Library's Web Filter Decides Hamlet Access Not to Be
Today in international tech news: Citing violence, a library WiFi filter denies access to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Also: Breaking Bad spreads around the globe via BitTorrent (despite myriad legal viewing options); WordPress forced to succumb to what it calls censorship; and a Bruce Willis ad for British broadband is banned.
08/14/13 8:02 PM PT
A British man was unable to access Shakespeare's classic Hamlet at a public library because the library's WiFi network detected "violent content."
The snafu was caused by a new Web filter that weeds out smut and violence, the British Library said, adding that it is "tweaking" the service. Hamlet, violence and all, is now accessible.
The UK has been more eager than most to try to rein in the Internet, and not just historical literature. Internet service providers have been ordered to block an ever-swelling list of file-sharing sites, while Prime Minister David Cameron is pushing for pornography to be blocked by default, forcing people to "opt in" to adult content.
'Breaking Bad' Spreads Around Globe Via BitTorrent
More than half a million people had nabbed BitTorrent copies of last week's episode of Breaking Bad within 12 hours of its release, according to TorrentFreak.
Data shows that about one-sixth of downloaders, or 16.1 percent, came from Australia -- the most of any one country. The show was broadcast legitimately Down Under on Foxtel, a pay TV network, but that apparently didn't suffice.
The UK, where the show was available to Netflix subscribers within hours of airing stateside, accounted for 8.5 percent of all downloads. Meanwhile, the Netherlands -- where the show actually debuted several hours before it did in the U.S. -- was the fifth-most download-happy country, responsible for 2.8 percent of downloads.
The U.S. was at 16 percent.
Complying With Order, WordPress Removes Blogger's Interview
In what it calls censorship, blogging platform WordPress was forced to remove an interview posted on a WordPress blog.
This one is weird.
Oliver Hotham, a university student in the UK, published an interview he had with Straight Pride UK, a British group that is, shall we say, not so hospitable toward homosexuals. (Its website claims "there is nothing right with being homosexual," while members have lauded Russian president Vladimir Putin for his "support of his country's traditional values.")
Hotham sent the group an email asking for reaction to anti-homosexual attacks in Russia and Africa. He subsequently interviewed a spokesman for the group and published the interview on his WordPress blog.
Hotham says he was then contacted by the Straight Pride UK press officer, who asked him to remove the interview -- or face a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice.
The DMCA, you see, contains a provision requiring companies to instantly remove material if they are informed that said material breaches copyright, even if there is no proof of copyright infringement (and in the case of the interview, there wasn't).
Despite both Hotham and Straight Pride UK being located overseas, the DMCA is U.S. law, and WordPress -- based in the U.S. -- is forced to obey. Thus, after Hotham declined to take down the interview, WordPress took the post down.
WordPress informed Hotham about how to counterclaim, and later called the situation "censorship using the DMCA."
Bruce Willis Ad Nixed For False Advertising
A Sky broadband advertisement featuring Bruce Willis has been banned after British advertising watchdogs outed the spot for false advertising.
In the ad, Bruce Willis pays a visit to his Internet service provider, complaining in particular about buffering. At that point, a Sky rep offers "totally unlimited" Internet if he opts instead for Sky -- and at the price of just Pounds 7.50 (US$11.60) per month.
There are a few problems here. First off, the Pounds 7.50 price is only for existing customers -- which, according to the ad's intricate plot, Willis is not -- and could be accompanied by numerous other charges, including about $15 per month for broadband as well as potential line rentals and TV fees.