Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Internet Freedom Alert 1.16

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 1.16 covers developments from Sept 4 - Sept 10, 2008. Links, Events and articles mentioned are summarized weekly from the Internet Freedom Bookmarks site - that can be accessed @

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Opinion Articles

Internet Services Will be Worth Nearly $1 Trillion by 2012, Says Report

According to a report by the research firm Yankee Group, the global market for high-speed Internet services will be worth nearly $1 trillion by 2012. The broadband market, which includes revenue from services to consumers and businesses, as well as the amount spent on equipment for the underlying infrastructure, is currently worth $590 billion, according to the report. By 2012, the market will grow to more than $903 billion, it projected.

Cyber Dissidents and the Power of Blogging

Cyber-dissidence plays an important role in today’s media.

Currently the majority of the world’s mainstream media is centralized under the umbrella of a few select large organizations. The size of these organizations and their economic interests necessitate political interests which often demonstrate a bias in reporting and sometimes a lack of in-depth reporting as the need to churn out stories weighs heavier than the need to create depth in those stories. Not only that, but they are generally heavily controlled in restrictive nations, thus their ability to report micro events or to voice opinion within such restrictive states that is at odds with the voice of the state, is often limited.

For these reasons, the voice of individual cyber-dissidents is increasingly important. It is with this in mind that we recognize the strength of blogging - a blog being a space on the internet that acts like a journal - a web log.

North America

United States

Montana Shield Law Protects Anonymous Commenters

Judge Todd Baugh of Montana's 13th Judicial District ruled on Wednesday that Montana's shield law protects an online newspaper from having to disclose the identities of anonymous commenters. The ruling treats anonymous commenters like other confidential sources, whose identities are commonly protected by state shield laws.

Google To Anonymize Data After Nine Months

Google announced late Monday that it will be anonymizing Internet protocol addresses in its search logs after nine months instead of the previous 18-month period to address regulatory concerns and to take another step to improve privacy for users. In March 2007, Google was the first major search engine to agree to anonymize search server logs in the interest of privacy and others followed suit

Latin America & Caribbean


Twitter under atack in Brazil

Today twitter, the most used micro blog here in Brazil is under attack. One of our elections sections, in Ceara, has ruled that a fake political profile should be taken down by the service. (Politicians are forbidden to have any type of interaction on social media channels)


SADC countries increase ICT budgets by 29%

All countries in the SADC region with the exception of one, have increased the ICT budgets by 29% to reflect their growing commitment to e-government. According to a SADC ICT report released by ForgeAhead, the political will to develop strong ICT communities has manifested itself in the recent increases in the budget allocations.


KENIC reduces cost of '.ke' domains

Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC), the administrator of .ke top-level domains has reduced the cost of noncommercial domains and plans to reduce the cost of all domains within three years.


Ugandan ICT Laws Ready

While the developed world took close to 100 years to attain technological advances in communication, Uganda has realised a quantum leap and caught up in telecommunications technologies. This achievement is quickly drawing the attention of many African countries who also want to join the queue. Since last January, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) ministry has hosted close to 100 visitors from other countries seeking to see and learn from Uganda's experience.


Czech Republic

Senate approves e-government bill

The Czech Senate Thursday approved an e-government bill that the Interior Ministry hopes will reduce bureaucracy and save citizens' and clerks' time. The bill counts with the creation of electronic data boxes through which offices would communicate among themselves as well as with firms and citizens who have their own data boxes.


Germany to tighten data protection laws after scandals

German ministers agreed on Thursday to update data protection laws for the digital age in the wake of scandals showing how easily personal details can be bought on the Internet.

The new dangers were brought home in mid-August when a former call centre worker handed authorities a CD containing the bank details of 17,000 people that he said his employer had procured from a lottery firm. The whistle-blower, Detlef Tiegel, boasted that he had the details of 1.5 million others, and after a series of similar revelations it became clear that what the 36-year-old had revealed was only the tip of the iceberg


Greek Government Unveils US$3-bil. Fibre-Optic Roll-Out Plan

The announcement will help to bring Greece's poorly developed broadband sector in line with European neighbours. The new deployments will see the provision of coverage for two million households across three separate regions of the country. The Greek internet sector is among the least well-developed in Western Europe, and although uptake has begun to increase, this announcement will provide a major fillip. Fibre-optic networks will provide higher-speed connections than the DSL infrastructure which currently dominates the Greek market. However, other European countries have experienced problems over network sharing, and such issues could yet emerge in Greece.


Wiretapping - the Swedish way

The Swedish Parliament, Riksdagen, adopted 18 June 2008 a law which obliges all telecom and Internet providers to transfer all communication that passes the Swedish border to Försvarets radioanstalt (FRA), or the National Defence Radio Establishment as it is officially called in English. It is the Swedish national authority for signals intelligence.

Even though domestic Internet communication is between two persons residing Sweden, the same information may cross national borders through Germany, Denmark and USA. That is how the Internet works. This means that all Swedes as well as people residing outside of Sweden may be subject to the surveillance of FRA. FRA may transfer information to other countries and the Guardian has recently reported (7 August 2008) of a Secret EU security draft which would give USA "Wholesale exchange of (personal) data". It is within a greater international perspective one should view the Swedish legislation.

United Kingdom

UK government goes on with its plan for data retention

UK government intends to oblige ISPs and telephone companies to keep Internet personal data traffic for at least 12 months and local, health authorities and lots of other public bodies are to be given access to details of everyone's personal Internet information. On 15 August 2008, the Home Office published a consultation paper which makes clear that the personal data will now be available for crime and public order investigations and may even be used to prevent people self-harming. Furthermore, as the measure is the result of an EU directive, the data will be made available to public investigators across Europe.

A clash of cultures - The integration of user-generated content within professional journalistic frameworks at British newspaper websites

This study examines how national UK newspaper websites are integrating user-generated content (UGC). A survey quantifying the adoption of UGC by mainstream news organisations showed a dramatic increase in the opportunities for contributions from readers.


Asia Lags on Internet Despite Strong Mobile Growth

Asia is expected to continue maintaining a strong growth in the mobile market due to sustained demands from China and India—two of the world's largest mobile markets. However, "even if Asia is the world's largest broadband market in terms of absolute numbers, it lags the United States and Europe in overall penetration, with just 3.6 out of every 100 inhabitants connected to the high-speed Internet, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said in a report." Also reported by Reuters today: "Every month, India adds 9 million new subscribers and more, which is higher than China. We hope the excitement will continue," said N.K. Goyal, president of consultant group Communications and Manufacturing Association of India. But if India is the world's fastest-growing mobile phone market with nearly 300 million subscribers, only 11 million people in the country have access to the Internet.


Red paint campaign commemorates protests

Activists have sprayed red paint on the walls of various public building in Rangoon, reportedly to commemorate last yea's September protests and their violent suppression by the military regime. Red paint began to appear on 2 September in Lanmadaw and Pabedan townships on the walls of the Sanpya cinema, Thayettaw monastery, and the Theinggyi market overpass but was deleted by armed security personnel within hours, according to an eyewitness.


Tudou gets its SARFT-license

China's largest video hosting firm Tudou announced today it got its license from the State-Administration of Radio, Film and TV (SARFT) after a prolonged delay, so that is well worth a congratulation! A short summary of what happened to this rather new industry that has been able to survive in the rather difficult media-landscape where private companies and the country's regulator have been at odds for a rather long time.

Tudou license needed for online business

The license China's largest video hosting firm Tudou received today was paramount for getting seriously into the advertising business, Shaun Rein says today. After a two-month wait Tudou got its license from the regulatory body SARFT, two months after everybody else got their permission

Billions wasted in China's telecom

A rather interesting piece on the official news agency Xinhua, quoting auditor-general Liu Jiayi reporting on Wednesday to the fourth session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress. He said the telecom sector had experienced huge growth in both network scale and capacity since the industry's reform and restructuring that started in 2002; repeated investment had dragged down performance. According to the National Audit Office (NAO), more than 1.12 trillion yuan (about 164 billion U.S. dollars) was spent on the construction of basic facilities between 2002 and 2006. However, only one-third of the telecom cables were used. His fierce criticism comes at an interesting moment, as the country is preparing for yet another reform of the telecom industry and three domestic competitors are fighting to become market leader.

Phones Blocked for Blind Activist's Family In the Run-up to the Paralympic Games in Beijing

In the run-up to the Paralympic Games in Beijing, people close to a prominent jailed blind activist have suddenly found their access to telecommunications limited. The wife of Chen Guangcheng, a human rights lawyer currently serving a four-year jail term, said her cell phone service is often cut off in the middle of calls.


E-Government Plan

A program to implement government communications infrastructure and to give high-priority to government service online has been launched. Interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry says the E-Government Program will create a "New Fiji" with improved levels of communication within and outside of Fiji.


Cyber law and cyber crimes in India

The IT Act, 2000 is India's cyber law, still underway of amendments. But, some cyber law experts doubt its effectiveness. A leading cyber offences expert, Praveen Dalal is says that e-governance in India is useless if it's insecure of e-terrorism. CYBER LAW is seen as an essential component of criminal justice system all over the world. The same applies to cyber law of India as well. In the Indian context, the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000) is the cyber law of India. It is the exclusive law in this regard and is under the process of amendments.


More storms a-brewing for RPK

A new legal wrangle might join the criminal defamation charges and defamation law suits sitting on the doorstep of Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK). Newspapers reported recently that the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) and other Muslim bodies had lodged a police report against him for allegedly insulting the Malays, Muslims and Islam.

Malaysia Today block order stands, probe underway

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's (SKMM) directive to Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the Malaysia Today portal still stands pending an investigation to determine if its editor should be charged. SKMM chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, when contacted Wednesday, said an investigation was underway to determine whether or not to charge the portal's editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin under Section 211 or 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

Sri Lanka

Thailand and Malaysia clamp down websites

Moves bound to embolden Sri Lanka's own regime to officially clamp down on websites, Thailand and Malaysia blocked or shut down hundreds of websites this week. Thailand's manifestly idiotic and regressive lese majeste laws were used to shut down 344 out of a total of 400 sites it shut down

The charges against Tissainayagam: Implications for bloggers in Sri Lanka


Thai government tries to shut down 400 websites

Thailand's Information and Communications Technology Ministry sought court orders yesterday to shut down about 400 websites and advised internet service providers to block 1,200 sites it considers a danger to national security or disturbing social order.

Australian man refused bail for insulting Thai King

Harry Nicolaides from Melbourne was arrested in Bangkok on Sunday as he arrived in the country. He has been visiting Thailand since 2003 and has written a book which mentions members of the royal family.

Mr Nicolaides graduated from La Trobe University in 1988 and is also a blogger. More recently he was a teacher in hospitality at the Mae Fah Luang University in the northern Thai town of Chiang Rai. The ABC understands Mr Nicolaides was refused bail and is currently in the Bangkok Remand Centre. Thailand has some of the strongest lese majeste laws in the world.

New Zealand

Internet access a human right, minister says

The internet is now so much an essential part of life and commerce that access to it can be seen as “a human right”, says Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard.

She made the remark on launching a book on the history of the internet in New Zealand, commissioned by InternetNZ. Called Connecting the Clouds, the book is written by former Computerworld staffer Keith Newman.

The book sets the spread of the internet in New Zealand in the context of the rise of communication technologies and the development of society and culture within New Zealand over the past century.

“I see this book as very much part of that story,” Tizard says.

The book also tells the story of internet development from the inside, drawing on interviews with a large number of seminal industry figures.

NZ judge bans Net naming of defendants

A New Zealand judge who is an expert on internet law has made an unprecedented ruling banning publication of the names of two men on a murder charge on news websites. Judge David Harvey on Monday said he was "concerned about the viral effect of digital publication". He said the names could be published in newspapers and on radio and television news bulletins but he was concerned about people being able to Google someone's name "and being able to access it later".

Middle East & North Africa


Egyptian blogger arrested since July

A young Egyptian blogger Mohamed Refaat has being in jail since July, though the editor of the blog Matabbat was ordered to be released


Six-month prison sentences for four cyber-feminists

A Tehran court has passed six-month prison sentences on four female bloggers, found guilty under article 500 of the Islamic criminal code. The four women were charged for articles that appeared in two online newspapers that defend women’s rights in Iran, Zanestan and Tagir Bary Barbary.


The Post that led Mohammed Raji to Jail

Moroccan blogger Mohammed Raji is behind bars in his country for speaking his mind. Following is a translation of the post [Ar], which will cost the blogger two years of his freedom.

Blogger Arrested, Sentenced Immediately

This morning, it was reported by the electronic news site Hespress [ar] that blogger Mohammed Raji was arrested in his home in Agadir. An article that Raji had posted on Hespress [ar] is said to be the source of the conflict, though neither that fact nor Raji’s arrest have been confirmed outside of the blogosphere.

Morocco’s often-critized press law prohibits criticizing of the monarchy; In Raji’s article, which has been translated here by Amira al Hussaini, he claims that the King’s charity toward his people encourages them to remain helpless rather than work hard.


oman electronic transactions law 200

On May 18, 2008, the Electronic Transactions Law 69/2008 of the Sultanate of Oman was issued by Royal Decree. This is the first law passed to regulate electronic transactions in Oman. Secretary General of Oman's National Economy Ministry and Chairman of the Information Technology Authority (ITA), Mohammad Al-Khussaibi, held that the Electronic Transactions Law "is the start of a new era in Oman, where a truly e-enabled society evolves in the realization of the digital society in the Sultanate." This article provides information on Oman's Electronic Transactions Law and its application to blogging activities.


Syria tightens the screws on the Interwibble

Syria, is up to its old tricks again, this time blocking 160 websites which purportedly expressed dissident views.

Russia & Central Asia


Azerbaijan to make AzDataCom fully available this year

The National Data Transmission Backbone Project (AzDataCom) between the UN Development Program and Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies will be completed and fully available in all regions of the country this year. The project is a key scheme for establishment of infrastructure and framework for information society and e-government. The system will provide high-speed data transmission between Baku and provinces. Telephone exchanges in Baku and Sumgait have already provided with data transmission at the rate of 10 Gbit/s. The regional network will also be upgraded to 10 Gbit/s from 1 Gbit/s transmission rate


Internet censorship technically impossible

Moscow, September 1, Interfax - 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

Calls for Participation

25th Chaos Communication Congress

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.

Upcoming Events

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

Please visit the official blog of cnbloggrrcon,, or follow the twitter agent of cnbloggercon at,,

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.


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