Chinese propaganda paper’s new headquarters looks a bit like, well, er…


Chinese censors have been working overtime on social network Weibo after users noticed that the new headquarters of state propaganda sheet the People’s Daily News (see pic) looked, er, a bit phallic.

According to the South China Morning Morning Post, Weibo searches for “People’s Daily” and “building” appear to show that the terms have been blocked.

“It seems the People’s Daily is going to rise up, there’s hope for the Chinese dream,” quipped one Weibo user.

Padraig Reidy is senior writer for Index on Censorship. @mePadraigReidy


Why California’s Suggested 100 Word Privacy Policy is the Best Worst Idea

A guest post by Janelle Pierce who enjoys writing about various business issues, and spends her time answering questions like, “what is point of sale”?


Just last month California’s Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Alhambra) introduced a bill that would require the website privacy policy of any company located in California to be no more than 100 words long, and written at the reading level of an 8th grade student.

While Chau’s practice what you preach 64-word bill has garnered a lot of negative press lately, one thing is for certain; it has gotten people talking about something most people don’t talk about, the privacy policy. For those who don’t know what a privacy policy is, it’s simply the legal document that every website must have. According to a privacy policy is:

“A statement or a legal document (privacy law) that discloses some or all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses and manages a customer or client’s data. Personal information can be anything that can be used to identify an individual, not limited to but including; name, address, date of birth, marital status, contact information, ID issue and expiry date, financial records, credit information, medical history, where you travel, and intentions to acquire goods and services.”

Whenever you register a username on a website, whether for free e-mail, picture sharing, or social networking, you must agree to the site’s established privacy policy. Generally speaking most users simply click “accept” without ever reading, much less understanding, what is written in the privacy policy. This is often because site privacy policies are long, written in confusing legalese, and often overshadowed by the false assumption that a site with a privacy policy will keep your data private. While I do agree that ultimately the responsibility for reading and understanding the privacy policy lies with the users of a site, the same can be said about those who write and present the policy.

Which brings me to the point I’d like to make, that is, I think Chau’s idea to force privacy policies to a maximum of 100 words, and require that they’re written at an eighth grade reading level, is a good one. However, I do feel it has a few drawbacks that almost invalidate its ability to be credible. First, requiring that a legal document be 100 words or less is a little short sighted. Don’t get me wrong, I think the thought behind making this otherwise lengthy, unreadable, and downright obnoxious (yet important) document accessible to everyone is a great goal, but requiring 100 words or less doesn’t offer a company the chance to disclose everything they need to disclose. I think a maximum word count should be required, but there is no reason it needs to be so low.

Second, I think requiring an 8th grade reading level is an excellent idea. Too often these policies are chalked full of legal words and phrases that even college educated users cannot make sense of. That being said, I think Chau’s attempt at “rewriting” the privacy policy is a good one, albeit a little short sighted. Like many things in life that we’ve put up with for too long the privacy policy is definitely in need of an overhaul. However, trying to shore up its lacking all at once and in such an aggressive manner may not be the right approach. There’s no doubt that something needs to be done about the state of the average privacy policy, but rushing headlong into it so aggressively tends to alienate people who would otherwise be supporters of Chau’s intention.

For help creating a privacy policy you can contact a business lawyer or simply use an online privacy policy generator.

Do you read privacy policies or simply click “accept”? Share your thoughts below.

The Privacy Podcast

Law Article: Mary Leary: Katz on a Hot Tin Roof

Mary Leary, an associate professor at the Catholic University law school, has published a draft of her forthcoming law review article, “Katz on a Hot Tin Roof – Saving the Fourth Amendment from Commercial Conditioning by Reviving Voluntariness in Disclosures to Third Parties,” concerning individuals’ privacy rights. Here’s the abstract: In a world in which Americans [...]
Privacy Lives

TV Show Mad Men faces potentially mad IP battle over photos and likeness rights

When using photographs or images in a commercial context, getting an IP lawyer to assess the copyright situation is an obvious move. However, as the producers of hit TV show ‘Mad Men’ recently discovered, it may not be enough.  You may also be well advised to check whether there would be problems in using the identities of any persons featured in the image or photo being used.

Mad Men, an American drama set in 1960s New York, follows the lives of protagonist Don Draper, and his team of high powered advertising executives, whilst simultaneously reflecting the darker sides of the American dream. The show has won numerous awards, including 7 Emmys, and famously counts Barack Obama as a fan.

However, for Lionsgate Entertainment executives, the dream recently turned slightly sour, as it emerged that Gita Hall May, a former actress and glamour model, was suing the show for using her image in the opening credits, without her consent. The image appears 11 seconds into the credit sequence, for a period of 2 seconds, and shows Gita’s face on the advertising board of an animated Madison Avenue skyscraper.

Although Gita had no claim over the copyright, she objected to her image (ie face and likeness) being exploited without her consent. The original photograph was taken by Richard Avendon for a Revlon hairspray advertisement. Gita May argues that she only consented to the use of her photographic likeness in that particular advert.

Ms. May, originally from Sweden, was allegedly surprised and angry to discover that, over 40 years later, her image had been “cropped from the photo, in secret, and inserted as a key element in the title sequence of a cable television series, without her consent and for commercial purposes.”  Her legal team is demanding compensation, based on the value the image has contributed to Madmen’s revenue and profits. Clearly this will be a complicated calculation. But considering the show has now run for 6 seasons, spanning 70 episodes, across worldwide territories, any final figure may be lucrative for Gita May.

Likeness Rights

In the UK the laws governing consent to use of images or photographs are less strict.  However, the US rules allow for individuals, whether famous or otherwise, “to protect against the misappropriation of their likeness”, so that individuals can object to non-consensual use of their identities.

There is a still a slight caveat — likeness rights do not apply to all images featuring individuals, even if used in a commercial context. To qualify, the images must be used to represent an idea, product, service or thing. Thus in the present IP case, Ms. May asserts her rights over the image by arguing that its use in the Mad Men trailer is integral to demonstrating the authentic ‘feel’ of the show.

To expand this concept further, if for example, a photo was taken of an individual, and then used to promote a specific political party which the person did not want to be associated with, they could refuse to allow their likeness to be deployed in this way. Therefore, businesses should always be wary when using images to promote their interests, for example through product advertisements.

In the case of Mad Men, Ms. May only realised her image was being used, and consequently launched her IP claim, 5 years after the show was originally aired. This demonstrates how such claims can crop up at unexpected and potentially awkward times for businesses.

Lionsgate will undoubtedly feel frustrated that the issue has only emerged recently, when the financial stakes are much higher than say, in 2007, when the original pilot episode was aired. The moral of this story, is one can never be too careful when it comes to clearing IP rights.

The post TV Show Mad Men faces potentially mad IP battle over photos and likeness rights appeared first on Azrights-IP-Brands-blog-from-the-team-at-Azrights-Intellectual-Property-and-Technology-Solicitors.


British embassy in Bahrain gets World Press Freedom Day wrong

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office marked today’s World Press Freedom Day with the launch of their “Shine a light” campaign. According to the FCO, “‘Shine a light’ aims to highlight repression of the media across the world through personal testimonies. Journalists and activists from around the world will be tell their stories of harassment and other restrictions on press freedom as guest bloggers.”

The FCO’s World Press Freedom Day blog contains some impressive posts on press freedom in Zimbabwe, Vietnam and other countries.

Unfortunately, the British Embassy in Bahrain seems to have gone somewhat off message. They tweeted earlier:

The link leads to two articles: one by Anwar Abdulrahman, of the pro-Bahraini regime Akhbar Al Khaleej and its sister paper Gulf Daily News, and one bylined “Citizens for Bahrain“, apparently a pro-government astroturfing exercise.

The pieces themselves are quite something: Abdulrahman is worth quoting at length:

From my desk as Editor-in-Chief, I believe that freedom should be based on humanness, righteousness and debate, not anarchy and terror. For in this era of open skies and the Internet, to misuse freedom is easy. Any story can be fabricated, any person or government defamed at the touch of a computer screen.

Another thought…as much as beasts cannot be left to roam freely, so in human society the feral element’s freedom should be under control.

That’s the Bahraini opposition, many of whom have been locked up for exercising their right to free expression, he’s referring to as the “feral element”.

Citizens for Bahrain, meanwhile, inform us:

It is time to practice this freedom in a suitable manner and not to abuse it. Freedom of the press is certainly a right, but it must be used with care and wisdom. When used such a manner it can be influential in developing and enlightening society, making this society more resilient both in times of trouble and times of peace.

In conclusion, we say this: Express your views openly and honestly; but put your country before your personal interests.

That is to say, “shut up”.

Why the embassy chooses to mark World Press Freedom Day by publishing two articles in support of censorship, and a regime that imprisons protesters, including Index award winner Nabeel Rajab, is a mystery.

Update: The embassy has moved to distance itself from the views expressed in the blog posts.

Padraig Reidy is senior writer for Index on Censorship. @mePadraigReidy



Wrong decision: “Coffey favored footing a paving campaign with a million bond.”

Smells like a “kick back” to Diaper Dan to us….

Right decision:  “Benedetti told Coffey another legislator can’t control what information she receives. “I can ask for the information I want!”


“The whole point of the conversation was, if I ask for something as a legislator, I should be able to get that information.”

Great point Mrs. Benedetti.

Question to our readers: Who works for Mayor Gahan? 

Answer: Dan Coffey and  Street Department Commissioner Mickey Thompson.

Freedom Of Speech would like to say: Bravo Mrs. Benedetti! 

How about next time asking Diaper Dan who made him Deputy Mayor? 

Footnote: Source: The Gahan – News & Tribune


Media freedom and social media – Pacific trends on Press Freedom Day

A LEADING Australian journalism law professor and freedom of the press
advocate will give New Zealand’s inaugural UNESCO World Press Freedom Day lecture at AUT University today.

Dr Mark Pearson, professor of journalism and social media at Griffith
University near Brisbane, will be speaking on the theme “Press freedom,
social media and the citizen”, at the university on May 3, observed

Café Pacific – David Robie | Media freedom and transparency

If Monopoly Means 6 Choices, Bring It On!

Progressives like Susan Crawford love to play fast and loose with the term monopoly, especially as it pertains to the provision of broadband service here in America.   As she and others of similar mind see it, America is a nation of Internet service monopolies, dominated by cable companies.

What utter nonsense.

Regardless of how loud they yell their “truth” on all the NPR shows they can appear on, no such monopoly of the broadband market exists.  In fact, most data show exactly the opposite – that is, that we have a fiercely competitive broadband marketplace, which changes (for the better) almost daily.

Heck, even the most aggressively anti-Bell regulator – the DoJ – has admitted that there are at least four “national” broadband providers when they sunk the AT&T / T-Mobile merger a year-and-a-half- ago.  The broadband market has only gotten more competitive since.

And what of the ostensible dominance of the domineering cable companies?  Well, all the action of late is in mobile broadband, not fixed broadband. The latest FCC statistics reveal that “the number of mobile Internet subscriptions grew to 142 million, up 46% from December 2010.” In contrast to this, “the number of fixed-location connections increased by only 4% year-over-year, to 88 million.”  If cable, which is a fixed line, was so “dominant,” why aren’t consumers “choosing” it with the same or greater gusto as mobile broadband?

I could stop there, but I won’t.

Late last year in a little noted filing to the FCC, the U.S. Telecom Association hinted that the idea of the monopoly-provided communications provider – the so-called “dominant” incumbent – has truly become a vestige of the past.  In its view, the 19th Century regulations designed to ensure that dominant players didn’t use their natural advantages to harm the marketplace no longer serve consumers and should be eliminated.


Because “traditional” phone companies are no longer just “voice” companies anymore.  They’re dead or dying.  Nearly 40% (and growing) of America has cut that cord and has opted instead for mobile broadband or other Internet services to meet their diverse communications needs.  Today, incumbents face such stiff competition from facilities-based and non-facilities-based competitors that regulating incumbents like it was 1934 only punishes their investment, harming consumers by needlessly distorting the marketplace.

Importantly, the upshot of this is that no one is dominant.  No one has control.  The ability to bend a market to one’s liking is virtually impossible. For voice and for Internet services.  Incumbents are just one player among many in each market, offering their services to hungry consumers in the crowded, converged communications marketplace.

It’s easy to see how one could draw this conclusion.  Recent government and industry data show:

  • There are 1,681 U.S. broadband providers;
  • 99% of the U.S. can access at least one wireless broadband provider;
  • 96% of the U.S. has access to at least one wired broadband provider;
  • 88% of the U.S. has access to at least four mobile broadband providers;
  • 87% of the U.S. can choose between at least two wired providers; and
  • To access broadband, Americans can choose between an array of connection technologies, such as DSL, cable-coaxial, fiber, 3G and 4G mobile broadband, broadband over powerline, WISPs, satellite and Wi-Fi offload (not to mention what’s coming down the pike).

Contrary to the stagnation one would think would be evident in monopolistic markets, the U.S. broadband marketplace proliferates.  It continues to bring higher average and peak broadband speeds, new ways to connect to those speeds, more broadband availability to more people, increased service options and offerings, and overall better dollar value to U.S. broadband consumers with each new year.

Further, the broadband ecosystem continues on its explosive upward trajectory, too, with new content, software, applications, services and hardware developments emerging from the industry seemingly on a hourly basis, goaded in no small measure by America’s world-class broadband infrastructure (which, by the way, is even better than that of the progressive’s Big Government paradigm, Sweden).

Remember those good ole, true monopoly days?  I do.  Susan Crawford should, too.  Growing up we had a single “kids” phone lodged on a chest between all of our bedrooms – a state-regulated, yellow princess model.  We went head over heals because it was touchtone instead of rotary dialing…and it had call waiting (oooh, ahhh!).

What luxuries!

Now, I have a smartphone / mobile computer.  So does my wife.  And the kids will get their own soon enough.   If America opens NASA again, we’d probably be able to launch one of their spacecraft with our smartphones (really).

In a “nation of monopolies,” princess phones and call waiting is about as good as it gets.

Contrary to the fallacious assertions of some, in just about any U.S. market, broadband consumers have six different broadband choices from which to pick.  Last I checked, mono (as in monopoly) meant one, not six.  But, if six players is the new definition of monopoly, bring it on!

Consumers win.




Media Freedom

Confronting terrorism head-on

Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks with Ezra about his comments on terrorism that led to a “collective liberal spasm.”

This report aired on The Source May 1 2013.

Ezra Levant

Do you have a right to be forgotten

The right to be forgotten is a topic discussed more in Europe than in the US. The core question is whether you have a right to control information about yourself that is held and published on the Internet by third parties.

This includes social media, news sites, discussion forums, search engine results, and web archives.

The information in question may be true or false, and anything from embarrassing to libelous.


Often discussions about removing old information center on calls for Google to remove information from their search results. I think they are chosen because they are the dominant search engine, and people feel that if the information is not shown in Google, then it is effectively gone. Of course, search engines are really just pointing to the actual data, while generally lives on some other website.

Being removed from Google does nothing to the existence of the information, nor would it impact indexing of that information by other search engines.


Even if you get the hosting website to remove the information, there are many organizations like who may have copied and archived the information, thus keeping it alive and available.

Here are some examples of information that you might want removed.

  • Racist rantings on an old social media site to which access has been lost.
  • Drunk party pictures on a friend’s social media account.
  • Newspaper articles about dubious business activities.
  • Court records of a conviction after the sentence has been completed.
  • Negative reviews on a review website.
  • Unflattering feedback on a dating website.


In many of these cases, your “right to be forgotten” runs directly into another person’s “right to free speech”.


My thinking on this is still evolving, and I would welcome your thoughts and feedback. Right now I think that the free speech right trumps the right to be forgotten except in specific situations which need to be legally carved out individually; things like limitations on how long credit information should be allowed to follow you. Of course, the problem will be that every country will draw these lines differently, making enforcement and compliance very difficult, and leading to opportunities for regulatory arbitrage.


We are already seeing this in the EU. While most of the EU is moving towards codifying a right to be forgotten, the UK is planning to opt out of that.

The Privacy Podcast