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 1.11 covers developments from June 8 - June 19, 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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This report interrogates and compares the censorship practices of the search engines provided by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! for the Chinese market along with the domestic Chinese search engine Baidu. It is based on tests conducted between November 2007 and April 2008 focused on uncovering web sites that have been censored from search engine results.
The report finds that although Internet users in China are able to access more information due to the presence of foreign search engines the web sites that are censored are often the only sources of alternative information available for politically sensitive topics. In addition to censoring the web sites of Chinese dissidents and the Falun Gong movement, the web sites of major news organizations, such as the BBC, as well as international advocacy organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, are also censored.
The data presented in this report indicates that there is not a comprehensive system - such as a list issued by the Chinese government - in place for determining censored content. In fact, the evidence suggests that search engine companies themselves are selecting the specific web sites to be censored raising the possibility of over blocking as well as indicating that there is significant flexibility in choosing how to implement China’s censorship requirements.
This article examines the implementation of self-regulation in China's internet sector through the forging of subtler control relationships between media corporations and the state. It uses three case studies of domestic and global media joint venture operations in the converging areas of online and mobile gaming to show how media commercialization is balanced by control modalities to reaffirm the government as a central agency in the gradual transition to a socialist-market economy. Within these processes of controlled commodification, the government uses trust-building to establish cultural leadership as a way of protecting political and social cohesion while benefiting from global economic integration. The study reveals the cultural logic, or hegemonic norm, that underpins the new bottom-up business model for media management in China. Underscoring these processes, however, is a quasi- Sartrean irony of 'winner loses' logic, whereby increased transparency or access to information is limited to entertainment and not a substantially greater say for citizens in the formulation of China's future.
Great summary by Rebecca MacKinnon on last week's Chinese Internet Research Conference held in Hong Kong.
Freedom of Expression
Just as the Web is making it easier for crowds to collaborate, the Web is also making it simple for mobs to crush free expression
World Information Access Project at the University of Washington report on 2008 Blogger Arrests
last year saw a tripling in the number of bloggers arrested around the world compared to 2006, according to a report from the University of Washington.
Authoritarian regimes around the world are dealing with troublesome citizen bloggers by arresting them, and they're doing it more often, according to researchers at the University of Washington. Last year, 2007, was a record year for blogger arrests, with three times as many as in 2006. Egypt, Iran and China are the most dangerous places to blog about political life, accounting for more than half of all arrests since blogging became big,
More bloggers than ever face arrest for exposing human rights abuses or criticising governments, says a report. Citizens have faced arrest and jail for blogging about many different topics, said the World Information Access (WIA) report.
Antony Van Couvering from names@work writes that ICANN’s constituencies are a “bad idea“. He makes some interesting remarks. Among others, he points out that the GNSO includes groups that seem to be redundant (the Business and IP constituencies) and others like domainers which are not representend in the ICANN arena, yet are an integral part of the domain name business.
Ketan Tanna from the Times of India writes a review of the recent Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference (CFP2008) held in New Haven in May.
Special Issue of The Community Informatics Journal that focuses on Wireless Networking for communities
The availability of low-cost mobile phones and the already broad coverage of GSM networks in Developing Countries are a huge opportunity to provide services, based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), that would trigger development and improve people’s lives. A first step in that direction has been the apparition, last two years, of numerous success stories using mobile phones in development. However, there is still a gap between the development of few services that demonstrate the proof of concept, and the availability of thousands of services in all Developing Countries of the World. This paper explores this gap, and the potential solution to fill it with the enabling of Mobile Web technologies.
In a first part, the paper revisits the current technologies, mostly SMS, used in the mentioned success stories, and their abilities to scale well. In a second part, we present the strength of Web technologies, the major challenges specific to this context, and some potential directions to address them. In the last part, we introduce a potential program W3C may start to help enabling the next generation of Mobile Web applications for rural communities of the Developing World.
Declan McCullagh's article on C|Net reviewing the security issues of instant messaging systems.
DNS records of one of the most popular photo sharing websites, Photobucket, were hacked yesterday by Turkish Hacking Group. The site returned a hacked page courtesy of the NetDevilz hacking group, a Turkish web site defacement group most widely known for its defacement of the adult video site Redtube earlier this year.
Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, has just released its first dedicated report on social networking in the UK.
Working Wikily: How Networks Are Changing Social Change"
A blog posting that deals with the pros and cons of using mobiles for social development and linked to the discussions on the future of telecentres and the role of mobiles in complementing and / or supplanting them.
When tens of thousands of Koreans converged in the center of Seoul on Tuesday for a mass protest against the new president, many were clutching two vital items: a candle and a mobile phone loaded with snazzy features.
Korea, one of the most wired and technology savvy in the world, the month-long series of gatherings has also been a valuable testing ground for the latest communication devices, gadgets and websites. From high-resolution camera phones to instant broadcasting software and water cannon-resistant camcorders, the latest advances in communications were in evidence during the five weeks since the protests began.
Many demonstrators rely on Internet forums to get information on rallying points, weather forecasts and riot police presence. With powerful camera phones, they are able to shoot photos and videos that they can instantly upload on Internet sites thanks to high-speed wireless technology.
Leading experts share their perspective on email surveillance, and tips on how to keep your inbox secure.
Advances in technology have the potential to do great good, but they also carry the risk of doing damage if they are introduced without proper care and forethought. One of The UK Royal Academy of Engineering's priorities is to lead debate on matters of engineering by guiding thinking, influencing public policy making and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas. This report is a contribution to the public debate on information technology and its possible impacts on our privacy.
In the roughly 36 hours since the Canadian DMCA was introduced, the outrage from thousands of Canadians has been nothing short of remarkable. Nearly 50,000 people have joined the Copyright for Canada Facebook group.
Rogers Communications Inc. is defending its control over the flow of internet traffic as necessary but light-handed, amid growing complaints from users and the threat of intervention by regulators
Bell Canada and TELUS, Canada’s two largest Internet service providers (ISPs), will begin charging per-site fees on most Internet sites, reports anonymous sources within TELUS.“It's beyond censorship, it is killing the biggest ecosystem of free expression and freedom of speech that has ever existed,” I Power spokesperson Reese Leysen said. I Power was the first group to report on the possible changes.
Pew reports that A record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize others
Verizon, Sprint and Time Warner Cable have agreed to block access to Internet bulletin boards and Web sites nationwide that disseminate child pornography.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo unveiled landmark agreements on Tuesday with Sprint, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications to shutter major sources of online child pornography
Sprint, Time Warner, and Verizon have agreed to block websites and newsgroups containing child pornography. The deal, brokered by New York Attorney General threatened the ISPs with fraud charges
Cable service operators Comcast and Time Warner Cable said yesterday that they would begin testing new approaches that would slow Internet access for heavy users and charge more to those who want additional speed.
A bill to promote and enhance public safety by facilitating the rapid deployment of IP-enabled 911 and E-911 services, encourage the Nation's transition to a national IP-enabled emergency network, and improve 911 and E-911 access to those with disabilities. Based on information from the FCC, The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would cost about $1 million over the 2008-2012 period, assuming availability of the appropriated amounts. CBO expects that enacting the bill would not have a significant effect on direct spending or revenues.
The Rwandan government wants to use advanced information communication technologies, or ICTs, to transform its traditionally agricultural society into what has been dubbed "the Singapore of Africa". Pilot projects to hook schools and clinics up to the internet are already underway, and there is a growing number of telecenters that enable rural people to access the Internet. Cathy Majtenyi reports from Rwanda on the impact of initiatives taken so far and future ICT development plans
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
In a new book about his relationship with Bolivia, the 81-year-old former president criticised Yoani Sanchez, who posts to the Generation Y blog from Havana, although he did not mention her by name. ...
The French state and internet service providers have struck a deal to block sites carrying child pornography or content linked to terrorism or racial hatred, Interior Minister Michel Alliot-Marie announced on Tuesday." The article is thin on details, but what it does say is bad enough: "Under the French plan, internet users, via a platform, will be able to signal inappropriate sites and the state, receiving the complaints in real time, will then decide whether the sites are to go on a so-called black list to be passed on to internet service providers to enforce site blocks."
France is joining at least five other countries where Internet service providers block access to child pornography and to content linked to terrorism and racial hatred, the French interior minister said Tuesday.
France has just joined the ranks of countries like China, Sweden, and Great Britain in blocking its citizens from accessing some content on the internet.
The French state and Internet service providers have struck a deal to block sites carrying child pornography or content linked to terrorism or racial hatred, Interior Minister Michel Alliot-Marie announced Tuesday.
Coupled with the story today that French ISPs have agreed to block a wide variety of distasteful content, including hate speech as well as child pornography, today is a day to reflect on possible negative consequences of such an approach
German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom stands accused of having monitored telephone calls of business journalists, board members and shareholders. An anonymous fax may result in a criminal investigation
The Râşcani District Court from the Moldavian capital of Kishinev has ordered the sequestration of personal computers of about 12 young people who expressed critical opinions against the ruling communist party of the Republic of Moldavia on Internet forums and news portals such as forum.md, torrentsmd.com, desteptarea.info and unimedia.md.
This legislation will allow for the Swedish National Defense Radio Agency (FRA) to wiretap Internet traffic leaving the country.
The UK's House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has published its report on - A Surveillance Society
Russia and Central Asia
The Committee to Protect Journalists denounces the repeated efforts by authorities in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia to shut down the regional news Web site Ingushetiya - one of the few remaining independent news outlets covering the volatile North Caucasus - for alleged extremism.
Turkmenistan has begun allowing private citizens to connect to the Internet in the latest sign the reclusive Central Asian nation is opening up to the world.
Mizzima News reports that the Burmese military junta authorities are once again questioning blogger Ko Nay Phone Latt, who has been in custody for about five months. He was interrogated twice about his blog without being produced in court, soon after Cyclone Nargis lashed Burma and once more on 15 June 2008.
Cambodian rights and free expression advocates are anxious and concerned in the run- up to the general elections scheduled for late July 2008, sounding the alarm over recent attacks on the media that threaten the press and the open conduct of campaigns.
Western journalists often write about the ability of Chinese bloggers to challenge authority and provide an alternative voice to the propaganda that often fills Chinaâ€™s official news media. How accurate is that ?
Human Rights Watch has issued its report to the organization's council expressing special concern about four countries, including China.
Beijing's magazine Time Out Beijing has been banned from distribution by China's censors. The magazine has been targeted by the government as a potential threat to a smooth and safe Olympic games.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed its anger at new restrictions on media as the Olympic Games approach
The internet and mobile phones have undermined attempts by China's secretive rulers to control the news, a senior Communist party official admitted today.
The Chinese point of view on internet censorship, by Ru Guangrong, of the Chinese Information Center for Defense Science and Technology.
Feng Zhenghu, a Shanghai-based rights defender, online writer and freelance journalist, has been detained in a week that has seen significant backsliding in the climate for freedom of expression in Chin
Reporters without Borders announced it's concerned about the whereabouts of Huang Qi. He's the founder of the Chinese human rights website 64Tianwang, a blog about the Tianaman Square massacre. On Tuesday night Huang was forced into a car by three unknown men in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu
Chinese police arrested Internet writer Zeng Hongling in Chengdu for publishing personal accounts of the earthquake on overseas Chinese-language Web sites, according to news reports and a Chinese press freedom advocate
National security agencies are warning businesses and federal officials that laptops and e-mail devices taken to the Beijing Olympics are likely to be penetrated by Chinese agents aiming to steal secrets or plant bugs to infiltrate U.S. computer networks.
National Geographic magazine dedicated its May issue to China, but some in China had trouble reading it because pages had been glued together.
China's webspace is infamous for censorship, but increasingly, public relations firms there are helping their clients "manage" online conversations. China-based firms such as Daqi, Chinese Web Union and CIC "charge $500 - $25,000 monthly to monitor postings and squelch negative information or to create positive buzz," reports BusinessWeek. Their clients include Nike, PepsiCo, McDonald's, Toyota and L'Oreal. Chinese Web Union (CWU) "pays thousands of people to write nice things about clients, and it compensates forum leaders who spread positive information and quash bad publicity."
In this email exchange with four people who have inside perspective on China's censorship in general and Web filtering/blocking in particular, FRONTLINE explores the great battle that's underway in China: In the age of the Internet, can the Communist Party regime maintain its tight control over what information is available to its citizens?
The move, which came in a joint decree from the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (Depkominfo) and the ministry of Culture and Tourism (Depbudpar), is intended to boost the Indonesian ad industry. "Advertisements to be shown in Indonesia must use human and natural resources of Indonesia," it said.
Will this affect online ads as well? Will Google Adds be blocked in Indonesia?
Pakistan has told the European Union that more attacks on EU diplomatic missions abroad cannot be ruled out unless the European Union represses freedom of expression
Pakistan will ask the European Union countries to amend laws regarding freedom of expression in order to prevent offensive incidents such as the printing of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad
Freedom of Speech, Not Freedom From Consequences, an article about the recent controversy on Singapore’s reaction to US Citizen and former Singaporan lawyer Gopolan Nair who was arrested, detained and released on bail for “taunting a Singaporan judge” raises some interesting questions about the freedom of expression.
The last leaked MICT blocklist published by FACT and Wikileaks in advance of the Cybercrime Law clearly shows 17,883 websites were blocked by MICT. ICT bureaucrats have offered wildly differing figures, from as low as 12 up to 2,000
Excitement over the Internet in Vietnam is such that members of the new wired generation wait in line for hours to surf on PCs installed in cafes throughout the dense city.
Middle East & North Africa (MENA)
According to Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the "Mosawah" Association for Human Rights, on 9 June 2008 the Azzohour Court of Port Said is expected to begin reviewing a unique case filed by Trust Chemicals Inc. against blogger Tamer Mabrouk. Tamer Mabrouk is the owner of "The Truth Blog".
The blogger is accused of defamation for posting information that revealed that Trust Chemical had dumped chemicals into Manzallah Lake and the Suez Canal. Tamer Mabrouk also reported on harsh working conditions in the company. These conditions are the reasons behind a recent worker sit-in, where workers asked for access to copies of their contracts and demanded that the company stop firing workers arbitrarily.
The Egyptian authorities have intensified their onslaught on satellite broadcasters and journalists, the latest in a series of attacks against free expression and the free flow of information in a country once at the forefront of press freedom in the Middle East, say IFEX members.
Last week, security forces raided Cairo News Company, a prominent company which leases satellite equipment and services about 40 satellite channels in Egypt, and seized five sets of broadcasting equipment.
In May 2008, Syrian authorities detained a political writer, began the trial of two activists, and restricted the travel of at least seven others. Amidst increasing calls in Western countries to increase engagement with Syria, Human Rights Watch urged that an improvement in the treatment of these activists be at the heart of any future talks with the Syrian authorities
The Remote Sensing Project at Yale Universityâ€™s Genocide Studies Program has just released a 50-page Working Paper entitled â€œTracking the Genocide in Darfur: Population Displacement as Recorded by Remote Sensing.â€
To help connect journalists with the opportunities and information they need to better themselves and raise journalism standards in their countries
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Freenet is a tool that lets users publish pretty much anything online "without fear of censorship." The software stores your data on a decentralized, anonymous network of nodes made up of other Freenet users' computers
Calls for Proposals
ICANN is actively soliciting expressions of interest from organisations seeking to host its Asia Pacific International Public Meeting in 2009.
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
Location: Montréal, Québec, Canada
Conference on Internet Policy, regulation and governance, McGill University
Sessions will deal with topics such as Internet Governance beyond the Nation State, Cyber Regulation, Convergence of Telecommunications, PC and Broadcast; Competition; Deregulation; Free Speech vs. Defamation/Hate Speech, Privacy vs. Security; Consumer Protection, Cryptography, Domain Name, Open Source, Patents, Copyright, Trademarks, Cybercrime and Terrorism, E-Commerce, Legal Liability and e-Transactions, Property and Piracy, Telemarketing Fraud et. al.
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.
November 8 - 10: VIII International Human Rights Colloquium
"60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Challenges for the Global South"
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
The VIII International Human Rights Colloquium is an annual capacity building and peer-learning event designed for young activists from the Global South (Africa, Asia and Latin America). The objective of the VIII International Human Rights Colloquium is to strengthen the impact of human rights activists work and to offer the opportunity to build new collaborative networks among activists, academics and the Organization of the United Nations (UN).
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