Saturday, July 5, 2008

Internet Freedom Alert 1.12


Internet Freedom Alert 1.12 (July 5, 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 1.12 covers developments from June 19 - July 4, 2008. Links, Events and articles mentioned are summarized weekly from the Internet Freedom Bookmarks site - that can be accessed @

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The 2008 Global Voices Citizen Media Summit

Global Voices Summit 2008 in Budapest

Blogging that matters

blogging matters for the same reason journalism has always mattered. Discussions at the Citizen Media Summit highlight that fact.

BBC - Radio Five Live - Pods and Blogs - Podcast from Global Voices Summit08

Podcast covering the Global Voices Summit08. Global Voices it is the pre-eminent online portal for the aggregation of blog posts around the world.

The Summit focused on issues of censorship and the repression of bloggers. While these can seem like dry subjects, many of those who attended the conference had paid a high price for their determination to express themselves online. In the extended edition of Pods and Blogs below we dedicate most of the programme to the summit.

BBC - Radio 4 - iPM - Global Voices Summit 2008: Not just anyone..

This must be every repressive regime's worst nightmare a room full of passionate bloggers determined to geThis week's iPM comes from the Summit and focuses on the issue of censorship and the persecution of bloggers, themes that come up time and time again at the conference. (click here to listen, unfortunately I can't update the podcast from here). t use the latest technology to report what's happening in their countries

Voices without Votes | Americans vote. The world speaks.

Voices without Votes opens a window on what non-Americans are saying in blogs and citizen media about US foreign policy and the 2008

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 08, Ustream.TV

Video archive of the talks, panels and presentations given at the 2008 Global Voices Citizen Media Summit in Budapest (June 2008)

Internet para derribar la censura

La capital húngara es la ciudad escogida para la puesta en común de los más de 200 activistas, periodistas, bloggers y colaboradores de este proyecto promovido por la Universidad de Harvard, Reuters y la Fundación Knight para promover la comunicación y la información libre, especialmente en aquellos lugares donde las libertades están recortadas.



Perspectives on Transparency

When Google first added this censorship notification to — the China-specific version of Google — its significance was largely overshadowed by the fact that they had agreed to censor their search engine at all. Following Google, Yahoo! also added a censorship notification, as did Microsoft. All three companies were grilled before Congressional Committees and human rights organizations. Now the domestic Chinese search engine Baidu — and others including Soso, Sougou, Yodao — introduced a censorship notification? What does this mean?

The filtering matrix

Increasingly, states are adopting practices aimed at regulating and controlling the Internet as it passes through their borders. Seeking to assert information sovereignty over their cyber–territory, governments are implementing Internet content filtering technology at the national level. The implementation of national filtering is most often conducted in secrecy and lacks openness, transparency, and accountability. Policy–makers are seemingly unaware of significant unintended consequences, such as the blocking of content that was never intended to be blocked.

Once a national filtering system is in place, governments may be tempted to use it as a tool of political censorship or as a technological “quick fix” to problems that stem from larger social and political issues. As non–transparent filtering practices meld into forms of censorship the effect on democratic practices and the open character of the Internet are discernible. States are increasingly using Internet filtering to control the environment of political speech in fundamental opposition to civil liberties, freedom of speech, and free expression. The consequences of political filtering directly impact democratic practices and can be considered a violation of human rights.

Guiding the Censor's Scissors: Assessing Internet Filtering by Derek Bambauer

On-line censorship is on the rise, in democratic states - including the U.S. - as well as authoritarian ones. It is no longer sufficient to employ a country's mode of governance as a proxy for the legitimacy of its Internet restrictions. In addition, attempting to apply one state's normative views regarding on-line content to practices of other states is likely to devolve, unhelpfully, into accusations of cultural colonialism or repression. This Article seeks a new approach to evaluating the legitimacy of Internet filtering by focusing on the process by which censorship decisions are made, the protections available for content owners and users, and the narrowness with which these choices are implemented. It hopes to engage a range of stakeholders - from governments to watchdogs to activists to corporations - in assessing filtering regimes through quantitative metrics, and then to utilize these measurements in both public and private decisionmaking.


ICANN Paves Way For New Domain Names

The Internet's key oversight agency relaxed rules today to permit the introduction of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new Internet domain names

ICANN set to spark internet land grab

The body that oversees the internet’s structure yesterday approved a “land grab” for new web addresses that will allow people to apply for any top-level domain name — but it will cost them at least $100,000 to do so.

Scripts other than Latin — for example Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Cyrillic — will also be allowed, opening up the internet to many millions in the Middle East and Asia.

Googling could thwart hopes of cash bonanza. Until now top-level domain names— the .com or .uk at the end of a web address — have been restricted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the international not-for-profit body set up in 1998 to to oversee the structure of the internet and maintain its stability. Icann regulates the way web addresses are assigned to ensure that computers can communicate with each other

Unforeseen Legal Consequences of Implementing Internationalized Top-Level Domains

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is currently analyzing technical and policy implications regarding the introduction of Internationalized Top-Level Domains (IDN TLDs) into the root. This is an important step in the continued evolution of the Internet by enabling language communities of the world that write non-Latin and extended Latin scripts (i.e. use languages that cannot be directly represented with the US-ASCII character set) to utilize their languages on the Internet. To date, the ICANN staff and Board have elected to focus their policy discussion primarily on country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) through a fast-track ccTLD only IDN initiative.

While the IDNC Working Group (IDNC) has made constructive progress on proposing a framework for the introduction of an initial set of IDN TLDs, the approach taken by the IDNC from a legal perspective is fundamentally flawed. The IDNC has failed to recognize that an IDN equivalent of country name involves much more than making a mere linguistic determination as to which IDN string is "meaningful" in a particular "official language", but also involves a number of international legal determinations as well, with far reaching legal implications. ICANN Staff must properly consider, reference and incorporate the comprehensive body of work that has been developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in this area prior to making any determination on how it proceeds with respect to the adoption of the IDNC Final Report.

ICANN Takes First Step to Becoming a Global Content Regulator

The watershed moment when the world first acquired a global Internet content regulator.

Asociación Dotfam

Asociación Dotfam, is the NGO that is proposing .fam as new global top level domain (gTLD) focused on families. Their website, currently just in Spanish - details their proposal. They are one of the first group of organizations waiting for ICANN to approve its new gTLD policy so that they can submit their proposal.

Abacus America, Inc. in 1999 submitted an application to ICANN for .biz; .cool; .inc; .fam and .xxx. They were turned down, as was their reconsideration request. The Dot Fam assocition seems to be a different group altogether..


New Report Found Over Half of Malware-Infected Websites Based on Chinese Network Blocks

The majority of the Internets malware-infected websites are located on Chinese networks, finds a new report released today by, the university-based research initiative aimed at protecting users from dangerous software. The report also identifies the 10 network blocks that contain the largest number of badware sites. Six of the 10 are located in China. website is inaccessible in China.

The TOR project reports that their project website is blocked and inaccessible in china

Opinion Articles

Politics on the web

Op/Ed article in the Economist - Authoritarian governments can lock up bloggers. It is harder to outwit them

Country Reports

North America


Canadian ISPs Undermine Net Neutrality

A net-neutrality activist group has uncovered plans for the demise of the free Internet by 2010 in Canada. By 2012, the group says, the trend will be global. 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.

Watchdog says Net regulation must be addressed

The head of Canada's Competition Bureau says policy makers are finally going to have to address the thorny question of regulating the Internet, as converging communications and media change consumer expectations and behaviour.

The Canadian Newspaper Association Expresses Concern With Press Freedoms Under C-61

The Canadian Newspaper Association has issued a position paper with its views on proposed amendments to Canada's Copyright Act (C-61). While the paper addresses several issues, its concerns with the anti-circumvention provisions are the most striking

The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mulls rules for managing Internet traffic

The fight between Bell Canada and a consortium of independent Web service providers over how traffic is allowed to flow over the Internet is "only the tip of the iceberg," for an industry that could find itself in more disputes, Canada's telecom regulator has warned.

Rights organization dismisses complaint against Maclean's

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a hate speech complaint against Maclean's magazine

Maclean's responds to recent decision from the Canadian Human Rights Commission

Maclean's magazine is pleased that the Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed the complaint brought against it by the Canadian Islamic Congress. The decision is in keeping with our long-standing position that the article in question, "The Future Belongs to Islam," an excerpt from Mark Steyn's best-selling book America Alone, was a worthy piece of commentary on important geopolitical issues, entirely within the bounds of normal journalistic practice.

Though gratified by the decision, Maclean's continues to assert that no human rights commission, whether at the federal or provincial level, has the mandate or the expertise to monitor, inquire into, or assess the editorial decisions of the nation's media. And we continue to have grave concerns about a system of complaint and adjudication that allows a media outlet to be pursued in multiple jurisdictions on the same complaint, brought by the same complainants, subjecting it to costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the inconvenience. We enthusiastically support those parliamentarians who are calling for legislative review of the commissions with regard to speech issues.

United States

US Congress approved - New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008

A bill to promote and enhance public safety by facilitating the rapid deployment of IP-enabled 911 and E-911 services and improve access to those with disabilities

FISA Amendments Act of 2008 approved by the US House of representatives

H.R. 6304: FISA Amendments Act of 2008 - To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish a procedure for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence, and for other purposes

GAO Issues Report on Privacy

A hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee, the Government Accountability Office released a report on privacy titled “Alternatives Exist for Enhancing Protection of Personally Identifiable Information.”

Data Breach Incidents On The Rise Since January

The non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center released statistics on Monday showing that the group's data breach count has reached an all-time high

Free Internet is part of new FCC airwaves auction

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday said it wants to auction a section of wireless airwaves to buyers willing to provide free broadband Internet service without pornography. The agency asked for public comment on its plan to auction an unused portion of the wireless spectrum with the condition that the winning bidder offer free Internet access and filter out obscene content on part of those airwaves.

Successful bidders for the spectrum would also be required to provide coverage to at least half of the United States within four years, and to at least 95 percent of the U.S. population by the end of the 10-year license, the FCC said.

The FCC Stumbles Into Internet Filtering

Acting on a request of M2Z Networks, which wants to provide "free, family-friendly wireless broadband," the FCC proposes to require licensees of this spectrum band to offer free two-way wireless broadband Internet service to the public, with least 25% of their network capacity. So far so good, but on the next page, the agency guts the meaning of "broadband Internet" with a content filtering requirement.

NebuAd Forges Packets, Violates Net Standards

An online advertising firm called NebuAd that pays ISPs to let it eavesdrop on web users doesn't just passively record traffic, but actively injects fake packets into responses from other websites in order to deliver cookies to users, according to a technical report released by the advocacy groups Free Press and Public Knowledge.

Youtube data disclosures: The limits of data governance. reports that a US judge compelled YouTube to turn over its complete user logs - including time stamps and IP addresses, which might be used to discover the real life identity behind a request.

Google must give complete Youtube log file to Viacom

The US Court dealing with the YouTube v. Viacom case has ordered Google to provide Viacom the log file of the use of the Youtube service

Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom

Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users' names and IP addresses, to Viacom

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)


Brazil's Mobile Internet Promise

Brazil's mobile opportunity combines a massive subscriber base with sustained growth in online ad spending, creative local talent and experience with global brands. By 2012, eMarketer projects Brazil will have around 44 million mobile Internet subscribers, roughly 25% of its total mobile user base of 176 million. This will be up from 7.1 million mobile Internet users in 2008.

A draft law proposed in the Brazilian senate, if approved will endanger both Internet Freedom as well as Network Neutrality in Brazil

Reports that a draft law proposed in the Brazilian senate, if approved will endanger both Internet Freedom as well as Network Neutrality in Brazil

Brazilian senator proposes legislation that seeks to criminalize unauthorized translation of comics, fan magazines, mange and peer to peer file sharing networks

The Brazilian blogger Sergio Amadeu reports that a legislative proposal has been tabled in the Brazilian parliament to criminalize unauthorized translation of comics, fan magazines, mange and peer to peer file sharing networks.


Terrorismo "made in U.S.A." en las Américas

Cuban government run "terrorism information wiki" now online. Makes for interesting reading (in Spanish)

Designing for Cuba: necessary in(ter)vention

Cubans live in acute technological scarcity and political captivity yet thrive off technological improvisation, the informal market and a burgeoning Sneakernet that makes up for the lack of internet. The reaction to the information on this Sneakernet has recently brought Cubans a newfound sense of the possibility in political awareness and engagement. To put it in historical context, Sneakernets in Russia and Iran were vital in creating alternate dialogues and agendas.

Many thought that the recent succession in Cuban leadership would be an opportunity to accelerate Cuba's liberalization and integration into the global economy. Instead Cuba has shown that it is steadfast in proceeding with an unconventional developmental pattern that has to this point witnessed the emergence of technological revelations spanning community-based sustainable agriculture, to leadership in hardware and software development for the developing world.

This lecture shares REGIONAL's recent in-field Cuban research that spans the socio-technological, the political, and the top-secret. It will reveal how their research led to the design of a simple and affordable digital device that would potentially accelerate Cuban social change. And it discusses how an understanding of Cuba's development in a technologically walled garden offers us the chance to consider this closed-system metaphor for how the world is increasingly accepting itself to be.


European Commission

EU Commission - China's censorship of Web unacceptable

EU's telecoms chief Viviane Reding said on Friday that China's censorship of the Internet was "unacceptable" and that the Beijing Olympics were a chance for the country to show its commitment to free flow of information

European IT chief backs Net neutrality

The European Commission appears to have thrown its weight behind the principle of Net neutrality, after the telecommunications commissioner told a global Internet forum that the issue was "a political question to be answered by the people".

Viviane Reding was speaking to delegates on Tuesday at an Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) ministerial meeting in South Korea, on the subject of the "future of the Internet economy". Because of "explosive developments" such as the dramatic proliferation of online video, she said, "some are starting to question the founding principles of openness and neutrality that have been essential for the development and tremendous innovation power of the Internet"

Hearing of European Court of Justice on Data Retention Directive

Heisse reports about the hearing of the ECJ in Ireland v. Council and Parliament, a case about the legal base for the data retention directive (2006/24/EC). Interestingly, the Dutch government also defends the legal base

ISPs to Ban P2P With New European Telecom Package?

ZeroPaid is reporting that ISPs could be turned into the copyright police through European legislation that received a number of 'intellectual property' amendments


Belarusian lawmakers backs bill cracking down on Internet journalism, last free medium

Lawmakers in Belarus on Tuesday backed a bill that critics have called the most repressive media legislation in Europe. The bill would allow the government to close Internet sites without warning and imprison journalists for reproducing foreign media reports. It would also forbid unregistered journalists from posting material online.


France Preparing for Future Cyberwars, Says President

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced major military reforms involving an in-depth change in strategic priorities and is gradually preparing France for the fights of future. Plans include expanding the range of weapons arsenal in terms of computer warfare, said the president in his announcement this week.

France is not alone to be deeply worried about the issue of crippling cyber attacks. In mid-May, the Atlantic Alliance, which brings together dozens of Northern America, Western and Eastern European countries, launched what has come to be known as the "NATO Excellence Center for Cybernetics Defense" in Tallinn, Estonia.

France to blacklist Web sites

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. The plan, part of a larger effort to fight cybercriminality, is to go into effect in September when a "black list" will be built up based on input from Internet users who signal sites dealing with the offensive material, the minister said.

France clamps down on Internet piracy

France moved Wednesday to clamp down on Internet piracy with a bill that would set up a new agency to track down cybersurfers who illegally download music, videos and movies from the web.

Culture Minister Christine Albanel presented the bill to cabinet, saying it was not about "policing" the web but rather encouraging responsible use of the Internet. The legislation would set up a new administrative body that would receive complaints from the music and film industry and track down offenders through Internet service providers. An e-mail warning would be sent to suspected downloaders followed by a registered letter. After two strikes, offenders would risk losing their Internet subscription for up to a year.

Internet Pirates In France To Lose Broadband

France is purporting to take a hard line on copyrighted media (movies and music). According to, a new measure approved yesterday by the French Cabinet would kill the Internet connection to those caught downloading illegally. 'There is no reason that the internet should be a lawless zone," President Sarkozy told his Cabinet yesterday as it endorsed the "three-strikes-and-you're-out" scheme that from next January will hit illegal downloaders where it hurts. Under a cross-industry agreement, internet service providers (ISPs) must cut off access for up to a year for third-time offenders.' Google and video site Dailymotion have refused to sign up as consenting participants, and the state data protection agency, consumer and civil liberties groups and the European Parliament are all against the proposal as well. France may be pioneer in this kind of legislation, but they sure have their work cut out for them."


Greek government plans to censor blogs

The Greek government presented a preliminary draft of a new law about internet blogs. According to the majority of Greek bloggers,this law is an attempt of the Greek government to censor blogs.


Rights group pushing telecoms on data privacy

The Hungarian pressure group Társaság a Szabadságjogokért (TASZ, Company for Freedom Rights) has turned to the country's Constitutional Court in hopes of voiding current law regulating how telephone and Internet companies handle their users' personal data, Magyar Nemzet reports


Prospect of Internet Blocking in Ireland

The recently-established Office for Internet Safety (OIS) has had exploratory discussions with the Garda Siochána about using internet blocking technologies in Ireland.

Blocking technologies can be used to prevent access to specific web pages, domains or pages hosted by certain internet providers. For example, the technology can be used to draw up a blacklist of blocked sites or a whitelist of permissible sites.

Belfast blogger Alan Murray is facing charges of harassment for writing about public figures on his blog.


Italian Institute for Privacy

A group of Privacy experts and Lawyers in Italy Launch the Italian Institute for Privacy.

Italian blog closed by Police

the blog of the Italian journalist Antonino Monteleone was closed, without notification, by the Polizia Postale of Calabria under accusations of defamation


Lithuania Weathers Cyber Attack, Braces for Round 2

Hundreds of Lithuanian government and corporate Web sites were hacked and plastered with Soviet-era symbols and other digital graffiti this week in what appears to be a coordinated cyber attack launched by Russian hacker groups


Spain Ignites 'Digital Canon'

Spanish consumers will from July 1 pay a special anti-piracy tax on all new gadgets capable of recording, copying or storing sound and images. The tax, known as the "digital canon"

A spanish tribunal condemns a blogger for "defaming" the country's copyright enforcers.

Julio Alonso, the person behind WeblogsSL and author of the "Merodeando" blog has been found guilty of defaming the "honor" of Sociedad General de Autores (SGAE). - the spanish society of authors, and key copyright enforces in Spain.

One thing is to go after internet users for "copyright infringement", but going after bloggers who exercise their Human Right of freedom of expression is a very different matter. Freedom of Expression activists worldwide should closely follow this case, as it is likely to be appealed.

Major Record Labels Sue Spanish P2P Pioneer Pablo Soto, MP2P Technologies, Suit Seeks $20mm USD

MP2P Technologies ( announced today that it has been served with a lawsuit from what remains of the four major record label


Sweden passes eavesdropping law

Sweden has adopted legislation that will give military intelligence sweeping powers to eavesdrop on all crossborder e-mail and telephone communications. After heated debate and last-minute changes late Wednesday, lawmakers approved the bill, which has outraged some lawmakers and prompted protesters to hand out copies of George Orwell's novel "1984" outside Parliament.

Firestorm in Swedish media over 'EU blogger registry'

Swedish media have erroneously reported that the EU plans to register and bill all bloggers, setting off a firestorm of reaction in the country.


Ukrainian Regulator to crack down on VoIP resellers

Ukraine’s National Communications Regulatory Commission has proposed tighter regulations on long-distance IP telephony operators, stipulating that to qualify for a licence VoIP companies must either own networks, have the financial resources to build infrastructure, or have agreements in place to use the networks of other companies.

United Kingdom

Law Lords consider UK hacker case

Extraditing a Briton accused of the "biggest military computer hack of all time" to the US would be an abuse of proceedings, the law lords have heard.

Russia and Central Asia


Uzbekistan: Fighting internet censorship

Uzbekistan is remaining one of the repressive countries in the region that maintains a tight grip on mass media. Despite it has all the nominal guarantees of the freedom of speech, the media is being systematically attacked by the government.

The blogosphere of Uzbekistan today is discussing the action to fight with internet censorship in Uzbekistan. The open-ended action was organized by the Information Agency, and a blog Civil Society in Uzbekistan. The organizers state that the ban on independent and unbiased information became total following the Andijon events in 2005, and today several hundreds of websites are made not accessible via state controlled internet providers. Blog “Civic Society in Uzbekistan” urges all blocked websites to join the action. “As part of the campaign,” they write, “websites that cannot be accessed in Uzbekistan are encouraged to post, on their main pages, an emblem stating they have been banned, fully or partially, in Uzbekistan”

Asia Pacific


Burma - Journalists jailed in Cyclone Nargis aftermath

Burma's military government should immediately release all journalists arrested in connection with the Cyclone Nargis disaster, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Burmese activism in the new technology: How IT is helping and hampering movements - Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.)

Advancement of new media and communication has substantially impacted on the social and political movements of the Burmese democratic activists.


Lawyer Launches Test of Freedom of Information in China

A Beijing lawyer has launched a test of China's new Open Government Information (OGI) Regulations

China to Be Charged with WTO Violations

The California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) will testify before a US Congressional commission this week concerning the Chinese government’s system of internet censorship, which CFAC is challenging as a violation of free trade treaties enforced by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"Authoritarian Deliberation" on the Chinese Internet

Chinese President Hu Jintao did a webcast with staff of "Strong China Forum," an online forum run by the People's Daily Online

Internet and self-regulation in China: the cultural logic of controlled commodification

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.

Chinese Websites Call On Establishing New Internet Culture

More than 50 Chinese websites, including and, have held an activity in Beijing, calling on Chinese Internet service providers to jointly welcome the Beijing Olympic Games by setting up a new online ethos.

The Negative Impact of the Internet and Its Solutions

The Chinese point of view on internet censorship, by Ru Guangrong, of the Chinese Information Center for Defense Science and Technology.

Examining Chinese Internet Censorship

In testimony to the U.S. government, the University of Toronto's Ronald Deibert looks ahead to censorship during the Beijing Olympics and analyzes the current state of censorship in China.

China's Overeager American Censors

Practically every U.S.-owned search engine has caved to the Chinese government's demands that they censor political Web sites in China. But none of them seem to agree on just what sites need censoring. Google, at times, blocks Chinese users' access to the BBC while Yahoo! permits it. Yahoo! sometimes filters out Voice of America--Google doesn't. And Microsoft removes entries from the Chinese version of Wikipedia from its results while every other search engine includes them--even the dominant Chinese search engine

Confused? So are the search engines themselves, says Nart Villeneuve, a researcher at the University of Toronto's Open Net Initiative. In a study released on Wednesday, he points to the wild variation in search engine censorship in China as a sign that the Chinese government isn't handing companies a uniform list of censored sites but leaving them to guess at which sites are contraband.

Web companies' compliance with Chinese censorship is a betrayal of western values

Web companies' compliance with Chinese censorship is a betrayal of western values and may prove bad for business

Group warns China on website shutdown

The Chinese government’s recent crackdown on civil rights groups may backfire and incite protests during the Beijing Olympics, warned Lu Jun, who ran a popular website for hepatitis B carriers shut down last month.

Seismic Suppression: Chinese Censorship After the Sichuan Earthquake

Those who thought that the devastating Sichuan earthquake of May 12 brought out the best in the Chinese government should think again.

Six weeks after the quake, it has become obvious that the local government’s incompetence and venality was responsible for the collapse of schools while other buildings stood. But now that foreign reporters are covering the deaths of school children and the subsequent angry protests of their parents, Beijing’s Central Propaganda Department has reverted to its dictum that the only news fit to print is pro-regime news. In order to suppress unfavorable news coverage, the Chinese government has adopted a two-pronged approach. First, Beijing has attacked the source of dissent, threatening any grieving parents who persisted in their protests. Second, the government has embarked on an extensive campaign of media censorship.

China: Welcoming and Censoring

China’s communist regime is trying to boost its image as it prepares to welcome the world to the Beijing Olympics. But the government has a precarious balancing act, as it attempts to maintain control of what its citizens can see on the World Wide Web. China’s censorship is aided, in part, by some of America’s biggest Internet and technology firms (see my blog from Wednesday)

Beijing's Internet censorship, surveillance

In the lead up to the Olympics, many online limitations have been relaxed. Access to BBC News was restored. Blogspot has been unblocked, blocked again, and is presently available from this connection in Beijing. English Wikipedia is available, but Chinese Wikipedia is still blocked. After pressure from the International Olympic Committee, the Beijing committee has promised fewer restrictions, but since some ISPs do the censorship themselves to avoid trouble with authorities, any "opening" may not trickle down to every connection. Rumor has it, anyway, that top hotels full of foreigners and journalists will have unfettered access.

Beijing orders tighter media controls

China’s ruling Communist party has ordered a strengthening of its news media propaganda system, dashing hopes of a more liberal approach to censorship in the wake of relatively vigorous domestic reporting of the Sichuan earthquake.

Party newspapers said on Tuesday that all domestic media had been ordered to “earnestly study and implement” a speech last week by President Hu Jintao, laying out guiding principles for development of China’s fast-growing news sector. President Hu said the primary task of the news media was to guide public opinion correctly, since doing so would “benefit the party, benefit the nation and benefit the people”

China's Internet censorship getting worse: activist

Chinese censorship of the Internet and restrictions on reporting have worsened despite Beijing's pledge to improve media freedom ahead of the Olympic Games, an activist said Thursday. China has actually tightened control of the Internet as the Olympics approach, said Zhang Yu, a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, a branch of International PEN, a writers' association.

China tightens screws against dissidents ahead of Olympics

Chinese authorities have stepped up efforts to censor dissenting voices in the run-up to the Olympic Games, a report by two human rights groups charged Thursday.

"The context related to the run-up to the Olympic Games in August 2008 has continuously strengthened an environment already hostile to human rights and their defenders," said the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in its annual report. The observatory is a joint project by the Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).

Reporting the Olympics? Better Hope That Moderate Officials Prevail in Chinese Policy Rift - 2008 Olympics

Some foreign journalists in Beijing say that at least part of China’s government is aware of the concerns that all is not right with the media preparations for the Olympic Games due to start on Aug. 8. None of them wanted their names used when CPJ spoke with them in the last few days, but their perspective as experienced journalists in Beijing offers a slightly different take than what has been reported so far.

Reporters' Guide to Covering the Beijing Olympics

Human Rights Watch in China has published a guide pocket guide for reporters planning to travel to China to cover the Beijing Olympics

Go Easy on China

Foreign scholars are finding the China field an increasingly dangerous territory to navigate, and some readily admit to avoiding certain topics and to tweaking their research. And the situation is getting worse as China grows more economically and politically powerful.

One of the authors of the banned book - titled Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland - who declined to use his name, said Beijing is stepping up efforts to control how China is perceived internationally. “We’re in a period where China’s influence is expanding and they’re seeking ways to control the message outside of China just as they do inside China.”

The problem is that it is not always clear where the invisible line is drawn. Scholars say that being purposely vague about what causes the problem subconsciously forces people to be more cautious than they probably need to be, a strategy that has been successful against intellectuals and the media in China.

What CAN you do as a blogger in China

Links to answer the question: what CAN you do as a blogger in China

As leading Chinese video sites Tudou and Youku battle on, more reasons emerge for's downtime, the third largest online video-sharing site in China, has been offline since June 3rd. The company says the cause is “technical” problems, via the error message pictured above, but there are two other possible reasons.

The first is that the Chinese government simply shut it down to censor content on the site. That possibility has been covered by a number of prominent China bloggers, this publication and now a number of Western media outlets, and has led to speculation that’s mysterious downtime implies new and greater risks for any video site, including market leaders Youku and Tudou.

SourceForge Blocked In China

SourceForge, the world’s largest development and download repository of Open Source code and applications, appears to blocked in Mainland China on the eve of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. A screen copy of the command “tracert” shows that the problem is a router inside China Telecom.

Hacking the "Great Firewall of China"

Search “Tiananmen” on Google and it will return images of the 1989 pro-Democracy rally in Beijing, and the Chinese government’s military crackdown. That is, unless you’re searching in China, where you’re more likely to see tourist photos of the public square than any hint of civil unrest.

As with its state-controlled newspapers, radio and television, the Communist Party maintains tight control over the internet — censoring websites critical of the government, and often with the help of America’s largest and best known technology firms.

'Hacktivists' Trying to Bring Down Great Firewall of China

As Beijing readies itself for the Olympic Games in August, Chinese dissidents living in the U.S. have launched an attack on the country's so-called "Great Firewall," which prohibits its citizens from having full access to the Internet. Much like China's state-controlled newspapers, radio and television, the Communist Party maintains a tight grip on the Internet, often blocking access to Web sites critical of the government. A group of international computer hackers — or "hacktivists" — are working on technologies and software to enable readers to bypass government roadblocks on the Internet.

Writing 'backwards' to defeat censorship in China

Some people whose posts may otherwise have been deleted by censors in China have taken to writing backwards in an effort to defeat keyword-searching authorities.


Indonesian Electronic Information And Transaction Bill Of March 2008

Indonesia has recently passed a bill covering the Internet that focuses upon both web content and business transactions, although the Government admitted one goal of the new legislation was to "block porn sites"


Japan firms step up mobile security

Japanese mobile telephone content providers are setting up safeguards to protect young people

Chris Salzberg on Web Censorship and Public Awareness in Japan

Japan censors sites after stabbings

Japanese Blogger Arrested

Japanese anti-whaling blogger Junichi Sato was arrested on June 20. According to Associated Press, he was arrested for theft


Korea's Online Identity System to Be Strengthened

After weeks of tumultuous protests inspired largely by South Korea's netizens, the country which claims to be the world's most wired society is considering new ways to monitor the Internet


Malaysian Government Orders Torrent Sites Shutdown

Reports are coming in that the government in Malaysia has ordered the immediate suspension of many BitTorrent trackers hosted in the country.


Proposals for Internet freedom in Singapore

Key concerns about internet deregulation emerge at Singapore forum

Sri Lanka

Govt. bans GPS facility for mobile phones

A news report suggests that the Sri Lankan Government has banned GPS on mobile phones.


Rights groups calls for release of Vietnamese blogger

Reporters without Borders calls on Vietnamese authorities to free , Nguyen Hoang Hai, a blogger arrested before the Olympic torch relay through the capital, Ho Chi Minh.

Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

Facebook in the Middle East

Facebook, the popular social networking site, is becoming more than just a cyber-meeting place, growing into a powerful vehicle for social change. Squeezing out MySpace as the site of the moment and with 75 million users (more than the population of most countries around the globe,) it is the most popular meeting place in the virtual world, and like other virtual endeavors, Facebook has no borders. Its reach is as wide as the reach of the Web, or, perhaps, as wide as the reach of those who attempt to control it.

Facebook offers a "virtual" platform for the advancement of political and social causes, and is quickly turning into a hotbed of "actual" activism - a cause for alarm for many autocratic regimes in the Middle East attempting to block it and curtail its reach


Egypt's Facebook Face Off

While it's supposed to be a social networking site, Facebook has become the front line tool for the country's struggling democracy movemen

Crackdown On Free Expression Continues Amid Demonstrations

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.

Security forces recently 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.

Police in search of American tourist with footage "marring Egypt's image"

State Security Investigations began a search for American tourist Suzan Tamood Dong for allegedly possessing a documentary film containing footage marring Egypt’s image and inflaming sectarian tensions, sources told Daily News Egypt.

Dong had left the tape to Sayed while she went on a tour, to play it and make copies. He claimed it included scenes from the recent clashes between Muslims and Coptic monks at the Abou Fana Monastery in Minya. The intervention of the police was also recorded. In addition, there were scenes of squatter settlements and slums to show Egypt’s poor economic conditions. Alongside this material, there was a commentary in English. Upon watching the tape, Sayed allegedly reported his discovery to the Tourism Police. After finding no trace of Dong at the Marriott hotel, where she was staying, the police contacted the State Security which immediately embarked on a search.


Hardliners mull death penalty for Internet crimes

According to several news sites Iran's parliament is set to debate a draft bill which could see the death penalty used for those deemed to promote corruption, prostitution and apostasy on the Internet

Iran mulls death penalty for Internet crimes

ran's parliament is set to debate a draft bill which could see the death penalty used for those deemed to promote corruption, prostitution and apostasy on the Internet, reports said on Wednesday


Tunisian blogger initiative against censorship

Updated information on the sites being blocked in Tunisia. (In Arabic)


Writer arrested, held incommunicado; blogger given three-year sentence; rights activists on trial, harassed

Western countries looking to increase engagement with Syria should know that Syrian authorities continue to arrest, try, and harass political and human rights activists, Human Rights Watch said today. 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

Repression of Activists Continues Unabated (Human Rights Watch, 12-6-2008)

Western countries looking to increase engagement with Syria should know that Syrian authorities continue to arrest, try, and harass political and human rights activists, Human Rights Watch said today.


China to the rescue of Internet freedom in Yemen

A Chinese computer program is helping web surfers in Yemen break through government control of the Internet. It is part of a bigger trend by journalists and activists who are beginning to challenge Internet censorship in Yemen

Recommended Resources


An event organization and planning tool - much like Evite, but more useful - mobile-friendly, SMS integration

Appfrica: International Technology Conference

APPFRICA is a series of international tech conferences and think-tanks aimed at bringing together researchers, industry leaders, businesses, educators, government and non-governmental organizations for the purpose of discussing novel uses of cloud computing and internet technology for innovation and education in Africa.

The Civisec Project - Internet Security for Civil Society

The new site provides regular news updates, blogs from our members, links to our community, and integrated search functionality, all of which should make Civisec a premiere resource on Internet Security For Civil Society

Dialup Radio

Dialup Radio is a tool that distributes human rights and independent media via telephone. Brief radio-style audio files are uploaded and managed via the Dialup Radio website. These files are immediately available to callers who phone the project phone number. Our software automatically generates interactive voice response (IVR) menus that enable callers to navigate audio content using their telephone keypads. Dialup radio works with any telephone, and can be adopted for a variety of activist campaigns.

Dialup Radio has been designed specifically to meet the needs of human rights activists in the developing world. The system can be installed locally or may be operated across national borders. Particular attention has been paid to system security and to minmizing costs of operation.

DigiActive is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to helping grassroots activists around the world use the Internet and mobile phones to increase their impact.

Digital Nomads in China

" just released a new project called "Digital Nomads" non-profit service supporting Chinese people (but not limited) to set up their independent blogs. The project, also supported by Social Brain Foundation, is especially designed for people's free speech and will serve those grassroots journalists as the topmost mission. "Digital Nomads" the name came from my speech in Accton Taiwan by the invitation of one of my best friends Joy Tang.

The service is actually inherited from early ideas of "Adopt a Chinese Blog" program by cnblog. As more and more blog hosting services in China started to cooperate with government censorship, many independent voices were actually blocked and slowed. Though there are some brave people started to fight with those "self-censorship"(from businesses) in relative weak legal context, seems the most direct way is to support bloggers to become real independent from those censorships in technical ways. So there comes the project idea and right volunteers teaming up."

Pambazuka News

Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 300 citizens and organisations - who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses

Real-time Web Monitor

Akamai monitors global Internet conditions around the clock. With this real-time data we identify the global regions with the greatest attack traffic, cities with the slowest Web connections (latency), and geographic areas with the most Web traffic (traffic density).

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 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 8-10: Third Access to Knowledge Global Conference

Location: Geneva, Switzerland

The Yale University Information Society project (ISP) will convene its third annual global conference on Access to Knowledge (A2K3) in Geneva, Switzerland

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 2-7, 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

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).

November 14-16: Evento Blog España

Location: Seville, Spain

Evento Blog España aims to be a big event, one that brings together bloggers from the Spanish and European Blogosphere. This year the event will be held in Seville, Spain

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

March 1- 6, 2009: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) - Public Meeting

Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico will host the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' 34th International Public Meeting from 1-6 March 2009.

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