Bowing to pressure from the Indonesian government, Research in Motion (RIM) is now filtering porn from its BlackBerry devices.
The company is reportedly cooperating with the Indonesia's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology that put pressure on RIM last January threatening to ask the six domestic telecommunications operators of BlackBerry's Internet
services in Indonesia to stop supporting the company if it didn't block porn.
A report said the new filter is getting mixed reviews but it doesn't appear it will have a major impact on BlackBerry use in the country.
The Indonesian government has again threatened to shut down BlackBerry services in the region, as the company has not been cooperative , the Jakarta Post reports.
This decision likely comes as a result of Research in Motion (RIM) opting to build their latest datacenter in neighbouring Singapore, despite it having a much smaller BlackBerry consumer market.
RIM had agreed with the government that it would establish a datacenter by December 31st as part of a series of agreements decided upon in September. However it was not specified that RIM would necessarily build the server on Indonesian soil, but
it was expected due to Indonesia having the largest number of BlackBerry users in the south-east Asia market.
All BlackBerry data is processed through Research in Motion's datacenters in Canada, which allows the data to be uniquely secure; something that no other network offers. It also means however that the Indonesian government does not have access to
TVNZ has won a battle against the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority, which it believes has become increasingly conservative since its panel was reconstituted last year.
The High Court has ruled that an oral sex scene on the show Hung was not gratuitous, and that the authority was plainly wrong to rule against it.
The broadcaster says it is concerned at a number of decisions that lack consistency, and in our opinion fail to interpret public expectations correctly . TVNZ suggested that a review of the structure and operation of broadcasting
standards regulation may be timely .
It indicated last week that it would return to the High Court to challenge the ruling against the Sunday programme in which a police officer used the f-word when describing his heat-of-the-moment exchange with Aramoana killer David Gray.
TVNZ and TV3 joined forces last month to take the authority to the High Court over rulings against Hung and TV3's soap opera Home and Away .
Justice Asher ruled in favour of TVNZ over the Hung decision on the grounds that it was plainly wrong . The authority had said the scene, in which the main character -- a male prostitute -- gives a woman oral sex, was solely for
the purpose of shocking and titillating the audience . Justice Asher disagreed, saying the scene occurred late at night, in an AO-rated show in which sex plays an inevitable part of the narrative .
However Justice Asher upheld the decision against the Home and Away scene, in which a young girl was shown straddling and kissing a boy while wearing only a bra.
That ruling could prove more significant because it rejected a number of approaches the broadcasters were relying on for their appeals. TV3 had argued the authority ignored its own previous similar rulings, ignored context and the content of
other G-rated programmes, and gave insufficient reasons.
In an attempt to limit access to the net and further maintain their stranglehold on communications, Myanmar's ruling generals ordered all public and private Internet cafe's to stop overseas communication through VoIP (Voice over Internet
Protocol) calls, deeming them illegal under existing legislation.
The increasing use of the VoIP overseas calls via Internet services have caused official overseas calls through the [junta's] communication services to decline, affecting state revenue, read the official statement.
Internet phone is a scarce resource in Myanmar, where a SIM card for mobile phones, provided by a state monopoly, can cost a whopping 1,500,000 kyat (almost $1,700), a price that has in fact doubled on the black market due to the extreme
limitations imposed on mobile phone ownership. On top of a very high-priced card, phone services are especially expensive for a nation with one of the lowest annual per capita incomes in the world.
Cybercafe' owners have not yet received any official instructions on the matter. However, if they had to cut services, they would lose 30 to 40% of their business because people here use VoIP calls increasingly due to the cheap cost which is
more affordable then the government-run overseas call service, The Irrawaddy newspaper reported one owner as saying.
However, the real reasons behind the crackdown are the junta's concerns that software applications like Skype are harder to monitor and control compared to regular calls over mobile phones.
New Zealand's easily offended Green Party has reported a free magazine to the Censor's Office, after it displayed photos of young topless women in bondage.
Vice is an international lifestyle magazine which is distributed freely in clothes shops, music stores and cafes.
The Green Party claims the photos are very disturbing and have violent and sinister undertones. Its Women's Affairs spokesperson, Catherine Delahunty, says the magazine could have easily been picked up by underage individuals. She claims the
photos send a negative message to young people.
TVNZ has been fined and ordered to apologise for showing sexually explicit clips from porn movies on its flagship current affairs programme Close Up .
The article on August 11 last year was about porn star Nina Hartley's thoughts on feminism and sexuality.
It showed Ms Hartley posing in only a push-up bra and g-string for photo shoots and acting in porn moves. One scene showed her rubbing her bottom against a man's face while wearing a garter-belt and no underwear, with her pubic hair visible.
The article on Ms Hartley was preceded by a warning saying it would contain adult content and viewer discretion was advised.
The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) said those images represented an egregious breach of good taste and decency and children's interest rules.
We consider that screening these clips from pornographic movies on free-to-air television and in the PGR time-band [ broadcast at 7pm, PGR means suitable for children to view if they have parental guidance
], amounted to an egregious breach of broadcasting standards. The fact that this item was broadcast, in our view, reflects a significant lapse in judgment by the broadcaster, the decision states.
It ordered TVNZ to air a comprehensive summary of its breaches on Close Up within a month and issued a $3000 fine.
Nutter group Family First has welcomed the BSA decision. Its national director Bob McCoskrie said the sexualisation of news and current affairs was disturbing . He said the article promoted the porn industry under the guise of news.
New Zealand TV rivals have put aside their differences for a court battle to get sex scenes past the TV censors of the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
Both TVNZ and TV3 say the authority has become increasingly conservative. Their lawyer, Julian Miles QC, has gone as far as challenging the Broadcasting Standards Authority to reach rational decisions, not personal ones. They say recent rulings
are at odds with decisions in the past, and have blamed that on changes to the make-up of the authority because the rulings have obviously been influenced by the change of membership .
They say the BSA has been tougher on the good taste and decency standard since two new members, including the chairman, were appointed in late 2009.
In particular the authority ruled that a man performing oral sex on a woman in the late-night drama Hung , and two teenagers kissing on Home And Away , were inappropriate. Those decisions drove TVNZ and TV3 to join forces last week
to appeal the decisions. The Hung incident involved an episode where a woman's genital area was shown before she put her legs over a man's shoulders.
In court last week, Miles pointed to a 2007 decision on an Outrageous Fortune episode that involved a male and female sex scene. In that case, which Justice Raynor Asher said was comparable, the authority declined to uphold the complaint,
saying the show pushed the limits of what is acceptable but given the time-slot and expected audience it did not breach the standard.
The Home and Away case turned on a classification issue. On March 24, TV3's long-running G-rated programme showed Liam and Martha kissing. Liam removed Martha's bathrobe, revealing her in a bra and pyjama pants. The pair then moved to a kitchen
The authority ruled the scene violated responsible programming and taste and decency standards, and went well beyond what should be included in a G-rated programme .
Miles said a November 2009 Home and Away decision had already dealt with the classification issue. In that ruling, involving teenagers kissing on a bed and a girl removing a boy's T-shirt, the authority dismissed a complaint.
Justice Asher reserved his judgement for a later date.
China has closed 130,000 Internet cafes over a span of six years in its never ending battle against free internet.
Citing a government report from the Ministry of Culture, tech news site Computerworld revealed the extent of regulations imposed on operators running Internet cafes in China. Officials were particularly stringent with cafes that allowed minors
under the age of 18 into its premises, as Web content is perceived to endanger their wellbeing.
While the ministry said in the report that it will continue to promote Internet cafe chains that comply with its regulations, it plans to institute harsher penalties on cafes caught for admitting minors.
According to the report, around a third of China's online population surfs the Internet from Internet cafes.
Lady GaGa's song Born This Way - which celebrates people who live alternative lifestyles, and includes the line no matter gay, straight, or bi/ Lesbian, transgendered life /I'm on the right track baby - has been removed by a
number of radio stations after officials deemed it inappropriate for Malaysia.
A spokesperson for the country's Amp Radio said: The particular lyrics in Born This Way may be considered as offensive when viewed against Malaysia's social and religious observances. The issue of being gay, lesbian or bisexual is still
considered as a 'taboo' by general Malaysians.
Lady Gaga said she picked the track as the lead single from her second album because of its strong message, adding she hoped it could become an anthem for her generation.
Elton John has said: That was the gay anthem. This is the new gay anthem.
Lady GaGa has called for her fans in Malaysia to protest about her pro-gay lyrics being banned in their country. She said that she specifically put pro-gay lyrics on the song because she disagrees with exactly the type of censoring happening to
You must do everything you can if you want to be liberated by your society. You must not stop, you must protest- peacefully. I don't believe in violence. I don't believe in negativity. There is no reason to be
derogatory. You just need to keep fighting for what you believe in.
A Thai man could face up to 15 years in prison after he was arrested in Bangkok for selling copies of an Australian documentary about Thailand's royal family, police said Tuesday.
Eakachai Hongkangwan was charged under Thailand's lese majeste rules which prohibit criticising the kingdom's monarchy, after undercover police arrested him with CDs containing the programme in Bangkok on March 10. He was charged on two counts,
lese majeste and selling CDs without official permission.
Thailand's monarchy is an extremely sensitive subject in the politically divided nation, which is looking to hold elections in the coming months as it recovers from deadly street protests in April and May 2010.
The documentary was broadcast by the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) last April in the midst of a military crackdown on the anti-government Red Shirt demonstrations. The programme was not shown outside the country
and could not be viewed over the Internet, but Thailand warned that the broadcast could affect ties with Australia.
Thailand has drawn continued criticism from rights groups for suppressing freedom of speech using the Computer Crimes Act and the lese majeste legislation.
On 4 July, the Criminal Court sentenced Sathian (family name withheld) to 6 years in jail for lese majeste and fined him 100,000 baht for illegally selling video CDs, and, as he pleaded guilty, the penalties were reduced by half.
According to the public prosecutor, Sathian was arrested on 19 March 2011 near the Democracy Monument for unauthorized sales of video CDs and publicizing the contents which were supposedly offensive to the monarchy.
A Beijing entrepreneur, discussing restaurant choices with his fiance'e over their cellphones last week, quoted Queen Gertrude's response to Hamlet: The lady doth protest too much, methinks. The second time he
said the word protest, her phone cut off.
He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence.
A host of evidence over the past several weeks shows that Chinese authorities are more determined than ever to police cellphone calls, electronic messages, e-mail and access to the Internet in order to smother any hint of
antigovernment sentiment. In the cat-and-mouse game that characterizes electronic communications here, analysts suggest that the cat is getting bigger, especially since revolts began to ricochet through the Middle East and North Africa, and
homegrown efforts to organize protests in China began to circulate on the Internet about a month ago.
Boy meets boy. Boy falls in love with boy. Boy has a sex-change procedure in a misguided attempt to please his lover. Boy regrets his decision, moves back to hometown and falls in love with a girl.
The plot of ...Dalam Botol ( ...In a Bottle ), Malaysia's first feature film with gay lead characters, is causing a stir in the Muslim-majority country, where consensual sodomy is illegal and depictions of homosexuality in pop
culture are taboo.
The film opens next Thursday and will screen in 52 cinemas. It has already provoked the ire of religious organisations. The youth wing leader of the conservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic party (PAS) called it a shocking attempt to promote gay
The film has found little resonance with the country's handful of gay activists, who have joined the religious authorities in criticising the film, although for very different reasons.
Malaysia's film censorship rules require gay and transgendered characters to regret their actions and learn from supposed mistakes, guidelines to which ...Dalam Botol had to conform in order to receive screening permission.
Alex who blogs anonymously about gay issues said that while the film's groundbreaking depiction of gay characters could be seen as a sign of progress, he worried it would reinforce stereotypes in Malaysian culture: The ending is very negative.
Having the main character regret being gay and falling in love with a woman is not going to help our image problem here.
This is not the Brokeback Mountain of Malaysia. It presents LGBT people as depressed and confused, said Yuki Choe, a transsexual activist in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian society is trying to shame us. But whether we like it or not,
this is a Muslim country, and it's difficult to be open about your sexuality here.
A Thai Criminal Court sentenced the webmaster of a United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) website to a total of 13 years imprisonment for lese majeste and violating the Computer Crimes Act.
The court found Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul, who was in charge of the red shirt supporting website norporchorusa.com, guilty of lese majeste for posting articles which were deemed insulting to the high institution.
Thanthawut given a 10 year jail sentence for lese majeste and three years for violating the Computer Crimes Act.
However FACT (Freedom against Censorship Thailand) point out that Thanthawut's defence was that he was only the site designer, and did not contribute to the content. The site's editing, content and administration is based overseas, presumably in
Clint Eastwood's movie Hereafter has been yanked from theaters in Japan after the earthquake disaster rendered some movie scenes as inappropriate at this time.
ContactMusic reports that though Japanese films are often rampant with death themes, footage depicting a tsunami were thought to be too disturbing for Japanese viewers.
Furthermore, Japan also decided to delay the release of Aftershock , a movie about China's massive Tangshan Earthquake of 1976.
Aftershock, starring Daoming Chen, Chen Li, Li Yu, was scheduled for release in Japan on March 26. However, in view of recent developments, the film is not expected to show in Japan anytime this year.
Japanese audiences will also have to wait to see Universal's Australian-made 3D adventure drama Sanctum , with James Cameron as executive producer, in which an underwater cave diving team end up stranded after a freak tropical storm.
A Malaysian newspaper publicly apologised after it published a cartoon depicting the popular Japanese icon Ultraman running away from an oncoming tsunami. The Malay-language Berita Harian, one of Malaysia's main dailies, drew heavy criticism,
especially on social networking websites, after it published the cartoon on its comment page.
We do not intend to be insensitive or to poke fun at last Friday's incident, the paper said in a front-page apology, adding that it was very sympathetic to the plight of the Japanese people.
Malaysians had launched online petitions to pressure the paper to apologise, while many politicians also criticised the publication.
US comedian Gilbert Gottfried lost his lucrative voice-over contract with the insurance company Aflac because of a string of 'revoltingly unfunny' Twitter jokes about Japanese tsunami and earthquake victims.
Gottfried was fired for making such remarks as I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, 'They'll be another one floating by any minute now.'
He later apologized to anyone who was offended by my attempt at humor regarding the tragedy in Japan .
Two United Special Rapporteurs have sent Thailand a letter of allegation concerning the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the webmaster on trial in Bangkok for charges of lese-majesty and computer crime.
According to the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekkaggya in her annual report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, she sent the letter together with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, on October
The February 28 report quotes a reply from the government of Thailand that the case was brought on the basis that views that are disrespectful of the monarchy, or advocate hatred or hostile feelings towards this important national institution,
or those which incite hatred or violence are generally unacceptable in the Thai society .
In a second letter sent in February, the government asked the U.N. rights experts not to prejudge the decision of the court hearing the case.
The police charged Chiranuch not because of anything that she did or said herself but for comments posted on her independent news website, Prachatai, by users. She has been held criminally liable as the site administrator. The Bangkok-based
Internet news site has since been forced to close its web board because of fears that it or its users could be subject to further criminal actions.
Wong Kai Shing, executive director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, welcomed the U.N. experts' intervention and said that it showed that the case is attracting more and more interest globally, because people around the world are concerned
about the use of Thailand's draconian lese-majesty and computer crime laws to stifle legitimate debate.
At a time that the representative of Thailand to the Human Rights Council is holding the council's presidency, it is highly embarrassing that his government is prosecuting someone for speech and computer offences that she
did not commit.
The case cannot in any way be justified in terms of international law. The AHRC also completely rejects the government's arguments that it can be justified on particular cultural or national grounds.
A new set of film classification symbols is to be introduced in Singapore this June to rate content in film, videos, free-to-air and subscription TV.
The new symbols are to standardise the look in the ratings, said the Media Development Authority (MDA) replacing the current three different sets of rating symbols.
Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew said that the symbols are still under review.
Members of the public can vote for their preferred symbols at roving interactive media exhibits, also known as Media Transformer, at four anchor events islandwide from March 5 to 27.
When queried, MDA said a date to launch the PG13 rating, as recommended by the Censorship Review Committee in September 2010, has yet to be set.
Film Ratings in Singapore
Cinema/video Ratings were introduced in 1991. Previously films were either passed for exhibition to all or else banned.
The ratings are:
G: General: Entertainment suitable for the whole family
PG: Parental Guidance: Suitable for most, but not all ages. Parents should guide their young as some scenes may be disturbing to children.
NC16: No Children Under 16: Not suitable for those below 16 years of age, as the film may contain more explicit scenes. [Introduced in 1993]
M18: Mature 18: For viewers aged 18 and above, these films may contain mature themes which are mire suitable for young adults. [Introduced in 2004]
R21: Restricted 21: These films may contain adult issues, themes and more explicit scenes. [When R18 was introduced, it led to concerns over an influx of sex-exploitative films within the first month of the classification systemís
inception. The rating was modified to R(A) or Restricted Artistic, to signal that only films of artistic merit would be allowed, and the age limit was raised to 21 years. The rating is only available to cinema films].
Police threats to revoke foreign journalists' visas and require advance permission for newsgathering are disturbing new efforts to restrict reporting on protests in China, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Police told some foreign journalists they could lose their accreditation and residence permits if they conduct illegal reporting in parts of central Beijing and Shanghai without permission.
Some journalists reported being told that advance consent would be required for any filming in China going forward. The warnings were given to journalists from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, the BBC, and other news outlets.
Wangfujing, a downtown shopping street in Beijing, and a section of Shanghai near the People's Square, were apparently ruled off-limits because of unsigned online calls for Sunday afternoon protests in Chinese cities modeled on recent popular
uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the reports. Turnout in response to the calls, which were first issued February 19, has been weak. Yet police and plainclothed security officials flooded Wangfujing last Sunday,
detaining at least a dozen foreign journalists and injuring two.
The Chinese government is doing itself serious damage with these blatant attempts to bully the foreign media into silence, said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. These vague warnings, contradictory regulations, and intimidation
of the international press corps show that China's commitments on press freedom to secure the Olympics were just a veneer.
The Vietnamese government instituted an online curfew and has ordered service providers and Internet cafe' owners to block online game access after 10:00 PM. The Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communication has told all ISPs operating in
the country to block access to online games from 10 PM to 8 AM.
The government has given ISPs and cafes a deadline of March 3 for the ban to be implemented. Those who do not comply can expect to face some serious fines or be put of business.
This new decree from the Vietnamese government is the latest in a series of measures to curb online game playing among children. It seems that this new ban affects adults as well.
Indonesians are fighting to keep Hollywood films in local theatres after warnings that a new tax on foreign-made movies could lead to studios pulling out of the country.
Indonesian authorities see the tax as a way to protect the domestic film industry.
Hollywood as represented by the MPAA has responded that the release of Oscar-nominated Black Swan could be the last for a Hollywood film in this nation of 237 million. Distributors from Europe and Asia have made similar warnings.
Film-lovers have taken to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to complain, while the country's largest cinema chain begged for the government to drop the tax.
We'll see theatres close one by one unless a solution is found, warned Noorca Massardie, spokesman of 21 Cineplex, which has more than 500 screens.
It's outrageous! one woman wrote on Facebook. They're taking away our right to watch high-quality films. She noted that domestic industry, still in its infancy stage, leaves much to be desired.
Minister of Culture Jero Wacik said the tax will be reviewed with a final decision expected in two weeks.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) stopped distributing films to Indonesia in February after the Indonesian government introduced a new system of calculating and charging royalties on imported films.
I'm sick and bored of not being able to watch good movies in the cinema, said Marisca Djojopranoto, a 25-year-old a film lover in Jakarta: I miss the cinema so much .
Movie fans are not the only ones lamenting the absence of Hollywood films on the big screen. Cinemas are losing between 40 and 50% of their revenues, said Djonny Sjafruddin, chairman of the Indonesian Cinema Operator Association.
We are just showing what we have and what we have are films about ghosts, Sjafruddin said: It's a major blow for the cinemas and if this continues, many of them may fold, he said, adding that some theatres had reduced screening
frequencies and the number of studios used.
Locally produced films, mostly of the horror genre with bizarre titles such as In the Embrace of the Teen Ghost's Widow and Dancing Karawang Ghost, have taken over at the box office. Such films don't cost a lot to produce and they can make a
little profit, Sjafruddin said.
China's censors increased Internet controls and security officials harassed and detained writers and activists in the wake of an online appeal for a Jasmine Revolution in China, according to international human rights groups and news
Censors blocked the word jasmine after overseas dissident-run news website Boxun and Chinese Twitter users broadcast calls on February 19 to mobilize street protests modeled on recent unrest in the Middle East, according to international
news reports. (Twitter is generally blocked in China but accessible to users of proxy networks based overseas.) Only a handful of protesters appeared, although calls continued for government protests characterized as strolls to continue
every Sunday around China, according to The Associated Press.
Reports that Chinese police are detaining and harassing bloggers and activists are deeply concerning, said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. China must allow information on political dissension to circulate freely.
Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders said Ran Yunfei, a Sichuan-based political writer and blogger, was taken by police on February 20 and formally detained on suspicion of subversion of state power on February 24, according to
an official notice sent to his wife. Other overseas groups said police detained Ran on February 20. CPJ could not independently confirm the nature of the charges. Hong Kong University-based China Media Project reported that Ran had been charged
with the less serious inciting subversion of state power, citing local online reports.
At least two others were detained after transmitting information about the Jasmine Revolution online, according to overseas rights groups:
In December's Pacific Review, academics Cheng Chen, Kyungmin Ko and Ji-Yong Lee outlined Pyongyang's alleged plan to build an Internet with North Korean characteristics.
They estimate that at present, Internet access in North Korea is restricted to no more than a few thousand people in Pyongyang. Others have to make do with a domestic intranet. Built in 2002, it encompasses several web sites including email, e-commerce and chat room services.
But North Korea has apparently outgrown this arrangement, and its intranet is reportedly no longer able to handle an increasing volume of information. According to the authors, Kim Jong-il's regime has realized that blocking the Internet in its
entirety is a recipe for continuing technological backwardness, and so it has resolved to relax its death grip over the use of the Internet as part of its economic development strategy.
What will this entail? According to Kim Heung-kwang, a computer scientist who defected from North Korea, the government has developed a roadmap to broaden access, in a heavily controlled form. This roadmap is said to be a seven-year plan
that's heavily focused on monitoring, filtering and blocking information. A series of controls is supposed to act as a mosquito net. Bad things---new ideas, news and culture---would be kept out. Good things, such as foreign investment,
would be allowed through. The final stage of the roadmap is supposed to be the opening up of the Internet to enterprises, organizations and the general public.
The regime's goal, according to the defector, is not to allow free personal access to the Internet, but rather to permit North Korean Internet users to access the Internet within a specific time and limited hours, and with restricted sources
and defined ranges, and only for public benefits.'
If, to a degree, art manifests the temperament of society, the depiction of monks in films has increasingly shown a complicated perception of Thais towards the institution once untouchable. Likewise, the unpredictable decisions of the censors
highlights an even more complicated dynamics between art and Buddhism --- one of the pillars of the nation that cannot be undermined.
If a film has a moral lesson, we won't object to it, says Dr Amnaj Buasiri, director of the Sangha Supreme Council. Monks can be portrayed as funny, but if it's too disrespectful, we'll ask the director to cut certain things. In general
we look at the whole film and see if it means to spread a good message or not.
Last year the envelope was pushed: the film Nak Prok (In the Shadow of Naga) featured a contentious setup in which a gang of robbers disguised themselves as monks and ran the temple as if it was a mafia den. The film, almost miraculously,
passed the censors without a cut --- the Sangha Supreme Council contended that the bad guys are fake monks, not real ones. It had a quibble, though, over a scene showing a (real) monk tattooing a man, and the film was required to add a warning
caption that such practice is against the monkhood's rules.
Still, the lenient attitude towards Nak Prok was a stark contrast to the highprofile ruckus in 2007 when the censorship board demanded an innocuous scene of a monk strumming a guitar and two monks playing with a radiocontrolled toy be axed
from the award winning film Syndromes and a Century . When the director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, refused to comply, a longrunning protest from the film community and media experts took place. That case exemplified how an attempt to
tease and portray monks based on reality is an issue of dire sensitivity, if not exactly a taboo.
In Mindfulness and Murder , slated for release in April, a monk becomes a homicide detective when a dead body turns up in his temple. It transpires that the monk is an ex-cop; so now he preaches impermanence as well as forensic
investigation. Last year, in Apichatpong's Cannes-winning Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives , a young monk sneaks out of his quarters, takes a shower, changes into layman's clothes, and ends up at a karaoke joint in one of the
year's most mind-warping cinematic melancholia. Observers had expected a ballyhoo, yet the film passed the rating committee without any fuss.
Monking around, it seems, remains an act of tiptoeing a thin line.
The trial has started of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, executive director of the Thailand-based independent news Web site Prachatai. She stands accused of 10 different violations of the country's draconian 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA), each of which
carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The case centers on comments posted by users of a Prachatai Web board that authorities have charged were defamatory of the Thai monarchy--a criminal offense under Thai law. Chiranuch has been charged under the CCA's Section 15, which pertains to
the liability of online intermediaries, including Internet service providers (ISPs) and webmasters.
Prosecution witness Aree Jivorarak, head of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology's (MICT) said in his testimony that when his office brought the comments to Chiranuch's attention she immediately deleted them in her
capacity as the Web board's moderator.
Chiranuch told CPJ that Prachatai's online forums received thousands of comments daily in 2008--when the alleged CCA violations occurred--and that it was impossible to police instantly every comment that was posted.
Defense witnesses are expected to argue in upcoming hearings that the CCA's Section 15 is out of step with laws governing intermediary liability in many Western countries and that the Thai law applies unreasonable obligations to webmasters.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Keith Locke has accused China of exporting its censorship of the Falun Gong to his country, pressuring politicians to boycott a concert by a Chinese performing arts group, reported TVNZ.
Locke has said the Chinese Consul General in Auckland, Liao Juhua, had sent a letter to Auckland Councillor Cathy Casey, asking her not to attend the Shen Yun Performing Arts group's upcoming performances in New Zealand. The letter had said the
group had affiliations with the Falun Gong movement.
While some politicians might laugh off this ham-fisted attempt to stop them from attending a cultural performance, others may feel pressured to avoid the event worried about what their presence at the concert could do to sister city or
parliamentary relations with China, Locke was quoted as saying.
The letter had called the Falun Gong a heretical and an anti-society cult .
Noting that he had received a similar letter on behalf of 29 Auckland-based Chinese organisations, Locked has said, I am also concerned that some Chinese organisations in Auckland may be acting in league with the Auckland consulate in this
The Shen Yun Performing Arts group performs classical Chinese dance at Auckalnd's ASB Theatre from Feb 3 to 11.
The ancient Chinese New Year tradition of decorating your doorway with Door Guardians and Spring Couplets to ward off evil spirits, has just received new inspiration from a prominent artist dissident.
This year, Door Guardians designed by outspoken dissident and artist, Ai Weiwei, have become a very popular New Year charm for scaring the evil.
One of his couplets says: Eliminate Cruelty and Evil, We Want Fairness--Diminish Ghosts and Demons, We Want Righteousness.
Another one, freely translated, says: Kill the Ghosts and Demons, Let Peace be Our Measures--Escape Police and Special-Forces, Here Come National Treasures.
National Treasures refers to new slang terms invented by Internet users aimed at tricking the regime's censorship software and breaking through the Internet blockade.
Predictably Chinese censors were not impressed and they rapidly closed down Weiwei's website. No doubt there will be further hassles for the artist as he has had several run-ins with the authorities before.
A court in Indonesia has sentenced one of their best known pop stars to three-and-a-half years in prison for making and distributing sex videos on the internet.
The tapes of Nazril Irham, or Ariel as he is known, and two other celebrities, were made public last June.
He is the first celebrity to be charged under Indonesia's repressive pornography law that came into effect in 2008.
Ariel had made three sex videos featuring him and separately, two female celebrities. He was found guilty of giving an opportunity for others to spread, produce and prepare a pornographic video , according to the verdict.
As a public figure, the defendant should be aware that fans might imitate his behaviour, claimed Judge Singgih Budi Prakoso. He said that Ariel had done nothing to prevent the wide distribution of the videos. Cultural divide
The singer's lawyer said he would appeal against the sentence and criticised the judges' admission that they were influenced by public pressure.
Outside the court, hundreds of protesters had gathered calling for harsh punishment. The trial had become a target for protests by hardline Muslim groups who have adopted pornography as a banner issue, claiming it symbolises what they have called
the nation's moral decline.
The Malaysian government's latest proposal for internet censorship has come under fire from opposition politicians and industry watchers.
According to a report by local news agency Bernama, the Home Ministry was reviewing the definition of the word publication in the country's Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 to decide if it should now include Internet
content, blogs and social networks such as Facebook.
Under the Act, all printing presses require a licence that must be renewed yearly and renewed based on the approval of the Home Ministry.
Malaysia's laws, detailing that the Internet cannot be censored, are provisioned under the Multimedia Super Corridor Bill of Guarantees as well as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. The government has largely kept its promise not to
enforce Internet censorship so far.
The announcement, however, has received condemnation from the online community including social networks Twitter and Facebook, as well as politicians and industry watchdogs.
Lim Kit Siang, parliamentary leader of opposition Democratic Action Party, described the move as the government's latest attempt to quell online dissent and a clear violation of its promise not to enforce censorship on the Internet.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) also described the latest move as a backward attempt to block the spread of information to the public.
In a bid to quell the rising dissent, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in the local press that the proposed PPPA amendments have yet to be finalized and discussions are still in the early stage.
A grisly cartoon that marks the upcoming Year of the Rabbit by portraying a bunny revolt against brutal tiger overlords has proven an online hit, with its thinly veiled stab at China's communist rulers.
The video by animator Wang Bo, in which persecuted rabbits overthrow the ruling tigers, went viral on video-sharing sites in recent days thanks to its gruesome depiction of a number of recent scandals.
Wang's cartoon begins with baby rabbits who die horribly from drinking Sanlu milk. Sanlu is the now-defunct Chinese dairy giant that was at the centre of the 2008 tainted milk scanadal.
In the video, rabbit parents are then savagely beaten by tiger thugs when they complain, or are cruelly run over by cars and killed in a reference to two recent cases.
In one, the son of a police official in northern China stood trial this week accused of striking and killing a pedestrian while driving drunk. He reportedly tried to escape arrest by invoking his father's name. In another, a village chief was
last month crushed by a truck. Villagers allege he was killed by local officials to silence his complaints about a land seizure by authorities.
After an orgy of violence as the bunnies rise up, the video ends with a character saying: It will really be an interesting year.
It is unsurprisingly unavailable on websites in China.
Internationally-recognized Filipino writer-director Adolf Alix, Jr. has cried foul over the ban that the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) slapped on his latest opus, Chassis .
Known for his other works that include Aurora, Donsol, Kadin, Batanes and Tambolista , Alix said the MTRCB's decision stemmed from a scene showing lead actress Jodi Sta. Maria simulate the cutting of the penis of co-actor
The reviewers want to remove and just 'establish' the ending but I think it is very vital for the character of Jodi, he said in a interview.
I will stand by showing it in its integral version because if the scene is taken in context, it was not shot to arouse prurient interest but rather as an act of revenge by the poor woman who was victimized, he added.
Alix has asked the board to reconsider its judgment.
Chassis is about a single mother's struggles amid the hardship of raising her child in an abandoned container van. It was among a handful of local films hailed in international film festivals including the Pusan International Film
Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Mar del Plata International Film Festival in Argentina.
In a country where the government has oppressive control over the traditional media—newspapers and television—Singaporeans with an appetite for alternative views have long gravitated towards the internet. So the news that one of
the main independent socio-political blog sites The Online Citizen (TOC), is being gazetted by the government has sent shockwaves through Singapore's burgeoning, boisterous (and now rather fearful) online community.
Gazetting is a means by which the government can demand that any organisation be reclassified as a political association. The site is to be designated as a political website. This means that TOC will fall under repressive rules that govern other
political organisations—like parties.
Under the Political Donations Act, TOC will be subject to a cap of 5,000 Singapore dollars ($3,900) in accepting anonymous donations and banned outright from receiving funds from foreign donors.
The government's registry of political donations has already asked TOC to identify clearly all its owners, journalists and anyone else associated with the site. It was given two weeks to comply. And this is but one of the new rules to which the
site will be subject.
A new unit ostensibly charged with protecting the interests of journalists and issuing guidelines for media practice has been formed by Burma's draconoian censor board.
Media freedom in the Southeast Asian pariah is amongst the world's lowest – all material in the various domestic news journals and magazines in circulation has to be vetted by the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) prior to
The PSRD's role in establishing the new body, the Committe for Professional Conduct (CPC), has thus worried interested parties.
We really want the sort of committe which can protect and promote us, said one Rangoon-based journalist, speaking on condition of anonymity. But we are disappointed because the committe is established by the PSRD.
According to NDdaily, a man, known as Mr. Zhou, was arrested for micro-blogging a Taxi driver strike at Xianning city on December 19, 2010 under the charge of organizing a mob to disturb the social order . He is still under police
Zhou was once a taxi driver and participated in Taxi driver strike back in 2006. But he has since changed his occupation.
On December 16, 2010, a large scale Taxi driver strike took place in Xianning city and on December 18, Zhou reported the strike via his Tianya micro blog account. He had sent out a total of 17 tweets on the strike eg:
Since December 16 2010, a large scale Taxi driver strike has taken place in Hubei Xianning. The reason behind the action is the government's decision to draw back the Taxi operation license which had been issued for more
than 10 years. This strike is similar to the one happened in February 2006. However, this time the police has arrested the active drivers. All the government has mobilized all the city police to monitor and track down the drivers. All level of
the governments and leaders of city, county and town governments are determined to accomplish the mission.
Zhou was arrested the next day on December 19 2010 and his computer was confiscated. According to the arrest document, he was in suspect of organizing a mob to disturb the social order .
Vietnam has issued a new decree to censor the activities of journalists and bloggers that includes provision for fines of up to 40 million dong (2,000 dollars) in a country in which the average salary is 126 dollars.
The government is demonstrating its determination to tighten its grip on news and information just as the ruling Communist Party is holding its congress, Reporters Without Borders said: This decree is trying to apply the censorship
already in force for traditional media to blogs.
The press freedom organization added: The protection of the confidentiality of sources is seriously threatened by this decree. The government is going after online anonymity by trying to prevent bloggers from using pseudonyms. This could make
it easier for the authorities both to harass them and to arrest and jail them.
Due to take effect next month, the decree makes it an offence to publish information that is non-authorised or not in the interests of the people. By interpreting these vague definitions broadly, the authorities will be able to
increase the number of arrests of blogger and journalists.
The decree also provides for fines of up to 3 million dong (155 dollars) for anyone who publishes documents or letters without identifying themselves or revealing their sources, and for up to 20 million dong if the documents are linked to an
Facing a BlackBerry ban in Indonesia, Research In Motion. says it will comply as soon as possible with a government demand that it block pornography from its smartphones.
RIM has until Jan. 21 to begin filtering porn sites or face legal action including revocation of its permit to operate in the country, one of RIM's fastest-growing international markets. Communication and information technology minister Tifatul
Sembiring said that may include a complete blocking of the BlackBerry's web browsing capability.
RIM is in talks with domestic phone carriers to find a remedy, the Waterloo, Ont-based company said in a statement. It did not respond to a request for further comment.
Malaysia will not ban the use of the Blackberry smartphone as of now as it has not caused any problem with regard to security, culture and administration, said Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
However, he said, if there were sections of society with the facts to prove that the Blackberry phone were causing problems, the ministry through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), would investigate the matter under
the country's existing laws.
He was referring to reports that the Indonesian government planned to ban the use of the Blackberry phone in the republic if its order for the service provider to implement pornography blockers and to create a server is not adhered to
The Indian government, which fears that the heavy encryption on RIM's BlackBerry smartphones makes them convenient for terrorists to use undetected, has asked RIM to grant access to its messenger services before Jan 31, 2011.
According to WSJ:
The lawful access capability now available to RIM's carrier partners meets the standard required by the government of India for all consumer messaging services offered in the Indian marketplace, RIM said in a customer
update seen by Dow Jones Newswires.
No changes can be made to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server [corporate email] customers since, contrary to any rumors, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no
ability to provide its customers' encryption keys, RIM's customer update said.
RIM continues to work closely with the government and RIM's carrier partners in India…We are pleased to have delivered a solution well before a mutually agreed milestone date of January 31, 2011, RIM said.
McDonald's has caused controversy in the GLBT community after blocking access to gay-related websites for Wellington customers using its free WiFi service.
GayNZ.com says it has received numerous complaints from the community that sites they frequent cannot be accessed.
The complaints say GayNZ.com has been blocked, as has The Agender site for transgender people; Rainbow Youth, an advice site for young people is also blocked. familyplanning.co.nz was also unavailable.
McDonald's have sent an email response to GayNZ.com, after the website contacted them for comment:
We're a family restaurant chain, and as part of offering this new Free WiFi service, our policy is that viewed content must be of a family friendly nature, i.e.- suitable for a child to view.
Because of this, access to a number of websites is blocked, including access to gaynz.com gambling, tobacco and adult mature content websites.
We stress that all the content of allowable sites must meet family friendly criteria. By this we mean a child cannot access a website where they can click on any content, link or third party advertisement and access
sexually explicit content and images.
You will also appreciate that there are inevitably teething problems with the introduction of a new service and getting our filtering process right is one such issue.
McDonald's say they are prepared to review GayNZ.com and other websites customers feel are unfairly blocked.