Monday, May 19, 2008

Internet Freedom Alert 1.7

Internet Freedom Alert 1.8 (May 19, 2008)

The Internet Freedom Alert is a publication of Freedom House’s Global Internet Program, that covers online developments related to censorship, Internet Governance and freedoms online. Issue 1.8 covers developments from April 4 - May 18, 2008.

Links, Events and articles mentioned are summarized weekly from the Internet Freedom Bookmarks site – that can be accessed @

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U.C. Berkeley student’s Twitter messages alerted world to his arrest in Egypt[1]
When Egyptian police scooped up UC Berkeley graduate journalism student James Karl Buck, who was photographing a noisy demonstration, and dumped him in a jail cell last week, they didn’t count on Twitter.

Twitter Helps Free Arrested Blogger James Karl Buck[2]
When James Karl Buck and his translator, Mohammed Maree were arrested in Mahalla, Egypt while covering an anti-government protest he whipped out a quick one word blog post that lead to his colleagues finding out, and mobilizing to help him.


OpenNet Initiative Blog- 2007 Year in Review[3]
Much happened in the world of filtering in the past year, and ONI has compiled and is now releasing a review of some of the filtering events that took place in 2007

A feature report on the Munk Centre’s Citizen Lab[4]

A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) National news report on the research and development of the Citizen Lab, with a focus on the OpenNet Initiative, Psiphon, and Internet censorship in China

Internet Freedom

Towards a European Global Online Freedom Act[5]

Initiative of European Parliament member (MEP) Jules Maaten of the Dutch conservative VVD party to support journalists, cyberdissidents and protect free speech on the internet.

Opinion Articles

Repression 2.0[6]

Totalitarian states are learning to control citizens by creating the impression of ubiquitous surveillance.

Freedom goes online[7]

On World Press Freedom Day 2008, Alexandra Sandels looks at the importance of Internet activists for freedom of expression in the Arab world. Has the real struggle for press freedom gone online?

Country Reports

North America

House Leaders Urge Preservation Of ICANN Role[8]
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman joined 14 other colleagues on Tuesday in sending a letter to Commerce Secretary Gutierrez praising the administration’s continued oversight of the international entity charged with administering the Internet.

The U.S. Congress and “free speech principles on the Internet”[9]

The subcommittee members who drafted and signed this statement are badly misinformed – about ICANN, freedom of expression, NTIA oversight, and global Internet governance. These issues are far too important to be left to political posturing, so we attempt here to set the record straight. It is important for U.S. policy makers to let go of the idea that U.S. oversight has anything to do with preserving and protecting freedom of expression on the Internet.

No-go on GOFA[10]
CDT posted an updated memorandum on the most recent version of the Global Online Freedom Act (“GOFA”_).The problem with GOFA is that it treats the Internet sector as adversaries rather than allies in the fight for global Internet freedom.

Protecting Yourself From Suspicionless Searches While Traveling[11]

The Ninth Circuit’s recent ruling in United States v. Arnold allows border patrol agents to search your laptop or other digital device without limitation when you are entering the country. EFF, CDT[12] and many civil liberties, travelers’ rights, immigration advocacy and professional organizations are concerned that unfettered laptop searches endanger trade secrets, attorney-client communications, and other private information. These groups have signed a letter asking Congress to hold hearings to find out what protocol, if any, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) follows in searching digital devices and copying, storing and using travelers’ data. The letter also asks Congress to pass legislation protecting travelers’ laptops and smart phones from unlimited government scrutiny.



Yemeni Journalist Facing Death Penalty[13] (Campaign[14])

Renowned journalist Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani is one of Yemen’s most prominent democracy advocates - for which he has paid a steep price. His paper has been closed, his website blocked, and his children threatened. He is now facing a death penalty charge for “insulting the president” and “demoralizing the military.”

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)


Bloggers united against Wordpress ban at Global Voices Advocacy[15]
Ablanket ban on blogs hosted on has taken place in brazil after a judicial court passed an order to close down a specific blog


Blogger still unable to travel[16]

Noted Cuban blogger writes in her latest blog that she has been told that her official government file is full of evidence of committed infractions, a bulky dossier of illegal activities in the past few years.



France considering new rules for web 2.0[17]
A French Parliamentary report suggests a change in the law (LCEN) that implements the European Directive on e-commerce in order to make clearer the distinction between editing and hosting activities in the new applications related to Web 2.0

A feud over press freedom boils over in France[18]
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party accused Agence France-Presse of “censorship” for not publishing one of its press release


Internet censorship in Germany[19]
The district government of Dusseldorf County, Northrhine-Westfalia in Germany, is forcing Internet Service Providers to block access to selected foreign Internet sites.


Turkish Law Easing Curbs on Speech Wins Praise[20]

The European Union on Wednesday welcomed a vote by the Turkish Parliament to soften a law restricting free speech. But human rights groups said the law, approved after an all-night debate, should have been scrapped. Turkish legislators approved a government-backed proposal to amend Article 301, which prohibits the denigration of Turkish identity or institutions. The law has been used to prosecute the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and other intellectuals.

Turkish Internet users have been blocked from using the popular Google Groups service[21]
Turkish Internet users have been blocked from using the popular Google Groups service, a site which hosts thousands of forums for discussions, the Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

The Cat-and-Mouse Game in the Turkish Cyberspace[22]
YouTube was blocked again in Turkey on May 6 following an Ankara court order. YouTube has been banned a number of times in the last two years, usually because of videos offensive to the country hero Kemal Ataturk or to the broadly defined as Turkishness

Russia and Central Asia


Belarusian Cyber Attack[23]
An attack of unprecedented scale and intensity is under way against the Internet sites of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Belarus Service and more than half a dozen other RFE/RL language broadcasting sites

Radio Free Europe’s websites in Belarus under attack[24]
Several Radio Free Europe websites were under a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack in the past week


Russian government enacts Byzantine WiFi regulations[25]
According to, users will have to register every WiFi-enabled device with the government

Russians face Internet Iron Curtain[26]

Russian government officials are proposing tough censorship laws for the country’s 29 million Internet users. State newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported that prosecutors have proposed an amendment to bring the Internet under the same rules as traditional media. The ruling would give authorities the power to force ISPs to block sites containing “extremist material”, and to shut down domestic sites that carry such material.

Russian prosecutors eye Internet censorship[27]

The Russian prosecutor’s office wants tough anti-extremism laws to be extended to the Internet, state newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported Wednesday, prompting fears of growing media censorship.

Soviet Internet domain name resists death[28]

The Soviet Union may be in the dustbin of history, but there’s one place the socialist utopia lives on: cyberspace. Sixteen years after the superpower’s collapse, Web sites ending in the Soviet “.su” domain name have been rising — registrations increased 45 percent this year alone. Bloggers, entrepreneurs and die-hard communists are all part of a small but growing online community resisting repeated efforts to extinguish the online Soviet outpost.

Asia Pacific


Pulling the Plug: A Technical Review of the Internet Shutdown in Burma[29]

This bulletin examines the role of information technology, citizen journalists, and bloggers in Burma and presents a technical analysis of the abrupt shutdown of Internet connectivity by the Burmese government on September 29, 2007, following its violent crackdown on protesters there.

Indochina newspaper war hots up with Cambodian publisher launching the Burma daily[30]

Tokyo-resident publisher of the Cambodian Daily, Bernard Krishner, launched a quarto-sized publication, The Burma Daily, on Friday in Cambodia


China publishes ‘blacklist’ of video Web sharing sites[31]
Chinese authorities ordered 25 video-sharing Web sites to halt operations and issued warnings to dozens of others on Thursday, tightening their grip on online content

China Wants US-Owned Hotels to Censor Internet[32]
The Chinese government is demanding that US-owned hotels filter Internet service during the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing

China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre[33]

The Ministry of Information Industry, the Ministry of Public Security, and the State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China support China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre (CIIRC)

CIIRC receives public reports and complaints through the website about illegal and harmful information on the Internet within the border of China. CIIRC is mainly focused on contents harmful to the healthy growth of minors, such as obscenity and pornography, gambling, violence, terror, criminal abetting, and contents that spread ethnic hatred, libeling and insulting, violating the others’ rights, and violating intellectual property rights

Website of the Exile Tibetan Government Hacked[34]

The official website of the Tibetan government-in-exile in India was attacked in April. The hacked website, built eight years ago is the online platform of the exile Tibetan government’s press releases, and official news reports. AFP reported that the website carried ‘a flurry of anti-Chinese statements since March 10, when Beijing ordered a crackdown on riots which erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa.’

When Dragons Attack - Tibetan Hacking Review Paper[35]

Over the past two months there has been a significant increase in targeted malware and other attacks against the Tibetan Community and its supporters. has put together a paper that covers the various attacks and looks into the possibility and extent of Chinese Government involvement in those attacks. It is the recommendation of that human rights groups around the world should start to seriously look at the benefits of running a free and open operating system such as Ubuntu Linux

How China Leads the World in Web Censorship[36]

Just in the time for the Olympics, the Chinese government has proved itself to be a pioneer as well as a top exporter in cutting-edge online censorship methods. And Western firms still give Beijing their active support.

Dozens of media researchers are now studying the architecture of the Great Wall 2.0 with a mixture of horror and fascination. What they’re discovering is how surprisingly dynamic, subtle and state-of-the-art the censors of the 21st century are.

China refuses to guarantee open Internet during Olympics[37]
China is refusing to guarantee that it won’t censor the Internet during this summer’s Olympic Games, but insists that the international media will still be able to function normally

China to investigate Google for illegal maps[38]
China has launched an investigation into online mapping services by Internet giants including Google and Sohu in an effort to protect state secrets and territorial integrity

China’s All-Seeing Eye[39]
With the help of U.S. defense contractors, China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export. (article by Naomi Klein)

China relaxes grip on Internet and media after quake[40]

AMID a national outpouring of grief over Monday’s earthquake, China has relaxed its grip - perhaps only briefly - on the Internet and some media. Chinese witnesses to the devastation in Sichuan province have flooded websites with homemade videos, filled chat rooms with commentary and let text messages fly from their mobile phones. The disaster has provided an opportunity for “citizen journalists” to disseminate tidbits of information at a furious pace rarely seen before.

Chinese Intellectuals Contemplate the Earthquake: Lessons We Are Learning[41]

Several dozen Chinese columnists, scholars, and social workers comment on the devastating Sichuan earthquake. Some praised the Chinese government for swiftly rescuing those struck by the earthquake, and urged it to further embrace freedom of information.

Sichuan Quake Shakes Up Chinese Censorship Policy[42]

The tragedy of the recent earthquake in central China, which has claimed over 20,000 lives at last count, has just the smallest bit of silver lining. The Chinese government has been uncharacteristically loose with information, and millions of Chinese netizens are, for the first time, almost completely uncensored.

China web police in overdrive[43]

DOZENS of people have been detained all over China in the past few days for spreading dangerous rumors following the Sichuan earthquake - most of them apprehended by the “net police”.


Indonesia lifts its YouTube ban[44]
Under government orders on Tuesday, Indonesian ISPs blocked sites that shared Dutch anti-Islamist Geert Wilders’ 16-minute film Fitna. The ban on these sites has reportedly now been lifted.


Regulating the Japanese cyberspace, one step at a time[45]

With little fanfare from local or foreign media, the Japanese government made major moves this month toward legislating extensive regulation over online communication and information exchange within its national borders. In a series of little-publicized meetings attracting minimal mainstream coverage, two distinct government ministries, that of Internal Affairs and Communications (Somusho) and that of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho), pushed ahead with regulation in three major areas of online communication: web content, mobile phone access, and file sharing.

Actions against Japanese Internet censorship[46]
The Japanese government is planning to legislate regulations of ‘harmful’ Internet content. Now, Liberal Democratic Party’s Sanae Takaichi is preparing to pass an Internet censorship law


Police raid blogger’s home[47]
Malaysian police raided the home of a top Internet blogger after he posted an article implicating the deputy premier and his wife in the murder of a Mongolian model, reports said on Saturday

Malaysian police raid blogger over murder article[48]
Malaysian police raided the home of a top Internet blogger after he posted an article implicating the deputy premier and his wife in the murder of a Mongolian model

Battle of the bloggers in Malaysia[49]

Anyone who questions the influence bloggers can have on political, social and economic sentiments should read this article. Malaysia (where freedom of the internet has been embraced due to the government’s desire to make Malaysia an information technology hub attractive to foreign investors) has begun to back peddle on its commitment to and uncensored blogosphere.

Vigil for jailed blogger Raja Petra this evening[50]
popular blogger and political commentator Raja Petra Kamarudin, 58, was imprisoned on Tuesday after a trial which saw him charged with sedition for having written a blog post.

Controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin is finally out of jail on bail.[51]


Pakistan drops media restrictions[52]
Pakistan’s new government has moved to withdraw restrictions on the media that were imposed by President Pervez Musharraf last year.

Sri Lanka

Micro-blogging election violence and malpractices in Sri Lanka[53]

Islandwide network of citizen journalists on election violence and malpractices in the Eastern Province.

Maps of election violence and malpractices[54]
Eastern Province Elections, Sri Lanka, 10th May 2008


Introducing the top 100 Thailand blogs[55]

A list of the top 100 Thailand blogs. Most of the blogs are in English, although a couple are French The metric that the list is based on uses a combination of Page Rank, Technorati rank and user votes. The better a blog’s ranks, the higher on the list that blog will appear.

Blogging the Coup[56]

When their press was silent, Thai citizens delivered

Prominent Thai websites in the firing line[57]
Legal action being taken against Fa Diew Kan and Prachatai.

Censoring Free Speech in Thailand[58]
Thailand’s military junta’s fifth order following its coup d’etat September 19, 2006 was to appoint an Official Censor of the Military Coup. The overthrown elected government had publicly stated that it intended to block 800,000 websites.

Websites are denounced for allowing forum discussions[59]

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information that two Thai websites (Fah Diew Kan and Prachatai[60]) have been charged under Article 116 (2) of the Criminal Code for publishing discussions of a man’s refusal to stand during the Royal Anthem


Vietnam: Blogger Dieu Cay arrested[61]

As the Olympic torch makes its way through Ho Chi Minh City; Nguyen Van Hai, a prominent citizen reporter there who blogs under the name Dieu Cay, was arrested this past week as he led efforts to organize local bloggers to follow the torch’s passing.

Middle east & North Africa (MENA)


Egyptians use Facebook to deter censorship[62]

Egyptians are using the online social networking tool Facebook to defy the government’s attempt to muzzle the media and hush recent incidents of police brutality during a strike by workers in a town in the Nile Delta. Indeed, Internet users in Egypt have given the popular Web site Facebook a new role: a platform for political activism, such as promoting anti-government demonstrations

Egyptian Political Dissent Unites Through Facebook[63]
Facebook has evolved into one of the latest tools for political dissent in Egypt, as activists use the social-networking site to organize protests on soaring food prices

website of the leading Egyptian Movement for Change - Kefaya, blocked[64]
According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the website of the leading Egyptian Movement for Change - Kefaya, has been blocked in Egypt since May 4 by the government-owned Internet service provider TE Data, Egypt’s largest ISP

Egypt squeezes access to dissident website[65]

An Egyptian government-owned Internet service provider has blocked the website of a leading opposition movement, a rights group said Monday, in the latest crackdown on the country’s cyber dissidents. “The website for the Egyptian Movement for Change - Kefaya has been blocked in Egypt.

The Egyptian Facebook “Revolution”[66]
Jack Fairweather writes a fascinating post on the role of Facebook in organizing recent protests in Egypt. He notes that the social network has engaged young moderates and liberals in the type of political activity previously reserved for Islamists.

Egyptians Take One Step Toward Change, One Step Back[67]

No aspect of Egyptian society better typifies this erratic current than the country’s media, now in the midst of a revolution. Although Mubarak’s authoritarian regime has allowed opposition newspapers and sensitive Egyptian satellite talk shows to proceed with few red lines, it is on the Internet where both bloggers and a flourishing Facebook community make most of the noise. This online community, led by Egypt’s youth, traditionally apathetic towards politics, organized both the April and May strikes.

Fledgling Rebellion on Facebook Is Struck Down by Force in Egypt[68]

Since late March, 74,000 people had registered on a Facebook page created and run by Maher and a few other young Egyptians, most of them newcomers to activism. Even some of Egypt’s older, more disillusioned proponents of democracy had let themselves hope that a social networking Web site created by American college students could become an electronic rallying point for protest against President Hosni Mubarak’s 27-year rule.

But the experience of the Facebook activists showed the limits of technology as a means of organizing dissent against a repressive government. Maher would end up among what rights groups said were 500 Egyptians arrested during two months of political activism in Egypt — and find himself stripped and beaten in a Cairo police station, he said.


Blogging in Iran - The Middle East Blog[69]

The Internet is wildly popular in Iran, and blogging has become a vital source of information and analysis due to the systematic rollbacks of press freedoms (such as they were) during the last few years. Censorship and self-censorship takes its toll, as does intimidation and imprisonment of bloggers.

A Reporter at Large: Fugitives: The New Yorker[70]
Young Iranians confront the collapse of the reform movement.


To surf, or not to surf[71]
The discussion on the Internet site filtering bill refuses to simmer down, but it is doubtful that it has any influence on the decision makers. Communications Minister Ariel Atias is not hesitant to use any means to justify the bill he submitted.

Filtering Internet sleaze[72]
A bill obliging Internet service providers to block offensive sites, has elicited strong opposition - particularly from Internet service providers, and to a lesser extent, chiefly on technical grounds, from the Justice Ministry

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Activist Blogger Freed After 4 Months in Jail Without Charge[73]

Saudi Arabia’s most popular blogger was released Saturday after serving four months in prison without charge. Fouad al-Farhan, 33, was detained Dec. 10 after authorities warned him about his online support of an activist group. At the time of his arrest, the Interior Ministry said only that his violations were not related to state security.

Farhan had used his blog to criticize corruption and call for political reform in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy.


Wikipedia Arabic is now blocked by all ISPs in Syria[74]
According to anasonline blog, access to Wikipedia Arabic, the Arabic language version of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, is now blocked by all ISPs in Syria

Three-Year Sentence for Blogger Tariq Baiasi[75]
the State Security Court in Damascus stated its verdict on the Syrian blogger Tariq Baiasi who was held in detention since 7-7-2007.

Syrian blogger gets 3 years in jail for undermining states[76]
A human rights group says a 24-year-old Syrian blogger has been convicted and sentenced to three years in prison on charges of undermining the prestige of the state and weakening national morale.

United Arab Emirates

UAE telecom Du has blocked all websites deemed to offend the “moral, social and cultural values” of the Gulf Arab state[77]
Dubai’s free zones and residents in Nakheel or Emaar Properties freehold developments will come under the UAE’s proxy server for the first time.

Dubai free zone no longer has filter-free Internet access[78]

The Open net Initiative reports that Dubai’s ISP, du, which started filtering the Internet on April 14, 2008, targets sexual materials as well as politically oriented content. Examples of political sites blocked include and Secret Dubai blog, both of which have content critical of UAE. Other examples of non-pornographic Web sites blocked include the wikipedia article on the controversial movie “Fitna”.

Twitter is Banned in Dubai![79]

Following the arrest and subsequent release of the UC Berkeley student of journalism who famously “Twittered” the word ARRESTED to his friends and the US Embassy so as to walk out a free man the very next day, surprisingly enough, “Twitter” has now been blocked in Dubai.

Recommended Resources

ABA-SIL Human Rights Committee e-Brief Newsletter

The American Bar Association (ABA) Human Rights Committee weekly newsletter - circulated each Monday to approximately 1600 Human Rights Attorneys, activists and educators. To subscribe, visit the URL below or send an email to

Upcoming Events

May 20 – 23: 2008 Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference (CFP2008)
Location: Yale University – New Haven, CT

CFP2008 is an opportunity to help shape public debate on those issues being made into laws and regulations and those technological infrastructures being developed.

May 28-30: 3rd International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training
Location: Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana

June 13 -14 : Sixth annual China Internet Research Conference - “China and the Internet: Myths and Realities
Location: University of Hong Kong

Conference co-organized and hosted by the Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong

June 21 – 27 : Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – Public Meeting
Location: Paris, France

June 26-28: IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society Location:University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada

ISTAS is the annual symposium of the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology. The theme this year is Citizens, Groups, Communities and Information and Communication Technologies

June 27-28: Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2008
Location: Budapest, Hungary

The event will bring together the members of the Global Voices citizen media project and its wider community with a diverse group of bloggers, activists, technologists, journalists and others persons from around the world, for two days of public discussions and workshops around the theme “Citizen Media & Citizenhood”.

June 28 : Grassroots use of Technology Conference
Location: Boston Area (Lowell, MA)

June 30 - July 1: International Conference on Public Domain in the Digital Age
Location: Leuven-La Neuve, Belgium

The main theme is the Assessment of economic and social impact of digital public domain throughout Europe.

July 21-31 : Summer School on Internet Governance
Location: Meissen, Germany

July 23 - 25: Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS)
Location: Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA

This symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers and practitioners in human computer interaction, security, and privacy. The program features technical papers, workshops and tutorials, a poster session, panels and invited talks, and discussion sessions.

July 28-30, 08: Cybercitizens: Risks, Rights, and Responsibilities of Participation in the Information Age.
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand

September 11-13: Oxford e-Research Conference
Location: Oxford University

This multi-disciplinary, international conference on e-Research will be held at the University of Oxford from 11-13 September 2008. It is being organized by a consortium of research projects in association with the journal Information Communication and Society (iCS).

September 26 – 28: The 36th Research Conference on Communication, Information, and Internet Policy
Location: Center for Technology and the Law, George Mason University Law School, Arlington, Virginia

October 26 -29 : The Internet: Governance and the Law
Conference on Internet Policy, regulation and governance, McGill University , Montreal – Canada

November 2008: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – Public Meeting

Cairo, Egypt will host the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ 33rd International Public Meeting from 2-7 November 2008.

December 2: Third Annual GigaNet Symposium
Location: Hyderabad International Conference Center, India

December 3- 6 : United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
Location: Hyderabad, India

February 9 - 13, 2009: Informática 2008 - New Technologies: Development and Sovereignty
Location: Havana, Cuba

Cited Websites

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