Global Digital Download - Asia News
The Global Digital Download is a weekly publication that aggregates resources on Internet freedom, highlighting trends in digital and social media that intersect with freedom of expression, policy, privacy, censorship and new technologies. The GDD includes information about relevant events, news, and research. To find past articles and research, search the archive database.
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On 9 May, I posted the following message on Sina Weibo: "The account you have been managing for years can be deleted in a second. Then you try to plot its reincarnation by writing every word from scratch. The house you have been building all your life can be bulldozed in a moment. Then you try to rise from its rubble by picking up every piece of brick and tile. "This is my Chinese dream: harbour no illusion about the evil powers, and understand that their evil will only grow.
The Federal Government has confirmed its financial regulator has started requiring Australian Internet service providers to block websites suspected of providing fraudulent financial opportunities, in a move which appears to also open the door for other government agencies to unilaterally block sites they deem questionable in their own portfolios.
Chinese government censors are silencing influential opponents by shutting down their social media accounts on the pretext of a campaign against online rumors, victims of the practice say. “The authorities believe that liberal ideology will undermine their rule,” says Murong Xuecun, a famous author and outspoken critic of censorship whose accounts on four Twitter-like platforms disappeared suddenly last Sunday evening. “The space on China’s Internet for public opinion is being narrowed.”
Brunei internet users are complaining against the slow and unreliable internet connection in their country. Writing for The Brunei Times, Shareen Han cited a study by the World Economic Forum which listed Brunei as having one of the most expensive internet rates in Southeast Asia. But many Brunei netizens feel they are getting poor internet service for the high fees they are paying.
The online Sina Weibo microblogging account of Murong Xuecun, one of China's most popular writers and one of the country's foremost critics of censorship, has been deleted from the site, suspected to be part of the government's efforts to crack down on online rumors by targeting high-profile users.
Global Coalition Of NGOs Call To Investigate And Disable FinFisher’s Espionage Equipment In Pakistan
We are a consortium of NGOs and individuals, committed to respecting user privacy and promoting freedom of expression and access to information. We express our dismay and condemnation over the presence of a FinFisher Command and Control server on a network operated by the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTLD’s). FinFisher, developed by a UK-based company Gamma International, has been used to target activists in Bahrain. Privacy International is currently engaged in a lawsuit over the export of FinFisher, and has also filed a complaint with the OECD.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the Vietnamese public security ministry’s decision to prevent the well-known blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh from travelling abroad. Winner of the 2013 Netizen Prize, which Reporters Without Borders awards annually with support from Google, Chenh and his daughter were stopped at Ho Chi Minh City airport as they were about to board a flight to the United States on 10 May.
Charges of terrorism laid and dropped against a journalist in Vanuatu over a Facebook comment need independent investigation, states the Pacific Freedom Forum. "A Facebook comment alone cannot possibly constitute terrorism," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi. "Governments of the day must not use terrorism laws against freedoms of expression, no matter how robust, rude, or just plain wrong. At the same time, media must ensure they use freedoms responsibly and try to avoid comments that could be misconstrued.
Replete with its own thriving news portals, social media and gaming sites, the Chinese Internet could take a major step toward becoming fully Chinese by the end of the year. Speaking in an interview Wednesday, Fady Chehadé, president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – the private body that oversees the basic design of the Internet — said the organization would roll out Chinese character options for top-level domains in the second half of 2013.
Bloggers and netizens who took part in “picnics to discuss human rights” in public places in several Vietnamese cities on 5 May were violently attacked by police and many were briefly detained. “We firmly condemn this deliberate police violence against news providers and we are very disturbed to see that such unacceptable violence seems to be the automatic and systematic response from the authorities to any attempt to use freedom of expression,” Reporters Without Borders said.
The government last month quietly began rolling out a project that gives it access to everything that happens over India's telecommunications network—online activities, phone calls, text messages and even social media conversations. Called the Central Monitoring System, it will be the single window from where government arms such as the National Investigation Agency or the tax authorities will be able to monitor every byte of communication.
Last week, we documented network interference in Malaysia: local internet service providers (ISPs) were obstructing the free flow of traffic from selected sites hosting opposition political content, right ahead of a critical election. Users attempting to visit certain pages on Facebook, or videos on YouTube, were unable to access that content: their ISPs were monitoring their networks, identifying user requests for select content, and then preventing those platforms from returning any data. To a user, it would appear that Facebook or YouTube were responsible, while in reality, the local network was actively preventing certain information from being shared.
Officials over in the US have told the Indian Government that they will not be able to serve summons to the executives of companies like Google and Facebook because they are not convinced that the content hosted on these sites can cause violence and that these summons impact “free speech principles". The reply comes as a response to India’s request to the US to help serve papers to 11 Internet Companies as they were accused of hosting content on their sites that was meant to fuel communal hatred and violence.
Ahead of Malaysia's elections on Sunday, independent online media say they are being targeted in Internet attacks which filter content and throttle access to websites, threatening to deprive voters of their main source of independent reporting. Independent online news sites have emerged in recent years to challenge the dominance of mostly government-linked traditional media. The government denies any attempts to hobble access to the Internet in the run-up to a close-fought election.
It is perhaps of little surprise that the YouTube ban earned its own session at the Islamabad Literature Festival, a session that challenged the establishment in all its crumbling, insecure and hegemonic glory. The delightful assembly of satire-charged speakers included internet parody-king Osman Khalid Butt of “PTA-banned words”, “Crazed Maya Khan” and “Halal Paris Hilton” fame, Friday Times editor and famed ‘tweeter’ Raza Rumi, ‘Bayghairat Brigade’ vocalist Ali Aftab Saeed, and musician-academic Taimur Rehman.
Collateral Freedom: A Snapshot of Chinese Users Circumventing Censorship, just released, documents the experiences of 1,175 Chinese Internet users who are circumventing their country’s Internet censorship— and it carries a powerful message for developers and funders of censorship circumvention tools. We believe these results show an opportunity for the circumvention tech community to build stable, long term improvements in Internet freedom in China.
On 28 April 2013, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights ("CCHR") released a Briefing Note on the subject of Freedom of Expression and Internet Censorship in Cambodia. The Briefing Note provides an overview of the use of new media in Cambodia, examines the recent trend towards internet censorship, and highlights the implications for freedom of expression in Cambodia.
Circumventing The Great Firewall: The Accommodation And Defiance Of Internet Censorship Among Chinese Students
Much of the news and debate surrounding Burma these days is on peace and conflict in the nation, and analysis of politics, corruption and civil war. However, issues such as technology and the Internet in Burma seem to fly under the news radar. The Internet market in Burma is not a vibrant one, but technologists and entrepreneurs are becoming more hopeful that it is just a matter of time before the people of Burma can buy and sell online. Investors are coming to Burma in droves, but so far there is now method of online payment.
His bookshelves are filled with the collected works of Marx, Engels and Ho Chi Minh, the hallmarks of a loyal career in the Communist Party, but Nguyen Phuoc Tuong, 77, says he is no longer a believer. A former adviser to two prime ministers, Mr. Tuong, like so many people in Vietnam today, is speaking out forcefully against the government.
In South Korea where net users are accustomed to whizzing along with one of the fastest Internet connection speeds in the world, YouTube's sluggish performance is a source of constant complaints. But why does the video-hosting site run so slow compared to the rest of South Korea's Internet? The answer lies in the utter disrespect that South Korea's dominant corporations have for net neutrality.
In the summer of 2012, Steve Fan suspended his graduate studies at Stanford University and headed back to China, which he had left four years earlier. The motivation of this computer science major -- to launch a start-up and cash in on an idea he spotted in the world's largest Internet market -- was not uncommon. Less expected were the extra costs he incurred for doing business in China. These had nothing to do with common costs like equipment, rent, or hiring workers. Rather, daily life involved finding workarounds past China's immense national Internet censorship apparatus, widely known as the Great Firewall.
The United States and China held their highest-level military talks in nearly two years on Monday, with a senior Chinese general pledging to work with the United States on cybersecurity because the consequences of a major cyberattack “may be as serious as a nuclear bomb.”
Japanese people who "abuse" the Tor anonymous browsing network could be blocked from using it. The recommendation was made in a report drawn up for the National Police Agency (NPA) in Japan by a panel of technology experts. The panel was formed to help decide how to tackle crimes committed with the aid of the Tor network.
Authorities in Japan are so worried about their inability to tackle cybercrime that they are asking the country's ISPs to block the use of Tor. According to The Mainichi, the National Police Agency (NPA, a bit like the Japanese FBI) is going to urge ISPs to block customers if they are found to have "abused" Tor online. Since Tor anonymizes traffic, that can be read as a presumption of guilt on anyone who anonymizes their Web activity.
You have to wonder how this will be enforced, but China's State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film and Television has issued a "Notice on Strengthening Control of Media Personnel's Online Activities." Chinese media organizations have been told to stop posting foreign media news without government permission: "Without authorization, no kind of media outlets shall arbitrarily use media release from overseas media agencies and media websites," is the way Caijing magazine translated it.
The Bangladesh authorities should immediately drop charges against and release four bloggers and a newspaper editor arrested in April, Human Rights Watch said on April 15, 2013. All five are facing criminal charges solely related to the peaceful exercise of their right to free speech. Human Rights Watch said the government should stop targeting individuals and media publishing stories the government deems objectionable and reaffirm its commitment to freedom of expression, a principle which the governing Awami League has long claimed to champion.
Chinese Web users skirted the country's tough Internet censors to pay homage to former communist party leader and popular reformer Hu Yaobang, whose death 24 years ago sparked the Tiananmen Square protests. Hu's support for free market reforms and more government transparency during his time as the Chinese Communist Party’s General Secretary from 1982 to 1987 were welcomed by many Chinese, but made him the enemy of some powerful party leaders.
Earlier this week, a Chinese propaganda official said China's internet-based "new media" were threatening the Communist party. Using one of Mao Zedong's most famous phrases, Ren Xianliang, vice-minister of propaganda in Shaanxi province, wrote in an editorial (link in Chinese): "Just as political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, the Party's control of the media is an unassailable basis of the party's leadership."
Reporters Without Borders condemns the baseless judicial proceedings brought against the detained blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who could be tried and convicted on a charge of blasphemy and “hurting religious sentiments” at his next hearing, scheduled for 15 April. “Keeping Mohiuddin in detention is unacceptable, especially as his family says his health has deteriorated,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities must stop trying to appease the extremists and must end this persecution of ‘secularist’ bloggers.
Apparently as a result of this blog post, social media attention, and questions from the Australian Greens to the Australian Federal Attorney General's Department, the block has been lifted. But there has not yet been any explanation of why these 1,200 sites were blocked in the first place.
At a rare public forum on cyberissues Tuesday featuring American and Chinese government officials, U.S. diplomats and business leaders tried using economic arguments to persuade China to stop its cyberattacks and Internet censorship. China’s heavy-handed Web restrictions not only slow Internet speeds and make company data less secure, but they also have “tangible economic” effects on the country, said Gary Locke, the U.S. ambassador to China.
One of the staggering numbers introduced during the opening remarks at ICANN 46 here in Beijing by multiple speakers, including ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade and speakers from the Chinese government, was this: China now has over 564 million Internet users! Think about that for a minute. Most estimates these days are that there are around 2 billion people around the world using the Internet. We have no real way of knowing exactly how many people are online, but the estimate most of us use is "2 billion".
Thirteen years ago Clinton, then America’s president, said that trying to control the internet in China would be like trying to “nail Jell-O to the wall”. At the time he seemed to be stating the obvious. By its nature the web was widely dispersed, using so many channels that it could not possibly be blocked. Rather, it seemed to have the capacity to open up the world to its users even in shut-in places. Just as earlier communications technologies may have helped topple dictatorships in the past (for example, the telegraph in Russia’s Bolshevik revolutions in 1917 and short-wave radio in the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991), the internet would surely erode China’s authoritarian state. Vastly increased access to information and the ability to communicate easily with like-minded people round the globe would endow its users with asymmetric power, diluting the might of the state and acting as a force for democracy.
The history of the internet in China is one of give and take, of punch and counterpunch, where the authorities are often surprised by the force and speed of online interactions but determined to keep them under control. The result has been a costly and diverse industrial complex of monitoring and censorship. Central-government ministries have invested in two pillars of control: the Great Firewall, a Western name for a system of blocking foreign websites, starting in the late 1990s, which some believe has cost as much as $160m (the details are state secrets); and Golden Shield for domestic surveillance and filtering, begun in 1998 by the Ministry of Public Security and estimated to have cost more than $1.6 billion so far.
The Art Of Concealment: Chinese Screening Of Online Material From Abroad Is Becoming Ever More Sophisticated
On February 9th, Chinese New Year’s Eve, Fang Binxing, known in China as the father of the Great Firewall, wished his followers on Sina Weibo a happy Year of the Snake. As always whenever Mr Fang tweets, thousands of fellow microbloggers sent messages along the lines of “get lost”. They could not reply directly: Mr Fang gets so much abuse for his role in engineering China’s censorship technology that the “comments” function on his microblog page had to be disabled long ago. Nor can users easily find the comments on the 35,000 retweets of his new-year post: Sina has blocked access to those as well.
China's sophisticated hackers may be the terror of the Earth, but in fact most of their attacks are rather workaday. America and Russia have hackers at least as good as China’s best, if not better. What distinguishes Chinese cyber-attacks, on anything from governments to Fortune 500 companies, defence contractors, newspapers, think-tanks, NGOs, Chinese human-rights groups and dissidents, is their frequency, ubiquity and sheer brazenness. This leads to an unnerving conclusion.
Thus far in its short term, the caretaker government has been content to stay relatively low-key, and even though a peaceful transfer of power to the next democratically-elected government is the main goal of the caretaker set-up, there is another area where it can stamp its mark. The ban on YouTube now stands at 200 days and counting.
The Bangladeshi government is cracking down on bloggers critical of its pro-Islamist stance, arresting four of these writers in the capital of Dhaka this week. Asif Mohiuddin, 30, is one of those bloggers. Mohiuddin has only recently recovered from injuries he incurred during an attack on him by a militant Islamist group in January. Detectives took him from his home on Wednesday night, just two days after police arrested three other bloggers for allegedly hurting the religious beliefs of the people.
In the last months, new research has made it clearer than ever that every computer in the world is a potential target for Chinese government hackers. So perhaps it’s no surprise that smartphones appear to be among those state-sponsored hackers’ targets, too. A report released Monday by the Citizen Lab, a group of information security researchers at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, shows that Tibetan activists are being targeted with sophisticated malware designed to infect Android phones, allowing the malware’s operator to steal the user’s contacts and messages, and track his or her location.
This blog post is part of a series documenting the use of information operations against Tibetans and others who advocate for Tibetan rights and freedoms. This research is part of the Citizen Lab’s ongoing study of targeted cyber threats against human rights organizations. Prior research by the Citizen Lab has documented targeted malware sent to a Tibetan organization by the APT1 group, malware that repurposes privately-held content of Tibetan groups, and malware that leverages the issues of self-immolations amongst Tibetans and a European Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in Tibet.
The United Nations pointed out in 2010 that more Indians have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet. There are over 800 million mobile connections, although the number of unique users (excluding inactive connections) is estimated at around 600 million. Together with the fact that 60 percent of all households have cable and satellite television, providing access to many of the 700-plus television channels licensed to broadcast, it becomes clear that in garrulous India, mass poverty and marginalization do not result in a perfect “digital divide.” This, together with the fact that the public broadcaster’s prime terrestrial channel, DD National, covers about 92 percent of the 1.2 billion-plus population, clearly suggests that the users of digital technologies in India include many of the 300 million still below the official poverty line.
Google chairman Eric Schmidt is worried about the future of internet openness in Burma, one of the least-connected countries in the world. In a post on his Google+ page published Sunday, Schmidt describes some of his initial impressions after visiting the country last month, when Google launched new services there.
Several websites that carry independent news or defectors’ reports from North Korea said they were knocked offline Tuesday in what looks like another cyberattack from Pyongyang. The Daily NK, a news site about North Korea, said its website was “temporarily paralyzed this afternoon following an invasive attack by an external hacker.” In a statement, Daily NK said the attack, which appeared to have been routed through an Internet address in the United States, knocked the site offline for nearly an hour.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the hounding of the blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who was summoned and questioned by the police three days ago, two days after the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) blocked access to his blog (http://www.somewhereinblog.net/blog/realAsifM). The government seems to have yielded to pressure from Islamists amid growing political tension.
In China's Southern Guangdong province, the local government honored the Guangdong Baiyun University for its ‘excellent work’ in monitoring activities and opinions of students online, according to the Nandu Daily. Nicknamed the ”online red army” and led by nine teachers and six students, Guangdong Baiyun University's own “Student Internet and Social Media Information Monitoring” team was built in 2010 to watch student conversations and control negative sentiment online. Their daily work involves monitoring online chat rooms, following microblogging and tracking online forums. Hired students work 1.5 hours everyday and get paid RMB 200 ($32) per month.
In an article published online on 14 March, the Vietnamese daily Nhan Dan criticized the fact that the 2013 Reporters Without Borders Netizen Prize was awarded to the Vietnamese citizen-journalist and blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh. Like his compatriots Ta Phong Tan and Nguyen Hoang Vi, Chenh was singled out for his defence of freedom of the media and information in Vietnam and for the courage he showed in using his website for the free and constructive expression of diverse opinions about political and social issues in his country.
The Australian Federal Police has revealed that its limited mandatory ISP filtering scheme based on a list of offensive sites supplied by Interpol has not yet been taken up by most of Australia’s ISPs, with only Telstra and Optus having implemented the filter so far and a further “large ISP” having flat out refused to comply with the project.
A Shanghai poet was detained for questioning by Chinese police after she posted to popular microblogging site Sina Weibo calling on her followers to take a stroll en masse along the Huangpu River to bring attention to the waterway where nearly 15,000 dead pigs have recently been found floating. The dead pigs scandal and the resulting fears of contaminated tap water have become a hot topic of discussion online since the first carcasses were discovered on March 7, 2013. Web users have posted sarcastic pictures to poke fun at the situation, and some have questioned the government's management of the incident.
We are living in an unparalleled time for technological progress. In 10 years, it will be almost impossible to describe to any child in India what life was like before the internet. Only about two billion of the world's seven billion people have an internet connection, and i believe the remaining five billion will get one in the next decade. Almost one billion of them will come online in India. They will have different needs from people online today and expect different things from the internet. Now is the moment for India to decide what kind of internet it wants for them: an open internet that benefits all or a highly regulated one that inhibits innovation.
Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China, published a chart on Twitter showing how often his micro-blog was deleted by the Chinese government's censorship arm. Lee regularly blogs about cultural and technology issues in China on Sina Weibo, the most influential micro-blogging platform in the country.
After analyzing over 490 million posted messages from users of Sina Weibo, China's most popular microblogging service, a group of US-based computer scientists are beginning to understand how the platform's censorship mechanisms work. In a research paper entitled “The Velocity of Censorship: High-Fidelity Detection of Microblog Post Deletions,” the group describes how they collected Sina Weibo posts both from common and “dissident” Weibo users. Launched in 2010, Sina Weibo had over 500 million users by end of 2012. Over 46 million users post messages on a daily basis.
Three Indonesian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Telkom, Biznet, and Matrixnet Global are somewhat under fire now as they will face 15-year imprisonment charges if they are proven guilty of spying on their users. This incident came under scrutiny after the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs Citizen Lab published a report last week which found that as many as 25 countries are infected by the remote intrusion and surveillance software FinSpy.
You may not actually be able to see the Great Wall of China from space but you can certainly see the Great Firewall of China in action anywhere in the country. With the largest population of web users in the world, China also has one of the most restricted internets, with a host of measures employed to make sure that netizens cannot read about sensitive issues nor themselves post - or at least for very long - information the government deems threatening.
Most North Koreans can’t access the Internet, and only foreigners can use the country’s brand-new 3G cellular network. But the country has still developed its own rudimentary social network — which you can now see for yourself, thanks to a SXSW panel the Associated Press’s Jean Lee gave this weekend. Lee shared this screenshot from the unnamed social network, which is more of an intranet bulletin board and is used largely to post birthday messages, especially among university students and professors.
After more than a year in pre-trial detention, five independent bloggers amid other activists stood in a Vietnamese court for two days in January to hear they would live behind bars for up to 13 more years. They join a growing cohort of bloggers imprisoned for "activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration," "undermining of national unity" and committing "propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam." Vietnamese bloggers tasted internet freedom over the last decade as online access grew, but social media is no game changer in a paranoid state.
As Xi Jinping takes office as president of China, the citizenry he governs is more sophisticated and interconnected than any before, largely because of the Internet. A complex digital censorship system--combined with a more traditional approach to media control, such as jailing journalists--keeps free expression in check. Repressive regimes worldwide look to China as a model, but Beijing's system of control is increasingly endangered.
China’s social media censors never sleep, though they do fall behind on their work late at night. That’s one of a number of findings from a new study by independent researcher Zhu Tao and a handful of U.S. academics that analyzes the mechanics of censorship on China’s most popular microblogging platform, Sina Corp.’s Weibo. Based on an analysis of 2.38 million Weibo posts published between July and September 2012 by users known to have run afoul of censors, the report lays out the approach most likely taken by Sina’s team of “editors” who are at the heart of the world’s largest effort to control social media.
As Burma solicits bids from telcos to build out its telecommunications infrastructure, the country is making it clear that they’re open for business. But as the Burmese government seeks to hand out two 3G licenses, allowing millions of people to be connected with one another and the world, companies must perform their due diligence. With billions of dollars on the line for both the country and the companies, it’s no wonder that interest is high. Telcos that receive the new licenses, though, may be surprised by the number of obstacles they face on entering the country. Democratic reforms may be coming into shape, but progress remains incredibly fragile. Telcos, then, need to consider whether investing in Burma is feasible under internal company ethical standards and international law obligations.
Oftentimes, people like to compare Vietnam with China. In some ways, the similarities are pretty obvious. The Chinese dynasties ruled Vietnam for one thousand years. Vietnamese people celebrate Lunar New Year, and our names have Chinese roots. But online and in the tech industry, things look really different. In Asia, there are four communist countries: China, Vietnam, Laos, and North Korea. Laos and North Korea are so small they’re not really on the tech map (even if North Korea is finally using mobile internet). That leaves China and Vietnam. In China, Baidu, Tencent, and Sina Weibo are the search and social media giants. In Vietnam, Google and Facebook are tops and Twitter isn’t blocked. What happened?
On 6 March 2013, CCHR released a fact sheet on the recent case of a teacher, Phel Phearun, who was summoned by the Chamkarmorn Police in connection with a defamation case over a Facebook post. The Phnom Penh municipal police allege that a Facebook post made public by Phel Phearun on 24 January 2013 constitutes defamation. The post in question detailed the confiscation of Phel Phearun's motorbike earlier that day and expressed concern about his treatment by the police. This is the first case of its kind in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
What happens when a country's government censors the entirety of its domestic web, with no oversight or transparency? It turns out that politicians aren't the only ones with an interest in repressing free expression--and given a lever of control, a black market of censors quickly emerges. A group of investigators from Chinese magazine Caixin recently uncovered the activities of Beijing's "dark PR" agencies, who take money from private companies to bribe Internet censors to delete unfavourable commentary on Chinese forums and microblogging sites, using the infrastructure that the Chinese authorities have built for political censorship.
Myanmar's Hluttaw (Parliament) approved on 8 February 2013 a proposal to investigate a blogger for writing a critical article that 'dishonored' the legislature. A 17-member bicameral commission was formed to determine the identity of and take action in regards to a blogger who wrote, under the pseudonym Dr Sate Phwar, an article on 17 January 2013 entitled “Is the Hluttaw (Parliament) above the law?”The Hluttaw's move stems from a 17 January proposal by lower house representative Dr Soe Yin of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) from the Kamaryut Constituency accusing the writer of dishonoring the dignity of Parliament, its members, and its performance, which could mislead the public and the international community.
This photo by AP Korean bureau chief Jean H. Lee has rocketed around the Internet this week, and for good reason. It’s one of the first Instagrams posted since North Korea enabled 3G access for foreigners this week. Until just a few weeks ago, foreigners could not even bring their own phones into the country — they had to give them up at customs. The recent changes will allow foreigners to not only use their own cellphones (with North Korean SIM cards, of course) but also to Instagram, tweet and Skype from one of the world’s most isolated countries.
Apart from a few companies like Google, which revealed that Chinese hackers had tried to read its users’ e-mail messages, American companies have been disturbingly silent about cyberattacks on their computer systems — apparently in fear that this disclosure will unnerve customers and shareholders and invite lawsuits and unwanted scrutiny from the government.
Cyberattacks on news websites and apparent government hacking into journalists' email accounts have raised new questions about the integrity of media reforms in Burma. The New York Times reported earlier this month that several journalists who regularly cover Burma-related news recently received warning messages from Google that their email accounts may have been hacked by "state-sponsored attackers."
Pakistani Internet rights NGO Bytesforall has started an online campaign about internet filtering and online censorship. The campaign, called “Access Is My Right,” aims to raise Internet users’ awareness about policies and practices that limit the right to free expression online. In recent years, online surveillance in Pakistan has increased tremendously. Government officials have repeatedly argued that this is done in the interest of citizens’ safety and security. The tagline for this awareness campaign is “A Pakistan free of censorship and surveillance will be a prosperous Pakistan.”
Start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them. The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies. The information compromised by such intrusions, security experts say, would be enough to map how power is exercised in Washington to a remarkably nuanced degree. The only question, they say, is whether the Chinese have the analytical resources to sort through the massive troves of data they steal every day.
China is facing allegations that it is helping the Zambian government with deep packet inspection technology to eavesdrop, mine data, censor and intercept communications. The allegations come less than two years after the Chinese government was accused of helping the Ethiopian government block news websites in Ethiopia and jam Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and other broadcasters including the Voice of America and Germany's Deutsche Welle Amharic service. Deep packet inspection technology (DPI) allows monitoring of traffic from a specific IP address and enables the ability to spy on email even as it is being typed out by the user. The Zambian government reportedly intends to introduce the monitoring mechanism to vet Internet services coming in and out of the country.
As protesters continued their chants at Shahbag calling for Bangladesh's war criminals and affiliates of the Islamist party to be beheaded, one of their own Ahmed Rajib Haider, was brutally killed outside his home in capital city Dhaka on February 15, 2013. The following day, thousands gathered around his body at the site of the protests, Shahbag square, to pay their last respects. Haider blogged under the pseudonym Thaba Baba (Captain Claw) and was on the forefront of the blogger and online activist-led Shahbag protests. For years, he had been writing about war criminals and Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh.
When a Bangkok court ruled that website editor Chiranuch Premchaiporn was criminally liable for an anti-royal comment posted by an anonymous visitor to one of her news site's Web boards, the landmark verdict effectively shifted the onus of Internet censorship in Thailand from government authorities to Internet intermediaries. Judges ruled that by failing to remove the comment quickly enough--it remained on Chiranuch's Prachatai website for more than 20 days--she had "mutually consented" to the critical posting.
Nguyen Hoang Vi was knocked from her motorcycle in an accident she believes was no accident. The windows of a car she was riding in were smashed nine months later, gashing her arms, legs and face, she told activists. Last spring her passport was taken away, rights groups say. Then, in December, police arrested and stripped her, saying she was hiding “illegal exhibits” inside her body, she alleged. State nurses forcibly searched her as she screamed for help, she said. She was targeted, human rights activists claim, for blogging.
"Reactionary group leader sentenced to life in jail" ran the headlines in Vietnam's government-linked press earlier this week. Such coverage sheds light on how the media works in the one-party state where online writing has filled a void. In state-run mainstream media, topics such as power struggles within the ruling Communist Party and relations with China are often taboo, and challenges to authoritarian rule are dismissed with old-school Soviet slurs. Professor Ben Kerkvliet, a Vietnam specialist at Australian National University, told MediaShift that "my sense is that the Internet has enhanced knowledge and awareness among many Vietnamese, especially younger ones and urban folks, about shortcomings of various levels of government.
Authorities in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on February 9, 2013, ordered citizens to remain indoors and restricted mobile Internet service and cable television across several districts in the lead-up to a controversial execution of a militant from the region, according to news reports. The curfew was imposed in parts of Kashmir hours before the execution of a convicted militant for his role in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament, news reports said. Clashes broke out between protesters and police and paramilitary forces after the execution, and at least two people were reported killed, news reports said.
Several journalists who cover Myanmar said Sunday that they had received warnings from Google that their e-mail accounts might have been hacked by “state-sponsored attackers.” The warnings began appearing last week, said the journalists, who included employees of Eleven Media, one Myanmar’s leading news organizations; Bertil Lintner, a Thailand-based author and expert on Myanmar’s ethnic groups; and a Burmese correspondent for The Associated Press. Taj Meadows, a Google spokesman in Tokyo, said that he could not immediately provide specifics about the warnings, but said that Google had begun the policy of notifying users of suspicious activity in June.
Your internet service provider (ISP) could be blocking some content. A study conducted by a Canadian university has found that some major Indian ISPs have deployed web-censorship and filtering technology widely used in China and some West Asian countries. The findings, published on January 15, were the result of a search for censorship software and hardware on public networks like those operated by ISPs. A research team at Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, found a software-hardware combo package called PacketShaper being used in many parts of the world, including India.
Vietnamese blogger Le Anh Hung was released on February 5, 2013, about 12 days after he was arrested and held against his will in a psychiatric institution in Hanoi, the national capital, according to news reports. Hung was initially arrested on January 24 in the northern city of Hung Yen. Security agents said they needed to question him over his "temporary residence papers" but later detained him at Social Support Center No. 2, a mental health institution.
Not every media company is as tempting a target for hackers as The New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal. Not every company can afford high-priced computer security consultants, either. Is there anything that everyday reporters and their editors can learn about protecting themselves, based on the revelatory details the Times and other targets made public last week? As we wrote at the time, the cyber-attacks on the Times, the Post, and the Journal came as no surprise to foreign reporters working in China or elsewhere who repeatedly face fake emails, custom malware, and hacking attacks on their webmail. But the level of access that the hackers obtained at the Times' main offices, and the publication of details by their technical advisers, can be instructive.
In a victory for digital rights and democracy activists in the Philippines, the Filipino Supreme Court today indefinitely extended a temporary restraining order (TRO) on a controversial cybercrime law. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III in September, despite widespread public protests about harmful effects to free speech and internet freedom, and critical comments from lawmakers who claimed many aspects of the law were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court stepped in shortly after in October, putting the law’s implementation on hold until the Court could review its constitutional merits.
In a victory for digital rights and democracy activists in the Philippines, the Filipino Supreme Court today indefinitely extended a temporary restraining order (TRO) on a controversial cybercrime law. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III in September, despite widespread public protests about harmful effects to free speech and internet freedom, and critical comments from lawmakers who claimed many aspects of the law were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court stepped in shortly after in October, putting the law’s implementation on hold until the Court could review its constitutional merits.
In a widening crackdown on online expression, Vietnamese security officials have arrested critical independent blogger Le Anh Hung and are holding him against his will in a psychiatric institution, news reports said. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest and calls on authorities to immediately release Hung and all other journalists detained on spurious charges in Vietnam. Six security agents arrested Hung on January 24 in the northern city of Hung Yen, saying they needed to question him in connection to matters related to his "temporary residence papers," according to a Radio Free Asia report. The officers took Hung to Social Support Center No. 2, a mental health institution in Hanoi, the report said. The institution's director later told Hung's colleagues that he had been admitted at the request of his mother and was not allowed to see visitors, the report said.
The Internet of Bangladesh has been connected to the world by a single submarine cable, Sea-Me-We 4 (SMW4), since this 18,800 kilometer-long optical-fiber system made its landing at Cox's Bazar in 2006. However, in the nearly seven years since SMW4's activation, national Internet outages have plagued Bangladesh with some regularity. When their portion of this system is sabotaged, suffers a failure or is down for maintenance, virtually all Internet bandwidth for the 7th most populous country in the world disappears, forcing local providers to fall back to slow and expensive satellite services or to simply wait for restoration.
New mechanisms to censor websites and filter mobile communications could come online in Pakistan, possibly within 60 days, according to government officials in the country and activists on the ground. News that the censorship system is being built directly conflicts with promises made by Pakistani government officials a little less than a year ago to not pursue massive online censorship.
Many employers are facing staff cutbacks amid the current bleak economic climate. But not Australia’s top surveillance agency—it’s recruiting a new batch of spooks while it seeks sweeping new powers to monitor communications.Last week it was confirmed that the Aussie Attorney-General’s Department wants to give the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization, which is tasked with protecting the country from terrorism and espionage, powers to hack into personal computers and smartphones to plant spyware for the purposes of monitoring “suspected terrorists and other security interests.”
If debate is a sign of a positive environment for internet freedom, then India scores highly. From debates in parliament, and panel discussions (including Index’s own recent event) to newspaper editorials, blogs and tweets on the rights and wrongs of internet freedom, controls on the web, and India’s position in the international debate, there is no shortage of voices and views.
More voices in the Philippines are questioning the Cybercrime Prevention Law as the oral arguments on the petitions against the law are being heard in the Supreme Court (SC) starting last January 15, 2012. The next schedule for the oral arguments will be held on January 22. The controversial law was signed by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III last October despite massive protests and questions on its constitutionality.
Network Neutrality Forum, an alliance of South Korean Internet freedom-concerned civic organizations, hosted a public workshop at the Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, to address concerns over waning civic participation in global Internet governance. Internet policy expert and lawyer Borami Kim moderated the whole event and Professor Dongman Lee, from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), one of the early participants in Korean Internet governance, joined as a main speaker. The panel also included Eung Hwi Chon, a seasoned Internet civic activist at the Green Consumer's Network, and Jae Yeon Kim, an activist and member of Creative Commons Korea and Global Voices Online.
Authorities in Bangladesh must immediately investigate Monday's stabbing of a blogger in Dhaka, determine the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Three unidentified men attacked Asif Mohiuddin, 29, as he left his office in Uttara district, and stabbed him several times in the neck and back, according to news reports. The journalist sought treatment at a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition.
When a liberal Chinese newspaper stood up to China's draconian censorship rules earlier this month, rank-and-file journalists across the country quietly tipped their hats to their intrepid colleagues – then returned to work as if nothing had happened. The Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly newspaper's week-long battle over provincial propaganda officials' decision to turn an outspoken front-page editorial into brazen pro-Communist propaganda – and the ensuing three-day anti-censorship protest outside the paper's headquarters – do not herald a new dawn for Chinese press freedoms, that much is clear.
After attending a training course in Bangkok organized by Vietnam Reform Party or Viet Tan, 14 people were arrested by Vietnam authorities for allegedly participating in “activities aimed at overthrowing the people's administration.” The arrested individuals were mostly Catholic students, bloggers, and human rights activists. Last January 9, a local court found them guilty of subversion by citing Article 79 of the penal code.
Google Inc. (GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt called on North Korea to end its ban on Internet access after a visit to the totalitarian country with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. “As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world,” Schmidt told reporters today at the Beijing airport after the visit to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. “The government has to do something -- they have to make it possible for people to use the Internet, which the government in North Korea has not yet done. It is time now for them to start or they will remain behind.”
Spare a moment for the Chinese censor, stuck between a Communist Party that demands strict control and a few million Web users who increasingly expect the ability to speak their minds online. As controversy over a censored newspaper grows into one of China’s biggest and potentially most significant free-speech fights in years, party officials are likely seeking greater control at exactly the moment that outraged Web users are making that task most difficult. At least one censor on Weibo, the popular Twitter-like service that often serves as the closest China has to a public national conversation, seems to have snapped.
School authorities in Vietnam have suspended an eighth-grade student for one year after she posted a parody of a speech by revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh on Facebook. State-controlled media said Tuesday that the girl's post used language from a famous speech by Ho Chi Minh in 1946 appealing for resistance against French colonialists. “All students! As we desire peace, we have made concessions. But the more concessions we make, the more the teachers press on, for they are bent on failing us once again. No, we would rather sacrifice all than be dismissed. Never shall we have to take the exam again. We have to stand up!” said Ho Chin Minh.
Vietnam's crackdown on independent bloggers hit a new low in recent days with reports of sexual violence perpetrated by state officials against a prominent online reporter. In a disturbing first person account posted Friday to the Danlambao collective blog, Nguyen Hoang Vi detailed how police officials beat and stripped her and ordered state nurses to conduct a vaginal cavity search while she was in custody on December 28 in Ho Chi Minh City's Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has issued a public prediction that the country’s Internet user base will reach 800 million in 2015, as noted by Marbridge Daily. MIIT official Miao Wei attributed the expected increase to the expansion of its “Broadband China” project, which is committed to bringing broadband connections to more regions throughout the world’s most populous nation.
Google has quietly disabled a feature that notified users of its search service in China when a keyword had been censored by the Chinese government’s internet controls, according to censorship monitoring blog GreatFire.org. The blog reports that the change was made sometime between December 5 and December 8, 2012, with no official statement from Google to announce or explain its removal.
Several influential Chinese bloggers, activists and even a popular cartoonist have had their online microblogging accounts shut down in recent days, belying the hopes of many here that the country’s new Communist Party leaders might begin to relax strict controls over the Internet and free expression. Instead, the latest moves against “weibo,” the wildly-popular Twitter-like microblogging sites, appear to suggest that the party’s new leaders, led by General Secretary Xi Jinping, may be more intent on reforming the country’s economy than opening up space in the political sphere.
The fleeting nature of YouTube's availability in Pakistan this weekend--the site, which has been banned in the country since September, was unblocked for a whole three minutes--is only the latest emblem of Islamabad's erratic and confounding approach to Internet censorship. Those who have been hoping for less opaque tactics apparently are in for disappointment. "It's become even clearer that content regulation in Pakistan is not carried out in a transparent manner. Rather it is done at the whims of those in power," Sana Saleem, co-founder and director of Karachi-based group Bolo Bhi, which works on Internet freedom and digital security, told CPJ by e-mail.
Without Borders condemns the rulings that courts issued today in the cases of three bloggers - Nguyen Van Hai (also known as Dieu Cay), Ta Phong Tan and Phan Thanh Hai (also known as Anhbasaigon) - and yesterday in the case of Nguyen Van Khuong, an investigative journalist also known as Hoang Khuong. The organization also condemns yesterday's arrest of the blogger and activist Le Quoc Quan and calls for his immediate release.
On December 28, 2012, the Chinese government approved a set of new net control laws that would make it compulsory for internet intermediaries such as Internet Service Providers (ISP) and Online Service Providers (OSP) to enforce users' real name registration. In South Korea, a similar online real name registration policy has been in place since 2005, but with little success and eventual failures. In this post, we will examine the South Korean experiment and see the lessons Chinese netizens can learn from it.
Pakistan’s interior minister announced on Friday that the country plans to lift a ban on YouTube that was imposed in September, following violent protests over a crude anti-Islam film uploaded to the site by an Egyptian-American. The government acted to rescind the ban just hours after the star of one of the year’s most popular YouTube videos, a singing Pakistani fishmonger, was given a hero’s welcome upon his return to the city of Lahore from Britain.
China's mounting crackdown on online news dissemination took an extra step today, when the country's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, its de facto legislative body, announced new requirements on Internet service providers and mobile phone companies to identify their users. The new rules would potentially allow ISPs and the authorities to more closely tie real identities to posts and commentary on micro-blogging sites like Weibo, as well as connect text messaging and mobile phone conversations to individuals.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the rulings that courts issued today in the cases of three bloggers – Nguyen Van Hai (also known as Dieu Cay), Ta Phong Tan and Phan Thanh Hai (also known as Anhbasaigon) – and yesterday in the case of Nguyen Van Khuong, an investigative journalist also known as Hoang Khuong. The organization also condemns yesterday’s arrest of the blogger and activist Le Quoc Quan and calls for his immediate release.
For years, China’s net nannies turned the other cheek to a loophole in their vast online censorship apparatus. Anyone who wanted access to blocked overseas websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and more recently, the New York Times, need only download foreign software called a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent the Great Firewall. But in recent weeks, even these tools have begun to falter, frustrating tech-savvy Chinese and foreign businesspeople who now struggle to access Internet sites as innocuous as gmail.com and imdb.com.
On December 18, 2012 China's government backed People's Daily published an article on the front page titled “The Internet is Not Outside the Law”. The article said: "the internet is as much a tool of rumor and misinformation as a platform for information sharing, and everyone must be as responsible and law-abiding online as they are offline." This piece was soon broadcast on China's state broadcaster CCTV. On the next day, People's Daily reinforced its opinion with another piece: “Internet Supervision in Accordance with the International Practice.”
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) would like to express its grave concerns regarding the recent move by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to restrict the freedom of the internet in Cambodia. This recent move was reported by the Cambodia Daily Newspaper on 13 December 2012, in the article entitled, "Government Order May Close Many of City's Internet Cafés". The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications has issued a Circular dated 12 November 2012 calling for the relocation of all internet cafés located within a 500 meter radius of schools and educational institutions in Phnom Penh.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) raise their concerns about online freedom in Cambodia as the Minister of Telecommunications, So Khun, signed a circular on November 16th, 2012, to regulate the use of Internet in the country. According to the decree issued by the ministry, Internet cafes cannot be located within 500 meters of a school or allow their clients to gamble, porn surf, visit websites selling drugs or commit crimes that threaten national security or “traditions”. The Minister of Telecommunications also stated that “students can learn new technology as long as [it] is legal”.
China appears to be tightening its control of internet services that are able to burrow secretly through what is known as the "Great Firewall", which prevents citizens there from reading some overseas content. Both companies and individuals are being hit by the new technology deployed by the Chinese government to control what people read inside the country. A number of companies providing "virtual private network" (VPN) services to users in China say the new system is able to "learn, discover and block" the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems.
As Digital Rights Advocates Mobilize Around The TPP Negotiations, Process Becomes Even Less Transparent
The 15th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations in New Zealand concluded this week, locking out civil society participation in an unprecedented way. The TPP is a trade agreement between eleven Pacific nations and it covers a wide range of regulatory issues including transnational investment, services, tobacco, and textiles. The chapter that EFF and other digital rights groups around the world find alarming covers intellectual property. EFF is also looking into issues of free flow of information and cross-over issues that may appear in the ecommerce and service chapters.
Though North Korea remains as isolated as ever from the technological community (as TechPresident wrote last year,it was a full 48 hours after the death of Kim Jong-Il before the news broke on Twitter), the Internet is a temptation both for the country’s citizens and for the government of Kim Jong-Un, as the BBC reports. While the only telecom provider in North Korea has no mobile network, its 3G connection speed can be used on illegal cell phones smuggled from China, giving ordinary North Koreans the chance to go online. Many do so, even at the risk of imprisonment.
China must deepen reforms to perfect its market economy and strengthen rule of law, Communist Party chief Xi Jinping said in southern Guangdong, echoing groundbreaking comments by reformist senior leader Deng Xiaoping in the same province 20 years ago. Xi's call for reform was reported on Monday, coinciding with an apparent easing of Internet search restrictions that the party has energetically used to suppress information that could threaten one-party rule.
New proposals submitted to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12) aim to redefine the Internet as a system of government-controlled, state-supervised networks, according to a leaked document. The WCIT-12 summit in Dubai is currently where the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is being held, where member state countries are going head-to-head about proposed revisions to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR), a legally binding international treaty signed by 178 countries.
What do China and its longtime partner Pakistan have in common? According to Pakistani writer Sana Saleem, they both face an increasingly disgruntled online population eager to break free from government-imposed online surveillance and censorship. In her recent open letter to Chinese netizens, the Global Voices writer Sana Saleem pointed out that her government is not only eyeing China’s economic success, but also its “system of censorship and surveillance”.
If we look at the Internet giants like Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, despite their success in almost all other geographic regions, they enjoyed only brief bright moments in China before they lost their hard earned market share to their domestic competitors. How is Internet in China different? Their is no simple answer, but at least it is simpler than to answer how China is different. In this white paper, we try to offer glimpses into some unique aspects of Chinese Internet with the hope that an aggregate view can gradually be developed if one knows more specific differences in culture, regulations, demographics, competitions, and behavior for both the companies and the users.
I am writing this letter to you on behalf of many Pakistani Internet users who are currently fighting their government’s attempt to restrict their access to information. The 20 million Internet users in Pakistan are on the brink of being monitored, filtered and possibly silenced for their views, and we fear that the government of China and Chinese spy-tech companies are aiding this human rights violations. It is distressing that Chinese companies have been named as being involved in aiding authoritarian regimes. Chinese companies like ZTE Corp and Huwaei have been accused of aiding censorship in Libya and Iran.
he two young women who were arrested for their Facebook activity last week have found an unlikely champion for their cause: another young woman, Shreya Singhal, who filed public interest litigation with the Supreme Court to challenge one of the controversial laws used to justify the arrests.
Civil rights activists, free speech advocates, lawyers and politicians have spoken out in recent days against India’s controversial Internet laws, after two women were arrested in Mumbai for criticizing in a Facebook post the city’s shutdown after the Hindu leader Bal K. Thackeray’s death last week. A particular target for criticism is Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, an amendment added in 2008, which, among other things, makes it a crime to digitally send “any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character.”
Secret, undemocratic trade agreements that put shackles on our free speech online are nothing new. Civil society organisations have been fighting the passage of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) for the past six years. But some bad ideas never die. The same year that ACTA was defeated in the European Union, a new agreement was forged behind closed doors: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Chinese internet users are rallying around a Beijing blogger detained by police after posting a joke on Twitter about the pivotal Communist Party congress. Chinese authorities have been especially sensitive to dissent about the party meeting, which last week ushered in a new generation of leaders. Activists were sent out of Beijing beforehand, and police rounded up hundreds of people who tried to draw the central authorities' attention to grievances against local governments.
Here’s the timeline: On November 8, the first day that Chinese leaders gathered for their once-in-a-decade Party Congress to announce the next generation of leaders, a Chinese-language Facebook page posted a clearly doctored photo of the party’s top officials doing the dance from South Korean pop hit Gangnam Style. On November 13, popular China blog Beijing Cream picked it up. The congress ended two days later, and on the 17th, a widely followed user on China’s popular Twitter-like service, Weibo, posted the image with a banal message about the song’s popularity. Censors pulled it down almost immediately.
In yet another act of summary justice, a court in Dak Nong province took just 45 minutes today to confirm blogger Dinh Dang Dinh’s six-year jail sentence on appeal.Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the decision and calls on the international community to react quickly. “We urge Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, to condemn the latest sentences imposed on Vietnam’s cyber-dissidents and bloggers,” Reporters Without Borders said. “If this crackdown continues, there will soon be no one left to criticize the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in this country.”
The city of Mumbai's reaction to the death of Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray, founder of the Hindu right-wing Shiv Sena party in India, has raised concern in India (see Global Voices report). Shops, cinemas, public transport and other businesses in Mumbai were quickly closed either as a show of respect, or in fear of mob violence by Shiv Sena supporters. On Sunday, the funeral of Mr. Thackeray was held in Mumbai and an estimated one million mourners filled the streets of the city bringing it to a halt.
One of the open secrets of South Korea's political landscape is that people are hired to hijack the comment sections of online posts. These hired commenters, or political “trolls,” copy-and-paste slanderous messages that have been created by their team leaders and post them on major online platforms; more skilled trolls conjure up original vicious comments all by themselves. Both have one political purpose: to warp the public discussion in favor of the party.
The ascension of China's propaganda chief into the country's core leadership has many netizens worried about the prospects of Internet freedom in the future, and experts believe their concerns are warranted. Liu Yunshan, director of the Department of Propaganda of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee, was announced as one of the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee Thursday.
A South Korean presidential candidate has promised to get rid of encryption technology that has tied South Korean Internet users to a single web browser — Microsoft's Internet Explorer —for online financial transactions. Ahn Cheol-soo, a popular independent presidential candidate, said companies will be free to choose what online security technology they use if he wins the December election.
Police from the Fukui Prefecture raided Fukuoka-based video blogger Yuzuru Kaneko's home on October 1, 2012. He has been covering Japan's anti-nuclear protests on his youtube channel. Since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima following the 2011 Earthquake in Japan, the long believed myth of 'safe' nuclear power has lost its support, resulting in anti-nuclear protests all over the country.
As the Chinese cyberpolice stiffened controls on information before the Communist Party leadership transition taking place this week, some companies in Beijing and nearby cities received orders to aid the cause. Starting earlier this year, Web police units directed the companies, which included joint ventures involving American corporations, to buy and install hardware to log the traffic of hundreds or thousands of computers, block selected Web sites, and connect with local police servers, according to industry executives and official directives obtained by The New York Times. Companies faced the threat of fines and suspended Internet service if they did not comply by prescribed deadlines.
For two months, Pakistanis have been unable to call up YouTube to watch an anti-Islam video that sparked deadly riots here and elsewhere in the Muslim world. But neither have they been able to use the service to view the U.S. presidential debates, to catch the “Gangnam Style” craze or even to laugh at silly kitties in the Friskies Internet Cat Video Awards. Now, the netizens of Pakistan are telling the government that they want their YouTube back, prompting a reevaluation of the ban.
The federal government has abandoned its long-standing commitment to introduce a national internet filter and will instead ban websites related only to child abuse. Following years of debate about trying to censor the internet, the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, said the government would no longer proceed with ''mandatory filtering legislation''. It would, however, use powers under the Telecommunications Act to block hundreds of child abuse websites already identified on Interpol's ''worst of'' list.
Twitter is apologizing for setting off alarms about the possible hacking of accounts belonging to China-based foreign journalists, saying an email that went out earlier in the day was a mistake. Twitter posted the apology Thursday, hours after several journalists and analysts were notified of an attempted hacking. The emails came just as China's Communist Party begins a sensitive meeting that will set in motion a once-a-decade leadership transition.
As China’s once-in-a-decade leadership transition begins, the usual censorship, slowdowns and other Chinese Internet glitches appear to have escalated, with users reporting slower-than average load times and poor access to foreign sites such as Google. But that hasn’t stopped China’s netizens from picking apart their leaders’ statements on social media.
Google's services went offline for many users for nearly a half-hour on the evening of November 5, thanks to an erroneous routing message broadcast by Moratel, an Indonesian telecommunications company. The outage might have lasted even longer if it hadn't been spotted by a network engineer at CloudFlare who had a friend in a position to fix the problem.
In the second part of his series on China, Mick Brown considers how the internet became an instrument for control rather than freedom.
A city run by one of China’s incoming political leaders that has billed itself as a future international financial center is instead becoming the country’s internet censorship capital. Tianjin, whose Communist party secretary Zhang Gaoli is one of the seven men most likely to get a seat on the new politburo standing committee due to be unveiled at the 18th party congress starting on Thursday, is developing a replica of Manhattan to which it aims to attract global banks.
Several Chinese Internet search players have come together under the lead of the Internet Society of China to sign a code of conduct which requires them to self-regulate to protect user rights. In a statement Thursday, Internet Society of China said Baidu, Qihoo 360, Tencent, Sina and other search companies signed an agreement which aimed to "encourage innovation and create a fair competitive environment".
A Bangkok court acquitted the netizen Surapak Phuchaisaeng two days ago of charges of insulting the king (lèse-majesté), for which he had been remanded in custody since September last year. Reporters Without Borders is satisfied with the outcome of this case. “This case, involving a year in custody, underlines the failings of the Thai judicial system, particularly concerning allegations of lèse-majesté,” the press freedom organization said.
The owner of an Internet cafe in southwest China was given an eight-year prison term for criticizing the ruling Communist Party in online messages and for seeking to establish an opposition party, his wife said Thursday. The man, Cao Haibo, 27, of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, was accused of “subversion of state power” for trying to set up the “China Republican Party” — an entity that existed on paper, and only for one day. His wife, Zhang Nian, 23, said he was sentenced on Wednesday but the court only notified her on Thursday. “It is a very severe punishment and long sentence,” she said, adding that the trial was held in secret.
As China prepares for a generational power shift in the next two weeks, a similar shift is happening online that is testing the limits and displaying the evolution of China's legions of state-directed censors. Since its launch three years ago, Weibo, China's version of Twitter, has become the country's water cooler, a place where nearly 300 million Internet users opine on everything from Korean soap operas to China's latest political intrigue.
Even though Japanese is the second most active language in the world on Twitter, for the country's political candidates, tweeting during election campaigns is forbidden. A group of young activists is seeking to change this situation.
After seditious cartoons against corruption, now even a Tweet can get you arrested in India. Two recent Twitter-related arrests have triggered concern among many Indian users of social media. Ravi (one name), a small plastic packaging businessman in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, was arrested Tuesday for posting Tweets critical of Karti Chidambaram, son of India’s finance minister.
China's censorship of microblogging platform Sina Weibo has reached a whole new level of sophistication in the wake of New York Times revelations regarding Premier Wen Jiabao's enormous family wealth. Contributor Charlie Custer breaks down just how difficult it is to post about anything to do with Wen or his assets.
Officials from China's Communist Party should stop censoring and obstructing foreign journalists in the lead-up to the Party Congress scheduled for November 8, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Information security is notoriously tight before the five-yearly congress, which is expected to usher in high-level leadership change in 2012. Information officials blocked the New York Times' English- and Chinese-language websites on Friday when the newspaper published an in-depth report on the financial assets held by Premier Wen Jiabao's family. Wen's lawyers publicly disputed the article's findings.
Following outrage from India's civil society and media, it appears the country's government has backed away from its proposal to create a UN body to govern the internet. The controversial plan, which was made without consulting civil society, angered local stakeholders, including academics, media, and industry associations. Civil society expressed fear that a 50-member UN body, many of whom would seek to control the internet for their own political ends, would restrict the very free and dynamic nature of the internet. The proposal envisaged "50 member States chosen on the basis of equitable geographic representation" that would meet annually in Geneva as the UN Committee for Internet-Related Policies (UN-CIRP).
The private sector has slammed the government for not acknowledging the impact of the new draft treaty on internet and telecommunications regulations, saying it will jeopardise businesses and individual users. Yongyos Protpakorn, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's service sector, said it strongly disagreed with the new draft treaty as it will drastically affect internet users across the board. Mr Yongyos said he is disappointed the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Ministry and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission have no position on the draft by the International Telecom Union (ITU).
China is the world's biggest market but for western media firms trying to expand it can be a bruising experience, with even the biggest names such as Rupert Murdoch and Google having come a cropper. So it was perhaps inevitable when the New York Times (NYT) decided to launch a Chinese language website in June that it would at some point fall foul of the censors. But it did so in spectacular fashion on Friday when the government blocked access to the site, accusing it of trying to "smear" the country's name. Its crime was to publish an article claiming that the family of the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, had accumulated massive wealth – a handsome $2.7bn (£1.67bn) – during his time in power.
Two of the biggest threats to the Internet are two international agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). TPP continues to expand across the Pacific, with Mexico and Canada joining in the next round in New Zealand. With ACTA, it is increasingly doubtful that it was successfully defeated this summer. With these two agreements, both of which contain intellectual property (IP) provisions that would negatively impact digital rights and innovation, the country that sits at the center of play is Japan.
The arrest of a 62-year old anti-mining activist in the Philippines for a Facebook post spawned fears of a clampdown on dissenters through the recently enacted anti-cybercrime legislation. Critics of the cybercrime legislation won a tactical victory when the Philippine Supreme Court issued a 120-day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the law as it deliberates on at least 15 petitions calling for the junking of the law.
After years spent as one of the world’s most strictly controlled information environments, the government of Burma (Myanmar) has recently begun to open up access to previously censored online content. Independent and foreign news sites, oppositional political content, and sites with content relating to human rights and political reform -- all previously blocked -- have recently become accessible. These developments have occurred as part of a broader process of political and economic liberalization currently underway in this historically strict authoritarian state.
The majority of Filipino internet users and media groups opposed the passage of the Philippine Cybercrime Law because of provisions that potentially curtail media freedom and other civil liberties. But prior to the insertion of online libel and other last minute amendments, the bill was actually quietly supported by many people. In fact, it remains popular among business groups, computer security experts, and advocates of safe cyberspace, even after the Supreme Court issued an order to suspend its implementation for the next 120 days.
All emails, telephone calls and other communications with the rest of the world will begin to be monitored within 90 days at a cost of million of dollars, according to a deadline given by the government to operators including PTCL. The government has assigned PTCL and other operators to install monitoring equipment by the end of this year for checking voice and email communications from abroad and the services of the country’s spy agency will be used basically to check and curb blasphemous and obscene websites on the Internet.
China has tried to obliterate the existence of Ai Weiwei from the internet: search for his name there, and you'll find nothing. His blog has been shut down, his passport was confiscated, and his communication with the outside world from his studio near Beijing is monitored. The issues on which Ai has spoken out are vital ones: the shoddy construction standards which led to needless deaths in the Sichuan earthquake; the censorship of the press; the limitations placed on the internet by the "Great Firewall of China".
Two days ago the 14-year-old blogger Malala Yousafzai, was shot and wounded in the head and neck by the Pakistan Taliban on her way home from school. A gunman stopped the school bus on which the young activist was travelling and shot her and two other girls whom he had asked to identify her. Doctors at the Saidu Sharif hospital in the northern city of Mingora successfully removed the bullets from her but for some time she remained in a critical condition.
Closed-door talks and excessive self-interest in governance hurts the Internet, said a Google official and other Internet stakeholders on a panel this morning at the Australian Internet Governance Forum. The secret Trans-Pacific Partnership talks received particular criticism.
Pakistani authorities have revealed that a whopping 20,000 web sites have been taken offline as part of a nationwide crackdown on “objectionable” content. The purge took places as part of government efforts across the Muslim world in the wake of widespread anger at “Innocence of Muslims” – a film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammed which was subsequently uploaded to Google’s popular video-sharing site.
The Supreme Court of the Philippines suspended a new Internet law on Tuesday that critics had said could lead to imprisonment for sharing posts on social media. “We respect and will abide by it,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima wrote in a text message to reporters on Tuesday, referring to the court’s unanimous decision to suspend enforcement of the law for 120 days. “Our advocacy for a safe cyberspace and interdiction of organized crime will continue.”
The story of media digitization in China is inseparable from the country’s recent modernization. Probably nowhere else have so many other things been changing at the same time as the technological advances with which this study is concerned. And probably nowhere else has digitization flourished on such a scale in such a closed media environment. As a result, digitization has transformed the diversity of information and public opinion for many millions of people.
Even as India is poised for impressive Internet surge, the role of Web 2.0, with repercussions on national security has surfaced again. The blurred lines between the hate content and free speech, makes law enforcement, a little upheaval task. On the 'Internet Freedom and Hate Speech,' FICCI in its two-day India Internet Governance Conference, discussed the perils of hate content in the wake of national security. Despite, the issue's seriousness, the conviction rate under relevant laws is dismal.
The government is gearing up to arm cyber sleuths with forensic tools to catch up with criminals who outsmart investigators by using secure mobile phones or password-protected computers that leave few footprints once the data is deleted. The Union home ministry has decided to buy more than 30 licensed software from firms in the US, Canada and Israel to crack open data in seized mobile phones and computers. The move comes after cyber forensic investigators failed to make much headway in deciphering password-protected data or retrieving deleted data from seized iPhones, BlackBerry handsets, Apple computers and even Windows-based mobile phones.
The blockade of the popular video-sharing website, YouTube, which was shut down on September 17 to prevent access to the blasphemous video, has now entered its third week. Given the violence seen in the country over the derogatory video, the government’s orders, imposed through the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), are not impossible to understand. But with PTA officials quoted as saying that the ban could last indefinitely, the situation perhaps, needs to be reviewed. Beyond providing entertainment, YouTube is also widely used for educational and communication purposes. The lack of access to it affects many, with the clumsy ‘wall’ put up by the PTA also disrupting Android mobile phone services run by Google.
A new law called the Cybercrime Prevention Act has been passed in the Philippines. Although it claims to protect the people from cyber crimes such as cyber bullying, many have found loopholes in the newly signed law that will curtail the freedom of speech of Filipinos. It is to be enacted today, October 3. With the Cybercrime Prevention Act, where libel is considered a criminal act, a simple comment and retweet may send us to jail, where we can serve up to 12 years in prison. And because this law is a special law, good faith and intent does not come as a defense.
The social networking Web sites Facebook and YouTube have been blocked since Friday in India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, even though it has been over a week since the last protests against an anti-Islam film. One telecom company employee, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed that Facebook and YouTube were still inaccessible on Wednesday, as did several Kashmiris. The state government had ordered telecom companies late last month to shut down Internet and mobile phone services as it tried to keep Muslims from uploading and downloading the video “Innocence of Muslims,” which has angered Muslims across the world because of its negative portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
Baidu Inc., (BIDU) owner of China’s most popular search engine, asked a U.S. court to dismiss a lawsuit by Chinese-Americans who said the Internet company “censored” their articles on the pro-democracy movement in China. Baidu, in its first legal motion in response to a May 2011 lawsuit by eight residents of New York City, said the case should be dismissed because the complaint wasn’t properly served on the Beijing-based Internet company, according to a filing yesterday in Manhattan federal court.
China has the largest number of microbloggers in the world, it emerged on Monday, and they often shape public opinion on issues impacting people, forcing governments across the vast country to respond to complaints, a new report said. As a result of the relentless flow of opinion on local social networking sites, the Communist Party of China (CPC)-run government has had to take notice and often respond to citizens’ views, the report compiled by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CINIC) said.
A new report shows just how porous China's infamous Great Firewall might be for local Internet users determined to access banned websites. The country's censors have deemed Facebook and Twitter unfit for local viewing, but that hasn't stopped millions of Chinese from using the social-networking services, according to researcher GlobalWebIndex. There are 63.5 million Facebook users in China, up from 7.9 million two years ago, even though Facebook is officially banned there. Twitter has equally impressive numbers, with 35.5 million users in China, triple the number from 2009.
Vietnamese bloggers Dieu Cay, AnhBaSG, and Ta Phong Tan were found guilty by a Ho Chi Minh City court of violating article 88 of Vietnam’s criminal code, which involves the “spreading fabricated news in order to foment confusion among people” and “defaming the people’s administration.” Aside from serving a prison term, the three will also face house arrest.
The 7-iron resting against the wall in Le Quoc Quan's office is for self-defense, not sport. The human-rights lawyer and blogger has not left home without the golf club since being beaten last month by iron-bar-wielding men he suspects were sent by the police. If the assault was meant to silence him, it failed. Within days he was back online, and reporting about the incident. The Internet has become the principal staging ground for dissent in Vietnam, and its Communist rulers are trying to clamp down with new laws, stepped up arrests, intimidation and longer prison sentences. But so far, it's a battle they are losing.
A recently released global report on the internet freedom rated India 39th in 2012, a slip from two places last year. The report titled, Freedom on the net 2012 (FOTN): A global assessment of internet and digital media by Freedom House, a Washington-based monitoring group conducted a comprehensive study of internet freedom in 47 countries. Quoting Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, the report said 309 specific items (URLs, Twitter accounts, img tags, blog posts, blogs, and a handful of websites) have been blocked by the government. But officially, the government has admitted to blocking 245 web pages for inflammatory content hosting of provocative content.
Warning of the "chilling effects" on individual rights of certain provisions of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, another petition was filed with the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday to strike them down as unconstitutional. There are now three petitions filed with the SC to stop the government from implementing Republic Act No. 10175 that was signed into law by President Benigno S. Aquino III on September 12.
Government restrictions on the Internet in Pakistan have risen over the past year with some use of violence against bloggers and turn to censorship and arrest to squelch calls for reform, a new report from a US advocacy group has found. Pakistan, Bahrain and Ethiopia saw the biggest rollbacks in Internet freedom since January 2011 and were among the 20 countries out of 47 assessed by Freedom House that declined in their rankings.
Dr Arif Alvi Secretary General of PTI has put Google and itssubsidiary YouTube on notice for not removing the blasphemous video. This is in continuation of an earlier letter after which Google made a statement in New York Times that the video would stay as it did not violate YouTube’s policies describing hate speech. PTI demanded of Google to review its policy otherwise more criminals and crackpots would create such videos and find YouTube a safe platform to promote hate. He said that even after millions have protested in Pakistan and elsewhere, and with so many deaths, and billions in losses to property and production, it is shameful that Google still considers that the video does not fall in its definition of hate speech.
The often-rumored death of print media produces strong reactions, both in favor of traditional media and against it. But change is assured: globally, online advertising spending will surpass print ad dollars in 2012. Global newspaper ad spending will decline by about 2.8 percent this year (even though newspapers are thriving in some regions without quality internet access, like rural Australia). In Bangladesh, officials cite the changing media landscape to justify a strict new regulation on news portals and similar websites. However, a look at the law reveals ulterior motives, namely the government’s efforts to control free expression. Bangladeshi lawmakers propose requiring online news portals to register and pay a hefty license fee to publish.
An Inter-Ministerial group on internet governance will shortly be set up, a government official today said. "We are forming an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) so that all concerned to internet governance views are taken and a consensus can be made up...it will be formed in a few weeks time," Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) Senior Director Govind said during a discussion on Internet governance.
Reporters Without Borders is appalled by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s directive calling on the authorities to impose "serious punishments" on those responsible for three popular anti-corruption blogs that he described as "slanderous." The organization also deplores the arrest of the wife of the jailed journalist and blogger Dieu Cay, the sister of the jailed blogger Ta Phong Tan, and the Catholic priest Anton Le Ngoc Thanh by plain-clothes police during a protest yesterday in the southern city of Bac Lieu. Accused of causing a traffic accident, they were held for several hours.
Chinese authorities should release a well-known academic and Internet writer detained last week in connection with his published articles, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Jiao Guobiao has been targeted in the past for his articles criticizing the Chinese government. Beijing's public security bureau detained Jiao on September 12 on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power after he published articles on the dispute between China and Taiwan over the unoccupied Diaoyu Islands, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center and Chinese Human Rights Defenders. Jiao, a former journalism professor, had lost his position at Beijing University in 2004 as a result of articles he had published that criticized the country's Central Propaganda Bureau, CPJ research shows.
Following the release of an anti-Islam movie “Innocence of Muslims” on YouTube, the Islamic world has been ablaze with protesters making a range of demands, from the prohibition of the movie and all websites hosting it, to the murder of all those associated with its production. Popular international opinion has found the movie baseless, crude, malicious, and unworthy of the publicity it has ended up receiving. Moreover, the movie is only an insignificant addition to a huge amount of online hate content and critiques of every religion, including Islam. This content includes films, drawings, articles, verbal narratives and so on, and has, in most cases, been condemned through non-violent expression, or simply ignored.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has reportedly ordered the state-owned Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block YouTube after the video-sharing website failed to remove a controversial anti-Islam film, The Innocence of Muslims. ”Blasphemous content will not be accepted at any cost,” Prime Minister Ashraf is reported to have said. Earlier today officials said over 700 links to the film on YouTube were blocked following orders issued by the Supreme Court. The film has triggered anti-US protests across the Muslim world over the past week.
As the tension between China and Japan over the disputed Diaoyu Islands (also known as the Senkaku Islands) has elevated, large scale anti-Japan protests have taken place all over China in more than 80 cities over the weekend. Some of the demonstrations turned violent, protesters started attacking Japanese style restaurants, shopping malls and shops; some even tried to set fire to Japanese vehicles. Yet, in a country where online activities are closely monitored and public security forces are extremely effective, many wondered what made these nationwide protests possible.
The Prime Minister's Office is pushing for a multi-pronged strategy to 'prevent and contain malicious use of internet and social media', indicating the government's seriousness in regulating the cyberspace. At an August 27 meeting in the PMO, attended by heads of all intelligence agencies, as well as representatives from the ministries of home, telecom and IT, the government decided to set up an 'appropriate regime' that will address issues related to blocking content on the internet and social media in a 'smart, timely and consistent manner'.
Vietnam’s government has vowed to crack down on three dissident blogs, a move that appeared to backfire Thursday as record numbers of people visited the sites and the bloggers pledged to keep up their struggle for freedom of expression. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s order for police to arrest those responsible for the websites reflects growing unease within the Communist Party over the emergence of blogs and social media accounts that publish dissenting views, independent reporting and whistleblowing. The party doesn’t allow free media, and it fears criticism or discussion of its failings on the Internet could lead to social instability and — ultimately — loss of its power.
Philippine Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile admitted that he doesn’t know anything about blogs and blogging but he still proposed a law to regulate blogs after one of his colleagues in the senate complained of being a victim of cyber bullying. Many people think it is an attempt to restrict online freedom in the country.
Social media in China are pushing the envelope of government control, but China’s censors are demonstrating that they still have the stuff. For instance, where to turn for news if one of your country’s top officials has mysteriously disappeared? If you are Chinese and the official is vice president and designated Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, who went missing from public view nine days ago, the tightly controlled state media would not be the place to look for information. You might try the Internet, where China’s social media website Sina Weibo is growing into a giant fast-flowing public square. However, China’s censors would have gotten there ahead of you there, too.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement ("TPP") is a free trade agreement currently being negotiated by nine countries: The United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Although the TPP covers a wide range of issues, this site focuses on the TPP's intellectual property (IP) chapter. The TPP suffers from a serious lack of transparency, threatens to impose more stringent copyright without public input, and pressures foreign governments to adopt unbalanced laws.
The Cambodian government is enforcing a circular drafted earlier this year which requires Internet cafes to set up surveillance cameras and to register callers. Based on an unofficial translation made by Jinja, the government said the circular was made in response to the rising number of cyber crimes in the country: "Past experiences of offense investigation and suppression have shown that, criminals and offenders always used telecommunications services such as mobile phones, fixed phones, VoIP and Internets as a means to commit terrorisms, trans-boundary crimes, robberies, kidnapping, murders, drug trafficking, human trafficking, economic offenses, illegal installment of and illegal corporation of all forms of telecommunications service, broadcasting of obscene pictures and debauchery, which affect national customs, traditions and social good moral values."
To promote ‘public education on media literacy and cyber wellness’ the Singapore government has set up a 21-member Media Literacy Council. The Media Development Authority issued a press statement last month explaining the mission of the council: "The Media Literacy Council will advise the government on the appropriate policy response to an increasingly complex and borderless world of media, technology, consumer expectations and participation."
April 23rd, 2002 was a turning-point in American internet companies’ relations with China, though few knew so at the time. On that day Beijing’s state-security bureau requested information from the Beijing office of Yahoo!, an American internet company, about the creator of an online forum, as well as e-mail registrations and messages, in a case of what the bureau called “inciting subversion”. Yahoo! complied with this notice and another one that year, and soon the authorities had detained Wang Xiaoning, a democracy activist who had anonymously been using the forum and e-mail accounts to press for free elections. He was sentenced to ten years in prison.
In Vietnam, protests have boiled to a level unprecedented since the start of this decade. Last month, the fight for free expression hit an unexpected climax. The mother of imprisoned blogger Dang Thi Kim Lieng killed herself in a self-immolation, protesting her daughter’s upcoming trial and sending an uneasy hush over the government. The hearings were supposed to commence on 7 August — a full four years after the blogger was first detained — but since the suicide the trial has been delayed indefinitely.
More than 10 exile Uyghur associations have suffered a viral hacking attack, one of the groups said Thursday, blaming the Chinese government for the blitz. Dolkun Isa, head of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC), said that his organization’s website had been crippled in recent days—though the site has since been functioning normally—and that its servers had been forced to distribute fake emails targeting activists from related organizations.
The idea was flawless: gathering representatives of the Indian government, major Internet companies and civil society groups to dissect recent controversies over online censorship – a.k.a. #Emergency2012 – and find a way forward. India badly needs this kind of dialogue. Unfortunately, industry body FICCI’s roundtable on “Legitimate Restrictions on Freedom of Online Speech,” while well-intentioned, for the most part skirted the tough questions, including: Did the government err in blocking any of the Web content it blocked? Why didn’t the government release a list of blocked sites and the rationale for blocking them? When will blocked sites be restored, or will they ever be?
Chinese web users are giving low-brow meme culture a political tinge, pushing the boundaries of free online speech. Liu Bo is famous. One of many police officers assigned to quash recent protests over a planned molybdenum copper plant in Shifang, Sichuan province, Bo was famously pictured with a riot shield strapped to his forearm, baton raised, charging at the backs of a small crowd. His bull rush was captured on a mobile device, promptly shared on Chinese social media and soon after appeared in an article by Tea Leaf Nation's own Liz Carter.
The growth of Internet usage in Asia is putting many governments on the defensive. They are becoming increasingly aware of the challenges that online connectivity poses to regime stability. The Internet has provided their citizens and political opponents with a new avenue to discuss contentious topics, network with like-minded individuals, and organize and mobilize opposition and protest movements. It gives the populations of these countries a powerful tool to push the limits of freedom of expression, association, and information that many of their governments set long ago
The government has issued a key policy directive to block all blasphemous and pornographic material on the internet by installing effective modern filtration system but ensuring that it does not affect the freedom of information, writes Ansar Abbasi. Following the personal interest shown by the incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and after consulting President Asif Ali Zardari, the Ministry of Information Technology has already issued necessary directions to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to update the system for effective monitoring and control of blasphemous and pornographic material.
As Burma loosens its grip on the media, Cambodia has begun to rank high among the countries repressing internet and telephone freedom in the name of national security, safety and social order. It is still not comparable to China or Vietnam, but Cambodia is moving in the wrong direction.
Malaysians are right to protest the recent amendments that the government made to the Evidence Act of 1950. Although they deal specifically with the internet, the amendments could have wider implications on media freedom, democracy, and human rights. Section 114A of the bill seeks “to provide for the presumption of fact in publication in order to facilitate the identification and proving of the identity of an anonymous person involved in publication through the internet.”
Hundreds of web pages now stand blocked in India, the government has openly been appealing to internet companies to pre- or post-screen content and remove what the government wants it to remove. One Google Transparency Report after another has been revealing how the number one target of the government is criticism of politicians and government.
We, the undersigned public interest organizations, oppose the current framework for exceptions and limitations proposed by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) as the language stands in the August 3rd leaked text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). It uses the most restrictive three-step test language, extends the test to exceptions and limitations not currently under the test and jeopardizes countries' ability to set what best fit their needs. The US proposal misses opportunities to use the TPP to strengthen limitations and exceptions further.
The global press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, has called China’s complete isolation of Tibet from international media and outside reporters an “increasingly worrying” trend. In a release last week, RSF said China continues to deny independent reporters permission to enter Tibet following large-scale anti-China protests this year led by the ongoing wave of self-immolations.
Korean Internet Identity Verification Rule Struck Down Unconstitutional; 12 Highlights Of The Judgment
On August 24, 2012, the Korean Constitutional Court struck down the country's infamous internet identity verification rule ("IVR", hereinafter) which had for 5 years required all major Korea-based website operators to obtain from all the posters their identity information and store the data so that it can be made available to investigative authorities upon request. After IVR was instituted in 2007, Youtube, a division of Google that has a Korea office and therefore is based in Korea, made a splash in 2009 when it snubbed the rule for the pretext that it had turned off the uploading feature on the "Korea" country setting.
The hashtag #emergency2012 trended in India Twitter last night, with scores of users in India crying government censorship. A number of users adopted the phrase “Emergency 2012” as their avatars or blacked out their avatars entirely. Some called for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation; many offered ways to work around censorship.
Rapidly reforming Burma's decision to ease media censorship is being met with caution in neighboring China, where government officials have been adamant in maintaining their tight control over the flow of information. Burma announced Monday that local media will no longer be required to submit stories for review to state censors before publication, ending a key component of its long-reviled censorship policy.
Twitter might face legal action for not complying with the Indian government’s demand to censor objectionable content aimed at the people from north-east. The Indian government announced that it is shutting down more than 250 websites, responsible for spreading rumors and derogatory content, resulting in the exodus of those from the North-East. The government received a delayed response from Twitter, partly attributed to the fact that the company does not have its offices in the country.
Farmer Le Dung and his fellow villagers stockpiled rocks and petrol bombs to battle police trying to take over their land for a luxury property development near Vietnam's capital city. But their most powerful weapon turned out to be the equipment they had set up with the help of Internet activists to record and broadcast the confrontation, which was ignored by state-controlled media.
There is a long tradition of the Chinese Communist Party acknowledging and honoring "model workers," selfless citizens who contribute to the building of modern China. While in the early years after the revolution these individuals were usually peasants or ordinary workers like Zhang Binggui who worked at a candy counter and could "count out prices and change in his head," the category has expanded to encompass almost all professions including the astronaut Yang Liwei and NBA-great Yao Ming.
Censorship and government monitoring aren’t the only problems facing Syrian Internet users. There have been frequent, recent shutdowns of all Internet traffic crossing the Syrian border over the last few months, accompanying dramatic changes in how the country connects to the rest of the world.
ComScore, has just released some interesting data on how India’s digital citizens are spending time online. The report states that social networking accounted for 25.2 percent of all time spent online in June. The biggest beneficiary of the social networking boom in India is, of course, Facebook.
Myanmar on Monday lifted the nearly half-a-century old censorship on local media. The Press Scrutiny and Registration Department (PSRD) said that local publications would no longer need to submit their work to state censorship board before publication.
Until yesterday all political and religious news had to be submitted to the government's Press Scrutiny and Registration Department for prior approval, but the requirement was dropped in what was hailed as another significant step in Burma's fast-moving democratic reform process. In the past twelve months, since democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi met former military leader President Thein Sein, the government has relaxed censorship and controls on trade unions, freed hundreds of political prisoners, and held a series of by-elections which were almost all won by the Nobel Laureate's National League for Democracy and hailed as 'free and fair.
The Internet has become one of the most important resources in the world in just a few decades, but the governance mechanism for such an important international resource is still dominated by a private sector organization and a single country. The U.S. government said in a statement on July 1, 2005 that its Commerce Department would continue to support the work of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and indefinitely retain oversight of the Internet’s 13 root servers.
When then Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad launched the Multimedia Super Corridor initiative in the 1990s, he vowed the government would never censor the internet in the hope of turning the country into a global IT hub. But in the last couple of years some bloggers and websites critical of the government have been charged with defamation or sedition. And now an amendment to the country's Evidence Act is raising fears of more prosecutions.
China’s investment prowess and construction know-how is widely on display in this long-congested African capital. A $200 million ring road is being built and partly financed by Beijing. The international airport is undergoing a $208 million expansion supported by the Chinese, whose loans also paid for a working-class housing complex that residents have nicknamed the Great Wall apartments.
Because of a recent study, we now know that Chinese censors aim at stopping collective action, regardless of content, rather than limiting political speech per se. What are the implications for Chinese activists? One answer is to carry out dilemma collective actions: collective actions that also pose response dilemmas for the government. ”Dilemma actions” have long been a part of the nonviolent repertoire. They benefit the activist whether or not they are brought to completion, usually by making the oppressor look ridiculous or unjust if they stop the action. (For an example from Serbia, see the video below.)
The Indian government’s earlier proposal to control the Internet through a United Nations committee will now be reviewed through open public consultation. Independent Rajya Sabha member from Bangalore, Rajeev Chandrashekar on Monday tweeted that the government has accepted his positino to review the proposal.
South Korea is engaging in the sort of Internet censorship usually associated with China, according to The New York Times. The Times ticks off a handful of examples of Great Firewall-esque meddling: Someone who called the president a bad word via Twitter had his account blocked; a judge who claimed that the president was out to screw over people who challenged his authority on the Web was fired; even pornography is iffy.
The rise of Chinese microblog services like Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo as a social phenomenon has been a common story as of late, but Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has stayed loyal to Twitter, which he calls his “favorite city,” as his outlet to the censorship he faces in Beijing. In an interview with Foreign Policy, Ai, a dissident who has suffered at the hands of the establishment, lamented Beijing as being “too simple” because it has just two types of people: ruthless, powerful types who can kick people out to build skyscrapers and “the silent people, who just have to bear it.”
A new government regulation is targeting online freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. Every ‘news' website will now have to pay Rs. 25,000 (US$193) to register and Rs. 10,000 every year to maintain their registration. Some are worried the broad implications of the law could extend to personal blogs, and may even prompt bloggers to resort to self-censorship, out of fear.
Pakistan on Saturday moved to block more than a dozen websites over YouTube clips featuring two prominent parliamentarians, and allegations of a secret marriage of the boss of the country''s state-run television. The order, from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), affects some 15 sites, which featured recordings of mobile phone conversations between a male and female politician of the breakaway faction of the ruling coalition partner, Pakistan Muslim League.
Digital Media Committee (DMC) Fedaration of Nepali Journalists(FNJ) and Internet Society Nepal organized a program on freedom of expression and its pros and cons in internet world of World Wide Web. Highlighting the concept and use of internet as a modern day tool of freedom of expression, different journalist, online activists, reporters, bloggers, experts etc opined their experiences and thoughts.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has ordered all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block numerous scandalous internet sites, specifically the audio recording of a sensual conversation between two sitting parliamentarians. The footage of a press conference in which a lady TV artist claimed that she and a man working with a state organisation have secretly got married and they have a son, is also to be blocked.
Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the six-year jail sentence that a court in the central province of Dak Nong imposed on the blogger Dinh Dang Dinh two days ago on a charge of anti-government propaganda. "The same charges keep on being brought against Vietnam’s bloggers," Reporters Without Borders said. "Article 88 of the criminal code has again been used to silence criticism of the government. The summary nature of these proceedings does not bode well for other bloggers currently being tried. We urge the courts to respect Dinh’s right to due process and to overturn this unjust conviction on appeal."
Yesterday (August 8 2012), 4 masked men rushed into a citizen media advocacy group's office and smashed its computer equipment. [Disclosure: the writer of this article is a member of the organization.] The organization is Hong Kong In-Media, a non-profit organization aiming at promoting the development of independent and citizen media in Hong Kong. Since 2005, the organization has supported various local citizen media projects including the independent news website: inmediahk.net, which is run by a group of voluntary editors, reporters and writers. The articles in the websites are highly critical of the government and those in power.
A Facebook page that depicted Aboriginal people in Australia as drunks and welfare cheats has been removed after a public outcry. The Aboriginal Memes page had allowed users to post jokes about indigenous people. An online petition calling for the removal of "the racist page" has generated thousands of signatures. The government has also condemned it.
Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is very pleased to share new research ‘Digital Security and Journalists: A Snapshot of Awareness and Practice in Pakistan’. Produced by Bytes for All, Pakistan and commissioned by the Internews Center for Innovation & Learning, this new research shows how journalists and bloggers in Pakistan are not aware of the ways to protect themselves, their data, and their sources online. Published online, the report has already received a great reception within the international media development organizations, especially those working in Pakistan.
Even rainstorms can be sensitive in China. The recent storm in Beijing which killed at least 77 people caused the censors to come out in force, with newspapers told to can coverage and online accounts of the deluge snipped. But with 500 million internet users, the obvious question is, how does China do it? What are the mechanics of China’s internet censorship?
In what could turn out to be its calling card for the 2014 general elections, the government is finalizing a Rs 7,000 crore scheme to give one mobile phone to every family living below the poverty line.
Audie Cornish talks to Gary King, director of Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Science, about new research that looks at the types of online postings censored by the Chinese government.
Three employees of China's main search engine, Baidu, have been arrested on suspicion of having accepted bribes to delete posts from its forum service. The web giant fired the three, along with a fourth person who was not arrested. Baidu's spokeswoman, Betty Tian, said the sums involved amounted to "tens of thousands of yuan" (thousands of pounds).
Internet censorship in China is not just limited to the web: the Great Firewall of China prevents thousands of potential Tor users from accessing the network. In this paper, we investigate how the blocking mechanism is implemented, we conjecture how China’s Tor blocking infrastructure is designed and we propose circumvention techniques. Our work bolsters the understanding of China’s censorship capabilities and thus paves the way towards more effective circumvention techniques.
The refusal by either companies or MPs to shed their reservations about the proposed changes in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011, which are part of the IT Act, 2000, has led to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal agreeing to engage in larger consultation.
BlackBerry maker Research in Motion's (RIM) four-year standoff with the Indian government over providing encryption keys for its secure corporate emails and popular messenger services is finally set to end.
The United States on Wednesday called on Vietnam to free three bloggers facing trial for propaganda against the state, voicing deep concern at the self-immolation of the mother of one of the trio. The defendants were arrested after posting hundreds of political articles on the banned Vietnamese website "Free Journalists Club", as well as writing on their own blogs, in a case that has been raised by US President Barack Obama.
Syed Abdullah Syed Husein, who blogs under the name “Uncle Seekers”, was arrested under the Official Secrets Act [pdf] for defaming the Sultan of Johor in more than 30 blog postings. His arrest occurred after police reports were lodged against him by those linked to the United Malays National Organisation, the prime minister’s party. They claimed [Malaysian] that the postings were a “provocation, incitement, and insult to the Sultan”.
This report examines Pakistan’s press system–still a work in progress–following a renaissance that began in 2002 when then-President Pervez Musharraf liberalized the broadcast laws and set in motion a media market boom that revolutionized how news was reported. From the most powerful metropolitan newspapers and TV channels to small radio stations in impoverished rural villages, it has been a whirlwind decade for the country’s journalists.
Baidu, the search engine known as “China’s Google” has launched a Portuguese-language version on the Brazilian market (http://br.hao123.com/) of Hao123, a directory of links that also allows Internet content searches.At the beginning of the year the company said it would open an office in Sao Paulo and that Hao123 would be the company’s first project in Brazil and the first of the company’s products to be localised in Portuguese.
According to mainland Chinese media report, Beijing city steering committee and public security bureau had a working group meeting in July 24 on the control of the internet during summer vacation. The head of Beijing police Fu Zhenghua (傅政华）told the reporters that the public security authorities would strengthen law enforcement regarding illegal trading, spreading of rumor and online attack of the party, government leaders and political system.
North Korea's booming cellphone market now counts more than 1 million subscribers, providing citizens with an increasingly potent channel for delivering accounts from the reclusive country to the outside world. North Korea's regime prohibits residents from making international calls with the phones or accessing the Internet with them. Still, some residents appear to be sharing information using sophisticated models that come with video and removable memory cards.
Beijing police have announced yet another ‘clean-up’ of the web, this time closing hundreds of internet cafes and arresting thousands in the name of protecting the Chinese capital’s vulnerable youth.
Amid widespread domestic and international concern about the flooding in China, the Chinese media and Internet users have been asking why the Beijing drainage system failed to avert the disaster in the capital and why the authorities failed to give its inhabitants more warning.
Beijing police have announced yet another ‘clean-up’ of the web, this time closing hundreds of internet cafes and arresting thousands in the name of protecting the Chinese capital’s vulnerable youth. Fu Zhenghua, who heads up the city’s Public Security Bureau, said that just over 5,000 people had been arrested and the owners of more than 7,500 web sites punished recently, according to TechInAsia.
According to the latest "Statistical Report on Internet Development in China" released by the China Internet Network Information Center on Thursday, the number of Internet users in the country reached 538 million by the end of June, up from 485 million a year ago.
A local Hong Kong newspaper, AM730 found out that the Hong Kong government free wifi service is filtering away a number of politically sensitive websites. Even though most of the websites have been re-opened upon receiving netizens' complaint, netizens and human right groups are concerned about the lack of monitor over the filter list.
The Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department (CID) raided offices of two news websites on June 29. They arrested nine journalists and seized some equipment. All the journalists were released shortly afterward, yet the government is now advocating for news websites to pay an annual fee to be considered 'registered' news sources.
Australia is the latest democratic nation to introduce new national security measures that would vastly expand governmental surveillance powers, following an alarming legislative pattern that’s also unfolded in the United Kingdom and Canada in recent months.
The development of the Internet and its use in China have raised U.S. congressional concerns, including those related to human rights, trade and investment, and cybersecurity. The link between the Internet and human rights, a pillar of U.S. foreign policy towards China, is the mainfocus of this report.
A senior executive at U.S.-based search giant Google said that it is not desirable for mobile carriers KT, SK Telecom and LG Uplus to limit user access to competitive applications or networks. He said such a move will hinder the creation of an innovative ecosystem and that network neutrality should be taken into consideration as an issue of competition for people’s choice.
The FBI has launched an investigation into allegations that a top Chinese maker of phone equipment supplied Iran with U.S.-made hardware and software, including a powerful surveillance system, in violation of federal laws and a trade embargo, according to The Smoking Gun.
Data collected from Oman shows that web filtering applied by India-based ISPs is restricting access to content for customers of an ISP in Oman. While unusual, content filtering undertaken in one political jurisdiction can have an effect on users in another political jurisdiction as a result of ISP routing arrangements – a phenomenon known as “upstream filtering.”
Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed to learn that the blogger Syed Abdullah Hussein Al-Attas has been held since yesterday under the Official Secrets Act as a result of a complaint by a group of 30 people over controversial posts about the Sultan of Johor. A young woman who was with him at the time of his arrest is also being held.
The Indian government on Friday said it has no plans to censor the Internet and social media. Addressing a seminar organised by the Editors Guild of India, law minister Salman Khurshid said his colleague and information technology minister Kapil Sibal does not endorse the view of internet censorship in the country.
Reporters Without Borders calls for an international reaction to the all-out censorship of information in China that includes website blocking, prior censorship of social networks and the dismissal of journalists who cover sensitive stories. The government is stepping up efforts to silence criticism and independent reporting, taking advantage of widespread indifference in the international community, especially UN bodies.
Vietnamese authorities must stop their harassment of independent blogger and rights activist Huynh Thuc Vy and allow her to report freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Huynh was briefly detained by police and threatened with anti-state charges on Wednesday, according to news reports.
Chinese Internet users gave a mixed reaction to the passage this week of the first United Nations resolution on Internet freedom, which called on all states to support individuals' rights online as much as offline, with many expressing pessimism that the vote would affect them.
China's government isn't the only one paying close attention to what the country's citizens are saying on social media sites. As China's 500 million Internet users rapidly adopt social media, academics and entrepreneurs are figuring out ways to track online messages and blog posts to better understand what the government censors—and even how to predict its intent.
Well, that didn't take long. Just days after The New York Times' soft launch of its Chinese-language edition and accompanying microblog accounts, Berkeley-based China Digital Times website reports that the @nytchinese Sina Weibo feed is no longer accessible in China, along with two accounts hosted by Netease and Sohu. We couldn't pull them up this morning from New York, either.
The most popular website in Malaysia is an enigma – an online newspaper that’s thriving in a country where freedom of the press has always been suffocated. Malaysiakini, or Malaysia Now, operates out of shabby offices in Kuala Lumpur – with two-dozen reporters and a shoestring budget. Malaysiakini is considered to be the only independent media outlet with independent financing in all of Malaysia.
Telstra, a Melbourne-based provider of phone and Internet services, has admitted to secretly tracking websites visited by its mobile users and giving the information to Netsweeper, a Guelph-based firm that makes tools used to censor the Internet abroad. Tracking was conducted in the lead-up to the launch of a voluntary web-filtering tool, Telstra said in a statement, and no personal information was stored or shared in the process. But concerns over the Guelph-based firm’s reputation have fuelled criticism and speculation in Australia about what the web-browsing data — which was transmitted to a U.S.-based hosting provider and then compared to a blacklist of websites curated by Netsweeper — might really be used for.
The Sri Lankan police arrested nine journalists and seized computers and documents from the office of an independent news Web site on Friday, said a media rights group in Sri Lanka, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. The police said they had a court warrant to act against the Web site, srilankamirror.com, but they have not explained the reasons for the arrests, said Gnanasiri Kottigoda, the president of the media rights group, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association.
The June 2012 issue of Southeast Asia Cyber Watch contains news articles from Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
American officials urged China on Friday not to censor its Internet after the government blocked access to the Bloomberg News Web site. The Chinese government had denied Web access to the financial news agency after an investigative article on massive wealth amassed by relatives of Xi Jinping, the man expected to become China’s president.
A flurry of research on Weibo censorship underscores what we already know about the Chinese company Sina's microblog service--with a few surprises thrown in. Academics at MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Hong Kong have been independently compiling data about when and why content is blocked on Weibo. Here are some interesting findings.
Internet censorship has become a buzzword these days. As the Centre is seemingly hell-bent on imposing stringent restrictions on the Internet, activist groups of different hues and orientations have been up in arms, protesting such moves tooth and nail. In this background, Rajya Sabha MP from Bangalore Urban district, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 15 with regards to India's proposal to the United Nations (UN) for control of the Internet through a 50-member, inter-governmental body.
Netsweeper, the Internet filtering supplier linked to Telstra’s voluntary filter trial is also a supplier to the Yemen, the UAE and Qatar. The Guelph Mercury states that filters implemented by those countries block sites associated with news, political activism and satire, religious freedom – and Tumblr, which in Yemen’s case is classified as pornography.
The nine people selected later this year as China’s top leaders will largely determine whether, and how much, the country’s authoritarian political system yields to demands for change. And pushing them from the bottom will be a growing grass-roots army of bloggers, microbloggers and online activists who are demanding more accountability and gradually pressing the boundaries of freedom in this tightly controlled Communist-ruled country.
Web users in India are once again able to access video and file-sharing sites, including The Pirate Bay. The country's Madras High Court has changed its earlier censorship order which centred on the issue of internet copyright. The original ruling made Indian internet service providers (ISPs) block access to entire sites to prevent a single film from being shared online. The new order was issued following an appeal filed by a consortium of ISPs.
Vietnam, already infamous for its recent crackdown on bloggers, is further tightening its grip on free speech by putting forward a new decree to regulate online activity. The decree is problematic in that it requires all online users to use their real names and personal details, which in turn will create an environment of self-censorship. The decree also mandates for Internet companies to locate servers and offices inside the country, thereby placing them directly under Vietnamese law.
A technology draft written by employees at China Mobile and China Telecom and submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force describes how the Internet could be split into several parts using the Domain Name System and in the process give countries more control over their own segment of the network.
In November last year, a 61-year-old Thai man, Ampon Tangnoppakul, was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for sending four text messages deemed to have been offensive to Thailand's royal family. The case has reignited debate over Thailand's strict lese majeste law, which is enshrined in the nation's criminal code. The law is meant to prevent insults and threats to the monarchy. But many are concerned that the increasing use of it curbs freedom of speech and that it is not always used to protect the royal family's interests. Those who have felt the brunt of the law include journalists, authors and activists.
China's Internet censors freely allow users in the country to criticize the government, but are quick to delete social media posts with the potential to start protests, suggests a new Harvard University study released on Thursday. "With respect to speech, the Chinese people are individually free but collectively in chains," said the study, which was conducted by Harvard professor Gary King and two university PhD candidates, Jennifer Pan and Margaret Roberts.
EFF has been monitoring governmental proposals for national identification schemes, with an eye toward evaluating the privacy implications of these new systems. In Japan, where an existing program issues unique ID numbers to citizens at the municipal level and shares information on a national network, a bill is under consideration that would create a new ID framework. Submitted by the Japanese Cabinet in February of 2012, the “My Number Bill” would issue new unique ID numbers to participating citizens. The stated purpose is to streamline information sharing between governmental bodies administering tax, social security, and disaster mitigation programs. If the law is enacted, the My Number system will begin operating in 2015.
Anonymous, a loose group of online activists or “hacktivists,” over the weekend called on Indians to take their protest against Internet censorship from cyberspace to the streets in a number of cities. The response was surprisingly muted – despite the fact that, in recent months, many have spoken against government calls to restrict Internet freedom. In Mumbai, organizers were expecting at least 2,400 people to show up – that’s the number of people who said they would attend on the “Occupy Mumbai” Facebook page. But on Saturday, no more than 100 people gathered at the protest site, Azad Maidan or freedom square.
A conservative South Korean newspaper said Monday it had been the victim of a major cyber attack, less than a week after North Korea threatened the paper and other Seoul media over their reports.
North Koreans are subverting their government's censorship by sharing files on USB sticks and MP3 players, claims a report. A Quiet Opening, by Nat Kretchin and Jane Kim, uses testimony from defectors and refugees to build a picture of how popular media originating from other countries is within the isolated dictatorship. The answer, you may be surprised to hear, appears to be "very".
This report offers the first large scale, multiple source analysis of the outcome of what may be the most extensive effort to selectively censor human expression ever implemented. To do this, we have devised a system to locate, download, and analyze the content of millions of social media posts originating from nearly 1,400 different social media services all over China before the Chinese government is able to find, evaluate, and censor (i.e., remove from the Internet) the large subset they deem objectionable. Using modern computer-assisted text analytic methods that we adapt and validate in the Chinese language, we compare the substantive content of posts censored to those not censored over time in each of 95 issue areas.
On June 1st, Facebook suspended the accounts of several Hong Kong activists, causing speculation that the suspension was related to the 23rd anniversary of Tiananmen Protest in the absence of any other clear information or explanation from the company. Coincidentally, several Taiwanese activists and politicians also had their accounts suspended on the same day, which triggered Taiwanese users' concern over the limitation on free speech.
Internet users in Bangladesh are facing major disruption to their service after a submarine cable was cut. The accident affected the SEA-ME-WE 4 optical fibre system that runs from France to Malaysia. The accident occurred earlier this week about 60km (40 miles) from Singapore's coast. India, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore also rely on the section of cable involved but have been able to route traffic via other connections.
A trial court in India Friday issued summons to the global executives of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other websites for allegedly failing to censor objectionable content from their websites. Google and Facebook have moved the Delhi High Court to quash the ongoing criminal proceedings at the trial court, and that appeal will be heard Aug. 7.
When riot police broke up a recent protest over a forced eviction, Vietnam's bloggers were ready -- hidden in nearby trees, they documented the entire incident and quickly posted videos and photos online. Their shaky images spread like wildfire on Facebook, in a sign of growing online defiance in Vietnam, in the face of efforts by authorities to rein in the country's Internet community. "They follow me, they keep track of what I am writing, they keep track of all dissident bloggers. Anything they can do to harass us, they do," said blogger Nguyen Thi Dung, one of several bloggers who publicised the April 24 Hung Yen unrest on a variety of websites.
China is proposing a law that puts more pressure on Internet companies to control and monitor the flow of information online, a sign the government will continue to put a tighter grip on social networks and Web discussions it views as destabilizing. The new law, a draft of which was released for comment by the government Thursday, requires all the users of blogs, microblogs and Internet forums to use real identification when registering accounts, and allows the government to punish intermediaries for the spread of information it deems illegal.
Street protests are being planned for this coming Saturday, June 9, in as many as 18 cities to protest laws and other government actions that a growing number of Indian Internet users believe have violated their right to free expression and privacy online. A lively national Internet freedom movement has grown rapidly across India since the beginning of this year.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls for the release of a netizen, from China's western Xinjiang province, who was detained by authorities for allegedly 'spreading rumours' about the death of a young boy on June 5, 2012.
The Thai government bought one million tablet computers last month to distribute to students across the country. This ambitious "one tablet per child" policy, one of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's campaign promises, is the largest such program in the world and shows that Bangkok wants to meet the challenge of an Internet-based economy. But the newly tableted youth will soon discover that Thailand's Internet is hampered by another challenge: restrictive laws on websites, social networks and search engines.
Malaysia's Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim expressed support today for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call for regulations to control the absolute freedom that exists on the Internet. The information, communications and culture minister told a press conference his ministry welcomed the former prime minister’s view and agreed that the “cyberworld should now be subjected to perusal by society”.
For China's ruling Communist party, the 1989 demonstrations that clogged Tiananmen Square in Beijing and spread to other cities remains taboo, all the more so this year as the government prepares for a tricky leadership handover. Searches for the terms related to the anniversary, such as "six four" for 4 June, have been blocked on Sina Weibo, the most popular of China's Twitter-like microblogging platforms. Users encountered a message that said the search results could not be displayed "due to relevant laws, regulations and policies".
Every year, before the annual vigil of June 4th Massacre in Hong Kong, concerned citizens would urge their friends to attend the vigil together via Facebook and other social media. Yesterday a large number of user accounts have been suspended for unknown reason and many of the users said their accounts were suddenly or automatically disabled soon after they posted political messages, in particular urging the public to attend the candle night vigil in June 4th.
The number of Chinese Internet users soared to 513 million in 2011, and half of them use micro-blogging services, according to official statistics. Ever wary of this powerful new media and its implications and influence over public opinion, Chinese authorities have made tremendous efforts to gain and maintain control of the virtual battlefield. Besides the Great Firewall, a less obvious tactic employed is the use of paid web commentators, known as the fifty-cent army, or Wu Mao.
Google has fired a new salvo in a censorship battle with Beijing by adding a feature that warns users in China who enter search keywords that might produce blocked results and suggests they try other terms. Google’s announcement Thursday described the change as a technical improvement and made no mention of Beijing’s extensive Internet controls. But it comes after filters were tightened so severely in recent weeks that searches fail for some restaurants, universities or tourist information.
Google's relationship with China's censors has always been rocky. It is likely to hit a new rough patch after the company rolled out a new feature on Thursday that warns Chinese users when they type words that are known to set off their government's censorship system. Now, when a user in China types a censored word into the search bar, a pop-up message warns: "We've observed that searching for [the censored word] in mainland China may temporarily break your connection to Google. This interruption is outside of Google's control."
Global watchdog organizations such as Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders routinely rank the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) as the country with the least free media in the world. Indeed, for more than half a century, North Korea’s leaders have relied on a domestic media monopoly to control what information North Koreans can access and how narratives around that information are presented. But the situation on the ground is changing, thanks in large part to North Koreans’ expanding access to unsanctioned foreign media and information sources.
A Thai court sentenced the manager of an Internet message board to a one-year suspended prison term on Wednesday for comments posted by users that insulted the Thai royal family. The sentence was immediately condemned by Google and human rights groups.
Last week, a spokesman for the Pakistani Ministry of Information Technology announced that Pakistan was blocking access to Twitter because the site had not removed links to a competition on Facebook to post cartoon images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Why Twitter and not Facebook? The spokesman went on to say that Facebook had agreed to address the Pakistani government’s concerns—Facebook later issued a statement saying they had blocked the content about the contest in Pakistan—but they viewed Twitter as recalcitrant.
Popular Chinese Twitter-like microblogging site Sina Weibo issued a new warning to users to keep themselves in-check with the introduction Monday of a points-based system for measuring user behavior. The system, dubbed “Weibo Credit,” encourages users to report each other for activities ranging from harassment of others to the spreading of “untrue information,” with each negative report resulting in a lower credit score — leading eventually to the public humiliation of a “low-credit user” badge, and possibly even a deleted account.
This article examines the complexity of the internet control mechanisms in China by breaking it down to five layers, ranging from the government, service and content providers to webmasters and individual users. It inquires into the logic of the control mechanisms and how such logic is naturalized into organizations and individuals’ everyday practices. It shows the dynamic between proactive, synchronized and reactive strategies and how the relationship between these components evolves in different phases. Through comparative online ethnography of the two most prominent Chinese forums located in China and the USA, QQ and MIT BBS, data analyses and interviews with regulators and content providers, this article aims at locating internet control in the historical trajectory and the socio-cultural specificity of China. More importantly, it reveals the effectiveness of these control mechanisms and the implications for the average internet user’s everyday life.
Cambodia is drafting its first cyber law, a move designed to prevent “ill-willed groups or individuals” from spreading false information, government officials said yesterday. Press and Quick Reaction Unit spokesman Ek Tha said the law is not intended to restrict media, but to ensure that the “common interest is protected”. “The government right now is drafting the first-ever cyber law, given the mushrooming of … modern technology like Twitter and YouTube and email and all sorts of technology activity,” Ek Tha said. “We need to prevent any ill-willed people or bad mood people from spreading false information, groundless information that could tend to mislead the public and affect national security or our society. We need to control this,” Ek Tha said.
The Global Network Initiative (GNI) is deeply concerned by the free speech and privacy implications of the Government of Vietnam’s Draft Decree on Internet Services, draft legislation which, if made into law, would oblige Internet companies and other providers of information to Internet users in Vietnam to cooperate with the government in enforcing overbroad provisions that are inconsistent with international human rights standards.
Pakistan banned access to Twitter on Sunday because of "blasphemous" material, a Pakistani official said, but normal service was resumed after 12 hours. The government did not specify which users or messages had prompted the ban on the microblogging site or why it was allowed to operate again so quickly.
Indian TV fans anticipating a free download of the latest episodes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones on Monday morning, hours after they aired in the US, found themselves out of luck, as a seemingly ad hoc and arbitrary clampdown on file-sharing sites continued. Depending on the internet service provider used to access them, sites such as The Pirate Bay and IsoHunt were either blocked or simply not connecting. Homepages were replaced by brief messages apparently posted by service providers.
Hacktivists have targeted two Indian government websites, as discussions of internet regulation took place in parliament. The websites of India’s apex court and the ruling Congress party were hacked in an apparent protest against the censorship of some websites by the Indian government. Hacking group Anonymous, who have protested the closures of video sharing websites Pirate Bay and Vimeo are believed to have been involved in the attacks.
Pakistan’s telecommunications regulators shut down Twitter for about eight hours Sunday because the social networking site would not remove content that the government found objectionable to Muslims, but the nation’s prime minister stepped in to reverse the ban, officials said.
On Thursday, the United States rolled back prohibitions against American companies doing business in Burma. The announcement marked the latest diplomatic reward given to President Thein Sein's quasi-civilian government for initiating reforms in what has historically been a military-run country. In making the announcement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the democratic changes initiated so far were "irreversible," but that is a characterization few of the country's journalists would share.
The "restrictive" rules framed by the government to purge the Internet of "offending" content may soon undergo some change. Under pressure from the Opposition that termed the rules an attack on freedom of expression, IT Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday said he would call a meeting of MPs and stakeholders to discuss changes in the rules. "... Whatever consensus emerges, we will implement it," he said. Sibal gave this assurance in the Rajya Sabha after Opposition MPs criticised the rules as being violated the fundamental right.
Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/kapil-sibal-promises-to-rethink-on-in...
Last week, Voice of America reported that Sina Weibo, China's largest microblogging service, has released a new user contract. Updates to the contract include agreeing not to post content deemed "untrue," threatening to "the honor of the nation," promoting "evil teachings, or anything that "destroys societal stability." The announcement of the new contract solicited over 27,000 comments on the Weibo corporate website. The Wall Street Journal blog followed the commentary, which included both supporters and opponents. Many called it a move toward censorship and authoritarian regulation. Said one commenter, “All this does is provide an excuse for arbitrary take-downs."
Thailand criminal code's provision on lese-majesté and the Computer Crime Act are the two main threats to freedom of expression for Thai citizens right now. Their lack of precision and definition makes anyone hosting content that's considered illegal -- even those outside Thai borders -- to be responsible for it. The laws rely on consideration, therefore interpretation.
The Burmese government will end prior censorship of news publications and form a press council to advise on media laws and ethnics, Information Minister Kyaw Hsan told journalists on Monday. Apparently, according to local editors, government officials said the new media law will permit all publications to run stories without submitting articles to censors prior to publication.
The raging controversy over possible excessive state regulation of the internet based on the IT Rules 2011 is now likely to be dwarfed by discussions in Geneva later this week over India's proposal to the United Nations General Assembly, for government control of the Internet. India is pushing for the creation of a forum called ‘Committee for Internet Related Policies' (CIRP) to develop internet policies, oversee all internet standards bodies and policy organizations, negotiate internet-related treaties and sit in judgment when internet-related disputes come up. The catch is that India's formal proposal is for CIRP to be funded by the U.N., run by staff from the U.N.'s Conference on Trade and Development arm and report directly to the U.N. General Assembly, which means it will be entirely controlled by the U.N.'s member states.
In today’s globalized world, you can’t avoid China, or so goes the cliché. Google is discovering that it’s actually true. Following a dispute over censorship, Google largely abandoned mainland China two years ago, redirecting its search operations to Hong Kong. Yet China is having the final word on Google’s biggest and perhaps most strategic deal to date — its proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the American handset maker and communications company. Shareholders and other national regulators have signed off on the deal, but it must still be approved by Chinese antitrust regulators.
Amphon Tangnoppaku, also known as Ar Kong or 'Uncle SMS', died in prison whilst serving a 20-year prison sentence for sending four text messages deemed as insulting against the Queen of Thailand. This was the heaviest sentence ever handed down for a lèse-majesté case. Amphon, a retired grandfather with no reported history of political activism, was only three months into serving his sentence when he died.
The growing availability of news media and cellphones in reclusive North Korea likely forced it to admit within hours that its long-range rocket launch last month was a failure, the U.S. human rights envoy to the country said Thursday. The envoy, Robert King, was speaking at the launch of a U.S. government-funded study that says North Koreans now have unprecedented exposure to foreign media, giving them a more positive impression of the outside world.
Chinese micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo plans to introduce a “user-contract” in an attempt to control sensitive information on the site. The rules, which are set to be introduced later this month, outline do’s and don’ts for the site, including prohibiting posts which “spread rumors, disrupt social order, and destroy societal stability”. The new rules will also introduce a “community committee”, a group of registered users, who will implement the terms of service. Violation of these regulations could result in deletion, preventing reposting or disabling commenting.
A moderator account on China’s popular microblog Sina Weibo recently made public the draft of a “Community Convention” with the following tweet: "Dear netizens, in order to maintain order in the Weibo community, we are establishing open and transparent mechanisms to deal with violators of our regulations. Today we are issuing the “Sina Weibo Community Convention (Trial)”, along with the “Community Management Regulations (Trial)” and the “Community Committee System (Trial).” The above regulations will take effect on May 28th, 2012, at which time corresponding features will go live. Order is something that we all must work together to maintain."
For a government that keeps a tight grip on information, this was a week when it lost control of the narrative. In the diplomatic standoff over blind activist Chen Guangcheng, technology and growing social-media savvy helped spread, drive and at times even muddy a story rife with unexpected twists. The round-the-clock use of Twitter and other social media by Chinese activists kept foreign journalists and human rights groups overseas apprised of developments in real time, even as authorities tried to isolate Chen and his supporters.
A well-known blind activist's escape from house arrest in China has set off a cat-and-mouse conflict on the Internet between censors and netizens. As word of Cheng Guangcheng's flight surfaced and spread last Friday, admirers rushed to popular Chinese social media to cheer him on — and the censors swung into action to block key phrases.
As a country with a high level of Internet penetration, a vibrant online community has sprung up in Singapore over the past few years. After the General Election of 2011 – the first elections in which blogs and social media made a huge impact – the government is now proposing an Internet Code of Conduct to combat issues of anonymity, false rumours and even extremism and terrorism. Government ministers are calling on prominent members of the online community to come forward and create a code of conduct to regulate the Internet.
Earlier today, press and human rights groups from around the world heard that the decision in the case of Chiranuch "Jiew" Premchaiporn, the manager of Thai online news site Prachatai, was being delayed yet another month. Chiranuch is charged under Thailand's Computer Crime Act for 10 counts of not deleting apparently anti-monarchy comments on Prachatai's online discussion boards.
The "Shawshank Redemption" has nothing to do with China, but that hasn't kept social media censors from blocking the movie's title from searches on the country's most popular Twitter-like microblogging service, Weibo. After last month's dramatic escape by the the blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng from house arrest in Shandong Province into U.S. diplomatic custody, Weibo's internal censors moved quickly to ban searches for Chen's name and related terms like "embassy." People determined to discuss Chen's case were forced to speak in code -- and the Shawshank Redemption, a Hollywood movie about a dramatic prison break -- quickly caught on. So did the censors.
In April 2011, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of India quietly issued ‘Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules 2011’ restricting web content that are designated as “disparaging,” “harassing,” “blasphemous” or “hateful.” Moreover, the Indian government has asked the United States to ensure that India-specific objectionable content are removed from the social networking such as Facebook, Google and YouTube. According to news reports they also want these international service providers to set up servers in India to help regulate the content locally.
On the 11th of April 2011, the Government of India notified the ‘Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules 2011’ that prescribe, amongst other things, guidelines for administration of takedowns by intermediaries. The Rules have been criticised extensively by both the national and the international media. The media has projected that the Rules, contrary to the objective of promoting free expression, seem to encourage privately administered injunctions to censor and chill free expression. On the other hand, the Government has responded through press releases and assured that the Rules in their current form do not violate the principle of freedom of expression or allow the government to regulate content.
China has stepped up its campaign to clamp down on the Internet, which has emerged as a virtual town square for exchanging information about the Bo Xilai scandal and the nation's biggest political upheaval in years.
Yang Haipeng, a Shanghai-based journalist who has been a prolific source of information about developments in the saga surrounding former Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo Xilai’s, said he received a call from a friend at 8 a.m. on Wednesday informing him that his Sina Weibo account had been closed. He said he didn’t receive an explanation from Sina, and isn’t going to argue the closure of his site “because it won’t be any use.”
Chinese Internet users took advantage of an apparent glitch in the country's extensive web censorship program Tuesday by accessing Facebook, which is usually blocked in the tightly controlled communist country. Internet users across the country reported being able to access the social networking website early Tuesday.
After examining the petition submitted by civil rights gropus, the Sindh high court served notice on the Pakistani federal government and ordered the PTA not to block any website except in accordance with the provisions of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act of 1996. The high court’s ruling, if respected, would make it impossible for the government to introduce any nationwide website filtering system.
Google, Facebook, and other Internet companies may be required to censor their content in Vietnam, an overseas group said Wednesday based on draft regulations that have been released. If adopted, the draft decree, released Friday by the Ministry of Information and Communications, would require foreign businesses to cooperate with Vietnamese authorities in removing information from their sites.
Vietnamese Authorities Mandate Google, Facebook and other Internet Companies to Assist in Online Censorship
The Government of Vietnam is updating its Internet management policies with grave implications for netizens and the foreign and domestic companies that provide Internet services to the country’s 30 million online users. Under a draft decree expected to be issued by the prime minister in June, all Internet users are required to use their real names and are forbidden from engaging in a wide range of activities. Internet companies will be compelled to help the government enforce the expanded online restrictions.
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