Wednesday, 10 October 2018
Wednesday, 3 October 2018
Sunday, 29 July 2018
Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a Switzerland-based data expert who was one of the witnesses called to give evidence, has fought for years to force Facebook to face up to its legal obligations. He called the report a damning and “comprehensive critique” of all social media companies, but particularly of Facebook. “It looks like the cops are finally arriving.”
The report sets out in great detail what is known about fake news, data targeting, Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and Russian interference, and issues a set of demands that includes new regulation, legislation, codes of ethics and police investigations. It calls for “algorithmic auditing”: for the heavily guarded secrets of the tech companies’ “black boxes” to be smashed open. And for a digital version of Ofcom that would make companies legally liable for harmful or illegal content.
‘Plucky little panel’ that found the truth about fake news, Facebook and Brexit https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/28/dcms-committee-report-finds-truth-fake-news-facebook-brexit?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Thursday, 19 July 2018
Friday, 22 June 2018
Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Sunday, 10 June 2018
Saturday, 9 June 2018
Friday, 25 May 2018
This is perhaps a unique example...
Katie Hopkins, whose writing has sparked high profile complaints, 'won' with her complaint against the Mirror.
It's pithy apology has gone viral though, noting they were wrong to link her with drug abuse ... when it was racist abuse instead!!
The UK (Tory) government backtracked on pledges to get tough with the junk food industry, letting the industry instead come up with limited self regulation. Sounds familiar...
This is a lengthy report on moves toward a class action lawsuit against manipulation of children through marketing based on neuroscientific research. The ad industry regulator (limited power...) states it annually reviews advertising to children.
Food firms could face litigation over neuromarketing to hijack brains https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/may/25/food-firms-may-face-litigation-over-neuromarketing-to-hijack-brains?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Pussycat Dolls sue Daily Mail owner over 'prostitution ring' story https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/may/23/pussycat-dolls-sue-daily-mail-over-prostitution-ring-story-kaya-jones?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
This on the same day they paid out, and removed a story (BUT note that they did not accept liability in doing so)
Daily Mail to pay Kate Maltby £11,000 costs over negative article
Monday, 14 May 2018
- offering a low cost (max charge £100), quick arbitration scheme as an alternative to (expensive) law courts
- more than just ruling on whether a Code clause has been breached...
- ...damages of up to £60k could be paid out (closest we've come to fines)
- this was to undermine MPs support for (1) carrying out Leveson2, the 2nd half of his investigation (as agreed and announced by PM Cameron back in 2011 - to alleviate the huge pressure to act on press behaviour), and ...
- (2) the Tom Watson proposal to make law Leveson's report proposal that any papers NOT signed up to a royal charter-recognised regulator (ie, Impress; IPSO refuses to engage with this, as do the papers not in IPSO) would face large (the legal term is 'exemplary' = making an example of) damages payments AND would have to pay complainants fees win or lose!!!
- it succeeded ... but only after the Culture Secretary announced that Parliament would review IPSO's arbitration every 3 years (see below for more)
- that will create a little bit of statutory regulation!
- moreover, surely if MPs declare themselves unhappy with how IPSO are running the scheme they'll then look at the wider system of regulation?
- So: under huge pressure from backbench bills/amendments seeking to bring in Leveson 2 AND serious financial penalties for royal charter refuseniks, IPSO rushed out a proposal to offer an alternative to sueing with possible damages + a £100 costs cap; MPs clearly didn't trust IPSO/press industry, so it took a government pledge to make a 3-yearly review of this arbitration scheme a legal requirement (statutory) for the Watson + Leveson2 proposals to be rejected
Here's more from the Press Gazette on the extraordinary steps the government took, hand in hand with a press industry MPs clearly didn't trust to stick to their word, to convince MPs to back down from voting through the Watson (royal charter refuseniks penalties) + Leveson2 bills/amendments:
Privacy laws can be used by the rich + powerful to maintain secrecy over actions that may well be in the public interest to expose (though the red top approach that whatever the public is interested in is automatically in the public interest has commercial but not legal or ethical logic, and is clearly rejected by the Editors' Code, which limits the public interest defence to a few of its clauses).
Superinjunctions, to avoid even reporting on legal cases, such as that used by footballers Ryan Giggs and David Beckham (both rendered meaningless by widespread social media sharing) to try to hide news of affairs they have had, and in the Trafigura case to try and prevent The Guardian from reporting on pollution and the devestating social and health impact of this, are one level of this.
The most famous recent case, Max Moseley being reported as engaging in a Nazi-themed 'sex party' with escorts, with the Murdoch tabloids offering up free undercover video footage, was to found to lack any public interest in the courts - where the powerful are most likely to go, rather than PCC or IPSO. Injunctions seek to stop reporting before it happens (or the further repeating of already reported stories), the PCC/IPSO focus on POST-publication scrutiny (does an article breach the Editors' Code?).
Moseley's case is very well known, but he won damages at the high court for the breach of privacy. His position as a leader of autosports did not make his private antics a democratic issue! The reportage was simply to sell papers, not to make any meaningful contribution to public discourse.
The courts, especially with Tory government slashing of legal aid, are only really an option for the rich, however. The 2018 case of the Finsbury Park mosque leader who went to the courts AFTER going through the IPSO complaints process, and won £30,000 damages (libel, not privacy case) again indicates a higher level of protection available to those able to afford expensive legal fees.
****The newly announced IPSO arbitration scheme, which includes possible damages payments up to £60,000 and a capped complainant cost of just £100, is at the very least an attempt to address such concerns. See post.****
Moseley continues to get his revenge by funding Hacked Off and Impress.
The issue does often overlap with clauses on protecting children, notably the Toploader guitarist/celebrity wife case (Express, which had left the PCC...). Clause 6 is intended to specifically protect children's right to privacy, and IPSO's 1st ever case, raised as a 3rd part complaint by an MP (Sarah Wollaston) on the 'devil child' story (see http://mediareg.blogspot.lu/2017/05/ipso-children-rulings.html).
We have seen the rich and powerful protected by IPSO, as in the Harry on the beach case:
BUT - IPSO have also backed a member of the public in a case which led to calls for changes in the writing of the privacy and children's clauses (see Press Gazette article; IPSO said this was not necessary), to state that social media accounts should not be assumed to be public (their ruling here):
from IPSO's website, accurate on 14.5.18):
Thursday, 10 May 2018
There are 2 key points from this:
It's a great example of Chomskian flak AND anti-left-wing (anti-communism when the Manufacturing Consent book was originally published)
The legal case was taken up only after IPSO had ruled on the complaint. The IPSO response was deemed unsatisfactory.
Sunday Telegraph pays damages to mosque chief over Corbyn article https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/may/09/sunday-telegraph-pays-substantial-damages-to-london-mosque-chief?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Tuesday, 1 May 2018
An excellent video guide to the extraordinary story of how the US Catholic church gained control over US cinema content. They were able to block any item from scripts or costume design deemed morally unacceptable. Any studio (in the 1930s a big five controlled production and cinema through to a 1948 Supreme Court antitrust ruling) who dared defy the papal censor's pen and get a C rating (A for Acceptable, B for some morally dubious content, C for Condemned) faced a mass boycott. Millions of Catholics swore an oath not to view any C movies upon pain of losing their immortal soul!!!!
The short film asks WHY WOULD HOLLYWOOD ACCEPT THIS?!?!
The answer is the same reasons why the UK film industry set up the BBFC a century ago:
- fear of national governmental regulation
- trying to sidestep the many LOCAL censorship codes that were making distribution complex and expensive
The early years of UK TV regulation saw a similar level of pre-broadcast censorship, with shows details scrutinised before filming, and schedules also subject to tight control by the regulator.
The press ditched such controls several centuries ago!
Monday, 30 April 2018
I've read about this story, a UK journalist secretly labelled a left-wing extremist by police + barred from attending major events to do his job, on various alternative news sites. It's somewhat reassuring to see it covered in the Grauniad too.
By taking legal action against the police, who refuse to detail or justify their decision and whose allegedly arbitrary profiling may be illegal, the wider institutional ideology of anti-left-wing (reflecting 1 of the propoganda model's 5 filters), linking police and secret services and seen in employment blacklists and actions such as the extraordinary demand that The Guardian physically destroy computers used for reporting the Edward Snowden leaks, may be exposed to unexpected scrutiny. If reported by the rest of the press and mainstream media that is, as opposed to firing flak at the journalist who has brought the case, seeking to undermine his reputation and image.
A free press? I’m a UK journalist, but the police labelled me an extremist https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/30/free-press-uk-journalist-police-extremist-legal-action?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Sunday, 29 April 2018
This is another example of why a narrow focus on content alone is clearly not capable of producing effective newspaper regulation.
Wider law, the Competition and Mergers Authority, might step in, but a lack of competition in newspaper distribution and the poor quality service, with delivery times by freelance drivers making customer delivery difficult, is leading to some newsagents to just give up.
Newsagents are suffering in a sorry game of monopoly https://www.theguardian.com/media/media-blog/2018/apr/22/newspaper-wholesaler-delivery-corner-shop-closures?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Friday, 27 April 2018
$69m IP/star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence (based on hit novel optioned + adapted by Fox).
The BBFC judged the original cut an 18, but advised on a specific cut (to a garroting scene) to get a 15.
The marketing for the film caused another controversy over JL's low cut dress. (IndieWire)
IMDB Parents Guide. Note the 12 rating in France.
MelonFarmers (be aware of dubious links on this site)
Reviews: Guardian (Observer); Ebert; TheAtlantic;
Perhaps surprisingly, The Daily Mail didn't manage to get outraged by the movie:
Wednesday, 25 April 2018
Monday, 23 April 2018
Another front opens up on the growing backlash against the American social media behemoths...
The electioneering and data gathering scandal, EU data privacy laws (GDPR), the UK government apparently seeking tougher child protection, the press campaign to have Facebook (and Google) treated like publishers with the regulations that brings and to pay for their content...
Now comes an attack on their revenues, a defamation case brought by a businessman whose name was used in fake ads despite his attempts to get Facebook to take them down. The ad regulator, ASA, has no real sway here, it is once again Facebook self-regulating itself as it sees fit. There is a clear parallel with the recent Google scandal over its placing of racist, extreme right-wing ads.
The pressure grows to act on GAFA's protected status as American companies (the US safe haven laws) not governed by national regulation (never mind taxation!) in the many territories it operates in.
Martin Lewis sues Facebook over fake ads with his name https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/22/martin-lewis-sues-facebook-over-fake-ads-with-his-name?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Sunday, 22 April 2018
Coming from the party that never objected over the topless page 3 pics in the non-age restricted tabloids (Sun, Star, Mirror, and formerly Sport; a social media campaign successfully harassed Murdoch into ditching it from the sun); is tough on ... calls for tough press regulation and refused to hold Leveson2; historically allowed cable and satellite TV channels to enjoy minimal content regulation (and accepted Murdoch's claims for Sky as a Luxembourg-centred operation thus beyond even much of that minimal restriction) leading to the likes of L!ve TV's Topless Darts On Ice, a degree of scepticism may be exercised over former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pushed out as his extraordinary links with Murdoch were exposed while he was in position to rule on his BSkyB bid - which only failed after the NoTW phone hacking scandal hit...
Now an extremely unpopular Health Secretary he has suggested that social media need tougher regulation to safeguard children from excessive screen time, cyber bullying, psychological distress from body shaming content, etc. He says their age rating and restriction systems are inadequate, which few would argue with.
It would be somewhat surprising for such a laissez-faire free market party to bring in legislation (statutory regulation) rather than seek a voluntary code, but then this is the party of music video age ratings (voluntary) and the 1980s broadcast ban, blocking the voice of 'terrorist sympathisers' (including MPs from Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland), plus the scrapping of the IBA and replacing with the ITC when the commercial (non-BBC) regulator refused Thatcher's demand to ban the Death on the Rock documentary which exposed state-sanctioned murder (coincidentally, the only ITV company to lose its franchise in the ITC auction system was Thames TV, producer of the doc)...
Governments from both major UK parties have shown a willingness to go beyond democratic norms in restricting the 'free press' (in the wider sense of media). Blair's Labour eviscerated the BBC for its coverage of Blair's 'dodgy dossier' used to justify the invasion of Iraq, and Blair oversaw a Communications Act that included what was generally referred to as the Murdoch Clause (deregulation of restrictions of ownership of TV companies).
With the Brexit shambles, funding crisis across government, notably health, the Windrush scandal and the PM's role in this, a spot of Daily Mail-friendly pro-censorship, traditional values campaigning is a good strategic move.
Given the habit of the press to breach it's Editors' Code guidelines on children (and the rest), it is curious that this sudden interest in social media isn't reflected in a similar interest in print media. That wouldn't be so Daily Mail-friendly.
Whatever the motivation, this is a sign of the pressure building to enhance the currently lax, minimal regulation of the social media giants, a disparity that is arguably unfair to the film distributors, press publishers and broadcast companies that all labour under more restrictive regulation and/or the economic challenges of the digital disruptors not just sucking up their advertising revenue but also profiting from their content with very low levels of compensation for this.
Safeguards for social media ‘inadequate’, says Jeremy Hunt https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/22/jeremy-hunt-social-media-firms-failing-safeguard-children-online?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Saturday, 14 April 2018
28 and 7 years ago, with the 8-year Gulf War 2 starting in between 15 years ago, we got classic case studies of the propaganda model in full effect. From the neutral-by-law BBC to the 'centre-left' Guardian in the UK, and across the US media (and every one of Murdoch's huge global empire of newspapers) government military action in the middle east, launched without UN legal approval, received supportive coverage. Huge public anti-war demonstrations received minimal mainstream coverage.
Chomsky himself has spoken at length on how the (then threatened) attack against Syria fitted his model (easy enough to find from a simple search). The alternative news media paints a very different picture from the mainstream, mass media of the UK, US, French and Israeli bombings.
Here's two contrasting examples, one unpicking the rhetoric of coverage in major US and UK media, the other a piece from The Guardian, whose centre-left readership will be broadly hostile to military action abroad (but seen as persuadable if it's for 'humanitarian' causes), and certainly hostile to the Tory PM who is uncritically quoted at length (source strategies) until the end of the lengthy article when Corbyn's objections are mentioned.
'No alternative': Theresa May sends British jets to join air strikes on Syria https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/14/theresa-may-britain-air-strikes-syria-chemical-weapons-raf?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Sunday, 8 April 2018
|From Zelo-Street blog|
|From Letts' own Twitter feed|
Monday, 26 March 2018
UPDATE: MURDOCH'S FOX RAIDED BY EU ANTI-TRUST AUTHORITY OVER SPORTS RIGHTS
The Murdoch press enjoys a dominant market position in the UK with no hint of any regulatory action (unless left-wing Labour leader wins the next election) from government or the self-'regulator' IPSO. Yet his corporation's handling of sport rights once more sees clear evidence of the tough regulatory environment for broadcast media compared to 'print' media.
Guardian: 21st Century Fox's London office raided in market abuse inquiry.
The argument goes like this. Data is as vital to the modern digital economy as oil was a century ago. The tech giants have the same sort of monopoly power that Standard Oil once had (Google and Facebook accounted for two-thirds of online advertising spending in the US last year and Amazon was responsible for 75% of online book sales). Mark Zuckerberg might wear chinos rather than the top hat sported by Rockefeller but a robber baron is a robber baron. It is time for anti-trust legislation to be used to break up Facebook, Google and Amazon.
The charge sheet is a long one: the tech giants are exploiting their monopoly power to stifle competition; they are spreading fake news; their fantastically rich owners portray themselves as right-on yet go to a great deal of trouble to minimise their corporate tax bills; they are ripping the heart out of communities through the closure of bricks-and-mortar retailers. To the list can now be added (in Facebook’s case) the harvesting of the personal data of 50 million Americans and its use for political purposes.
No question, Big Tech is more vulnerable to a backlash from Washington than it has ever been. Companies have outgrown management systems that were not designed for systemically important businesses and have used their market power to gobble up rivals. It is this charge – that the disruptive startup companies of yesteryear are today’s anti-capitalists – that creates the biggest risk of anti-trust action.
Thursday, 22 March 2018
Interesting to see if anything happens over this. A 'confession' of criminal activity is now in the public domain, though The Times' last statement on this illegal 'blagging' of Brown's financial details, from 2011, denies culpability.
Leveson2 might have unpicked and exposed systematic, anti-democratic abuse of power like this, but has been blocked by a government supported by Murdoch's papers.
The parties are different, but the interference in the democratic process has parallels to the Sun's destruction of Culture (then 'Heritage') Secretary David Mellor's career by publishing a classic 'sex scandal' that forced his resignation and killed his career.
Mellor's' crime'? He infamously pronounced the press was "drinking in the last chance saloon" - but after his sacking his Tory government refused to engage with Lord Calcutt's review (recommending statutory regulation). A familiar story.
Gordon Brown calls for police inquiry into Sunday Times story https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/mar/22/gordon-brown-calls-for-police-inquiry-into-sunday-times-story?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Wednesday, 21 March 2018
There are tight legal limits to tobacco advertising (ditto alcohol) in the UK, but influence is greatest when audiences consume media texts they don't consider advertising.
A new content analysis study of smoking representations in the most popular US network and Netflix shows highlights the continued glamourisation of smoking through TV and film, with other studies pointing the finger at Disney and Fox for smoking scenes in a high proportion of PG-13 releases.
Should the BBFC (and MPAA) act on this to enforce restrictions?
Stub it out: Netflix criticised for too many smoking scenes https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/mar/20/netflix-criticised-for-too-many-smoking-scenes?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Wednesday, 14 March 2018
See also. Russian voices in western media leave regulators with new type of headache
This could be seen as undermining OfCom's notional separation or independence from government, though as a quango that's only quasi-autonomous.
Reports claim the news channel Russia Today could lose its license not because of breaking any content regulation but because of politics and foreign relations. If the UK government of Tory PM May pushes for sanctions against Russia for its alleged poisoning attack on British soil then the Russian state links to RT will mean its license is expunged (removed).
OfCom has taken this before with an Iran-spinsored, sorry, sponsored, channel - but that was over multiple content regulation breaches, not directly because of the link to Iran.
The RT story comes at a time when US president Trump has attacked RT as state propoganda, though then again he uses 'mainstream media' as a term of abuse and lumps just about all US domestic news outlets into his beloved 'fake news' category. Fox News and a few far-right outlets get a pass. Is this the 'special relationship' with the UK showing itself?
Labour, the more left-wing UK opposition party, has also joined in the attack, suggesting it's MPs should not appear on RT.
I wonder if Facebook (and Twitter) will effectively enforce any ban? I'd argue that this is how RT is most widely consumed, as video clips posted by mostly leftist Facebook groups and campaigners, such as the former (expelled) Labour MP George Galloway. HOW would that work?
Then there's the very simple technology of VPN, making your IP appear as from another country, which could get round any UK ban. With major channels such as BBC3 now online only there is clearly industry recognition of the online migration of viewing habits; 'time-shifting' is becoming the norm in the Netflix, iPlayer era.
Russian broadcaster RT could be forced off UK airwaves https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/mar/13/russian-broadcaster-rt-hits-back-at-threat-to-uk-licence?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Blogger
Friday, 9 March 2018
|The online challenge to mass media consensus|
When I and others accuse the British media of systematic and consistent bias in favour of corporate power, and point out that the media is structurally part of that system of corporate power, we typically receive emails from readers arguing that not all parts of the media are subject to such pressures. Britain, we are told, is privileged to have two “liberal” media outlets, the BBC and Guardian, that are seen either as neutral or as a leftwing counterbalance to the rightwing agenda of the rest of the media.
Occasionally, it is also claimed that Britain’s media regulator, Ofcom, is there to prevent bias, ensuring that minimum standards of objectivity are maintained in news coverage.