made far more money. Theres nothing to worry about when it comes to China banning Force ghosts because, simply put, they just dont care.

This anxiety among fans likely has a lot to do with ongoing leaks about the film. Consider this your spoiler warning: the next paragraph will discuss leaks about the films final act.

A couple months back, Making Star Wars claimed the Force ghosts of Anakin, Luke and Leia whom we know will die in the film would return in the final act of The Rise of Skywalker. Fans even speculated Obi-Wan Kenobi could also turn up. While none of the trailers have shown any Force ghosts, we wouldnt be surprised if the filmmakers kept him a secret. (Even the most accurate spoiler-mongers didnt predict Yoda would be in The Last Jedi.)

Other factors may have influenced director J.J. Abrams decision to remove the Force ghosts, if he actually did so. Recent news of reshoots is just one example. Theres also the editing process. Its possible Abrams may have cut the Force ghost scenes for time, or even to help the flow and pacing of Episode IX. We wont really know for sure if the Force ghosts made it into the film until its release in December, but whatever the reason for their potential removal, China is not to blame.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20, 2019.

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Netflix, Amazon And Other OTT Platforms Face Censorship Threat In India – Inc42 Media

Posted: at 9:46 am

The I&B ministry is mulling censorship regulations, according to a government official

Will this be a huge, expensive and time-consuming exercise for the Indian OTT players?

Karnataka High Court has asked the ministry to speed up the action on online content regulations

India is thinking of potential censorship on OTT streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, a senior government official was quoted as saying by Reuters. In the report, the official stated that the film and TV certification bodies are already moderating content, but this is happening in an uneven manner. The government could look to create same rules for all content whether digital or non-digital.

While most OTT players have agreed to self-moderate content, some political groups are not quite satisfied with this. Many have called for censorship of OTT platforms in India similar to the censor board for broadcast video and movies.

The self-regulation isnt the same for all, which is raising a concern. The directions are clear, we have to see how to address the problems.

When it comes to online streaming platforms there are no laws for censorship of content. The government is looking at this seriously, as several court cases and complaints had been filed to the police in recent months, alleging that some content is obscene or insulted religious sentiment, said the government official.

Show such as Netflixs Indian original series Leila and Sacred Games have come under the scanner from some groups in India and are facing court challenges over alleged offensive content and insulting remarks. Amazon Prime Videos original series such as Mirzapur and The Family Man have also raised similar concerns.

To put an end to this, the government might come up with a new set of regulations or measures, which means platforms might need to obtain content approval before making it live for viewers. In other cases, the content might be certified similar to how its done for movies screened in cinema halls and on TV. The government also showed its concern about disparity in how some content appearing on these streaming platforms, such as smoking and drinking scenes shown on Amazon or Netflix in India, do not carry the mandatory anti-tobacco and health warnings.

The increased use of mobile data and smartphones has elevated the popularity of on-demand video streaming service more than ever. According to a report by PwC, India is estimated to be a top 10 global OTT market by 2022 with projected market size of over $803 Mn (INR 5,500 Cr).

The ministry of information and broadcasting recently had planned to roll out certification for online OTT content. The I&B ministry along with the ministry for electronics and information technology (MEITy) had held a meeting with stakeholders to discuss regulating and certifying of online content, and this is where one of the biggest OTT platform Amazon Prime did not sign the petition and urged the other providers to refrain as well.

Further, the Karnataka High Court has also asked the government to speed up the action on online content. The video streaming OTT platforms that are under the radar include Hotstar, Voot, Zee5, Arre, SonyLIV, ALTBalaji, JioTV, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Eros Now and others.

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Banned Books Week at Harvard Law: How censorship leaves us in the dark – Harvard – Harvard Law School News

Posted: October 16, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Credit: Lorin Granger For Banned Books Week, held at HLS from Sept. 23- 26, the HLS Library co-hosted a series of lectures that looked at the broad world of censorship through a number of lenses. Jocelyn Kennedy, executive director of the Harvard Law School Library, introduces keynote speakers for a Sept. 24 talk, Censorship by Fire; Book Burning as an Act of Cultural Violence.

In 1829, David Walker, a writer and abolitionist, published a treatise in Boston, To the Coloured Citizens of the World, But in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America. Walker, the son of an enslaved man and a free black woman, made an appeal for black unity and the abolition of slavery.

Walkers tract, described by its opponents as the diabolical Boston pamphlet, was one of the most radical pieces of abolitionist writing at the time. A censorship campaign waged in the antebellum South to suppress the pamphlet and other abolitionist materials led to arrests, the smashing of presses, attempted censorship of the post office, as well as pressure on the Northern states to control speech at a time when it was believed that discussion would lead to disunity.

The censorship of Walkers treatisethe subject of a Sept. 25 talk by Harvard Law School Professor Randall Kennedywas part of a series of lectures hosted by the Harvard Law School Library at the end of September to commemorate Banned Book Week. This year marks the fourth time the Harvard Law School Library has hosted Banned Books Week, an annual program of exploration and discussion spearheaded by the American Library Association in support of the right to read.

In addition to Professor Kennedys talk, this years lecturesand an accompanying library exhibitexplored how book banning and censorship of knowledge has silenced dissent, wiped out cultural history in a time of war, and kept crucial information and art from the public.

According to Jocelyn Kennedy, executive director of the Harvard Law School Library and a lecturer on law at HLS, Banned Books Week is an opportunity to look at the broad world of censorship through a number of lenses and to showcase the things libraries value: difficult subject matter, deep inquiry, human rights and the way that the entire Harvard Law School community is part of the learning endeavor.

Libraries are champions of free expression and part of our job is to shine the light on the ways that censorship keeps us in the dark, said Kennedy. This is hyper relevant today as news, expression, artreally everything we intellectually consumeis being filtered through some sort of public or private censorship.

On September 23, the series kicked off with a discussion led by Svetlana Mintecheva, director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship. In her talk, Cancel Culture: Can Free Speech in Cultural Institutions Survive the Onslaught of Moral Outrage?, Mintecheva asserted that the cancel culture practice is placing cultural heritage institutions in the position of evaluating their exhibits and collection practices against social will. She warned cultural institutions are succumbing to public pressure to remove art and artists from their walls.

Mintecheva pointed to a 2017 controversy at the Whitney Museum of American Art, involving artist Dana Schutz portrayal of Emmett Till in her work Open Casket, as an example of the impact the current, but certainly not new, cancel culture movement is having on cultural institutions. She discussed the need to have nuanced conversations about the past, to create safe spaces for unsafe ideas, and the importance of preserving difficult art that serves as commentary on past, present and future concerns.

The second talk focused on the violence associated with censorship, particularly in times of war. In a Sept. 24 lecture, Censorship by Fire; Book Burning as an Act of Cultural Violence, Andras Riedlmayer of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvards Fine Arts Library and Radu Popa, assistant dean and director of the NYU Law Library, shared examples of attempts by state actors to control dissenting views and eliminate cultural heritage in times of war. Riedlmayer testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as an expert onthe destruction of cultural heritage during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. He described the deliberate destruction of libraries and other cultural heritage spaces, particularly the targeting and destruction of Bosnias National Library during the shelling of Sarajevo in 1992.

Credit: Lorin Granger Radu Popa (left), assistant dean for Library Services & director of the NYU Law Library, and Andrs Riedlmayer, bibliographer in Islamic Art and Architecture at the Harvard Fine Arts Library, field questions from the audience during their talk Censorship by Fire; Book Burning as an Act of Cultural Violence, one of several Banned Books Week events that took place at Harvard Law School in late September.

Popa, a fiction writer and essayist, focused on dissent under communist leader Nicolae Ceauescu in Romania, where he said his attempts to evade censorship through various literary techniques was like a game of chess. In his talk, Popa discussed his long and often humorous battle with the censors over his fiction work, a challenge he fought until 1985, when he asked for asylum in the United States. Popa eventually became the director of the New York University Law Library.

In addition to the lecture series, the library hosted an exhibit titled Walt Whitman: Banned in Boston. Curated by James Fraser, a current student in the Simmons University Library Science program, the exhibitwhich is on display through Oct. 18 in Areeda Hallshowcases the New England Watch and Ward Societys unsuccessful attempt to censor Whitmans seminal work Leaves of Grass. As was often the case with banned books, the attempted repression caused Whitmans book to gain in popularity, and it sold out on the day of its release. Harvard Law School Library holds part of the records of the Watch and Ward Society, which provided rich historical context for this exhibit.

For Jocelyn Kennedy, the Banned Books Week programming is a reminder that in a just and civil society, communities need to come together to discuss, to share and, most of all, to learn.

That sentiment was echoed in part in Professor Kennedys discussion of Walkers abolitionist treatise. Despite efforts by the Southern states to contain Walkers treatise, the pamphlet, along with other abolitionist pieces, spread far and wide. In the end, said Kennedy, the tide of public opinionrather than the courtsended this particular regime of information suppression.

Free speech is often a catalyst to racial justice, said Kennedy, who called for more, and difficult, conversation about race. Racial justice is the seedbed for civil liberties, he concluded.

Banned Books Week was first launched in the 1980s as a way to bring public awareness to the 1982 Supreme Court decision in Island Trees School District v. Pico, which established that local school boards could not remove books from school libraries solely based on content. Despite the Court ruling, the practice of challenging books continues today.

After the inaugural HLS Banned Books Week in 2016 garnered significant student interest, the library began partnering with student organizations. This years event was co-sponsored by the ACLU at HLS, The Harvard Law School Rule of Law Society, the Law and Philosophy Society, the American Constitution Society, the Harvard Federalist Society, and the Armed Conflict and Civilian Protection Initiative of the International Human Rights Clinic.

Joshua Smith 20 played an important role this year co-curating the event. Working closely with HLS Library staff, Smith helped identify speakers and topics.

In choosing banned book subject matter to highlight, Smith said, the library looked to the past and the present, as well as to international issues. Whenever the time, wherever the place, we saw governments, businesses, civil society, and individuals oppose open inquiry in art and ideas for all sorts of reasonspolitical, racial, religious, aesthetic, historical, moral, ideological, he said. Some censorship entrances, some repulses, all is worth examining, and all, at the very least, should make us pause.

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Aichi Triennale Artist Minouk Lim Speaks Out on Art World Censorship and How the Exhibition Could Be ‘Reborn’ – – ARTnews

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Minouk Lim.


Minouk Lim is a Seoul-based artist whose multimedia work looks at the various ways people can be marginalized, particularly by systems of government and various forms of mass media. Her work has been included in numerous international exhibitions, including the 2019 Biennale de Lyon, the 2016 Taipei Biennale, the 2016 Sydney Biennale, and the 2014 Gwangju Biennale.

Most recently, Lims work was included in the Aichi Triennale, which closed on Monday, October 14. The show has been the subject of controversy since it opened in August, when organizers decided to close an exhibition within the exhibition, titled After Freedom of Expression? That part of the Aichi Triennale looked at Japans history of censorship, and was shuttered citing threats against the exhibition and its staff. Among the most controversial works was Statue of a Girl of Peace by Korean artist-duo Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung. That piece depicts ianfu, or comfort women who were drawn from throughout Asia and forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army.(It is still a controversial topic in Japan.)

Lim was among the artists who signed an open letter calling for the removal of her work in the exhibition, a new piece titled Adieu News, in a stand of solidarity with the censored artists. ARTnews asked Lim about her work in the exhibition and the controversy surrounding the entire Triennale.

ARTnews: What was your initial impression of the After Freedom of Expression? exhibition?

Minouk Lim: I found the implied message behind the After Freedom of Expression? exhibition deeply meaningful because Daisuke Tsuda, the Artistic Director [of the Aichi Triennale], comes from a journalistic background and has regrouped the works that have already been censored. Aside from works by Korean artists, including the Statue of a Girl of Peace, the exhibition actually included works by Japanese artists reflecting more direct criticisms [of censorship in Japan].

Another point that should not be overlooked is that the Aichi Triennale tried to balance the gender ratio of participating artists. The exhibition was not a display of political art as the Japanese right-wing party criticized, but instead showed how politics shook and hijacked the art. Rather, it was an event that exposed another side of the reality of Japan that we must continue to face.

AN: Did you anticipate that there might be backlash?

ML: I already anticipated that there would be backlash, as hate speech [has been] an important source of political power in Japan for a long time. However, I did not expect that the Mayor of Nagoya would demand the [exhibitions] withdrawal directly and the Agency for Cultural Affairs would respond back to the artists by cutting subsidy as punishment. This result both surprised and disappointed me.

Installation view of Minouk Lims Adieu News, 2019, at the 2019 Aichi Triennale.


AN: You were part of the group of 72 artists who said that the Aichi Triennales decision to remove the section of the show was not appropriate. What motivated you to sign the letter?

ML: I decided to close my exhibition space and sent my statement before we issued another statement with 72 artists signatures. It was on August 3 when the Triennale decided to shut down the After Freedom of Expression? exhibition. I sent an email to Daisuke Tsuda and Shihoko lida [Chief Curator of the Triennale], informing them that I would withdraw my works. They only reiterated to the press that they had to close the exhibition due to the threat of terrorism. However, I insisted that it is more dangerous to weave freedom of expression into a safety issue. I felt ashamed of the decision to take down the show. Thankfully though, many of the participating artists and Japanese colleagues expressed their support. They drew 72 signatures after deep agony and vigorous debate. Of course, I also signed it in solidarity. Moreover, 11 artists out of the total 72 artists took action by boycotting their works, including myself.

AN: Can you talk about your work in the exhibition? Does it also look at the complicated histories between Japan and Korea?

ML: For the exhibition, I presented a new scenographic space through a new body of work called Adieu News (2019), which includes a two-channel video of a newly-edited [version of] The Possibility of the Half (2012), as well as an installation featuring fake-traditional Korean dresses, Hanbok. By juxtaposing two funerals of the former supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il, and that of the former President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee, the work shows how the media-driven emotions create a community and how it resembles an incomplete ruin. If the former Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshida Shigeru, argued that the Korean War was a gift from God to the Japanese, both funerals are activated as an impetus behind the Nationalism and division of the two Koreas.

AN: Does the controversy at the Aichi Triennale speak to larger issues going on in the world?

ML: The censorship issue of the Aichi Triennale is a problem for the art world as a whole. South Korea is a divided nation, and artists think that they all live by self-censorship. There still exists great risk in revealing certain truths throughout the world, which questions whether information should be censored. Personally, I feel the answer is not to suppress the freedom of expression. Art and freedom of expression are a struggle against the oppression of all kinds. There is vulnerability in truth, which is why we must protect it. Japanese intellectuals denounced the Aichi Triennial as the worst case of censorship in the countrys history.

I do not want to lose hope and feel strongly that Aichi can be reborn as a symbol of expressive and creative freedom. I felt such a strong sense of solidarity and connection with the 11 participating artists, includingJapanese artists, who chose to withdraw their works in protest. I hope that this experience will not promote fear, but rather breed strength and security in anyones ability to effect change. This act of protest is not about Nationalism, or about being a Japanese artist or a Korean artist, but about the inherent right to find freedom in the act of creation.

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Aichi Triennale Artist Minouk Lim Speaks Out on Art World Censorship and How the Exhibition Could Be 'Reborn' - - ARTnews

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