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 1.15 covers developments from Aug 22 - Sept 4, 2008. Links, Events and articles mentioned are summarized weekly from the Internet Freedom Bookmarks site - that can be accessed @ http://del.icio.us/internetfreedom
Request for contributions
The newsletter would like to include your comments, articles and specific cases that could be of interest to the larger community involved in Internet Freedom and Internet Governance. Send contributions to - firstname.lastname@example.org
Should you wish to publish anonymously or send us a message via a secure communications tool - please let us know - and we'll be happy to make the appropriate arrangements.
Although research has urged scholars and practitioners to develop the Internet as a democratic tool, little research has examined how users actually use the Internet and how the Internet is conceptualized by those who create its content â€“ particularly in the non-profit sector where questions of democracy, interconnected communication and information gathering are often central to survival. This research surveys 688 people associated with non-profit organizations in the United States to better understand their perceptions and uses of the Internet as a tool for social change.
As the curtain fell on the Beijing Olympic Games, a U.S.-based coalition is striving to keep the spotlight squarely focused on China. The California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) is urging the U.S. government to launch a formal complaint against China at the Geneva-based World Trade Organization, alleging that the country's heavy-handed Internet censorship violates world trading rules.
What makes the news from China is usually the bad news: the arrests, the raided churches, the blocked Internet sites, the overzealous security goons. That’s the way journalism works — we cover planes that crash, not those that land.
Yet the underlying trend in recent years is the opposite. For all the continuing repression, Chinese live far freer lives now than when I lived in Beijing in the 1980s and ’90s. Ordinary citizens can now easily travel abroad, choose their own housing and jobs, and move to whatever Chinese city they want to.
Then there is the Internet.
It’s true that the government censors critical Web sites and closes down troublesome blogs. Yet there aren’t nearly enough censors to manage the job, and many Chinese are quite adept at technological ladders over the Great Firewall of China. Objectionable posts are deleted by censors, but then are quickly reposted on 50 different platforms.
This is a cat-and-mouse game in which the spotlight is usually on the mice when they get caught: China has more Internet commentators in prison than any other country. But the larger truth is that the mice are winning this game, not the cats
The FCC decision to require Comcast to stop interfering with popular peer-to-peer applications being used by subscribers to its highspeed Internet access service was historic. Millions of Americans were surprised by Comcast’s discriminatory activities, and the FCC accurately sensed that it was time to respond. Just three years ago, such an action by the FCC would have been unthinkable. Now the Commission looks both brave and in step with the times.
According to a letter released recently by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, several Internet and broadband companies have admitted to using targeted-advertising technology without explicitly informing customers. Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post reports: "Google, in its letter to committee Chairman John Dingell, Markey, Stearns and Rep. Joe L. Barton, stressed that it did not engage in potentially the most invasive of technologies—deep-packet inspection, which companies such as NebuAd have tested with some broadband providers. But Google did note that it had begun to use across its network the 'DoubleClick ad-serving cookie,' a computer code that allows the tracking of Web surfing."
The U.S. Government has now mandated that DNSSEC will be deployed throughout the .gov domain. The OMB says .gov will be signed by Jan 2009, the zones below .gov are to be signed by Dec 2009, and agencies are obliged to survey their systems and plan their deployment strategy.
Proposal for an Internet Community Ports Act (ICPA), which would create special "zones" online where it would be okay for "adult" material to reside, and other zones that would be kid friendly.
The detention and subsequent release of Amare Aregawi has caused me reflect on the current state of press freedom in Ethiopia and moreover freedom of speech. Amare Aregawi is the Editor-in-Chief of The Ethiopian Reporter, an Amharic and English print and internet newspaper that can be well found in every city in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Reporter is well known for being a largely independent and nonpartisan newspaper, something that is very hard for Ethiopia's private press.
The list of websites being censored in the country. Supposedly being maintained the by Finnish Police.
In what appears to be a mass defacement, where several hundred domains take advantage of a shared hosting provider,Net Devilz Netherlands starting as of this Friday, an Islamic hacker known as nEt^DeViL — this is not the NetDevilz team that hijacked the DNS records of the ICANN and Photobucket in June — managed to successfully hack a couple of hundred Dutch web sites as a hacktivist response to the release of the Fitna film, a controversial film released by Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament in March, 2008
This report, headed Turkish court lifts YouTube ban after online censorship protest, was incorrect. Access to the site remains blocked. A court in Turkey has lifted a ban on YouTube, the video sharing website, after hundreds of sites voluntarily blocked themselves in protest at growing internet censorship.
Russia and Central Asia
When higher-ups at NTV pulled a television report on the demolition of Moscow's historic buildings, they likely did not imagine that the star reporter and his topic would get more attention than if the film had aired. The story of what happened with Andrei Loshak's "There is an Office Here Now" illustrates the role in today's Russia of both the Internet and glossy magazines in keeping alive issues that run afoul of cautious bosses or the direct censorship of state-controlled television and other mass media.
There will be no censorship in the Internet, Russian Communications and Information Technology Minister Igor Shchyogolev told students of the Moscow State University's Journalism Department on Monday. "Such censorship is impossible for technological reasons," he said. As state regulation of the Internet is problematic technically, it is necessary to promote self-regulation, the minister said
A vocal critic of the Kremlin's policies in the Caucasus died Sunday from a bullet wound to the head while in police custody, Interfax reported, quoting prosecutors. Magomed Yevloyev founded and ran the website ingushetiya.ru, a major source of information in the region, and was a prominent opponent of the pro-Kremlin president of Ingushetia, Murat Zyazikov.
Magomed Yevloyev, owner of opposition Ingushetiya.ru webpage, was killed in Ingushetia yesterday soon after the police detained him in Margas airport. Yevloyev had flown in from Moscow on the same plane with the president of the region. On disembarking from the plane Yevloyev was forced into a police car and taken in an unknown destination. Relatives found him on a highway with a bullet wound in his head. He was taken to a hospital where he died. Authorities say a policeman shot Yevloyev accidentally when the website owner attempted to seize his gun. But the opposition in Ingushetia insists the killing was deliberate
An opposition internet news site owner in Russia's troubled Ingushetia region was fatally shot Sunday soon after being detained by police, and his colleagues called for a rally to protest his death. Magomed Yevloyev is one of the most high-profile journalists to be killed in Russia since investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead near her Moscow apartment in 2006, provoking condemnation of Russia's record on media freedom. Yevloyev, owner of the www.Ingushetiya.ru website, was a vocal critic of the region's Kremlin-backed administration, accused by opponents of crushing dissent and free speech.
Various China-related democracy issues need to be integrated through a broad and overarching theme and coordinated from closer locations in Asia. This was the latent international strategy that emerged from the Third International Conference on Global Support for Democratization in China and Asia (GSDCA) which was held last week in Tokyo. The GSDCA brought together some 100 pro-democracy activists from across the world, literally on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, for a two-day meeting in Tokyo beginning August 4.
Apple’s online music store, iTunes, has been blocked in China after more than 40 Olympic athletes downloaded a pro-Tibet album from the site.
Consumers in China began inundating Apple help forums on Monday, saying that they could not access iTunes. Earlier on the same day the US-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) announced that 46 athletes from America, Europe and even Beijing had used the site to download Songs for Tibet, which had been offered to them free.
The album, produced by the Art of Peace Foundation and promoted by the ICT, features 20 songs from highprofile artists including Sting, Moby, Damien Rice and Alanis Morissette.
The People's Republic has pardoned iTunes after access to the online music store was apparently blocked in reaction to selling a new Tibet-themed album during the Olympic games. Apple customers in China can once again access the iTunes store, although the contested "Songs for Tibet" album released by the US-based activist group Art of Peace Foundation is unavailable there. Internet forums in China had been flooded with complaints that music hasn't been available for download from iTunes since August 18.
Since the end of last year, the California First Amendment Coalition, a free speech group with ties to the US tech industry, has been pushing the Bush administration to launch a trade dispute against China on internet censorship.
A petition the group has filed with the Office of the US Trade Representative argues that American internet service providers were being severely damaged by restrictions placed on internet usage by Beijing. The curbs violate several international trade agreements, CFAC says, including the protocol China signed when it joined the WTO in 2001.
News has emerged that the Chinese government has detained at least five bloggers from the United States for reporting on protests in favor of Tibetan independence. Included among the detained was the widely admired founder of the video blog series Alive in Baghdad, Brian Conley. The detentions follow a wave of arrests of Chinese dissidents leading up to the Olympics. The US government pledged as the games began to engage the Chinese government concerning human rights - we wonder what those conversations look like now that China has detained journalists consistently critical of US policy as well.
China - Olympics
The Committee to Protect Journalists said China had blocked more than 50 Web sites carrying news or advocating on behalf of pro-Tibetan groups, including the group's site (http://www.cpj.org), before the Games began, reneging on pre-Olympics promises of Internet freedoms.
A member of Students for a Free Tibet said the group had experienced cyberattacks aimed at making its U.S. Web site hard to use.
New York-based Human Rights in China says 24 protesters -- critics of the Communist Party and their family members -- were detained or put under watch before the Olympics opened.
Before the Beijing Olympics began a University of New Mexico computer scientist was monitoring the country's censorship of the internet, filtering what could and could not be searched by computer users within the borders of China.
The Open Net Initiative (ONI) compared data from the Olympics Main Press Center (MPC) to that from other locations in Beijing, compiling a snapshot of Internet filtering in China leading up to week 1 of the Olympics.
For each test at the MPC, ONI tested at other locations in Beijing with broadband Internet access provided by China Netcom. The filtering was nearly identical between the MPC and home access in Beijing, indicating that the incrementally increased openness achieved by reminding China of its Olympic promises benefit all Beijingers.
Internet censorship has many and varied faces. The latest revealed itself in India as the Supreme Court ordered Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to stop serving up adverts for sites that promote sex selection services
India seems to be taking a page from Sri Lanka’s own misguided notions of national security and telecommunications. Back in May I wrote about the contest between RIM and the Indian Home Ministry to gain access to the encrypted communications conducted via Blackberry’s. Now there’s news that the Home Ministry may actually hack into RIM’s communications if it isn’t granted access
First it was shutting down blog sites after the Mumbai bombings in 2006. This year it was attempting to snoop into communications conducted over BlackBerry’s. Now Google has been instructed to reveal the identity of an anonymous blogger in a defamation lawsuit filed by an Indian construction company against them.Korea
A draft law pushed by the Korean Communication Commission (KCC), the country's telecommunication and broadcasting regulator, that imposes strengthened identification policies for Internet users is sparking widespread protests from the public and media.
Malaysia's leading political blog was being blocked yesterday in what was seen as a crackdown on internet websites credited with contributing to government losses in this year's general election. The move came as former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was being sworn in as the new opposition leader following a by-election victory this week that returned him to parliament for the first time in a decade.
Today, is one that I consider, a dark day in Malaysian Internet history. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), ordered all ISPs to block access to a website, thereby violating the MSC Bill of Guarantees, which clearly states: Ensure no Internet censorship
In a rare move, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has ordered all internet service providers (ISPs) to block controversial online portal Malaysia Today.
Since August 3rd, some Malaysian blogs have featured the national flag (or “Jalur Gemilang“) posted upside-down as a sign of a nation in distress. The call was said to be have been made by blogger Sheih aka ‘kickdefella‘ from the country’s east coast, a call which many bloggers have taken to. Some bloggers have deigned to show disrespect to the flag, although they have posted the ruling party’s flag upside down on their blog.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi was reported to have expressed regret over this movement in the blogosphere, calling it “evil”. He was reported to have said that flying the national flag upside down was not unlawful or illegal, but still a despicable one, especially in the run up of Malaysia’s 51st independence celebrations. It was reported that Abdullah hoped that the police would take some action into the matter.
Malaysian bloggers were up in arms again when blogger Bakaq aka ‘Penarik Beca’ was detained for sedition recently. Bakaq, whose real name is Abdul Rashi Abu Bakar, was detained (and since released) for defacing the Royal Malaysian Police crest by allegedly substituting the tiger in the emblem with a dog.
The government-appointed AIMS panel has called for Singapore's symbolic ban on 100 websites to be lifted. AIMS (the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society) says that the ban can be replaced by more holistic, community-based defences against undesirable internet content. If the proposal is accepted, it would mark the most significant freeing up of the internet since content regulations were introduced in 1996. However, just like the ban itself, lifting it would have a mainly symbolic effect, possibly signaling the government's recognition that a paternalistic approach to internet regulation is neither sustainable nor wise.
The group of bloggers for internet freedom says AIMS should not just make concessions to the practical difficulties of regulating the medium – it should should take a principled stand for freedom of expression. The group, which had submitted proposals to the government in April, was responding to the consultation paper released by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS) last Friday.
The bloggers produce some of Singapore's most influential socio-political blogs, including TheOnlineCitizen.com, YawningBread.org and SGPolitics.net.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called Monday for the release of blogger God Cay, arrested according to official Vietnamese media on suspicion of tax evasion, but according to the organization pay its media criticism against the communist government.
Middle East & North Africa (MENA)
If you want to know where the next demonstration will be held for the Egyptian civil rights movement, you need only log onto one of the many local political blogs. Web diaries in Egypt have become a firmly established part of the civil rights movement along the Nile.
On 23 August 2008, ANHRI and the Hisham Mubarak Law Center reported that the state security investigation agency had decided to keep in prison Mohamed Refaat, editor of the blog Matabbat, http://matabbat.blogspot.com . The authorities have turned a blind eye to a 17 August supreme state security prosecution order calling for the young blogger's release.
Egyptian blogger Mohammed Refaat has been arrested, having just been released after nearly a month in detention, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Hisham Mubarak Law Center.
According to news sites and blogs, Iranian Judiciary chief Ayatollah Shahroudi said on Sunday that any case of banning a website needs a verdict from the court of justice. He added the websites committing security and immoral acts are exceptions.Taghvimeh Tabid,an Iranian blogger, believes this order has not any impact on real life.
Three more blogs have been blocked in Tunisia this week. These blogs, Mochagheb (Disturber), Ennaqed (The Critic) and Place Mohamed Ali have all been particularly active in providing news of the struggle of The Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), and especially about the latest social unrest in the southwestern phosphate mining region of Gafsa, where two people have been killed. One was shot dead by security forces and the other was electrocuted inside a local electric generator.
Tunisia seems to have blocked access to Facebook. Some Tunisian bloggers in the country report being unable to access the popular social networking website and took several screenshots of the fake 404 blockpage.
Tunisia is also blocking access, permanently, to both popular video-sharing websites, Youtube (since Since November 2nd, 2007) and Dailymotion (since Septembre 3rd, 2007)
The ban on the popular social networking website Facebook has been lifted in Tunisia since yesterday 3 September 2008 after a massive protest by Tunisian Netizens. Tens of Facebook groups protesting the ban have popped up in recent weeks surrounding this issue. But, according to Al Chourouk newspaper, the President Ben Ali intervened personally ordering the lifting of the ban and restoring access to the website.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
As the deadline to unblock 1,000 Internet sites in the country nears, some previously blocked medical sites are now accessible. However, industry sources say that a majority of the popular social networking sites are likely to remain blocked. Earlier this month, the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced that web service providers, Etisalat and du, would be asked to unblock 1,000 sites by August 29 under its new 'Internet Access Management Policy'. The service providers, on the other hand, claimed they had not been officially notified by the TRA in the matter.
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 14, 2008: Open Web Asia Conference ‘08
Location: Seoul, Korea
The first pan-Asia web technology event bringing together executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from throughout Asia”
Open Web Asia ‘08 marks the birth of a new conference that will be the first truly pan-Asia web technology event. Top technology executives, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists from throughout Asia will gather for this premier event to be hosted in Seoul, Korea in its inaugural year.
October 20 - 21: European Dialogue on Internet Governance
Location: Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France
Consultations before the 3rd IGF in Hyderabad with a particular emphasis on : "Fostering security, privacy and openness on the internet" European actors interested in Internet Governance issues will meet in Strasburg on 20-21 October 2008, to discuss openly and freely their ideas, experiences and concerns in a fully multi-stakeholder format.
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
November 27-28: How technology (and internet in particular) influences society.
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
XS4ALL is holding a two-day conference on the influence of technology on society, naturally devoting particular attention to the internet. The conference is being organised in an unusual way: a weblog and a wiki have been set up to enable a large group of people to draw up the programme jointly.
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.
Some articles appearing in this Alert are copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner