Internet Freedom Alert 1.8 (May 25, 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 that covers developments from May 19 - May 25, 2008. Links, Events and articles mentioned are summarized weekly from the Internet Freedom Bookmarks site - that can be accessed @ http://del.icio.us/internetfreedom
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The Internet and the rise of Web 2.0 tools have created a new reality, one in which anyone can become an agent of change capable of affecting public opinion
the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which seeks to turn the internet into a virtual police state
EU, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and New Zealand seek to restric the use of online privacy tools. Is this the start of the end of censorship circumvention tools?
Freedom of Expression
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?
Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) published a public statement the other day in which he and other congressional representatives seem to indicate that ICANN promotes free speech principles. However recent comments by members of the ICANN at-large advisory committee as well as ICANN staff seem to indicate that issues of freedom of expression, censorship and internet freedom is NOT of concern to ICANN.
Perhaps what is needed is that internet users from Egypt, the middle east and North Africa East start an advocacy campaign to make it clear to ICANN and its at-large advisory committee that Internet Freedom is not optional - but a right of that should be promoted and included as a core organizational value.
Joe Lieberman has demanded that Google force Youtube to remove any videos posted by Islamic terrorist groups and those who share their sentiments
The Internet is simply a means of communication, like the telephone, but that has not prevented attempts to demonize it — the latest being the ludicrous claim that the Internet promotes terrorism.
Naomi Klein’s Rolling Stone article on surveillance and censorship in China is now out and worth the read. Reminiscent of Greg Walton’s paper China’s Golden Shield, the article explores the massive amount of surveillance in China. It is refreshing read an article on censorship and surveillance in China that moves beyond just looking at how Western companies are profiting from the sale of such technologies to China but how these same companies are profiting from these same technologies are being used here. Moreover, the article provides a welcome departure from the usual China-bashing perspective that is usually so dominant in press coverage on these issues.
A Canadian public service organization has filed a complaint against the use of Deep Packet inspections used by Service Providers like Bell Canada. Many service providers say they’re not interested in recreating and storing the content of messages–but their ability to do so might put their customers’ privacy at risk
The Senate passed an Internet safety resolution that designates June as "National Internet Safety Month" and calls on Web safety groups, law enforcement, educators and others to boost efforts to raise online safety
Cisco, Google and Yahoo vigorously defended their business operations in China
United States Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired a hearing today on global internet freedom and corporate responsibility. The hearing examined the role of U.S. internet companies in the suppression of freedom of speech and press in certain countries.
"Freedom of expression is a fundamental right guaranteed to all people and the advent of the internet has allowed billions of people to exercise this right more fully," Durbin said. "But many confront censorship and jail time for expressing themselves online. U.S. technology companies face difficult challenges when dealing with repressive governments, but they have a moral obligation to protect freedom of expression.
Senate Judiciary Human Rights Subcommittee meets to hear about dissidents from several countries who have been prosecuted for speaking out online.
Senators on Tuesday pressed executives from Yahoo, Google, and Cisco Systems to justify their business practices in China and other Internet-censoring countries, with Cisco in the hot seat over new allegations of cozier-than-confessed ties with the Chinese police.
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), who led the morning hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee's human rights panel, said he is actively considering whether to draft new legislation that, similar to a pending House of Representatives proposal, would place a host of new restrictions on American companies doing business in Internet-restricting countries.
Tech Daily Dose has learned that the Justice Department wrote to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman earlier this week opposing a bill introduced by Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., aimed at promoting global Internet freedom. The letter argues the proposal could compromise the agency's ability to work with foreign law enforcement and said certain provisions raise constitutional red flags.
Durbin told tech executives to expect some legislation in the Senate similar to the Global Online Freedom Act, which would hold U.S. companies liable for helping foreign governments censor the Net. A recently unearthed PowerPoint presentation in which Cisco Systems executives appeared to be keen to help Chinese officials in censoring the Web (one phrase referred to "combating Falun Gong evil cult and other hostile elements") could give the bill legs
OpenNet Initiative Testimony on Internet Filtering and Surveillance to the US Senate
An internal Cisco document (.pdf) leaked to reporters on the eve of a Senate human rights hearing reveals that Cisco engineers regarded the Chinese government's rigid internet censorship program as an opportunity to do more business with the repressive regime.
The 90-page document is an internal presentation that Cisco engineers and staffers in China mulled over in 2002 as the central government was upgrading its local, state and provincial public safety and security network infrastructure. Under the category "Cisco Opportunities," the document provides bullet point suggestions for how it might service China's censorship system called the "Golden Shield", and better known in the West as the Great Firewall of China.
The document is the first evidence that the networking giant has marketed its routers to China specifically as a tool of repression. It reinforces the double-edged role that Americans' technological ingenuity plays in the rest of the world
At the recent hearing held by Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law on “Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law” Cisco found itself in the “hotseat” after a leaked power point presentation surfaced which showed that Cisco viewed China’s infamous censorship and surveillance efforts as business opportunities. One section specifically focuses on the Golden Shield project, which among other goals aims to “Combat ‘Falun Gong’ evil religion and other hostiles”, and the opportunities for Cisco. This is, of course, not the first time that such evidence has emerged. Cisco has long been condemned for building the Great Firewall of China, a charge that the company once again claims is false
Cisco senior vice president and general council Mark Chandler, speaking before a Senate subcommittee Tuesday, denied that the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant helped the Chinese government block or censor online content.
"Cisco does not customize, or develop specialized or unique filtering capabilities, in order to enable different regimes to block access to information," Chandler told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law.
Cisco spokesman Terry Alberstein confirmed that the 90-page PowerPoint presentation -- which was obtained by The Associated Press -- will likely be probed by lawmakers, but he denied that the San Jose, Calif.-based company is involved in any censorship with the Chinese government.
Companies like Cisco, Yahoo and Google have been trying to take advantage of the Internet's growing popularity in emerging markets like China. When Cisco began doing business with the Chinese government in 1994, there were fewer than 100,000 Internet users in the country, Alberstein said. Now there are more than 220 million.
Consumer Reports Webwatch and the Mediatech Foundation have published a study of how young children interact with the internet, warning that Publishers of many major children's Web sites should do a better job disclosing sales and advertising information
The new Kenyan government is considering a move to require all mobile phone subscribers to register their identities with network operators.
Jane Novak, a 46-year-old stay-at-home mother of two in New Jersey, has never been to Yemen. She speaks no Arabic, and freely admits that until a few years ago, she knew nothing about that strife-torn south Arabian country.
And yet Novak has become so well known in Yemen that newspaper editors say they sell more copies if her photograph — blond and smiling — is on the cover. Her blog, an outspoken news bulletin on Yemeni affairs, is banned there.
In countries such as Zimbabwe where media and political freedom is extremely restricted, new technologies have become powerful tools for political campaigning, communication, advocacy and mobilisation. Bloggers and civic organisations have resorted to using new tools and applications such as Flickr, Facebook, SMS text messages, YouTube and mashups to fight for democracy, media freedom and good governance.
THE website of Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper was hacked over the weekend -- an apparent backlash by Zimbabweans who have been openly plotting to jam Zanu PF communications on internet chatrooms.
Hackers attacked the website of Zimbabwe's state-owned Herald newspaper and shut it down for three days, the newspaper said on Monday.
The Herald is widely seen as the official mouthpiece of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and has been critical of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which won the country's disputed March 29 elections.
The website www.herald.co.za has been unavailable since Saturday after it was hacked by someone calling himself "r4b00f." Visitors were redirected to the website of a state-owned Sunday newspaper.
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
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.
A top Cuban official said Friday that Raul Castro's government would consider loosening Internet restrictions on ordinary citizens newly allowed to purchase computers.
The rest of the worldwide Web is blocked to most citizens in Cuba, which has access controls far stricter than in China or Saudi Arabia. Only foreigners and some government employees and academics are currently allowed unfiltered home Internet service, and many Cubans turn to the black market for expensive, slow dial-up accounts.
Interesting comment from pro-cuban government internet portal regarding the use of social networking tools and blogging by cubans. Interesting enough - there is no mention of award winning Gen Y blogger - Yoani Sanchez whose site continues to be blocked.
President Bush announced Wednesday that people living in the United States soon will be allowed to send cell phones to Cubans on the island nation — a move that he hopes will push the communist regime to increase freedom of expression for Cuban citizens
The Dutch Parliament has opted for a 12 month data retention term in its implementation of the Data Retention directive. The three party coalition was split into three camps, arguing for 6 , 12 and 18 month respectively. The Dutch government kept arguing for 18 months, but a majority voted for an amendment lowering the term to 12 months. The proposal still needs to pass the Dutch Senat, which has been rather critical of data retention ever since it has been on the EU agenda.
Hundreds of writers have been prosecuted in Turkey for "insulting Turkishness", but Sarah Rainsford discovers that there are still some people willing to publish controversial books.
It is a very difficult time to be a writer in Turkey. Last year the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was murdered. This year, an ultra-nationalist gang allegedly had the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk on its hit list. Both men had been prosecuted for "insulting Turkishness".
Today, many writers once known for their forthright views have fallen silent. But one man is still putting himself on the line in a fight for free speech.
The AEJ is an independent, self-funding association for journalists, writers and specialists in European affairs.
Russia and Central Asia
The OSCE's representative on media freedom, Miklos Haraszti, has urged the government of Kazakhstan to restore access to RFE/RL's Kazakh-language website, which has been blocked for nearly six weeks
Tokyo-resident publisher of the Cambodian Daily, Bernard Krishner, launched a quarto-sized publication, The Burma Daily, on Friday in Cambodia.
Two months after being banned in China as lewd and unpatriotic following her critically acclaimed role in Lust, Caution, Tang Wei has yet to work again
Guo Quan, co-founder of China's Netizen Party and litigant in a recent lawsuit against Yahoo!, had his computer confiscated over the weekend and is now halfway through a ten-day detention period
Beijing, will start patrolling websites registered on Beijing servers using animated police officers that pop up in a user's browser
Tibetan Blogger Arrested by Chinese (Alternate)
According to Radio Free Europe, Jamyang Kyi, Tibetan writer, performer and blogger, has been arrested by the Chinese.
Plainclothes state security officers escorted Jamyang Kyi, who has travelled widely and performed and lectured in the United States, from her office at state-owned Qinghai TV on April 1, an authoritative source told RFA’s Tibetan service. “She never returned,” a source in Siling [in Chinese, Xining] said. “People were speculating that she was detained in a guesthouse for interrogation.”
Almost non-stop, the uncensored opinions of Chinese citizens are popping up online, sent by text and instant message across a country shaken by its worst earthquake in three decades
The tragedy of the recent earthquake in central China, has just the smallest bit of silver lining. The Chinese government has been uncharacteristically loose with information, and for the first time, almost completely uncensored.
Even as China dealt with the aftermath of deadly 7.9-magnitude earthquake earlier this month that killed more than 55,000 people, the Chinese government's internet censors were on the job.
"Reporters rushed to the scene, and there was general feeling that the government had lifted the restrictions on reporters," said Robert Dietz, the Asia program coordinator for the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists. "But the central propaganda department never stopped handing down directives, never stopped telling people how much to report."
Almost nonstop, the uncensored opinions of Chinese citizens are popping up online, sent by text and instant message across a country shaken by its worst earthquake in three decades.
The Chinese Government has issued orders that all entertainment web sites and regular television programming be shut down completely for the next 3 days. Only web sites covering the recent earthquake will be allowed to remain live.
DOZENS of people have been detained all over China in the past few days for spreading dangerous rumours following the Sichuan earthquake - most of them apprehended by the "net police"
Isaac Mao is one of the earliest and most prominent bloggers in China. He's been covering Chinese technology since 2002
With the arrest of Orkut user Rahul Krishnakumar Vaid last weekend, Google has joined Yahoo! on the list of multinational American internet companies that have enabled foreign law enforcement authorities to prosecute netizens in their countries; in this case, the 22 year-old Indian IT worker has been charged under two sections of the Indian Penal Code for posting obscene content online, comments made about political leader Sonia Gandhi, and now faces up to five years in prison.
A summary of censorship in Singapore
The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information that two Thai websites (Fah Diew Kan and Prachatai) 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
In yet another bitter twist in Vietnam's pattern of repressing legitimate and peaceful dissent, the country's authorities used the arrival of the Olympic flame to arrest at least 14 people - most of whom were over 1,000 miles away from the torch relay.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrests of about 10 opposition activists that reportedly took place in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City today, coinciding with the Ho Chi Minh City leg of the Olympic torch relay. The government unfortunately kept its recent promise to crack down on "hostile forces always ready to disturb the peace."
The arrests of two local reporters last week for "abusing their power" by allegedly misreporting a major corruption scandal have led to an unusual confrontation between Vietnam's government and the country's state-controlled newspapers, says the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA).
Middle east & North Africa (MENA)
The "Investing in the Future" program focuses on strengthening grassroots media NGOs in the Middle East and North Africa
It is not just another training program. It is a comprehensive program including specialized trainings, media activities and community building for media professionals only. The program is implemented by the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists in Jordan and an alliance of NGOs and media institutions in the Middle East and North Africa
When most people log onto Facebook, the thought of fomenting revolution is pretty far from their minds. But in the Middle East, and most recently in Egypt, Facebook has become an important platform for dissent in countries that routinely clampdown on liberal activists, and where the mosque has traditionally been the only outlet for venting political frustration.
Egypt has detained a number of its citizens for using the social networking site Facebook to organize anti-government protests. What online sites are most effective in influencing politics -- and is the impact positive?
Since late March, 74,000 people have registered on a Facebook page, 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. Many would end up among what rights groups said were 500 Egyptians arrested during two months of political activism in Egypt
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. A quick posting using Twitter from Buck’s cell phone quickly had bloggers and friends spreading the word within seconds. Buck had only been using the micro-blogging site for a week after being taught about it from the same colleagues that sounded an alert when Buck was arrested.
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.
More than thirty people including several media workers were arrested and many claim to have been assaulted by Egypt's security forces outside a Cairo military tribunal where high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood were sentenced on Tuesday.
"Didish" is the project aimed at analyzing the links shared by Persian bloggers
Iran is in the throes of one of its most ferocious crackdowns on dissent in years
Iranian bloggers and activists on Tuesday condemned a move by a government panel to block access to several Web sites related to women's issues and human rights.
12 women sites now censored
Change4equality says that 12 Iranian sites supporting women's rights such as Change4equality or Photochange got filtered by Iranian authorities this past week.
The Hamas-run Telecommunications Ministry will start blocking websites deemed unfit according to Islamic rules
The Saudi blogosphere is in mourning after the sudden death of a young female web-diarist and author who battled for a freer media in the restrictive kingdom.
Hadeel Alhodaif died last Friday after failing to emerge from a coma she fell unexpectedly into last month, just two days after her 25th birthday.
Detailed research paper on Blogging in Saudi Arabia
Tunisia blocked access to both popular video-sharing websites, Youtube and Dailymotion, in order to prevent Tunisian netizens from watching video content featuring testimonies from former political prisoners and human rights activist
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 email@example.com
Cryptome is a website that functions as a repository for information about freedom of speech, cryptography, and surveillance.
Cryptome CN publishes information, documents and opinions banned by the People's Republic of China.
A resource for activists using mobile technology worldwide.
Tactical Technology Collective has come out with a new Citizen Journalism toolkit, to complement earlier toolkits for NGOs and activists on security, audio and video publishing on the internet and FOSS publishing.
Technopolity was created as a focused forum for people trying to understand technology policy issues in a holistic manner.
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 SocietyLocation: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