Saturday, May 31, 2008

Internet Freedom Alert 1.9

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 1.9 covers developments from May 25, 2008 - May 31, 2008. Links, Events and articles mentioned are summarized weekly from the Internet Freedom Bookmarks site - that can be accessed @

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Freedom House Urges Vote on Global Online Freedom Act

Freedom House urges the United States House of Representatives to adopt a bill that would help American technology companies resist pressure to cooperate with repressive regimes.

In a letter Tuesday, Freedom House called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring the Global Online Freedom Act (GOFA), HR 275, to a vote on the floor of the House. The bill is critical to U.S. efforts to combat internet censorship and to promote freedom of expression worldwide.

“Dozens of repressive regimes restrict freedom of expression by deploying censorship technologies,” said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor in the letter. “As congressional hearings and human rights reports have amply documented, some of these technologies originated from U.S. companies, and China has exploited personal data on internet users provided by a U.S. company to commit human rights abuses.”

Although the U.S. technology industry is developing voluntary standards for conduct, Freedom House believes a federal law is necessary to protect U.S. companies from becoming involved in censorship and surveillance efforts.



Internet censorship and mission creep

The internet perceives censorship as damage," John Gilmore famously observed, "and routes around it."

That might have been right in the early 1990s. In 2008, the state of internet freedom is looking a little rockier. Karen Karlekar, presenting Freedom House's survey of the state of internet freedom at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference last week, showed that repressing the internet is something many governments spend real money on

Extreme Internet Censorship isolates a country

Internet censorship exists in varying degrees all over the world. In some countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and a considerable number of Western European countries, it’s negligible and the government encourages the internet industry to self-regulate and also asks users themselves to use “filtering/blocking technologies’ to block objectionable content. In other words, the internet is not really policed by the government. But some countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, North Korea, China and Vietnam have a high degree of internet control by the government.

But luckily, China (like India) is a land of contradictions. Despite censorship, China came neck to neck with the United States in the sheer number of internet users (210 million) in January this year and by now must have surpassed the U.S. Censorship or not, internet users in China will keep rising.

It’s a real pity though that because of the censorship, all of us are cut off from Chinese bloggers and the Chinese net population. That is the worst thing about this type of censorship. It isolates a country from the rest of the world. It prevents the Chinese from communicating with those from other countries and prevents them from being exposed to another word view.

Freedom of Expression

International Public Opinion Says Government Should Not Limit Internet Access

A new poll of nations around the world finds worldwide support for the principle of media freedom and broad opposition to government having the right to limit access to the Internet. In many countries people want more media freedom than they have now, but in many Muslim countries and in Russia, there is substantial support for regulation of news or ideas that the government thinks could be politically destabilizing.

Digital Journal Mavericks: The Man Behind Global Internet Freedom

In the first article in a 10-part series on Mavericks of 2008, introduces you to a free-speech advocate playing citizen hacktivist. Welcome to the censorship-busting world of Professor Ron Deibert and his software Psiphon.

How Human Rights Groups and "Hacktivists" Are Using Internet Technology to Buck State Censors

More and more voices from around the globe are finding a place on the Internet -- even in countries where Web filters and censorship are the norm.


Facebook "a minefield of privacy invasion"

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) has filed a complaint against Facebook, asking the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to review the site's policies. The group describes Facebook as "a minefield of privacy invasion."


High-profile Tibetan Writer & Blogger Woeser Under Attack

Tsering Woeser, the prominent Tibetan poet and blogger, has been under attack from the Chinese nationalist hacker team Honker Union. Her Skype account has been broken into, and now other dissidents are being contacted by people pretending to be Woeser.

Many dissidents across the world use Skype for communications because of its (closed and unaudited) encryption; it's worth remembering that even if the channel is protected, the person on the other end may not be who you think it is.

Opinion Articles

Misreading the Arab Media - Op-Ed

The Arab press has many flaws, including being subject to state control; only 26 percent of our respondents said they felt their fellow Arab journalists “act professionally” and only 11 percent said they were truly independent in their work. Nevertheless, Arab news outlets are more powerful and free today than at any time in history. If the next administration is going to try to reach out to the Arab people, it won’t get far by blaming the messenger.

Country Reports

North America


Gov't wants into your laptop

The federal government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws that could make the information on iPods, laptops and other devices illegal, according to a leaked government document.

The deal could also force Internet service providers to hand over customer information without a court order. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement would see Canada join the U.S. and the European Union in a coalition against copyright infringement.

United States

Previewing McCain and Obama on geek issues

Last week, representatives for Barack Obama and John McCain addressed the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference on topics ranging from NSA surveillance to net neutrality to the competitiveness of American workers in the new economy.

US probes whether laptop copied on China trip

U.S. authorities are investigating whether Chinese officials secretly copied the contents of a government laptop computer during a visit to China by Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez

Ahead of Olympics, Congressman Pushes 'Global Online Freedom Act'

Republican congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey used a meeting with international human rights group Reporters Without Borders last week to lobby for passage of a bill aimed at curtailing U.S. tech companies' participation in foreign countries' internet censorship schemes. Smith is hoping that the bill reaches the floor of the house and passes before the Olympics begin in August.

Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law : May 08 Consultation

US Senate Judiciary Committee - Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law: Webcast of hearing on May 13, 08

'Internet freedom' bill targeting China cooperation faces rough road

A proposed federal law that would slap extensive regulations on technology companies doing business in China and other nations deemed to be unreasonably "Internet-restricting" is facing an uncertain future due to opposition from the Bush administration and telecommunications providers.

The House of Representatives bill says that search engines, Web e-mail services, and other Internet businesses may not place servers with user account information in those nations. Any "aggrieved" person anywhere in the world would have the right to sue U.S. companies in federal court.



Anti-corruption whistleblowing website blocked by Kenyan Government

In what amounts to an excellent impact indicator, the Government of Kenya is blocking access to one of its own websites, according to a Daily Nation story by Fred Mukinda. The website in question belongs to the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission!

The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission & Internet Censorship in Kenya - an Exercise in Futility

In what amounts to an excellent impact indicator, the Government of Kenya is blocking access to one of its own websites according to a Daily Nation story by Fred Mukinda. The website in question belongs to the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission! - Mapping Reports of The Post-Election Crisis in Kenya is a tool for people who witness acts of violence in Kenya in these post-election times. You can report the incident that you have seen, and it will appear on a map-based view for others to see.

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)


Muzzling Yoani

Well, the regime has accused Montaner of managing Yoani Sanchez's blogging career through his connections with the Spanish Newspaper El Pais. The Cuban regime, according to Montaner, has accused him of being behind Yoani's Ortega and Gasset prize



Battling Botnets and Online Mobs - Estonia's Defense Efforts during the Internet War

What would happen if tomorrow the Internet ceased to function? To most critics, and particularly state officials and policy makers, the possibility that the Internet could one day suddenly disappear is no more than a mere speculation, a highly improbable concept. On May 2007, the events that took place in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, proved everyone wrong. On that day, Estonia fell victim to the first-ever, real Internet war. This article delves into the political context that shaped the incident and analyzes some of the key lessons and policy implications that emerged as a consequence.


German telecom charged with spying on journalists

Deutsche Telekom has been charged with spying on journalists and employees. The case bears a striking resemblance to the 2006 HP pretexting scandal.

Russia and Central Asia


Introduction about censorship in Uzbekistan

De jure, mass media in Uzbekistan are free of governmental control within the law. De facto, some blogs are blocked by government because of any negative and critical information concerning president and Uzbekistan generally. Uzbek government prosecutes bloggers, who express their opinion about negative side of Uzbekistan, by several means

Asia Pacific


Australia considering cyber treaty

Australian IT reports that a proposed cyber treaty may mean new surveillance laws in Australia


Report Says Cambodia Media Subject to Political Pressures, Bias

With just two months to go before a general election in Cambodia, a report on the news media says that local journalists regularly face interference from the business and political elite. It says journalists work in a climate of fear in Cambodia and that there is impunity for those who threaten or kill them, allegations the government rejects.


China, U.S. resume frozen human rights dialogue

The United States on Tuesday gave a cautious endorsement to this week's resumption of a human rights dialogue with China that has been frozen since 2002.

The talks come a few months before Beijing hosts the Olympic Games in August and weeks after deadly riots in Tibet and the subsequent security crackdown that drew international criticism.

Interesting Times

World Press Freedom Committee - a blog dedicated to monitoring the Chinese authorities' attempts to censor or restrict access to the Internet, and other efforts to curtail freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

China dissident held 'for criticising quake response'

Chinese police have detained a political dissident because of remarks he made about the government's handling of the Sichuan earthquake, according to his family and supporters.

Chinese Censors: Yeah, We are Still Here

Surge in traffic from earthquake creates a short-lived gap in Chinese censor coverage. China's censors never went anywhere, and the country's Golden Shield project appears to be back to normal.

Citizens' Groups Step Up In China

Grass-roots organizations and informal networks of private citizens are playing a vital role in getting supplies to rescue workers and survivors of this month's devastating earthquake in China

'Tiananmen Mothers' website is blocked in China

Human Rights in China is reporting that the Chinese government is blockingthe Tiananmen Mothers' website

China Keeps Journalist's Family from Attending World Newspaper Congress

The wife and daughter of Li Changqing, the Chinese journalist awarded one of the world's most prestigious press freedom prizes, have been prevented from flying to Sweden to accept the honor on his behalf.


RIM Says It Can't Provide E-mail Interception in India

Research In Motion (RIM) has said it is unable to give the Indian government access to messages sent by its enterprise clients over the BlackBerry service.

The BlackBerry security architecture for enterprise customers is specially designed to exclude the capability for RIM or any third party to read encrypted information under any circumstances, the company said in an update to its Indian customers on Monday.


LDP, DPJ agree to pass Internet censorship bill

The Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan on Wednesday reached a basic agreement to pass a selective Internet access bill during the current Diet session to protect minors from harmful Web content on cell phones, sources said.

According to the sources, the bill centers on a measure obliging cell phone companies to introduce filtering services to prevent those aged under 18 from accessing potentially harmful Web sites, such as dating sites, with their cell phones.


Censorship Fears Grow with Malaysia Blogger Arrests

The arrest of two bloggers under the country's sedition laws has dampened hopes that the government may be softening its tough attitude toward online criticism

Malaysian bloggers arrest dashes hope for change

Recent moves by the Malaysian government indicate it may not be ready to soften its stance against the blogger community, which has a growing influence amongst the country's Netizens

Blogs and websites under investigation

Nobody and The Bolehland reported that 22 websites and blogs have been investigated by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission for airing false, pornographic and baseless allegations.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan journalist abducted, beaten: rights group

A Sri Lanka media rights group on Friday condemned the abduction and assault of a senior journalist, alleging it was motivated by his criticism of the government's war against Tamil Tiger rebels.

Keith Noyahr, a deputy editor and defence analyst with the English-language weekly The Nation, was abducted Thursday night, severely beaten and dropped off near his residence early Friday, the Free Media Movement (FMM) said.

Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

Al Qaeda Warrior Uses Internet to Rally Women

On the street, Malika El Aroud is anonymous in an Islamic black veil covering all but her eyes.


Freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt - Annual Report 2007

An annual report prepared by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information on the status of freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt during 2007

Beating of a "Facebook" Activist (Human Rights Watch, 10-5-2008)

Egyptian authorities should immediately investigate and prosecute those security officials responsible for beating Ahmed Maher Ibrahim,


Tunisian Prison Map

The map consists of a mashup work. This map displays an approximate listing of Tunisian prisons indicated on Google Maps

Censorship in Tunisia

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 activists. However Tunisian cyberactivists have been successful enough in besieging Carthage presidential palace, on Google Earth, with tens of human rights videos.

Recommended Resources - Home Page, Virtual Computer (VC), Web OS (WebOS) and Online Storage

A free Web-based - Virtual Computer

The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It

Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University, was online for the Washington Post this week to answer questions about his new book: The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It.

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

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: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

Octobert 9 - 10: 9th Latin American Congress of Communication Researchers

Location: Mexico City, Mexico

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

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