Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) officials called for greater support in their efforts to censor supposedly inappropriate online content.
Piyakhun Nopphakhun, of the Crime Suppression Division of MICT claimed that:
Even though the military has taken over, they have not commanded us about what to do.
This rather begs the question as to why then is the group looking to ratchet up internet censorship.
Since the coup began, the Royal Thai Army has ordered ISPs to monitor online content that might lead to unrest, asked social media companies to prevent the spread of provocative messages and barred media from presenting news critical of the junta.
Piyakhun then ludicrously claimed that he believed that recent efforts by the Ministry to curb online content were not political in nature. But then he acknowledged that efforts to curb online content could be seen to violate rights.
This is not because of the coup, it is very normal practice. But I agree that the coup will have some effect. They (the Royal Thai Army) will put more people into helping fight the websites. Some people may ask about freedom of expression. I have to say
that it will actually affect (this).
Piyakhun is keen to speed up the censorship process. He explained:
It takes about a week to block a website. One or two days to gather evidence. One or two days to get permission from MICT. One or two days to go to court. One or two days to distribute court orders to ISPs. One week is too slow.
At the moment everything is on paper. You have to print it out, present the evidence to the Ministers and the courts, and you have to present papers to the ISPs. If documents are not signed, we have to wait even longer. Computer officials have to
physically travel to the courts to receive court orders.
At the moment we are in the process of getting approval to distribute court orders to the ISPs electronically. We are going to appoint one representative ISP to distribute these court orders to the other ISPs, because that representative would know which
ISPs are active.
Technically, it is going to be very easy. But legally, is the only question. Are there any laws, regulations that allow us to do this legally? Do we really need to be present in court to present evidence?
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has condemned the Norway-based mobile operator Total Access Communication (DTAC) and asked it to clarify a company statement regarding an order by the internet censor to block Facebook.
Telenor of Norway, which owns DTAC, this week claimed online that Telenor Group confirmed that on May 28, DTAC received notification from the NBTC at 3pm that it must temporarily restrict access to Facebook. The restriction, which was implemented at
3.35pm, affected DTAC's 10 million Facebook-using customers. Telenor said it believed in open communication and regretted any consequences this might have had for the people of Thailand. Access to Facebook was restored at about 4.30pm, according to
But the Thai authorities weakly claimed the Facebook blackout was due to technical glitches and not purposely blocked. Colonel Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the NBTC's telecom committee flannelled:
DTAC's statement has caused extensive damage to the regulator's image. We want the company to take responsibility by clarifying exactly who ordered Facebook to be blocked.
Facebook's censorship policies have been thrust into the spotlight after a seemingly innocuous photo of two women kissing was removed on the grounds that it violated the community's standards on nudity and pornography .
To add insult to injury the pic had been uploaded to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by an Italian woman, Carlotta Trevisan.
It was reported to Facebook, presumably by homophobes. Facebook's cheapo first line censorship crew jumped in to demand that Trevisan remove the image, suspending her account for three days when she failed to comply.
Commenting on the incident Trevisan, a gay rights activist, said:
How can they say a kiss, which is something so loving, is nudity or porn?'
When the ludicrous censorship was escalated to more competent censorship staff, the decision was inevitably reversed. In a statement Facebook said their action had been a 'mistake' and Trevisan's account was now back up and running. A spokesperson said:
In an effort to quickly and efficiently process reports we receive, our community operations team reviews many reports every week, and as you might expect, occasionally, we make a mistake and block a piece of content we shouldn't have. We can understand
how people can be frustrated with this when, as in this case, a mistake happens.
The judicial authorities in Iran appeared to harden their clampdown on expression, moving to block Instagram, imprisoning the director who made the now-famous Iranian version of the Pharrell Williams Happy video and warning women to comply with a
police campaign on the proper wearing of mandatory headscarves.
Taken together, the developments suggested that the country's Islamic bureaucracy was alarmed over any perception of permissiveness that may have been partly inspired by the YouTube video.
One of the women, Reihane Taravati, used her Instagram account to publicize their entanglement and release, which may have been seen by the judiciary and police as another impudent act. Hi I'm back, Ms. Taravati wrote, thanking Pharrell Williams
and everyone who cared about us.
The semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported that an Iranian court had ordered Instagram blocked over privacy issues, and that Iran's Ministry of Telecommunications was taking steps to ban the site.
In another sign of harsher censorship, the Mehr News Agency quoted the deputy commander of the Iranian National Police, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Radan, as saying there would be no suspension of an enforcement policy aimed at ensuring women correctly
follow the Islamic dress code, with their hair covered by a hijab, or headscarf.
A group of young Iranian men and women known as the Happy in Tehran dancers, arrested in May for videotaping themselves cavorting to Pharrell Williams' popular dance hit, were informed on Thursday of their punishments: 91 lashes and six months of
imprisonment for each.
One of the female dancers was given a punishment of 91 lashes and 12 months for uploading the video to the Internet, where it caused an international sensation.
All of the punishments were suspended, one of the dancers said. But they could be carried out if the six defendants committed further wrongdoing over the next three years, a common form of deterrence in Iran's judicial system.
Labour's Helen Goodman, Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, has tabled a number of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill which will be debated by MPs in Parliament on Monday, May 12. Goodman said:
Goodman's amendment proposes that foreign porn submit themselves to a UK licensing scheme complete with criminal sanctions if they don't.
I haven't spotted anything coming of Goodman's proposals so far.
Comment: Authoritarian bullshit
22nd May 2014. From Alan
The mind boggles!
How does this idiot hope to enforce this nasty piece of authoritarian bullshit? I bet the pornmakers of California are wetting themselves with fear that they are committing a criminal offence in England. The only potential victims are British
people who run a porn site but have the good sense to host it in a sane and rational country.
And isn't it time somebody stood up for younger consumers of pornography? I bought my first mucky magazine when I was about fourteen. I wouldn't have thanked some daft old besom who said I couldn't buy it until I was eighteen. Half a century on, I would
hope that the modern lad (or girl) is capable of evading parents and parliamentarians to get hold of a bit of smut
Isabel Carrasco, a prominent politician in Spain's ruling party, was shot dead in broad daylight last week by a woman who reportedly said she held a grudge over her daughter's firing.
Shortly after Carrasco's death, Twitter erupted with insults and derogatory comments against the dead politician. Some of the messages stated that Carrasco should rot in hell. Others referenced party planning in celebration of her death.
These have caused a stir in Spain, and the outpouring of vitriol on Twitter has reignited a debate over free speech on social media, and the limits of the Spanish government's censorship on the web.
The latest outbreak of bad taste tweets follows an earlier example when 21 people were arrested over tweets mocking victims of Basque terrorist group ETA.
The Spanish Minister of the Interior, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, is one of Spain's most outspoken advocates for increased regulation and prosecution of people who say offensive things online. In response to the outpouring of hate on Twitter after Carrasco's
death, Diaz called on May 13 for an investigation into whether spreading offensive or derogatory messages on social media could be grounds for criminal prosecution.
Jose Martinez Olmos, who leads Spain's ruling party, agreed that there should be greater government regulation on social media. On his personal blog Olmos said, my outrage at this murder has increased without limit at the waterfall of unworthy
heartless comments, and that such messages should not go unpunished.
No censorship plan could be complete without fearmongering. And as is often the case, the enemy these days is dirty, filthy, child-corrupting, woman-defiling, enemy-of-the-family, soul destroying sex. Well, porn, to be precise.
There's nothing in Google.
He must be guilty as sin!
Ministers are seeking powers to make newspapers remove from their online archives stories about the criminal past of people facing trial.
Editors fear the move could create a black hole in the historical record by striking out previous convictions.
The planned new law is part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill now before parliament. It has been designed to restrict jurors using the internet to research a case, mid-trial.
The jurors will in future face a possible prison sentence if they are caught trying to delve into the defendant's past. But, to make it harder for them to do so, Attorney General Dominic Grieve wants the power to issue a so-called take-down order
to UK newspapers.
Editors who ignored a request would face imprisonment or an unlimited fine.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said it meant defence lawyers could push for a complete ban on every article previously published about a defendant. He said:
The new provisions could have a highly restrictive effect upon the freedom to publish far beyond that intended and ultimately be capable of creating black holes in the historic record.
In theory, the information could be returned to the archive once the trial is complete, but it is feared some papers would not have the resources.
The laws would apply to UK newspapers, but not the likes of the Huffington Post, which receives millions of hits in Britain. Twitter would not be covered, either.
A Turkish court has given Sedat Kapanoglu, the founder of one of Turkey's most popular online forums, Eksi Sözlük (Sour Dictionary), a 10 month suspended sentence for blasphemy.
A police complaint was filed regarding writers of a discussion thread opened on the website in 2011, alleging insults to the religious character Muhammad. Some 40 of the website's members were detained by the police and charged with insulting religion on
The court ruled that Kapanoglu had committed the crime of "insulting the religious values shared by a group of society" and sentenced him to the 10 months in jail. The court suspended the sentence based on the time passed since the crime was
The court also sentenced suspect Özgür Kuru to seven months and 15 days in jail on the same charges, while also suspending the execution of this sentence. The court acquitted a third suspect and also decided to suspend the cases against other
37 suspects. However, suspects would be retried if they commit the same crime within three years.
It's official: the last holdout for the open web has fallen. Flanked on all sides by Google, Microsoft, Opera, and (it appears) Safari's support and promotion of the EME DRM-in-HTML standard, Mozilla is giving in to pressure from Hollywood, Netflix, et
al, and will be implementing its own third-party version of DRM. It will be rolled out in Desktop Firefox later this year. Mozilla's CTO, Andreas Gal, says that Mozilla has little choice. Mozilla's Chair, Mitchell Baker adds, Mozilla cannot
change the industry on DRM at this point.
At EFF, we disagree. We've had over a decade of watching this ratchet at work, and we know where it can lead. Technologists implement DRM with great reticence, because they can see it's not a meaningful solution to anything but rather a font of endless
problems. It doesn't prevent infringement, which continues regardless. Instead, it reduces the security of our devices, reduces user trust, makes finding and reporting of bugs legally risky, eliminates fair use rights, undermines competition, promotes
secrecy, and circumvents open standards.
It's clear from the tone of Gal and Baker's comments, and our own discussions with Mozilla, that you'll find no technologist there who is happy with this step. The fact that Mozilla, in opposition to its mission, had to prepare and design this feature in
secret without being able to consult the developers and users who make up its community is an indication of how much of a contradiction DRM is in a pro-user open-source browser.
Unchecked, that contradiction is only going to grow. Mozilla's DRM code, imported from Adobe as a closed-source binary, will sit in a cordoned sandbox, simultaneously Mozilla's responsibility but beyond its control. Mozilla will be responsible for
updates to the DRM blackbox, which means users will have to navigate browser updates that will either fix security bugs or strip features from their video watching. Mozillians have already been warned of the danger of talking too much about how DRM works
(and doesn't work), lest they trigger the provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that forbid trafficking in circumvention knowledge.
Baker may think that Mozilla cannot change the industry on its own (despite it having done so many years ago). Sadly, it changes the industry by accepting DRM. It is these repeated compromises to the needs of DRM advocates by tech company after tech
company that are changing the nature of personal computing, transforming it into a sector that is dominated by established interests and produces locked-down devices, monitored and managed by everyone but their users.
Past experience has shown that standing up to DRM and calling it out does have an effect . As we have said to the W3C , and Cory Doctorow spells out to Mozilla in this Guardian article , we can do much more to fight the negative consequences of DRM than
simply attempt to mitigate the damage of its adoption.
We need to work to end the reinforcement of DRM and criminalization of fair use in the DMCA and similar legislation being spread throughout the world. We need to speak out about the failings of DRM, even if we fear that DRM proponents will just make it
worse (in the name of improvement ) or take civil or criminal actions under the DMCA. We need to challenge the baseless assertion that users don't mind DRM as long as they can watch House of Cards and demand actual evidence to justify the damage
it causes. And, given the amount of compromise we have already suffered, we need to spell out the principles that we won't compromise on.
Mozilla and the W3C are both organizations with missions intended to defend and promote the open web. Both have now committed to a system of content control that is seen as a violation of those principles by many Internet users. We, and they, can change
that story. We need to redirect the ingenuity being wasted on attempts to limit the damage of introducing DRM into the heart of the Web toward a positive campaign against further incursions.
Tuesday's ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said that internet search engine operators must remove links to articles found to be outdated or 'irrelevant' at the request of individuals.
A highly critical report by the Commons home affairs select committee published on Friday calls for a radical reform of the current system of oversight of MI5 , MI6 and GCHQ , arguing that the current system is so ineffective it is undermining the
credibility of the intelligence agencies and parliament itself.
The MPs say the current system was designed in a pre-internet age when a person's word was accepted without question. Committee chairman, Keith Vaz said:
It is designed to scrutinise the work of George Smiley, not the 21st-century reality of the security and intelligence services. The agencies are at the cutting edge of sophistication and are owed an equally refined system of democratic scrutiny. It is an
embarrassing indictment of our system that some in the media felt compelled to publish leaked information to ensure that matters were heard in parliament.
The cross-party report is the first British parliamentary acknowledgement that Snowden's disclosures of the mass harvesting of personal phone and internet data need to lead to serious improvements in the oversight and accountability of the security
Malcolm Rifkind the Tory chairman of parliament's intelligence and security committee that is supposed to be monitoring the security services attacked Snowden and his supporters for their insidious use of language such as mass surveillance and Orwellian.
Update: Privacy International file complaint against GCHQ
Privacy campaigners are seeking to stop GCHQ using unlawful hacking to help its surveillance efforts. Privacy International said the UK intelligence service has infected millions of devices to spy on citizens and scoop up personal data.
A 30-page legal complaint has been filed with the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which monitors whether the UK's spying laws are being observed.
In a statement , the Privacy International pressure group said the documents released by Edward Snowden had detailed the many ways that GCHQ was spying on people, many of which violated the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees a right to
privacy and to freedom of expression.
Iran is to make the sale, purchase and use of VPN software illegal throughout Iran.
Virtual Private Networks hides the real internet address of users from internet snoopers and from websites being visited.
The draconian clampdown of free use of the Internet was announced by Iran's cyber police chief Brigadier General Kamal Hadianfar on Monday. He warned Internet users that use of a VPN makes all their information available to the companies that own the VPN
servers, and claimed: Criminals' use of VPN has made the cost of finding the criminals higher and has increased the risk for those using it.
A 2013 study found that almost half of the world's top 500 most-visited websites - including those related to health, science, sports, news, and even shopping - are blocked in Iran. The regime is also one of three countries in the world to block Twitter,
Facebook and YouTube. So it is hardly surprising that many Iranians use VPN software to bypass the regime's censorship of millions of websites and internet services.
Iranian censors have reportedly banned the use of messaging service WhatsApp, citing the Jewish heritage of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, which now owns WhatsApp.
According to initial accounts from Fox News, Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, secretary of the Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content, said the reason for the change is the adoption of WhatsApp by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an
The Twitter account of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani retweeted a message from @MeetIran, which said it opposed the WhatsApp blockade.
Despite its massive popularity around the world, WhatsApp has become something of a black sheep in the Middle East. In February, the app was named the No. 1 cause of destruction in Jewish homes and businesses, according to Israeli rabbis, who
discouraged its use among the ultra-Orthodox.
Rihanna shared a picture of her appearance on the cover of French magazine Lui, in which she appears in a hat and a pair of coral briefs. The image was shot by fashion photographer Mario Sorrenti.
However, nudity, partial nudity or sexually suggestive photographs are banned on Instagram and the social media platform temporarily closed her account until the picture was taken down. Instagram's censorship rules read:
If you wouldn't show the photo or video you are thinking about uploading to a child, or your boss, or your parents, you probably shouldn't share it on Instagram.
The same rule applies to your profile photo. Accounts found sharing nudity or mature content will be disabled and your access to Instagram may be discontinued.