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February 21, 2012

Egyptian MP calls for web porn ban

Egyptian MP calls for web porn ban – Wikinews, the free news source

Egyptian MP calls for web porn ban

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Egypt
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Egyptian politicians are set to ban online pornography.

Salafist MP Younis Makhioun, of Egypt’s religious and conservative al-Nour party, yesterday requested a debate on banning pornographic websites.

In 2009, a court ordered such material banned, but the Ministry of Communications declined, citing individual responsibility. If a majority of the Islamist-dominated parliament supported a ban the ministry would then be able to enforce one. Around a quarter of seats belong to al-Nour.

Although some sections of the public complained about limitations upon free expression and feared new powers could creep to include other forms of censorship, Makhioun said he did not feel porn counted as free speech. “These sites spread evil among different sects of the Egyptian society, [their] content is criminalised by Egyptian law as well as being a breach of religious beliefs and social values and morals,” he said in calling for debate.

The 2009 court ruling followed legal action describing porn sites as harmful to society, and the court noted “the harm that this material [can] cause to the fabric of the family.” Despite this, figures from Google show Egypt in the top five nations searching the Internet for ‘sex’.



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March 19, 2011

ICANN approves .xxx domain for pornography

ICANN approves .xxx domain for pornography

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Saturday, March 19, 2011
Yesterday, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the agency governing Internet addresses, approved the creation of an “adult entertainment” Internet address, .xxx, on the web, first proposed in 2003. ICANN is the manager of the Internet’s top-level domains, such .com, .org and .net.

Cquote1.svg “For the first time, there will be a clearly defined Web address for adult entertainment, out of the reach of minors and as free as possible from fraud or malicious computer viruses Cquote2.svg

—Stuart Lawley, CEO ICM Registry

ICANN’s decision means success for the Florida-based ICM Registry (ICM), the company that first applied for the .xxx domain in 2004. ICM will oversee the new domain and will sell the .xxx Web addresses. ICM hopes that the establishment of a .xxx domain will contribute a degree of predictability and security to the largely unrestrained world of Internet websites. Its chief executive, Stuart Lawley, said, “For the first time, there will be a clearly defined Web address for adult entertainment, out of the reach of minors and as free as possible from fraud or malicious computer viruses.”

The decision was criticized by some of the Internet pornography industry’s biggest players who fear they could be the target of arbitrary censorship by governments and boards regulating the .xxx domain.

Anti-pornography campaigners also criticized the move, saying it gives the sex industry legitimacy. But since the .xxx system and its vetting process is voluntary, popular pornographic sites are not likely to trade their .com domains for .xxx. Anti-porn critics say that users who think they are avoiding porn by filtering out .xxx domains will therefore be misled.

ICM’s Lawley saw only positive outcomes from the decision: “Everybody wins. The consumer of adult sites wins. The providers will benefit because more people will become paying customers. And those who don’t want to go there will win as well, because the sites will be easier to filter.”



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March 11, 2011

Former adult film actress forced to leave teaching job again

Former adult film actress forced to leave teaching job again

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Education
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Tera Myers in 2005

Tera Myers, a former actress in pornographic films, has left her position as a science teacher at Parkway North High School in St. Louis County, Missouri after her past was revealed by a student. This marks the second such controversy involving Myers, also known under the names Tericka Dye and the stage name Rikki Anderson. She was suspended by Kentucky’s McCracken County Public Schools system in 2006 after her career in pornography was made public.

Don Senti, interim superintendent of the district, said Myers was on administrative leave from her position at the school at her own request. Myers’ request, granted “out of respect for her privacy and that of her family,” came after a student inquired about her pornographic career. The district said Myers passed background checks before being hired as a teacher in 2007, but it did not know about her past until the student found out about it online, because her career in the pornography industry was legal. A Parkway representative said the Kentucky school at which Myers last worked was contacted in 2007 to verify her references, but no mention of her suspension or stint in pornography was provided.

Myers will continue to be paid until the end of the semester, at which time she is to leave the Parkway School District. “We’re surprised, very surprised,” said Parkway spokesperson Paul Tandy. “At the same time we feel for her and her family. We do believe she has tried to move on with her life … Unfortunately, even though it happened fifteen years ago, [the video] is still there.” According to Tandy, Dye “was concerned about the impact it would have in the building,” and, on March 4, informed the school’s principal of her past after being asked by the student. Myers also was the coach of the girls’ volleyball at Parkway North High School.

Myers previously taught at Reidland High School in Paducah, Kentucky, and was suspended in 2006 after a student there discovered her pornographic career. That May, Myers defended herself, saying, “Anybody who has been in my classroom could tell you how much I love teaching and how much I love these students, and that should be what matters more than anything in my past.” Known as Tericka Dye at the time, she protested against her dismissal and even appeared on the “Dr. Phil” talk show.

Myers said she became involved in the adult industry after working as an impoverished exotic dancer in California.



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August 14, 2010

Wikinews Shorts: August 14, 2010

Wikinews Shorts: August 14, 2010 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: August 14, 2010

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A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, August 14, 2010.

Help Wikinews! Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

Tamil migrant boat bound for Canada sparks debate

Hundreds of Sri Lanka Tamils seeking asylum in Canada unboarded their cargo ship that they used to sail from Sri Lanka to Vancouver. Some of the people who were on board the MV Sun Sea needed medical treatment, but officials have said that they were not aware of major medical problems.

The landing of the 490 refugees, however, has raised concerns that some onboard might have been members of the Tamil Tigers Sri Lankan rebel group. The Tigers, who fought a civil war against the Sri Lankan government for over two decades and lost in 2009, have been designated a terrorist group by the Canadian government since 2006. “Our goal is to ensure that our refugee system is not hijacked by criminals or terrorists,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said. Toews also said that the governnment would be taking a tough line with the ship’s passengers.

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South Carolina Senate candidate Alvin Greene indicted on felony charge

Alvin Greene, the Democratic candidate for the South Carolina US senate seat, has been indicted on a felony charge of showing pornography to a female college student. The 32 year-old Greene was arrested last November after allegedly showing a female student obscene photos on his laptop and then asking to come to her dorm room. Greene shot to instant fame after he won the South Carolina Democratic senate primary with 58% of the vote despite not campaigning or raising funds for his US senate bid.

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FDA approves of ‘morning after’ pill

The US FDA (Food and Drug administration) has approved a new, longer lasting ‘morning after’ pill that works for up to five days after unprotected sex. The FDA approved the pill, called ella, has stated that the birth-control pill will be prescription-only. The FDA said that the drug “is not intended for routine use as a contraceptive.” The pill is made by the French medical company HRA Pharma and will be marketed in the US by Watson Pharmaceuticals.

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June 29, 2010

Wikimedia Foundation addresses controversial content conflict

Wikimedia Foundation addresses controversial content conflict

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Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Internet
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Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Executive Director (pictured in 2007)
Image: Paula Wilson.

The Wikimedia Foundation has taken action in response to last month’s image controversy on their Commons project, requesting Executive Director Sue Gardner to examine the issue, and communicating with the wider community about their concerns.

Ms Gardner has hired fellow journalist and former broadcasting executive Robert Harris to carry out this study. Ms Gardner and Mr Harris worked together for seventeen years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In early May Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales deleted scores of images which were targeted as possible pornography, despite community resistance to the campaign. Wales eventually surrendered his rights to delete files, but the controversy over the perceived censorship caused many long-term contributors to rethink their involvement – some have curtailed the time they invest in the site while others have left the project entirely.

Commons Administrator Adam Cuerden expressed his frustration over the deletions when he spoke to Wikinews last month. “He [Wales] basically lied to us from the start. First, by acting as if this was for legal reasons. Second, by pretending he was listening to us, right up to his art deletion.” The community irritation led to current efforts to draft a policy regarding sexual content for the site which hosts millions of openly-licensed media.

The Foundation’s response is a measured one, according to Foundation Board of Trustees member Jan-Bart de Vreede. “The board thinks that this is an important issue,” he told Wikinews yesterday, “we realise that there are many point of view on this. The one thing we don’t want to do is draw hasty conclusions. We have therefore asked Sue to do more research into the matter. Our aim would be to get a complete picture of all the aspects and then see if we need next steps. If there are to be next steps, we will take these together with the community.”



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May 30, 2010

Facebook blocked in Bangladesh

Facebook blocked in Bangladesh – Wikinews, the free news source

Facebook blocked in Bangladesh

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Bangladesh
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

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Bangladesh temporarily blocked the social networking site Facebook on Saturday, after a man was arrested for uploading content onto it deemed offensive. Other users had reportedly posted other kinds of potentially offensive content, including anti-religious and pornographic materials.

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Mahbub Alam Rodin, aged 30, in charges of uploading cartoons of some political leaders on the website. Rodin’s activity on Facebook was classified as “offensive”, said Commander Mohammad Sohail, director of RAB’s Legal and Media side, as reported by The Daily Star. RAB asked to block all seven accounts of Rodin in Facebook. Rodin used pseudonyms like “Brigadier Mahadi”, “Sepahi Mahadi”, “Imam Hossain”, “Rodin Al”, “Mohammad Al Mahadi” and “Junaida Khandaker Zihan”, Sohail said.

No official comment has been made, but Bangladesh’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) blocked it on the government’s request. Private news agency bdnews24 reported that the measure was made on a request by the elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion. Users couldn’t log onto the website since 6:30 pm local time.

The website is to be unblocked on Monday.



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March 13, 2010

Illinois House lessens penalty for sexting

Illinois House lessens penalty for sexting

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Illinois
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The Illinois House of Representatives voted this Thursday to lift some penalties for teenagers who engage in sexting. While minors are still prohibited from sending nude photos of other minors taken on cell phones, they will no longer be required to register as sex offenders. Instead, they could be punished with court-ordered supervision or community service. 

The bill, which was sponsored by State Representative Darlene Senger from Naperville, passed with a 114–1 majority and will be considered by the Illinois Senate. The lone dissenter, State Representative Careen Gordon from Morris, declined to comment on her vote. 

Senger says that sexting has become a problem because when teens send nude pictures of themselves to their boyfriends or girlfriends, they don’t realize that what they are doing is illegal or that their pictures can be distributed to other people. A national survey has revealed that 48 percent of teenagers have received sexual text messages or emails, while 39 percent have sent or posted sexual photos online.

Criminal charges are more serious if the content is posted online. As Connie Burch told Illinois homepage.net, however, “the threat of having to register as a sex offender goes too far.” The main purpose of the legislation is to create awareness among parents about what has become a prevalent issue for teenagers. As Senger told the Chicago Sun-Times, “We still have the ability to prosecute those whose intent is to create child pornography even if they’re under 18. However, if you’re just doing something because you think it’s a prank, we can explain why this isn’t funny.”



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January 19, 2010

Highway billboard gives Moscow drivers an unexpected show

Highway billboard gives Moscow drivers an unexpected show

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Russia
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Drivers in the Russian capital, Moscow, were given an unexpected show courtesy of a 30-by-20 foot electronic highway billboard when an explicit pornographic video was played for nearly twenty minutes in place of the paid advertisement clips that are usually shown. The incident happened near the entrance into Serpukovskiy tunnel on Sadovoe Ring Road, about 2 kilometers south of the Kremlin.

“Within three minutes we found it out, and within fifteen minutes the screen was shut off,” the deputy head of the Moscow city advertising committee, Alexander Menchuk, said in a statement to Interfax. A passerby told the Associated Press that she was “so shocked that I couldn’t even shoot video or take a picture of it.”

The display screen’s owner, the Three Stars Advertising Agency of Panno.ru, said that computer hackers attempting to execute a practical joke were likely to blame. Viktor Laptev, commercial director for the firm said, “They were either acting out of hooliganism or were from a rival company.”

Although a city official has been quoted as telling local media that Moscow would increase security of data transmission in light of what happened, local police say they have yet to receive a single complaint about the incident, and thereby have not opened an investigation. Nudity on television is officially banned in Russia.



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June 25, 2009

Google not accessible in some parts of China

Google not accessible in some parts of China

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

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The search engine giant Google is reportedly not accessible in some parts of China and Google services such as mail were down from Wednesday night to Thursday morning Beijing time. Google officials have not commented but said they were investigating reasons behind the outage.

Google logo

Recently Google has come under fire from the Chinese government for including “pornographic and vulgar” content in search results. “We have found that Google has spread a lot of pornographic content, which is a serious violation of Chinese laws and regulations,” Mr Qin told reporters on Thursday.

China is also demanding all new computers starting July 1st be shipped with special new internet blocking software called “Green Dam Youth Escort” which filters out all pornographic content. United States officials are opposed to the idea and have expressed concerns it might cause China to be in violation of World Trade Organization rules.

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April 13, 2009

Amazon.com de-ranks LGBT books, blames \”glitch\”

Amazon.com de-ranks LGBT books, blames “glitch”

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Monday, April 13, 2009

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Online bookseller Amazon.com blamed technical problems after lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) themed works disappeared from searches on the site over the weekend. Several authors, however, are skeptical of Amazon’s explanation, and outrage over the de-ranking of the works has led to outcry within the online community.

Early this afternoon, Amazon began re-ranking some of the affected works and, shortly thereafter, offered an explanation for the disappearance of the books, telling the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Drew Herdner, spokeman for Amazon.com This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.

Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.

Drew Herdner, spokeman for Amazon.com

Among the books that vanished on searches of Amazon’s offerings were some editions of John Barrowman’s and Stephen Fry’s autobiographies, some editions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, and Lesléa Newman’s children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies, as well as works of erotica such as Emmanuelle Arsan’s Emmanuelle.

Mark Probst, author of gay-themed romance novel The Filly, said in his blog that problems began on April 10:

Cquote1.svg On Amazon.com two days ago, mysteriously, the sales rankings disappeared from two newly-released high profile gay romance books: “Transgressions” by Erastes and “False Colors” by Alex Beecroft. Everybody was perplexed. Was it a glitch of some sort? The very next day HUNDREDS of gay and lesbian books simultaneously lost their sales rankings…. Cquote2.svg

Probst then contacted Amazon.com, whose Member Services team replied that

Cquote1.svg In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude ‘adult’ material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature. Cquote2.svg

Sales rank is an important part of a book’s visibility on the website, determining whether it appears in searches, on the website front page, and in recommendations to customers.

Amazon told Publishers Weekly that a “glitch” was to blame for the de-ranking on Sunday evening. The period of the de-ranking covers a holiday weekend in the United States and it is possible that technical staff at the company were unavailable. Amazon director of corporate communications Patty Smith told the Los Angeles Times, that the problem was being resolved, but when asked for further details replied “Unfortunately, I’m not able to comment further. We’re working to resolve the issue, but I don’t have any further information.”

Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal: “GLAAD has reached out to Amazon.com and they indicate this was an error, so we expect to start seeing evidence of its correction immediately, and any loss of visibility of gay-themed books as a result of this error will be made right by Amazon.”

Author Jules Jones, meanwhile, told Wikinews that the suppression of sales rankings is not solely a gay issue. “[An]other point to make is that a lot of the people affected by this are straight”, she says. “the two books that sparked this are published by a mainstream publisher, and intended to be marketed in the romance section in stores, to the same women who read any other romance books.”

Authors of the affected works have expressed skepticism of Amazon’s explanation, accusing Amazon of homophobia and deliberate censorship. Craig Seymour, author of All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C., recounts an exchange in early February 2009 with Amazon. On February 2, his book lost its sales rank, in the same fashion as the other LGBT-themed works this month. After inquiring about the loss of rank, Seymour received a reply on February 25 saying “the sales rank was not displayed for the following reasons: The ISBN #1416542051 was classified as an Adult product”; Seymour then found through routine searches that the rankings of gay themed works had been dropped but that rankings of books by porn stars like Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson had not, in an apparent double standard. Seymour’s ranking was restored on February 27 and All I Could Bare is not among those books whose rankings have been dropped this month.

Protesting what they see as censorship, many people in the online community began organizing petitions and boycotts of Amazon. Microblogging site Twitter saw conversations about the de-ranking, tagged with the word “#AmazonFAIL”, rise to the most popular subject on the site, and an online petition entitled “In protest at Amazon’s new ‘adult’ policy” garnered 13,000 signatures within 24 hours of its creation.

The online community has also been investigating the de-rankings in order to clarify what works were dropped. Jane of publishing blog DearAuthor.com suggests in an analysis of the known dropped books that the de-ranking was performed automatically by a program examining the metadata of each book and dropping rankings from those tagged “Gay”, “Adult”, or “LGBT”; not all editions of the same book carry the same tag, which explains why some editions of books were dropped and others not. Meanwhile, Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Making Light suggests that the de-ranking started out as well-intentioned but that important information was lost along the way:

Cquote1.svg Sometime in the middle-distance past—maybe a couple of months ago, maybe a year, it doesn’t matter—somebody decided that it would be a good idea to make sure that works of straight-out pornography (or, for that matter, sex toys) didn’t inadvertently show up as the top result for innocuous search queries….Sometime more recently, an entirely different group of people were given the task of deciding what things for sale on Amazon should be tagged “adult,” but in the journey from one department to another, and from one level of the hierarchy to another, the directive mutated from “let’s discreetly unrank the really raunchy stuff” to “we’d better be careful to put an ‘adult’ tag on anything that could imaginably offend anyone.” Cquote2.svg

Amazon has yet to put out a general press release on the incident.



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