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11th October

 Update: The Great Firewall of Thailand...

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Thailand's military dictator continues to defend his attempt to censor the Thai internet
Link Here
prayut-chan-o-cha Thailand's military dictator has been defending his latest policy to censor dissent with plans to launch a single Internet gateway that will help the government to muzzle the web.

According to news reports, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology was ordered at a September 1 Cabinet meeting to establish a firewall to filter all Internet traffic entering and leaving Thailand. The written order, signed by Prayuth, said the gateway would serve as a tool to control access to inappropriate sites and the influx of information from abroad, the reports said. Prayuth's order called on authorities to expedite the gateway's establishment.

Shawn Crispin, the Committee to Protect Journalists' senior Southeast Asia representative responded:

Thailand needs fewer, not more, controls on the Internet. Prayuth should scrap the one gateway plan and any other designs to block, censor, or surveil the Internet and Internet-based social media applications. Any new laws or plans to govern Thailand's Internet should be left for a new, elected administration, not his self-appointed military junta.

Thai citizens have been opposing the censorship plan via a petition signed by nearly 150,000 people. The issue has become one of the biggest public rallying points since the military seized power from an elected government last year.

Activists brought down several government websites last week in protest at plans dubbed the Great Firewall of Thailand .

Last Wednesday, calls went out on social media in Thailand encouraging people to visit the websites and repeatedly refresh them. Image caption One of the posts that appeared on social media: Next target, to show our opposition to the single gateway. Among the targets were the site of the ministry of information, communications and technology (ICT) and the main government website .

ICT Deputy Permanent Secretary Somsak Khaosuwan tried to spin the website crash, claiming that the site did not crash because of an attack but because it was overloaded by visitors checking to see whether and attack was happening.


2nd October

 Update: Identifying Repression... logo

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China looks to identify internet users by demanding that they use an ID card to log on
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
China flag China's public security ministry is pressing ahead with repressive moves to force more of the country's 668 million netizens to use their real names and a digital ID card online.

The move is part of a raft of Internet controls enshrined in the draft Cybersecurity Law being debated in China's parliament.

While officials claim the new system will improve the security of users' personal data and help fight cybercrime, online activists say it is yet another way for the ruling Chinese Communist Party to keep tabs on who is saying what online.

An online activist nicknameed Xiaofei Riyetan told RFA:

The overall aim of the Chinese Communist Party is to further tighten control on dissidents, including democracy activists. This will add greater weight to their attempts to accuse these people of crimes, and enable them to lock them up in the name of the rule of law.

He said recent surveys showing that netizens feel less safe online than they did previously have more to do with a sense that everything they do or say is being watched, than with cybercrime.  The activist said:

The crackdown on dissents has got worse and worse since [President] Xi Jinping came to power. The space for free expression is getting smaller and smaller, and ever more tightly managed; that's why we feel more and more unsafe, he said.


2nd October

 Commented: Aggressive abuse of the English language...

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United Nations women's group calls for the international censorship of internet porn
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un cyber violence against women A UN report titled, Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls has been published by members of the Working Group on Broadband and Gender with editorial inputs by teams from UN Women, UNDP and ITU.

It is very manipulative report, starting by discussing internationally reprehensible online behaviour such as making death threats. It then defines these as 'cyber violence' and establishes that such behaviour should not be allowed on the internet, presumably assuming concurrence by readers.

Then it pulls a fast one by defining a long list of other things as a 'a form of cyber violence', many of which are nothing to do with violence, but are just a wish list of things that feminists do not like. This list includes the adult consensual sex trade and inevitably, your bog standard porn. The authors claim:

Research reveals that 88.2% of top rated porn scenes contain aggressive acts and 94% of the time the act is directed towards a woman

Hence porn should be banned as 'cyber violence against women'.

Update: Cybersexism? Yet another feminist panic

2nd October 2015. See article from by Ella Whelan

Spiked logo The UN's report on cybersexism is shrill and illiberal.


26th September

  Karma Police...

Snowden has revealed that GCHQ has been monitoring everybody's internet porn use to identify suspicious behaviour. Presumably moralists not viewing porn are those under suspicion
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Karma Police DVD Region NTSC British spies have snooped on people's visits to online porn websites, according to documents leaked by CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden .

The files appear to detail a top secret programme - creepily codenamed Karma Police - which has been storing and analysing the browsing habits of every visible user on the internet for seven years.

They revelations were published by The Intercept, who say they obtained the information from Snowden.

The Karma Police system collected and stored records of visits to Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Reddit - as well as porn website YouPorn. GCHQ have been correlating logs of websites visited with associated cookie information to identify the viewers.

The Snowden files give some idea of how they mine this data on an unprecedented scale, with the aim of detecting suspicious behaviour by anyone in the world.

The system also allowed spooks to track people who had listened to particular online radio stations, which they say were used to spread radical islamic ideas.

A report included in the leak showed how they selected one listener, from Egypt, and revealed they had also looked at porn site Redtube, Facebook, Yahoo, Flickr, Google, and a website about Islam. The report does not say whether the user was suspected of a crime or had links to terrorism beyond listening to a radio station.

The Karma Police system shares its name with a Radiohead song, the chorus of which goes: This is what you'll get if you mess with us.


26th September

  Having a beef with social media...

Indian state shuts down the internet as locals use social media to criticise a religious ban on beef
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jammu and kashmir flag The Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has imposed a 3 day shutdown of the mobile internet because locals are using social media to criticise a state law banning beef on religious grounds. The state is predominantly muslim, and so residents are unimpressed by the imposition of a law grounded in hinduism..

Inspector General of Police of Kashmir as well as Jammu region wrote a letter to all ISPs to extend the termination of data services to 3 days. He said:

In view of the apprehension of misuse of data services (GPRS/2G/3G) by anti-national elements, which is likely to cause deterioration in law and order situation, you are requested to completely snap down the data services through GPRS/2G/3G and broadband till 2 PM of September 27.

The measure has been taken because of apprehension of communal tension in the backdrop of the High Court directive for implementation of an old law that bans slaughter and selling of beef. Some separatist groups have said they will defy the court order, and proceeded to make their case by posting comments and videos on social media.


25th September

  Singaporeans use VPNs to work around local movie censorship...

British minister for intellectual property stands up for VPN users
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lucy neville-rolfe Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the British minister for intellectual property, made an official visit and to sign a memorandum of understanding between Britain's Intellectual Property Office and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. The document outlined joint efforts between the two offices to protect IP in each other's countries.

Neville-Rolfe told The Straits Times that it would be unwise to ban technology like VPNS, even if they are used to access geo-blocked content, a practice opposed by rights holders. You can't outlaw a key technology, she said.

Recently the Singaporean ISP ViewQwest released a new set top box with a built in VPN-like function so customers could use foreign streaming services. Netflix will, however, launch officially in Singapore next year but concerns remain over the quality of the catalog compared to the US version, particularly citing widespread local censorship. One Singapore user explained:

I'm paying about US$50 (S$71) a year for my VPN service, which is a small price to pay for full, uncensored content. I wouldn't want to miss out on any parts of the TV show, so I wouldn't switch to Netflix's Singapore service if it is going to censor that.


22nd September

 Update: Europe Implodes...

France set to take action requiring Google to operate the 'right to be forgotten' across the world
Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU
France flag The French internet censor has responded to a Google statement which explains why European internet censorship cannot be applied across the world.

This summer, France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL) sent Google an order to not merely delist links from European Google searches but search results around the world, too. Google responded:

This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web.

CNIL's president did not find this persuasive, rejecting Google's appeal of the order. In a statement released today, CNIL claimed that:

Once delisting is accepted by the search engine, it must be implemented on all extensions, because if this right was limited to some extensions, it could be easily circumvented: in order to find the delisted result, it would be sufficient to search on another extension and this would equate stripping away the efficiency of this right.

CNIL pointed out that delisted info remains directly accessible on the source website or through a search using other terms than an individual's name and:

In addition, this right is not absolute: it has to be reconciled with the public's right to information, in particular when the data subject is a public person, under the double supervision of the CNIL and of the court.

Google must now comply with the formal notice or face CNIL's sanctions committee.

There's no further opportunity to appeal the decision at this stage under French law. But if Google refuses to comply, it could later appeal any sanctions levied by CNIL. Fines would likely start at around 300,000 but could increase to between 2-5% of Google's global operating costs. The search engine could then go to the Conseil d'Etat, the supreme court for administrative justice, to appeal the decision and fine.


22nd September

  Kurdistan proposes to ban internet porn...

And if people don't like it, they can always move to Europe!
Link Here
Kurdistan flag Members of the Kurdistan Region parliament have put forward a draft law blocking pornographic websites in the Region.

MP Bahzad Darwesh from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) revealed that 27 MPs signed a draft law on September 20th , proposing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) block access to online porn.

Darwesh claimed that the draft law has been made to save customs, traditions and social values. He pointed out that along with MPs from Islamic parties, other members of parliament have signed the bill.

The Iraqi parliament recently voted to restrict access to internet pornography in the country, but the newly-ratified law is not enforceable until the Kurdistan Region parliament votes in favor of the bill.


21st September

 Offsite Article: Why backdoor systems always fail...

Link Here  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
mi5 security service logo As the head of MI5 launches a push for unparalleled powers, will he answer challenging questions on why banning encryption, or weakening it through compulsory backdoors, won't make us all less safe? By Julian Huppert

See article from


20th September

  Johnson gets his rocks off...

Daisy Rock falls victim to the internet censors of ATVOD and Ofcom
Link Here
daisy rock ATVOD, the UK Video on Demand censor, has published the result of an appeal to Ofcom which resulted in the confirmation that the Daisy Rock UK website is subject to suffocating censorship by ATVOD.

An appeal by the service operator against an ATVOD determination in November 2014 that the website was an on-demand programme service and therefore subject to regulation by ATVOD was rejected by Ofcom.

The ruling means that the Daisy Rock UK website -- which provided access to a range of explicit sex videos - must comply with an ATVOD Rule which requires services to keep explicit sex videos behind onerous and unviable access controls which ensure that children do not normally see them. The website operator had been found in breach of that rule in November 2014 and had brought the service into compliance pending the outcome of the appeal.

In order to fall within the scope of the regulations overseen by ATVOD, a service must satisfy a number of statutory criteria, as set out in section 368A of the Communications Act 2003. One of these is that the principal purpose of the service is the provision of programmes the form and content of which are comparable to the form and content of programmes normally included in television programme services. The provider of the Daisy Rock UK service had argued that the principal purpose of the website was to operate as a fan club for an adult porn performer and that the video content was not comparable to TV programmes. The Ofcom decision supported ATVOD's original ruling that the principal purpose of the website was to provide TV-like programmes, noting that the provision of audiovisual material was the main offering of the service and that the videos themselves were comparable to the type of adult sex material included in certain premium subscription and pay per view television channels -- even though the content was stronger than that allowed on UK TV.

The UK rules overseen by ATVOD implement an EU Directive which makes clear that the rules are intended to apply to services which are mass media and which compete with television broadcasts services. The provider of the Daisy Rock UK service had also argued that the low turnover of the service meant it was neither mass-media nor in competition with television services and therefore placed it outside the scope of the Directive. In upholding the original ATVOD decision, Ofcom also rejected this argument.

ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson commented:

The decision to uphold the ATVOD ruling makes clear once again that hardcore porn videos on adult websites may be subject to the ATVOD rules even if they are too explicit to be broadcast on UK television channels. It also makes clear that services with low turnover fall may within our remit.


18th September

 Update: Snooping Extremists...

The government initiates its propaganda campaign to justify deeper mass snooping
Link Here  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

mi5 security service logo Andrew Parker, the Head of MI5, has called for more up-to-date surveillance laws in an interview with the BBC, where he also stated that communications companies have an ethical responsibility to alert the authorities to potential threats . Parker said:

MI5 and others need to be able to navigate the internet to find terrorist communication, we need to be able to use data sets to be able to join the dots to be able to find and stop the terrorists who mean us harm before they are able to bring plots to fruition.

We have been pretty successful at that in recent years but it is becoming more difficult to do it as technology changes faster and faster [and] encryption comes in.

The government is currently planning renewed attempts to pass the Communications Data Bill, also known as the Snoopers' Charter . They are expected to bring forward a new version of the Bill in October.

Commentator and encryption expert Bruce Schneier commented:

For most of human history, surveillance has been expensive. Over the last couple of decades, it has become incredibly cheap and almost ubiquitous. That a few bits and pieces are becoming expensive again isn't a cause for alarm.

The government has also been briefing the communication industry about the extended snooping plan.

Theresa May has already met with companies including BT, TalkTalk, EE, Vodaphone, and Virgin Media to discuss plans to bring forward a new draft of the Communications Data Bill in October. Non-ISP networks and civil liberties groups have reportedly been summoned to separate meetings.


17th September

 Offsite Article: Signing up for repression...

Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship
China flag China Tries to Extract Pledge of Compliance From U.S. Tech Firms

See article from


15th September

  Seeking refuge in censorship...

Germany pushes Facebook to censor criticism of the country's refugee policy
Link Here
Germany flag Facebook has announced that it is undertaking steps to counter racist postings by users in Germany after criticism by the Justice Ministry.

Facebook made the announcement just before a meeting with Justice Minister Heiko Maas to discuss the topic. Facebook  were 'invited' them to the meeting to discuss what he saw as a failure to act against violent and xenophobic comments which had proliferated due to the way the refugee crisis is being handled.

Facebook has unveiled several censorship measures including signing up with the 'Voluntary' Self-censorship Service Provider (FSM) a group Facebook describes as a leading organization in the realm of internet security,

Facebook is also setting up a task force to find solutions to the problem of racism on the internet. Thirdly Facebook are taking a few ideas from China with a campaign for counter speech , an Orwellian euphemism which means censoring criticism through propaganda postings on internet forums.

Facebook Germany's policy manager Eva-Maria Kirschsieper said in a statement.

We have seen how many groups have been organised on our platform aiming to help refugees. But a very small minority have been spreading opinions that cross the line of acceptable behaviour.


12th September

  Payment Censors...

France persuades payment companies to block services to a list of websites provided by the media industry
Link Here

card Supported by the French Government, several key players in the online payment industry are teaming up with copyright holders to ban infringing websites. The proposed agreement is a key part of the follow the money approach through which stakeholders hope to decrease online piracy via censorship.

The entertainment industries are lobbying the public and private sector to  come to their aid. So far, this has resulted in Government supported voluntary agreements in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

It now appears that France intends to follow the same path. One of the key elements of the French approach is to strangle the revenues of pirate sites by making it harder to run ads and accept online payments.

Earlier this year Fleur Pellerin, France's Minister of Culture and Communication, presented a paper outlining the Government's plans. At the time, it was suggested that payments to and from pirate sites should be blocked where possible.

Yesterday several leading online payment processors including PayPal, Visa and MasterCard discussed a possible pirate blacklist agreement with copyright holders. Most services already prohibit copyright infringing services in their terms of use, but the new plan would go above and beyond current measures.

According to Minister Pellerin both parties are working on a voluntary agreement which would see copyright holders create and maintain a pirate site blacklist. The payment providers will then use this list to prevent sites from signing up or to terminate current accounts.

Some opponents fear that without proper oversight the blacklist may become too broad. This could potentially destroy businesses which are not deemed illegal by any court.