Internet Freedom Alert 1.13 (Aug 10, 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 1.13 covers developments from July 4 -Aug 10, 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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Helmi Noman on the filtering/censorship situation in the Middle East and North Africa
"China's censorship of the Internet, while fundamentally an issue of free speech and individual liberty, is also a significant barrier to U.S.-China commerce and, therefore, very much a trade issue," said California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) executive director Peter Scheer.
The Huffington Post appears to be the latest victim in a recent wave of Internet censorship. A HuffPost reader in Shanghai reported Tuesday that when she attempted to connect to the site, an error page all too familiar to Net users in China loaded instead.
The CICI measures the level of Internet Censorship in China from tests to selected websites and reporting the results.
During the build up to the Beijing Olympic Games, some websites which were previously inaccessible, have become wholly or partly accessible. The CICI will test these and other sites throughout the Olympic Games and until the end of 2008, to monitor and report on changes in internet censorship in China. Amnesty International will use the information collected to pressure the Chinese authorities so they don't revert to their former ways.
Censorship Circumvention Tools
TOR, one of the most used proxies in China to avoid the internet censorship has now been blocked itself. That happens only a few days after reports said that also Anonymouse, one of the other more popular proxies now had been blocked.
That means a diversion from the old policy where proxies were mostly not blocked and the internet censorship was a kind of first line defense for newcomers. Most people who have to deal with information, like academics and journalists, were at their workplace in China first taught how to use proxies.
The Chinese Olympics are providing a powerful stimulus in the development of high-end anti-censorship technology that major media companies and individuals can use to sneak content through its Great Firewall.
Psiphon Inc., a Toronto-based circumvention technology provider, recently released an upgrade to its software that allows the safe transmission of images in addition to text, says principal Rafal Rohozinski.
The private company has been spun off from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, a human rights organization that works to open Internet access to residents of countries with repressive governments, to build its anti-censorship arsenal of technology.
Pictures are more powerful than words, says Rohozinski. "Psiphon 2.0 is optimized for the delivery of multimedia content. It's now possible to access YouTube, Gvideo and other sites that previously required the re-translation of codecs. In fact, in some of the tests we've conducted, it can actually stream video faster than YouTube."
Authorities in the West are attempting to pass legislation that would prevent American and European Internet companies from selling certain technologies to repressive governments.
The Internet giants Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, facing an increasingly competitive global marketplace, are selling the technology that tracks users and enables governments to censor Internet content. Countries with a poor history of press freedom, such as China, widely use the technology.
“Corporate giants are partnering with … the worst dictatorships of the world,” said Democratic Congressman Christopher Smith of New Jersey at a July 15 event at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., hosted by the organization Freedom House, which pushes for democracy and freedom worldwide. Corporate America gives the Chinese all the tools they need to restrict press freedoms, Smith explained.
Jules Maaten, a member of the European Parliament from the Netherlands, added he cannot “understand how companies who operate under freedom rights can cooperate with others who restrict freedom.”
There has been wide coverage of ICANN’s decision to adopt a new process for creating new global Top Level Domains (gTLDs). Publishing a clear, transparent and objective process is thought likely to result in a considerable expansion of gTLDs - although nobody really knows whether this means “several” or “thousands“. If the volume is much higher than ICANN anticipate though, there is no volume-based measure in the process ICANN could use to restrict gTLD growth.
According to reports, there may be a back door built into Skype, which allows connections to be bugged. The company has declined to expressly deny the allegations. At a meeting with representatives of ISPs and the Austrian regulator on lawful interception of IP based services held on 25th June, high-ranking officials at the Austrian interior ministry revealed that it is not a problem for them to listen in on Skype conversations.
A fundamental flaw in the design of the Domain Name System (DNS) was found earlier this year by security researcher Dan Kaminsky, renowned Internet Security expert. Researchers say they will fully describe the vulnerability in 30 days, after companies that operate web sites or Internet service providers can put the patches in place. The flaw is big enough that Kaminsky and other companies involved brought in government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team.
One in three information technology professionals abuses administrative passwords to access confidential data such as colleagues' salary details, personal emails or board-meeting minutes, according to a survey.
U.S. information security company Cyber-Ark surveyed 300 senior IT professionals, and found that one-third admitted to secretly snooping, while 47 percent said they had accessed information that was not relevant to their role.
Written by Nart Villeneuve, PhD Candidate with the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto
The explosion of citizen journalism has allowed increased access to a diversity of voices around the globe. Issues and voices that are not represented in mainstream media are providing diverse perspectives on both popular and obscure political issues. However, this phenomenon is certainly not new. While recent attention has focused on bloggers around the world, past efforts, including the creation of Indymedia nearly ten years ago, leveraged the Internet for these same purposes. The success of citizen journalism is based on a combination of personal experience, opinion and analysis with traditional news to provide a compelling account of political events that engages and connects with the reader.
Many of the bloggers who gathered on 27-28 June 2008 in Budapest, Hungary for a Citizen Media Summit organised by Global Voices Online had at first glance an unlikely appearance. These representatives of a growing worldwide network of citizen journalists and digital activists looked rather studious, a touch morose, even - to many bloggers themselves a key marker of social distinction - uncool.
Moreover, these idealistic people did not talk much about gadgets, fashion, or campaign-financing; nor rush to praise or scorn Barack Obama or John McCain; nor fret over the latest celebrity-hunt or political trick in the style of Gawker or the Huffington Post. Instead, they got into heated discussions (often in heavily accented English) over a different set of topics: internet filtering, human-rights violations, and the future of freedom of expression.
Written by Stephen W. Workman, Esq., Published by E-Commerce University, Diploma in E-Commerce Law Program.
Who should be held accountable for information distributed online? This is one of the most important and debated issues among Internet regulations. Liability for online information can arise in a number of legal fields, including trade secrets, unfair competition, defamation, privacy and trademark. Of particular importance, and the focus of this paper, is this issue as applied to copyright law - what parties should be held liable when copyrighted material is transmitted over, or made available on, the Internet in violation of the holder's rights? Should intermediaries in the chain of transmission, who do not initiate or take part in a decision to disseminate content, be considered "publishers" and face direct liability for infringing files that transverse their networks or servers? Or should they be treated as common carriers, and exempt from liability for copyright infringement? The answer has generally depended on the role a particular intermediary plays in the chain of transmission. But recent developments in Europe are challenging this approach
Washington Post Editorial - Monday, June 9, 2008
Everyone wants to boost American exports. But the last thing any U.S. company should do is sell tools of repression to authoritarian regimes abroad. It would be especially troubling if businesses were to help dictators muzzle the Internet, the most powerful facilitator of free expression and communication ever invented.
Rant all you want in a public park. A police officer generally won't eject you for your remarks alone, however unpopular or provocative.
Say it on the internet, and you'll find that free speech and other constitutional rights are anything but guaranteed.
Companies in charge of seemingly public spaces online wipe out content that's controversial but otherwise legal. Service providers write their own rules for users worldwide and set foreign policy when they cooperate with regimes like China. They serve as prosecutor, judge and jury in handling disputes behind closed doors.
The governmental role that companies play online is taking on greater importance as their services - from online hangouts to virtual repositories of photos and video - become more central to public discourse around the world. It's a fallout of the internet's market-driven growth, but possible remedies, including government regulation, can be worse than the symptoms
The Canadian Newspaper Association has issued a position paper with its views on C-61. While the paper addresses several issues, its concerns with the anti-circumvention provisions are the most striking. The CNA notes that:
Bill C-61 makes it an offence to bypass any technological protection used on Internet sites. This is not normally an issue for newspaper public sites, but might apply to sites requiring registration, and to paid archive services. While this is positive for rightsholders seeking to protect content from unauthorized access, it could have implications on newsgathering, news reporting, and press freedom broadly
The sponsor of a bill that would bar U.S. Internet firms from helping repressive regimes track down cyber-dissidents called Tuesday on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring it up for a vote before the Beijing Olympics
Freedom House held a Capitol Hill briefing July 15th on global Internet freedom. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Jules Maaten of the European Union Parliament discussed their joint efforts to pass legislation aimed at promoting online free expression and privacy in repressive countries like China.
Proposals being discussed at the US House of representatives to reimpose the “Fairness Doctrine”. Many believe that its rules would barr any member of Congress from posting opinions on any internet site without first obtaining prior approval from the Democratic leadership of Congress. No blogs, twitter, online forums - nothing.
Federal regulators are prepared to take action against sellers of Internet access that want to restrict what their customers can do online.
Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, should be sanctioned because it had interfered with the Internet connections of users who were exchanging files with other people.
Mr. Martin’s recommendation is a strong push for network neutrality, the idea that Internet access providers like Comcast should not be allowed to favor some uses of their networks over others. Internet companies like Google and free speech advocates have backed this approach.
There is no better way to get a blogger talking than by telling him what he cannot publish — although you might forgive a government prosecutor for thinking otherwise.
A grand jury subpoena sent by prosecutors in the Bronx earlier this year sought information to help identify people blogging anonymously on a Web site about New York politics called Room 8.
A federal appeals court agreed with a lower court ruling that struck down as unconstitutional a 1998 law intended to protect children from sexual material and other objectionable content on the Internet.
Like a performance of John Cage’s ORGAN2/ASLSP (”As Slow As Possible”), in which the notes played change every year or so, the COPA statute has just fallen yet again. The statute, first enacted in 1998, has been strongly challenged on First Amendment and other grounds, and yesterday’s Third Circuit opinion announced a dozen reasons why it is unconstitutional. The statute has already made two trips to the Supreme Court and may well make a third.
An interactive portal for all African's who witness xenophobic violence in Southern Africa or who have relevant information to share or learn.
The Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) has called on the country's government to train civil servants in computer forensic technology as a way to fight e-commerce fraud in the country.
YouTube has been partially blocked for internet users in Sudan for reasons that are still unknown
A new program is starting in Uganda to refurbish and resell old computers the first world no longer wants, funded by Microsoft and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization
Increasingly, Zimbabweans are going online and using cell phone text messages to share stories of life and death in a country where independent traditional media have been all but silenced, and from which reporters from most international media have been barred.
Harare-based Kubatana is a network of nonprofit organizations that runs a blogging forum. The forum relies on 13 bloggers in Zimbabwe, who e-mail submissions to an administrator who posts them to the site. The network also reaches beyond the Web by sending text messages to 3,800 subscribers.
Zimbabwe's bloggers are mainly opposition activists whose themes range from HIV/AIDS to the country's economic meltdown to President Robert Mugabe's thuggery. The underground networks can be forums for unsubstantiated rumor, but they also provide valuable independent information and can even make news.
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)
Over 60 bloggers attended the blog carnival against censorship , most of them posting especially about the new 13 cyber crimes proposal for Brazil. The bill has now proceeded to the House of Representatives, where a request for it to be handled urgently was put forward last week, leaving bloggers on red alert. If approved, the bill could reach the House’s plenary session at any moment, alerts sociologist Sérgio Amadeu
According to professors from FGV, a bill currently at Senate could criminalize net users who download [content] without prior authorization.
A bill about electronic crimes, or cybercrimes, about to be voted at Senate could result in the mass criminalization of Internet users who engage into file sharing (of music, text and video) without prior authorization from rights holders. This is the opinion of six professors from Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Law School, written in a brief released in Rio. According to the professors, the bill would have consequences reaching well beyond the realm of the Internet. Given the breadth of the wording used in the draft law, it could affect even mobile phone owners who unlock their devices. Brazil has 130 million cell phones.
Sérgio Amadeu argues that the cybercrime bill proposed for Brazil will put DHCP protocol networks at risk because it enables free and anonymous surfing, the same for wireless networks which allow free public access. “(Senator) Azeredo will create a new cost for Brazil: the cost of digital communication”. Meanwhile this online petition against the bill has gathered over 100,000 signatures so far
A Brazilian project incorporating editors for each of 26 regions within the country and one editor for the capital. The project focuses on travel tips and cultural topics, avoiding politics, with the basic structure of the site allowing users to join and contribute content.
Mexican police are investigating a number of classified ads on the internet which purport to be from hitmen offering the services.
The ads can be found alongside ones for private tuition or domestic help. In one of them, a person describing himself as an ex-military killer offers "discreet, professional services" for $6,000 (£3,000)
Europe should join in the struggle against censorship on the Internet. And political dissidents who use the Internet to promote their cause should be protected from authoritarian regimes. A group of MEPs feels we should follow the US and establish guidelines for the net.
More and more countries are limiting their citizens' freedom of speech online. Moreover, western businesses are regularly put under pressure to provide information about dissidents who use the internet as a tool for spreading information. Not a good development says Jules Maaten, Dutch MEP for the Conservative VVD party
Cruising the European blogosphere early this July, you could not shake the feeling that privacy and freedom of speech are in for tough times. While Nicolas Sarkozy and some British MEPs are pushing surveillance and harsher punishment for copyright violators, a policy proposal put forth in the European Parliament aims to put an end to the anonymity of bloggers.
Concerns about privacy and freedom of speech abound not only on the European level. Last week, for the first time ever, a Portuguese blog was shut down by Google Portugal following a court order. The blog Povoa Online was accused of defaming two local officials. The reason for the decision to shut down the blog (in Portuguese) were twofold: The plaintiffs had been libelled not only as officials of their local community but also as private individuals. And, the authors of the blog had been “opinionated” in most of their writings and caricatures.
Such judicial reasoning raises several questions. First, even if free speech is sacrificed for the sake of the inviolability of the private, where do we draw the dividing line? If an elected official commits, say, adultery, does the electorate have the right to know this and consider it in its next vote? The point is not to condemn a particular course of action by an individual – and of course not all attacks are justified. The point is that, for better of worse, there can hardly be a separation of public and private when it comes to the lives of officials.
Swedish media have erroneously reported that the EU plans to register and bill all bloggers, setting off a firestorm of reaction in the country.
Politicians of all political stripes and most major media outlets have since furiously attacked the idea as another example of Big Brother snooping into people's daily lives, while the MEP at the heart of the controversy has been compared to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Amendments to the European Telecommunications directive being rushed through the European Parliament propose a "Soviet internet" where software publishers and internet service providers watch traffic and data for Hollywood. Software and services that run on the internet would have to ask for permission of the regulators.
Some amendments to the European Telecommunications directive allow administrative authorities in each Member State to define which are the authorised software applications for the internet. Parts of the directive should be implemented by the member states through requiring specific "technical features" in electronic communications networks. Live-analysis and filtering compose a pre-requisite for a "Soviet style" censorship environment.
A bill on e-government, passed today by parliament, can reinforce state control over Czech citizens. Internet public services are supposed to facilitate administering one´s matters. Instead of visiting bureaus personally, people can handle their personal things via internet or mobile phones.
However, the law on e-government will enable the government yet another thing - officials will have access to online databases containing private data about the citizens.
Internet censorship continues to thrive; in the latest turn of events France has passed a law forcing ISPs to block sites with child sex abuse. Now, if it stopped at that, then I wouldn’t really bother making a blog post out of it - after all, Sweden has such a law as well, and quite frankly I’m not all that opposed to it, as long as child pornography is the only thing it blocks (and the government doesn’t start using it to freely block other sites as well that it deems as “inappropriate”) - but this law also includes sites considered racist or terrorist related. Basically they’re gonna have a “black list” that the ISPs will have to block access to; a black list that people even are invited to contribute to (in real time) with sites they think are inappropriate.
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.
The Hungarian NGO 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.
Ádám Földes, leader of the data protection program of TASZ, says that a provision which compels voice telephony ISPs to store data for one year - purportedly to aid the authorities in fighting crime - inappropriately allows for the "mapping" of users' personal data. These regulations, say TASZ, are unconstitutional, and violate individuals' right to privacy, physical and psychological well-being, and freedom of speech and assembly.
In addition to the legal action, the group has organized public events drawing attention to the issue, including a recent demonstration on Budapest's Moszkva tér.
The recently-established Office for Internet Safety (OIS) has had exploratory discussions with the Irish National Police - The Garda Siochána - about using internet blocking technologies in Ireland.
Most Irish schools and libraries, along with many workplaces and offices, already use blocking technology or filtering software that prevents searches of certain terms, words or phrases. However, there have been arguments for national application of the technologies, to help prevent people accessing child pornography, protect national security and prevent intellectual property abuses.
Belfast blogger Alan Murray is facing charges of harassment for writing about public figures on his blog. He campaigns against the privatisation of public housing.
On 6 June 2008, the blog of the Italian journalist Antonino Monteleone was closed, without notification, by the Polizia Postale of Calabria under accusations of defamation, but the journalist claims that this action came after having posted uncomfortable information on political figures. Тhe journalist claims that this action came after having posted uncomfortable information on political figures.
Hackers attacked about 300 Web sites in Lithuania during the weekend, defacing them with Soviet symbols and anti-Lithuanian slogans, officials said Monday.
The sabotage of the Web sites occurred two weeks after Lithuania, a former Soviet republic, outlawed the display of Soviet symbols. The ban touched off new tensions with Russia.
Lithuanian officials did not directly accuse Russian hackers of initiating the attacks, but said they had come from foreign computers and were most likely related to the ban.
June saw for the first time ever a blog suspended in Portugal because of a local court decision. The now defunct Póvoa Online blog had been taken to court by Póvoa do Varzim’s council president, Macedo Vieira, and his deputy, Aires Pereira, who claimed the bloggers had been using the blog merely to defame them. The court concluded that most of the blog’s content were opinionated articles, and that its authors criticized Macedo Vieira and Aires Pereira not only as the council’s president and vice-president, but also as “citizens, fathers, family members and friends”.
Tongue in cheek Póvoa Online, which had been available since 2005, was very popular among locals because of its sharp sense of humour and funny caricatures of local politicians, some of which illustrate this piece.
Authorities have arrested more than 20 people in Romania who are suspected of running online fraud schemes, according to media reports. The Tuesday arrests were confirmed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation
On July 21, RATEL, Serbia’s Republican Agency for Telecommunications, posted a Document of Instructions for Technical Requirements for Subsystems, Devices, Hardware and Installation of Internet Networks on their official web site. This news didn’t go unnoticed yesterday in Serbian blogosphere and internet community, as many bloggers expressed various opinions as well as disapproval because of the potential abuse of users’ privacy.
This document of instructions defines technical requirements for authorized monitoring of some specific telecommunications and provides a list of duties for telecommunication operators, which are obligated to act according to the Constitution Law of Republic of Serbia as well as elements of it.
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", arrives 18 months after its scheduled date following sometimes-angry debate between collecting societies and gadget manufacturers.
The tax is highly controversial. It is imposed to compensate authors and creators from the money they lose due to private copying, according to collecting societies such as authors' and publishers' society SGAE. The government accepts this argument. But consumer groups, Internet users and gadget manufacturers say many consumers do not use their gadgets to copy or record.
The popular video-sharing website Dailymotion has been blocked in Turkey. This is the second instance of a video-sharing website being made inaccessible by the Turkish authorities in three months.
"The Open Rights Group's websites front page and the portions of the EFFs website are being blocked by Radialpoint Parental control software.
Virgin Media has begun targeting users who have allegedly been using their connections for file sharing purposes by sending out letters "educating" them on what could happen if they continue. Despite the clear threat printed directly on the letters, however, Virgin claims that the wording isn't quite accurate and that it won't be disconnecting users anytime soon.
Russia and Central Asia
Belarussian lawmakers gave final approval to a crackdown on Internet journalism. The new measures require that all Internet sites originating in the country be registered with the government.
Many independent newspapers that the authorities closed now have a presence on the Internet. The bill, drafted by the office of President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, “is among the harshest in Europe,” said Oleg Gulak, the leader of the Belarussian Helsinki Committee rights group.
A new media bill has been approved by the lower house of parliament in Belarus, leaving just a few steps before the bill pass to President Lukashenko for approval. The bill would change registration procedures for the traditional media and extend them to online media as well, forcing all web pages to be registered. The draft law also restricts any international funding to media organisations.
recently, a homemade bomb packed with bolts and screws tore through a crowd of thousands of people who had gathered for the Independence Day all-night concert near the World War II monument in central Minsk. The blast occurred around 12:30 a.m on July 4; some 54 people were wounded; Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko happened to be nearby when the bomb went off, but was not hurt.
Following the bombing, police interrogated a number of Belarusian opposition members and human rights activists and searched their homes and offices. On July 9, four people were detained: Sergei Chislov, Igor Korsak, Viktor Leshchinsky and Miroslav Lozovsky, all members of the White Legion, the youth wing of the Belarusian Union of Military Personnel, banned in 1996.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is troubled to learn that President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a restrictive new media law, which, according to CPJ research, will allow authorities to further restrict press freedom in Belarus.
For over 24 hours the website of President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia, a former Soviet republic, has been down as a result of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. This attack appears to have a political motivation, says Jose Nazario of Arbor Neworks. "Tensions between Russia and Georgia appear to be running high lately."
A Russian man who described local police as "scum" in an Internet posting was given a suspended jail sentence on Monday for extremism, prompting bloggers to warn of a crackdown on free speech online.
Savva Terentiev, a 28-year-old musician from Syktyvkar, 1,515 kilometers (940 miles) north of Moscow, wrote in a blog last year that the police force should be cleaned up by ceremonially burning officers twice a day in a town square. Convicted on charges of "inciting hatred or enmity", Terentiev was given a one-year suspended term on Monday, Russian news agencies reported.
The Moscow Times reports that Turkmenistan has begun to allow private citizens to connect to the internet. The national internet provider, Turkmentelekom, said on Thursday that it has been connecting up to 20 homes a day since the announcement, mainly in the capital city of Ashgabat. It has a waiting list of 2000 people.
Previously internet access was restricted to government employees, diplomatic posts and offices of major international companies.
In Uzbekistan, responsibility for controlling the web begins at the cabinet level and ends with plainclothes police officers who physically intimidate internet café owners and customers.
Australia on Wednesday unveiled a new code of conduct to regulate online and cellphone content which will call for classifications similar to those for films, a government spokesperson said.
All content likely to be rated as for viewers aged over 15 will need to be assessed and classified under the code, the Australian Communications and Media Authority said. "This code assists both children and their parents to make informed choices about what is, or is not, suitable for viewing online or on mobile phones," it said.
Watch on Censorship is a community organisation with the goal of protecting and promoting the rights of adult Australians to freedom of speech and expression in all media.
The campaign is to be orchestrated under a contract by a specialist consortium team comprising Care Network, Bendalls Group and dgmAustralia. Amnesty will encourage Australian bloggers to join forces in expressing their feelings for the Chinese people affected by such policy, their distaste for the authorities of the Chinese government censoring the internet, and their disapproval of online media companies that collaborate with them to ensure that it is enforced
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has approved the IIA code of practice for online and mobile phone content in Australia. This code has legal force under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Act. It replaces two previously separate codes of practice which covered internet content and mobile phone content separately.
Significant features are that X rated content is completely banned, while R and MA content requires some form of access control to prevent viewing by children. What is not clear is how much these restrictions apply to non-commercial content and how effective they can be govern that they only apply to Australia based services. The code does apply to those providing links to restricted content.
The IIA also provide a Guide for ISPs: General Information About Online Content and a Guide for Internet Users: Information About Online Content.
The Australian Government yesterday released the findings of its much-anticipated report on a service provider-level web filtering trial conducted in Tasmania by the Australian Communications and Media Authority
The Federal Government is distancing itself from some results in this week’s ISP-level content filtering study, as industry criticism mounts over the test methodology. The study was conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority to demonstrate advances in Internet content filtering technologies.
Advancement of new media and communication has substantially impacted on the social and political movements of the Burmese democratic activists. The political activists from inside and outside Burma are using new media and communications as a tool to struggle for democracy and Human Rights in Burma.
Burma’s military government should immediately release all journalists arrested in connection with the Cyclone Nargis disaster, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At least four journalists are being detained by Burmese authorities, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners Burma (AAPP), a Thailand-based assistance and rights monitoring group, and the Burma Media Association (BMA), a exile-run press freedom advocacy group.
They include Aung Kyaw San, editor-in-chief of the Myanmar Tribune; Ma Eine Khine Oo, a journalist with Ecovision Journal; popular commentator, comedian, and blogger Maung Thura, better known as Zarganar; and Zaw Thet Htwe, a freelance journalist based in Rangoon.
Speech control- The Burmese authorities are employing new tactics in their control of information
In the wake of the saffron revolution and continuing with its policy of ‘counter media with media’, the junta is now intensifying its disinformation campaign by using the Internet.
Blog committees have been formed in each ministry and are supervised by the minister concerned. These committees monitor the media in exile, countering news and reports with their own versions. Similarly, the staff in these ministries are urged to write articles and news reports critical of the US and EU countries. Though it is not mandatory for the staff, those who contribute are honoured and rewarded. At the same time, the junta closely watches the critics of the government and pro-Daw Aung Suu Kyi bloggers
Imprisoned Burmese blogger Nay Phone Latte is facing the possibility of a seven-year jail sentence after new charges were brought against him on 7 July. The new charges fall under the 1950 Emergency Provision Act, which sanctions any attempt to ‘disrupt morality’ or ‘disrupt security, stability or the restoration of order’. His crime was possession of a video, banned by the military junta.
A prominent detained student activist and other political prisoners have been hit with new charges designed to prolong their detention, according to family members.
“We have learned, after a visit this week to Insein Prison, that Ko Ko Gyi, who was previously charged with Act 33 A, has been charged with 17/1 [the Illegal Organization Act],” said Aung Tun, his brother. Act 33 A is related to illegally using communication equipment. Mobile telephones were reportedly seized by authorities from Ko Ko Gyi and his colleagues when they were arrested.
An aggressive tabloid newspaper has had its Web site censored and could face further punishment by China's media authorities for running a photograph from the still-taboo 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement.
Editors at the Beijing News declined comment Friday about the photo published Thursday: a black-and-white image showing wounded young men in bloodstained shirts on the back of a three-wheeled cart. Captioned "The Wounded," the photo was one of four that accompanied a profile of Liu Heung Shing, a former photographer for The Associated Press and Time.
Sohoxiaobao, not the prettiest but definitely one of the earlier blog service providers in China, has been out of operation for a week now.
We’ve reported here on Sohoxiaobao before; some of you might remember the story of Chinese police officer and artist Wu Youming who lost his job due to his blogging, and then there was the time the highly-read blogger ProState in Flames found his Sohoxiaobao blog shut down “for non-technical reasons.”
China now has the world's largest net-using population, say official figures.
More than 253 million people in the country are now online, according to statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). The figure is higher than the 223 million that the US mustered in June, according to Nielsen Online
China restructured several government ministries in March this year, including Internet and telcom regulator MII which merged with other government organs including the National Defence Science and Technology Commission and was renamed MIIT.
MIIT is supposed to direct the upgrading of technologies among the nation’s industries,
encourage innovation and promote electronic communications and high technology
At the China Internet Research Conference, held at the University of Hong Kong in June, a number of journalists sitting on the sidelines noted that there had been insufficient discussion of the growing role played by China’s Web commentators, or wangluo pinglunyuan (网络评论员), which Chinese Web users have playfully nicknamed the “Fifty Cent Party” (五毛党).
Countless thousands of people in China are blacklisted, harassed, intimidated and locked up merely for what they say or because of the job they do. Six dissident voices explain why their battle for freedom of speech must continue
The current fad in China for push-ups is not inspired by the approach of the Olympic Games; nor is it part of a campaign to improve physical fitness. In a country that employs a vast bureaucracy to monitor all types of internet activity and where posting a comment critical of the authorities can land you in re-education camp, people have to choose their words very carefully. So they resort to euphemisms to evade the cyber spies and skirt the automated keyword blocking tools which the Chinese authorities use to keep tabs on the online world.
When a Chinese blogger says "I'm just doing push-ups", it's actually a roundabout about way of attacking the regime without risking retribution.
Oiwan Lam tells Thomas Crampton how China's army of online freelance censors are now turning their efforts toward manipulating opinion on Twitter, in addition to their work on blogs and chatrooms
Far Eastern Economic Review - China's Guerrilla War for the Web
They have been called the “Fifty Cent Party,” the “red vests” and the “red vanguard.” But China’s growing armies of Web commentators—instigated, trained and financed by party organizations—have just one mission: to safeguard the interests of the Communist Party by infiltrating and policing a rapidly growing Chinese Internet. They set out to neutralize undesirable public opinion by pushing pro-Party views through chat rooms and Web forums, reporting dangerous content to authorities.
By some estimates, these commentary teams now comprise as many as 280,000 members nationwide, and they show just how serious China’s leaders are about the political challenges posed by the Web. More importantly, they offer tangible clues about China’s next generation of information controls—what President Hu Jintao last month called “a new pattern of public-opinion guidance.”
More than 50 Chinese websites, including xinhuanet.com and people.com.cn, 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 websites propose that Internet service providers work to provide first class service, run services in a civilized manner, strengthen self-discipline, accept the public's supervision and resist "bad habits".
Hu Qiheng, chairman of Internet Society of China, says that it is very necessary for the Internet companies to carry out the activity before the Olympic Games. Hu says that Internet professionals should enhance their awareness of corporate social responsibility and self-management, run their services well, cleanse the Internet environment and set up a new online ethos by purifying each of their web pages. The ISC's Internet News Service Work Commission has decided to set up an online ethics propaganda and educational system echoed by hundreds of websites across the country and expose immoral behavior like spreading of pornography, online fraud, computer virus sending and spam mail sending.
Isaac Mao, who wrote China's first blog six years ago, talks about his battle with the 'Great Firewall' and the impact blogging has had on the country's culture
Chinese authorities are determined to stop "harmful information" from spreading through the Internet, but the controls it places on Web sites and Internet service providers in mainland China do not differ much from those employed by the United States and European countries, a senior Chinese official responsible for managing the Internet said today.
The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), a non profit state network information center founded in 1997, recently released its year end report on development of the Internet in China. Based on that report the number of Chinese Internet users reached 210 million in 2007. This was an increase of more than 73 million over the past year. Approximately 50 million users access the Internet through mobile phones andincrease of about 6 million users in the last six months.
In additon to the number of Internet users, the report looks at online behavior of Internet users in China.
Aggressive Chinese bloggers make an art of challenging Chinese government propaganda. This week, they can claim a victory.
Chinese authorities announced that four Communist Party, local government and security officials in Guizhou province's Weng'an county were sacked for "severe malfeasance" over the alleged coverup of a murder, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
A Chinese dissident who wrote politically sensitive articles including some criticizing the government’s handling of a devastating earthquake was formally arrested Friday on charges of allegedly possessing state secrets, a human rights group said.
Prosecutors in the southwestern city of Chengdu approved the arrest and charges against Huang Qi, founder of the human rights Web site 64Tianwang, said Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch. The move comes as the government is tightening a clampdown on potentially embarrassing protests or complaints before the Beijing Olympics, which begin in less than a month
Following his apprehension last month as he was pitching in with the earthquake relief in his native Sichuan province, web activist Huang Qi was this weekend formally arrested for “illegal possession of state secrets”.
After Xinhua reported that county officials in Weng’an—including its Communist Party secretary, Wang Qin, and head of the county government, Wang Haiping—were fired following the June 28 riots, Western media has hailed Weng’an as a turning point for China. Both WSJ and TIME remark that Xinhua’s handling of the Weng’an incident is remarkable in itself; not only did state media report the riots almost immediately, but quickly produced "unusually long investigative stories." Adding to this assemblage of information are the voices of Chinese bloggers, who are doing their part to increase transparency in China.
Chinese authorities and the country’s bloggers are waging an online battle over push-ups. This is no pre-Olympic fitness craze, but attempts by the government to keep a lid on dissent.
Push-ups are what two youths were reported to have been doing on a river bridge in the remote town of Weng’an in Guizhou province on June 21 when a 15-year-old schoolgirl, Li Shufei, fell into the water and drowned.
Ongoing downtime experienced by third-place Chinese online video site 56.com, a company that has received significant backing from Silicon Valley investors. While the site claims technical problems are causing the downtime, the consensus is that the Chinese government has chosen to censor the site entirely off the web, at least for now.
An effective government needs accurate information. But what if its own policy of media censorship makes that impossible? Li Datong explores a paradox of China's governance
The "Great Firewall of China," used by the government of the People's Republic of China to block users from reaching content it finds objectionable, is actually a "panopticon" that encourages self-censorship through the perception that users are being watched, rather than a true firewall, according to researchers at UC Davis and the University of New Mexico.
China - Olympics
Websites on sensitive subjects such as the bloody crackdown on democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 were accessible in the Chinese capital yesterday
Beijing’s Olympic Plan for the mainland China-based portion of the blogging and BBSing netosphere is starting to take shape. While on one hand it’s coming coated in talk of self-restraint and uses words like “professional” and “responsibility”, the wording in an official notice [zh] which appeared online this week and is being spread by webmasters of sites that stand to be affected suggests that the coming month will see a similar massive shutdown similar to the one we saw leading up to the seventeenth National People’s Congress last year. This comes at a time when even major commercial web 2.0 sites with tens of dollars of foreign venture capitalist funding can drop dead on the spot with no explanation.
The notice appears to have originated at the Beijing Communications Authority and was then spread by its local counterparts from Jiangsu to Zhejiang and, further south, Guangdong province
The Chinese government continues to block and threaten foreign journalists despite repeated promises to lift media freedom restrictions ahead of the Olympic Games, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
The Chinese government has prohibited local Chinese-language media from publishing unflattering news ahead of the Games, leaving foreign media as the only source of factual reporting about a wide range of crucial issues in China today. But systematic surveillance, obstruction, intimidation of sources, and pressure on local assistants are hobbling foreign correspondents’ efforts to pursue investigative stories.
Internet connection is proving to be a major problem at the beijing games, despite olympic organisers promising uncensored access. Slow connection speed and apparent restricted access to news websites have riled many of the media outlets already in Beijing 12 days out from the opening ceremony.
Foreign-owned hotels in China face the prospect of 'severe retaliation' if they refuse to install government software that can spy on Internet use by hotel guests coming to watch the summer Olympic games
It seems the Fiji military has been successful in blocking one of the anti-military regime's blog spots in the island nation, the Fiji Times reports.
Tighter regulation of online expression has moved a step closer with the announcement in Japan that a website watchdog will start filtering out 'harmful' sites there later this month.
The Content Evaluation and Monitoring Association (CEMA) is a private body that is working within the framework of a new law governing websites the government deems likely to provoke crimes or promote suicide, among other issues.
Chris Salzberg discusses internet regulation and censorship trends in Japan. Talk given to the Global Voices Summit 2008 Session “Towards a Global Anti-Censorship Network” on 27th June 2008
An organization in Japan to promote freedom of expression online.
Japanese anti-whaling blogger Junichi Sato was arrested on June 20. According to Associated Press, he was arrested for theft. Japanese police arrested two Greenpeace activists on Friday on suspicion of stealing about 50 pounds of whale meat that the environmentalists said had been illegally siphoned by whalers from government-backed hunts. Sato claimed widespread collusion among fishing company, academics and others to overfish.
The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM), and Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI) are gravely concerned at the continued invoking of laws aimed at criminalizing expression such as those creating the offences of sedition and criminal defamation as illustrated by the arrest of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin for these offenses
Krishna Dhungana is a Nepali professional journalist and blogger. He writes a weekly blog for Nepal's popular site Mysansar.com and was associated with a daily tabloid called Naya Patrika until he was sacked for writing blogs.
Even though he started blogging just a month ago, it cost him a lot. He became the first person in Nepal to be fired because of blogging. This week, some Nepali blogs are abuzz about this incident.
Groundviews is Sri Lanka's award winning citizens journalism website and features an unparalleled range of ideas, opinions and analyses on humanitarian issues, media freedom, human rights, peace, democratic governance and constitutional reform
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) regulations on mobile users requiring them to always carry a certificate of ownership, while also barring them from using phones belonging to others.
A media rights watchdog has urged Vietnamese authorities to free a blogger arrested before the Olympic torch relay through the capital, Ho Chi Minh.
Middle East & North Africa (MENA)
Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh is a journalism student at Balk University in Mazar-i Sharif. He supposedly copied text from an Iranian website criticizing Islam’s stance on the treatment of women, and added his own thoughts on the matter—much like a blogger would. For this, the Afghan intelligence services investigated him, and after his arrest a court in Balkh province convicted him of heresy and sentenced him to death.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) expresses great concern over the arrest and interrogation of seven citizens by the national security service in Bahrain over their role in publishing the newsletter Wifaq and the Awal news website.
After being released on 29 June 2008, the detainees said they were subjected to beatings and ill-treatment for 24 hours at the premises of the National Security office. The detainees included Adel Al Aaly, Mohammed al-Musawi, Sayed Tahir Asfour and Mohammad Noman, administrators of the newsletter published by the Al-Wefaq Islamic Society. The investigation also included three others, Ali Shihabi, his brother Suhail al-Shihabi and Hussein Marzouq, involved with the website Awal, which the Ministry of Information shut down several days earlier on the pretext that it incited sectarianism.
Amnesty International has released an urgent action on the arrest of Facebook activists gathered for a mild protest in Alexandria.
While it's supposed to be a social networking site, Facebook has become the front line tool for the country's struggling democracy movement. Young democracy activists have flocked to the social networking site, to choreograph widespread protests against President Hosni Mubarrak's 27-year rule.
It's the perfect tool for them to voice their opinions, especially in a country that outlaws gatherings of more than five people. With the use of blog sites, Facebook and YouTube, their messages can now be projected globally.
A one-word blog post from a cell phone helped to free an American student from an Egyptian jail, but it took the signatures and support of thousands of activists to get his translator out.
The draft law prepared by Ministry of Media to organize the audio-visual transmission in Egypt, as the charter of organizing satellite transmission in the Arab region was not passed.
The charter was proposed by Cairo and Riyadh last February to Arab foreign ministers, and stirred strong opposition in Arab and international countries, and it was rejected by Lebanon, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain in the meeting of Arab ministers of media last June for the reason of restricting the freedom of speech and opinion.
Blogging about the wrong topics in Iran won't just get you censored; it could get you killed. Iran's parliament voted last week to discuss a draft bill that would "toughen punishment" for a number of crimes that it believes to be detrimental to society by making them subject to the death penalty. This list already includes crimes like armed robbery, rape, and leaving the religion of Islam (apostasy), but running a blog or website that promotes corruption, prostitution, or apostasy may soon be added.
Citizens found guilty of these crimes "should be punished as mohareb (enemy of God) and 'corrupt on the earth,'" according to the text of the bill seen by the AFP, which lays out a spectrum of punishments ranging from exile and amputation (the theory apparently being that it's hard to post without hands) to hanging. The bill also has stipulations that say it cannot be suspended or changed in the future.
Kuwaiti bloggers are angry at a proposed new Internet Law, which they claim would make their days as free bloggers numbered, after Attorney General Hamad Al Othman announced that a new law dealing with Internet crimes will be issued soon.
Tunisia has decided to outlaw usage of voice over IP (VOIP) tools and technology by individuals. (article in french)
Clipperz is a free and anonymous online password manager. Local encryption within the browser guarantees that no one except you can read your data.
DigiActive is very proud to announce its first guide: A DigiActive Introduction to Facebook Activism
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.
Global Voices had brought 80 of its editors and volunteer contributors to Budapest to talk about online freedom of expression, citizen media and the role of Global Voices in the next year as it continues efforts to bring to the world’s attention voices that are generally not heard in the mainstream media.
Introduction to Internet Architecture and Institutions provides you with an introduction to the technical and organizational structure of the Internet. First, using simple examples, you will be introduced to the way the Internet works, the processes involved in keeping it running, and the entities that have put it all together and continue to do so.
The debate over the framing and enforcement of fundamental rights in an Internet environment had a dedicated session in at the recent iCommons Summit in Sapporo. Featuring a number of issues concerning the process and the contents of an Internet Bill of Rights, individuals were invited to engage in the discussion and to have their say on a global initiative that aims at providing guidelines for any kind of regulation that deals with the adaptation and improvement of existing human fundamental rights, as well as the crafting of new rights that emerge from a technology-driven reality.
Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 300 citizens and organisations - who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses
The Yale Journal of Law & Technology (YJOLT) offers an interactive environment in which to acquire and disseminate knowledge about the interface between law and technology. The Journal publishes articles by the diverse and distinguished guests of the Yale Law School, as well as other scholars, practitioners, and students.
Calls for Participation
Call for Participation of the 25th Chaos Communication Congress 2008 (25C3). The Chaos Communication Congress is the annual four-day conference organized by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) and taking place in Berlin.
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
October 3 - 4: Tech4Africa
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
A web and emerging technology conference for Africa
October 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 3-4, 2008: Chinese Bloggers Conference 2008 和而不同，多志兴邦
Location: Beijing, China
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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