Monday, October 27, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Budapest – October 23, 2008 – Freedom House applauds the European Parliament for awarding its top human rights prize to Chinese dissident Hu Jia, who was jailed this year as China cracked down on human rights campaigners ahead of the Olympics. The international community should respond by increasing pressure on China's authoritarian leaders to ensure that Hu is freed—along with all other prisoners of conscience—and allowed to accept the Sakharov Award in France December 17.
"Hu winning the Sakharov Award communicates a powerful message of hope to millions of Chinese who dream of living in a country where they can speak, worship and associate freely," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "The legitimacy accorded to the Chinese government by democratic heads of state who chose to attend the Olympic Games sent the wrong message to China’s beleaguered activists. We hope this award provides the encouragement that Chinese activists like Hu need to keep pressing for their basic human rights."
China's government sentenced Hu to three and a half years in jail this spring on subversion charges after he gave interviews to media and published an open letter to the Chinese government calling for an end to human rights abuses in the country.
Today, the European Parliament also approved funding for a new global initiative to help human rights bloggers like Hu circumvent China's formidable Internet blocking system. The €11 million ($14 million) budgetary proposal will fund a study to develop anti-censorship tools and services.
Freedom House praises the EU for supporting these useful tools and urges parliamentarians to expand this effort by earmarking funds to develop a service to archive web content. This would allow users, especially those in China, to access content deleted by government authorities. The European Parliament should also pass the Global Online Freedom Act which would be a historic step toward strengthening Internet freedom worldwide.
"Freedom House believes GOFA is an essential step toward combating Internet censorship in authoritarian states like China," said Vladimir Shkolnikov, Freedom House Europe director.
China is ranked Not Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in the 2008 version ofFreedom of the Press.
For more information on China, visit:
Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in China since 1972.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Despite the benefits that, blocked or not , foreign web services offer to Chinese netizens, it is still the hundreds if not thousands of domestic commercial blog, microblog, social network and video- and photo-sharing services and BBSes and message boards that define the internet as the majority of Chinese netizens experience it. For comparison, you might ask yourself when was the last time you visited a website that was not just blocked nationwide, but in a different language?
So, for better or for worse, it is understandable that things like banned keywords and rampant content deletion tend to be more of a concern for your average Chinese internet user than being equipped with the latest, fastest, circumvention tools, helpful as they are. Over time, if you look at internet censorship as a pervasive infection, the internet's culture of curiosity has been somewhat of a natural immunity, and an antidote as well.
Blog host rejecting your post? Try breaking up keywords with a couple slash marks
Or turn a post into an image, something with no detectable text
There are numerous such methods people have gradually adopted to deal with domestic "deletion-style" censorship, according to their needs: cross-posting, text modification, self-censorship. One particularly innovative blogger in this regard had been Zhou "Zuola" Shuguang. Zhou has consistently maintained that his sole goal is to achieve fame—
"I always knew this day would come, and it could have come earlier. Having my blog blocked just means I've finally become famous. At least I've got the GFW's attention. This is my honor. There were also many newspapers and foreign media outlets which interviewed me. I've actually become “famous overnight”! I'm one lucky pig this Year of the Pig, everything I'd wanted is happening."
—and as such his citizen journalism live-blogging activities have always revolved around several high-profile incidents, from being one of the first at the scene of the Chongqing Nailhouse to being on the streets of Xiamen for the largest publicly-organized protest in China since 1989, to traveling to the far north and interviewing victims of one of the largest ponzi schemes in Chinese history (leading to his first arrest) and, most recently, to Beijing to help other bloggers investigate claims of a "black" extrajudicial prison in downtown Beijing with high school students and petitioners being held inside.
In each of these cases, preserving the information has been a key issue that Zuola has not just raised, but resolved; from Nailhouse photos stored on Picasa to photos of the anti-PX environmental protest resulting in Flickr being blocked, one service in particular that Zuola has made heavy use of is the Google Doc, such as with his Tibet coverage, compiled in its entirety from home (that also being the condition under which Hu Jia worked for nearly two years):
For his coverage of the "black" prison in Beijing, Zuola has for the first time tried using Google Knol, opting for a more community-based blogging style:
For comparison, here is what Zuola's 'information activism' looked like during the Xiamen and Yilishen incidents:
Thursday, October 16, 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 1.18 covers developments from Sept 22 - Oct 16, 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.
Freedom House's Global Internet Program is happy to announce some program news - including the launch of our website as well as the addition of two new staff members. Our new team members will help develop two new projects - one focusing on Internet Freedom in China , and another on promoting censorship circumvention tools.
The website will launch this upcoming weekend at the following location http://internet-freedom.info
It is indeed a loaded question in a world where technology and easy access to it has transformed the role of journalism and how it is practiced. Can I be considered a journalist because I do have access to the necessary technology and information to express my ideas and convictions through a medium, the Internet, which has worldwide reach? If we ask that question to a Chinese blogger raising hell about how the Communist regime represses free press and democracy in that country, the answer would be a resounding yes. But what if the blogger operates in a democratic country with a free press that has historically assumed the role of watchdog of democracy? Can anyone with a computer, a modem and an opinion be considered a journalist?
The Media Bloggers Association ("MBA") announced today that it has launched a comprehensive program to provide bloggers access to the same sort of legal and financial resources long available to traditional media organizations including BlogInsure, a first of its kind liability insurance program for bloggers which provides coverage for all forms of defamation, invasion of privacy and copyright infringement or similar allegations arising out of blogging activities.
The Anonymous Blogging with Wordpress and Tor guide is now available in Portuguese. The guide outlines several methods of protecting one's identity in order to avoid retaliation and can considerably reduce the risks that a blogger's identity will be linked to his or her online writings through technical means
The ever increasing nexus between human rights and business and the accompanying vagueness of concepts such as a company's'sphere of influence or responsibility' for human rights can, and has, created anxiety amongst companies. Considerations of human rights traditionally take place in the context of a state-based system of global governance; however, the rise and rise of the corporation as a powerful non-state actor in recent decades has seen increased interest in understanding the emerging relationship between human rights and business and what if any, responsibility business should assume for protecting human rights. This article considers the role played by US technology companies such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft in working with the Chinese government to censor Internet content and thus intrude on the human rights to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to privacy.
The airline, which plans to launch its in-flight Wi-Fi service later this year, has changed course on the controversial issue and now says it will block inappropriate Web sites from its Internet service, according to an article published Friday by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Legislation to authorize a $320 million funding boost for Justice Department-supported Internet Crimes Against Children task forces and impose higher penalties on Internet service providers that do not report child pornography found on their networks passed the House today and will be sent to President Bush for his signature. The Senate approved its version of the bill Thursday after months of negotiations and a recent on-air endorsement by talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
Legislation to authorize more than $300 million for Justice Department-funded Internet Crimes Against Children task forces and would alter how online child pornography is reported by Internet companies passed the Senate late Thursday after a deal was reached between Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
Buzz is building about the Wednesday launch of an advocacy coalition intended to draw attention to "the opportunities and challenges that the Internet presents for consumers, artists and the technology community alike." The kick-off is being held in New York City -- not in Washington -- which already smells a little funny to me if this group's intention is to influence policy.
The European Parliament has passed a resolution urging the European Commission and member states, "to safeguard media pluralism." The resolution also calls for, "an open discussion on all issues relating to the status of weblogs."
A week ago an academic study (in Dutch, English summary on p. viii-xiii) was released on the filtering of child pornography by Internet providers in the Netherlands. The government's reaction is here. The study discusses the existing child pornography filtering schemes in the Netherlands and abroad, the effectiveness of the schemes and Internet filtering more generally and lays out four scenarios for the future. The report gives an excellent account of the political discussion about child pornography filtering in the Netherlands over the last years. I am not so sure about some of the legal and normative conclusions it contains. I do hope that the debate about these issues will continue, possibly in the area of filtering and blocking in the context of intellectual property enforcement, which is currently being pushed for in the European Parliament.
Websites will continue to be banned as long as they post content inappropriate for Turkish families, a Turkish minister said Wednesday. Websites to continue to be banned in Turkey- transportation minister "Practices are needed to protect young people and the public at large from harmful material online," the Turkish Daily News (TDN) quoted Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim as speaking at the international CeBit Information Technology Summit in Istanbul on Wednesday.
The UK government launched a new group aimed at tackling threats to young people on the Internet.
The use of free access to music downloads and social networks, such as Face Book, Skype, You Tube and Edumela via the internet by both students and lecturers, has been blocked within Botswana's top tertiary school premises. Early last week, students in different colleges started noticing pop up blogs that informed them of their particular institution restricting the use of the sites they were trying to access. Restrictions of websites in schools have been known to happen mostly in cases of websites containing pornographic materials.
A year after identifying the need for a consumer affairs division, the Communication Commission of Kenya has set out to educate the public on their rights regarding the ICT sector
Looks like China won't be the only place with a Great Firewall in placeâ€”The Australian government is introducing its own censorship regime that will determine what is or isn't illegal for you to view on the web. The move is said to help stop teenagers from accessing online pornography, but even if you opt-out of the pr0n filter, you'll get put on a different blacklist for "illegal" content.
Australians will be unable to opt-out of the government's pending Internet content filtering scheme, and will instead be placed on a watered-down blacklist, experts say. Under the government's $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material.
Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association call for the immediate release of well-known former journalist Ohn Kyaing, who was arrested at his home yesterday. A member of the National League for Democracy, the main opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, he was freed in 2005 after spending 15 years in prison for writing "seditious pamphlets."
The Internet in China may soon run out. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, under the current allocation speed, China's IPv4 address resources can only meet the demand of 830 more days and if no proper measures are taken by then, new Chinese netizens will not be able to gain normal access to the Internet.
China's netizens are becoming less tolerant for manipulation of their online conversation, says CIC-founder Sam Flemming, a leading authority on the online buzz in China in a CSB podcast. The ongoing melamine milk crisis might be a watershed on how the internet in China works.
The Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) and it's editor Hugo Restall have been found guilty of defaming Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsein Loong, and his father Lee Kuan Yew. The summary judgement was made without the case going to trial, in compliance with the wishes of the Lees.
At the tenth anniversary of Cisco's (CSCO) China Networking Academy held in Chengdu, Sichuan, the company announced that it would further enhance cooperation with the Sichuan government and Sichuan Education Department to establish 50 new academies in the next three years to realize 100% coverage of this project in Sichuan's institutes of higher learning. The Cisco Networking Academy project entered China in 1998. By cooperation with universities and institutes, the project aims to train senior network technology professionals with the help of its advanced network materials and the world's top e-learning platform.
The Hong Kong government has issued a consultation paper on the "Review of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance" last Friday (Oct 3). The first round of consultation will be lasted until end of January. A most controversial issue is the suggestion on introduction of an internet filtering system in Hong Kong
A group of Canadian human-rights activists and computer security researchers has discovered a huge surveillance system in China that monitors and archives certain Internet text conversations that include politically charged words.
That Chinese Internet companies censor communications is well known, but a new report from a Canadian computer scientist reveals a new front in their efforts to monitor users online. The study shows that users of TOM-Skype, a Chinese voice and chat service that is compatible with the popular Internet phone system Skype, have been subject to extensive surveillance. To make matters worse, the records of their chat conversations, as well as detailed personal information, were stored insecurely on the Web.
While Skype claims to have fixed the problem, the fact that TOM-Skype was enabling surveillance and privacy breaches in such a shocking manner for a significant period of time demonstrates that eBay/Skype as a company has not placed enough emphasis on protecting users' rights and interests. What else is going on - or has gone on - which users don't know about and which Skype headquarters doesn't know about either? This incident with TOM raises questions about how trustworthy Skype as a company really is.
Raja Petra Kamarudin, editor of Malaysia Today, is to be detained for two years under Malaysia's Internal Security Act.
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) a journalist organization in Indonesia, condemned the second arrest of Raja Petra Kamarudin a malaysian editor for the popular opposition web site Malaysia Today. The club's Secretary General Abdul Manan said "the arrest was a form of excessive repression to the freedom of the press. We urge the Malaysian government to release Raja Petra."
The extension of Raja Petra Kamaruddin's period of detention to two years is another example of the nefarious uses of Malaysia's Internal Security Act, says Daniel Chandranayagam. But the reaction of ordinary citizens shows the tide may be turning in favour of free expression.
Vietnam jailed a reporter for two years Wednesday for his coverage of state corruption in a court case that has sent a chill through the communist country's media industry. The Hanoi court also imprisoned for one year a senior police officer who had provided information on the graft scandal to the media, but it allowed a police general and a second journalist to walk free. The jailed reporter, Nguyen Viet Chien, almost three years ago helped pry open the graft case, which centred on a transport ministry unit whose officials had squandered foreign aid on gambling and high living.
Middle East & North Africa
The Ministry of Guidance is making another attempt at controlling internet sites, which failed in a previous attempt two years ago. In this regard, Mohammad-Hosein Safar-Harandi, the Minister of Guidance, recently spoke about approval of another guideline. According to government papers in Iran, the Minister of Guidance pointed out "the guidelines have been drafted". He said the new guidelines are separate from the existing laws mandated by the cultural revolution in regard to internet sites, and said: "before the drafting of these guidelines, there were rules and laws governing the operation of internet sites".
For bloggers in Iran, the unpredictability of responses from the authorities makes it impossible to foretell whether they will be targeted in the ongoing government crackdown on alternative media sources. But fear has not stopped Iranians from using the blogosphere to influence their fellow citizens. Earlier in 2008, Iranian authorities decried the alleged dangers of blogging, text messaging and other popular means of communication. They even threatened to charge some bloggers with heresy, which carries a potential death sentence
News about YouTube being blocked in Kuwait hit the headlines yesterday, with bloggers frustrated over what they described as yet another intrusion on freedom of speech in their country. The Kuwait Ministry of Communications first issued an order to local ISPs denying access to Youtube due to video content considered offensive to Muslims and Islam. Blogger later reported that the ban was lifted after YouTube removed the "offensive' video"
Through a youth network of 30 partner organizations, representatives of Lebanese NGOs, civil society organizations, partisan and non-partisan youth groups organized a gathering in Beirut earlier this month to tackle issues of censorship in Lebanon. One conclusion was that censorship doesn't always come for the government; religion and the family can be just as invasive.
Syrian authorities are tightening their control over the internet and shutting loopholes that used to allow access to banned websites, according to a Damascus free-speech watchdog. New research by the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression suggests that internet censorship is on the rise as the government tries to keep pace with increasing computer use.
Tunisian bloggers are rallying for a National Day for Freedom of Blogging on November 4. The day will coincide with a court hearing for a lawsuit filed by the journalist and blogger Zied El Heni against the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI).
The news today is that Tunisia has lifted the ban on both popular video-sharing websites Youtube (Blocked since November 2nd, 2007) and Dailymotion (Blocked since Septembre 3rd, 2007). But some tests carried out from Tunisia by some Tunisian activists and bloggers have shown that despite restoring access to Youtube, a number of specific youtube videos and pages still remain blocked such as the youtube page of the collective bog nawaat.
The independent Tunisian online magazine Kalima has suffered an attack that has completely destroyed its web content, and in a separate but related incident, its editor has been abused by police in the street. The site has been so damaged that its webmasters have been unable to update or even to access it since the morning of 8 October 2008. The site will now have to be completely rebuilt and uploaded.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Facebook and other social networking websites are enjoying overwhelming popularity in the Emirates, but some users fear internet regulators may further restrict access to "objectionable content". A new study shows that people in the UAE are more likely to sign up for social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace than people in other parts of the world, including North America.
Jailed Yemeni journalist Abdul-Karim Al Khaiwani has left jail after the nation's president granted him an amnesty and cancelled his six-year sentence. Al Khaiwani was imprisoned for allegedly supporting rebels in Sa'ada, north of Yemen and insulting President Saleh. He was awarded the Amnesty International Journalists Under Threat prize earlier this year. A source close to Al Khaiwani said that he did not consider his release a pardon, but that it was a step in the right direction.
Yemen Hurr website announced yesterday in a press release that its founder and editor-in-chief Loui Al-Moayed has been released from prison yesterday after about more than 70 days in detention. In a press release, the website thanked all those organizations and advocates who fought hard for his release from a detention that was and remains unjustified.
Russia and Central Asia
Blogger Dmitri Minaev has horrifying details on the arrest of Oborona activist and blogger Dmitri Solovyov for publishing critical posts about the Kremlin. He points out that back in July Solovyov published a post predicting that Russia would attack Georgia in late August based on a report on Kavkaz Centre. Among other things, KC predicted that Russia would rig a "terrorist event" in Sochi to prestage the attack, and would gradually ratchet up Ossetian military action until Georgia was forced to respond. Minaev notes that in fact there was a bomb explosion in Sochi just before the attack.
Moscow's Internet users spent an action of solidarity with the Kemerovo blogger Dmitry Solovyov, who is accused of initiating hatred and humiliation of the police and FSB. Participants brought to the site near the metro station "Street in 1905" notebooks and placed in public in their diaries network, the same record that incriminating Solovevu, writes Internet newspaper Favorites. Meanwhile, dozens of other people placed similar messages, while at home. On shares were previously notified the city authorities and police.
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.
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.
October 29 - 31: Mobile Internet for Development - Caribbean Internet Forum
Location: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
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 10-17" China Business Network: China 2.0 Tour
Location: Beijing, Shanghai, Guanzhou
Led by The China Business Network and co-organized by Web2Asia and CNReviews, the inaugural China 2.0 Tour is sponsored by Edelman Digital China and represents a unique opportunity for companies and individuals to gain a deeper understanding of China. Unlike a typical business conference or large trade delegation, we seek to go "one-level deeper" by creating a series of small-scale, exclusive meetups where people can share more openly about their business successes and challenges, and provide a deeper view into the nature of building a successful venture in China. The conference "tour" is taking an interdisciplinary approach by looking at social media, clean technology, gaming, wireless, and other areas where trends in China will affect markets around the world.
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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