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 2012: Oct-Dec

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 Update: South Korean Blockheads...

Government require blocking software AND ISP blocking for smart phones in the name of child protection


Link Here 29th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in South Korea...Repressive new internet censorship law

Apple iPhone 4 SIM Unlocked The South Korean government has laid out plans to install software on teenagers' smartphones that will block supposedly  'illegal [and] harmful information.

The horrendous sounding Ministry Of Gender Equality And Family believes that installing the software will block swear words and slang, as well as prevent cyber-bullying on social and messaging networks such as KaKao Talk, Facebook, and Twitter.

The governmental body will also require a compulsory filtering service for mobile carriers that will block harmful information that includes pornography and nudity.

 

 Update: Blocking Criticism...

China strengthens measures requiring companies to extract real names from web users


Link Here 29th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Weibo logoChina's legislature has approved new rules that will further tighten government control of the Internet by requiring users to register their real names, and demanding Internet companies censor online material.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency says lawmakers approved the measures Friday at the closing meeting of a five-day session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

The move seems to be in response to the runaway success of Weibo, a micro-blogging service similar to Twitter, which has exposed corruption and other abuses of official power.

China has long tried to get Internet users to register their real names rather than pseudonyms with service providers without total success. The new rules lay the groundwork to police companies that are not complying with the government's censorship policies

 

 Update: 4908 Facebook and Twitter Postings were reported to Police in 2011...

'By using offence as the trigger for prosecution, you are putting the power of censorship into the hands of people who may chose to be offended for political gain'


Link Here 28th December 2012

Twitter logo29 police forces have revealed statistics about crimes involving Facebook and Twitter in a Freedom of Information request.

In 2008, a total of 556 complaints were made to police about social media postings on these 2 site. This had increased to 4,908 reports last year.

The figures also show 653 people were charged for social networking crime in 2011.

Greater Manchester Police charged the highest number of people, at 115.

Lancashire Police received reports of six threats of murder and there were numerous reports of sexual offences and fraud. But presumably the large part were claims of insult, offence or political incorrectness.

Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:

These figures show just how badly some police forces had lost all proportion when dealing with social media.

So many arrests was clearly undermining freedom of speech and while the new guidance should reduce the problem, hundreds of people now have criminal records for the rest of their lives when it is far from clear they should do.

The law around speech crimes is still in need of a total overhaul as the legislation that led to some of the more absurd prosecutions remains in place.

Chief Constable Andy Trotter, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on communications, said forces must prioritise crimes which cause genuine harm, rather than attempting to curb freedom of expression.

Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC announced the new guidelines on how people who post offensive messages on Facebook and Twitter should be dealt with. Hopefully reducing the number of people prosecuted for trivia.

Robert Sharp, campaign manager for English PEN, which lobbies on free speech and art internationally, said the prosecutions for hate online had been:

All young men between the ages of 18 and 22, they are all from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the things that they have been prosecuted for have been immature and inarticulate. There's almost a criminalisation of adolescence, and of poor literacy, that's one issue that seems to have emerged.

The communications laws being used are for grossly offensive messages. Offence as the trigger for prosecution is still a big problem. The case that is the most important is that of Azhar Ahmed, he is the only case of an ethnic minority. He posted something silly and illiterate about how soldiers were going to hell. He was prosecuted because far-right activists made a co-ordinated campaign to have him arrested.

So by using offence as the trigger for prosecution, you are putting the power of censorship into the hands of people who may chose to be offended for political gain. That's a big deal for censorship.

 

 Update: Happy News for the Whole Internet...

Italian court overturns convictions of Google execs who were somehow held responsible for a user posted video


Link Here 23rd December 2012

Google logoAn Italian court has overturned the conviction of three Google executives found guilty of breaking Italian law by allowing a video of a bullied teenager to be posted online.

The clip was uploaded in 2006 and the employees were given six-month suspended jail sentences in 2010. Google had appealed against the ruling, saying it had removed the video within two hours of being notified by the authorities.

The offending video clip was a mobile phone upload showing four students at a school in Turin bullying the victim. Prosecutors had highlighted that it had been online for two months despite several users posting comments calling for its removal.

A Google spokesman said:

We're very happy that the verdict has been reversed and our colleagues' names have been cleared.

Of course, while we're all delighted with the appeal, our thoughts continue to be with the family who have been through the ordeal.

Giovanni Maria Riccio, professor of IT Law at the University of Salerno, described the ruling as a landmark decision :

Another condemnation for Google would had jeopardised investments of big internet players in Italy and would had a negative impact also on small operators and ISPs [internet service providers], which are not in the condition of monitoring contents on their service, he told the BBC.

It is a happy news not only for Italy, but for the whole internet.

 

 Update: Unfree Saudi Liberals...

Charges against webmaster of religious discussion website elevated to apostasy


Link Here 23rd December 2012  full story: Blogging in Saudi...Saudi bloggers arrested and imprisoned

Saudi flagSaudi authorities should immediately drop all charges against the detained editor of a website created to foster debate about religion and religious figures in Saudi Arabia.

On December 17, 2012, the Jeddah District Court, which had been hearing the case against the editor, Raif Badawi, referred it to a higher court on a charge of apostasy, which carries the death penalty. The charges against him, based solely to Badawi's involvement in setting up a website for peaceful discussion about religion and religious figures, violate his right to freedom of expression.

Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said:

Badawi's life hangs in the balance because he set up a liberal website that provided a platform for an open and peaceful discussion about religion and religious figures. Saudi Arabia needs to stop treating peaceful debate as a capital offense.

A member of Badawi's family told Human Rights Watch that during the December 17 hearing, Judge Muhammad al-Marsoom prevented Badawi's lawyer from representing his client in court and demanded that Badawi repent to God. The judge informed Badawi that he could face the death penalty if he did not repent and renounce his liberal beliefs, the family member said.

Badawi refused, leading Judge al-Marsoom to refer the case to the Public Court of Jeddah, recommending that it try Badawi for apostasy.

Prior to the December 17 hearing, Badawi had been charged with insulting Islam through electronic channels and going beyond the realm of obedience, neither of which carries the death penalty. A different judge presided over five sessions of the trial but was replaced without explanation for the December 17 hearing by Judge al-Marsoom.

Security forces arrested Badawi, a 30-year-old from the port city of Jeddah, on June 17. Badawi in 2008 was co-founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, an online platform for debating religious and political matters in Saudi Arabia.

Update: Jailed for 7 years and 600 lashes

30th July 2013. See  article from  france24.com

A Saudi court sentenced  Raef Badawi to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for setting up a "liberal" network and alleged insults to Islam, activists said.

A judge had referred Badawi in December to a higher court for alleged apostasy, a charge that could lead to the death penalty in the ultra-conservative kingdom. But thankfully the charge of apostasy was dropped.

Update: Jailed for 10 years and 1000 lashes

11th May 2014. See article from theguardian.com

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced the editor of an internet forum he founded to discuss the role of religion in the country to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes, according to reports in the Saudi media.

Raif Badawi, who started the Free Saudi Liberals website, was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in July last year, but an appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial.

Apart from imposing a stiffer sentence on Badawi in his retrial, the judge at the criminal court in Jeddah also fined him 1m riyals. Badawi's website has been closed since his first trial.

His lawyers said the sentence was too harsh, although the prosecutor had demanded a harsher penalty, the news website Sabq reported. The ruling is subject to appeal.

 

 Update: Tory Hero Dominic Raab...

40 Tory MPs set to oppose the Government's Snooper's Charter


Link Here 22nd December 2012  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

The Assault Liberty Wrong Rights Nasty plans for a snoopers charter' were in turmoil last night after 40 Tory MPs threatened a full-scale revolt.

They are demanding major changes to the Communications Bill. The backbenchers say the Bill's scope must be limited to terrorism and the most serious crimes if Britain is not to be turned into a nation of suspects.

Tory MP Dominic Raab has collected the names of 40 colleagues who will sign an open letter opposing the Bill unless it is substantially amended:

  1. "We urge you to limit the application of the Bill to terrorist offences and the most serious crimes, limit access to such data to the intelligence agencies, SOCA and the police, and make the regime subject to judicial warrant as a safeguard against abuse."
     
  2. "From a law enforcement perspective, there has been no explanation as to how those using foreign internet and communications service providers will be prevented from circumventing the regime."
     
  3. "Equally, given the public sector's woeful track record of protecting personal data, we are concerned about the vulnerability of the scheme to both the negligence of officials and attempts to infiltrate the system by those with criminal intent. We would urge you to consult in further detail with the Information Commissioner, internet providers, telephone companies and other external experts, to test the technical integrity of the proposals."
     
  4. "Finally, the Home Office estimates the proposals would cost £2 billion. The Committee stated that these estimates 'are not robust'. We urge Ministers to subject the proposals to external audit and re-consider their law enforcement cost-benefit in light of the suggestions made, above, to limit their breadth and tighten their focus."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has already demanded the Government return to the drawing board . Now the prospect of a rebellion by both Coalition parties means ministers may have to rely on Labour support. However, the Opposition has yet to say where it stands on the issue.

The 40 MPs are unnamed but Raab said the 40 MPs include 19 first elected in 2010, a group who have proved they will take a stand on issues of importance.

 

 Offsite Article: Mere conduit no more...


Link Here 22nd December 2012
Italian court threatens international web freedom by holding Google responsible for bullying videos uploaded by YouTube user

See article from blog.indexoncensorship.org

 

 Update: Pandering to the Daily Mail...

Cameron designs some new flexible website blocking software on the back of a fag packet


Link Here 21st December 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

bofp design When the Department of Education last week released the results of its public consultation on whether or not pornography should be automatically banned by internet providers, the overriding message was clear. There was no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet, the Department declared. What parents wanted, instead, was the option to filter content and better knowledge of how to do that in order to protect their children from online porn.

After months of threatening internet providers with an automatic porn ban, the Government seemed to relent and recognise that policing the internet was primarily a job for parents, not the state. Yet in the course of just a few days Downing Street appears to have swung back the other way after receiving a mauling in the Daily Mail.

Cameron envisages is a system whereby anyone installing a new computer at home and connects to the web will be asked whether there are any children in the home. If there are, parents will be automatically required to tailor their internet blocking. If a parent skips too quickly through the filter process the highest restrictions will automatically remain in place. It will be the job of internet providers, rather than computer manufacturers, to come up with the blocking software.

Downing Street officials insisted that the announcement was not a U-turn on porn filters and that Cameron's announcement was simply a way of illustrating what the Government has planned to give parents more control. But the onus is nonetheless firmly placed on internet providers to come up with mandatory blocking with Whitehall sources indicating that a legislative backstop would be brought in they refused to co-operate.

That has caused concern among web providers, most of whom already offer content filters to their customers as a matter of course. One source involved in negotiations with the Government described Cameron's announcement as an example of goal posts being moved .

This is a back-of-the-fag-packet policy reversal announced after the Government's own public consultation decided just a week ago that further filtering wouldn't work, said Jim Killock, from Open Rights Group, which campaigns against digital restrictions.

Nick Pickles, from the Big Brother Watch, added: Mr Cameron seems to be suggesting a combination of network filtering and device filtering that isn't even available at the moment, let alone possible. The danger here is it will alienate the ISPs who thought they'd been involved in the consultation process.

 

 Update: Restricting Prosecutions for Insults...

Details about new DPP guidelines on prosecuting social media communications


Link Here 20th December 2012

cps interim guidelines The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has published interim guidelines setting out the approach prosecutors should take in cases involving communications sent via social media.

The guidelines are designed to give clear advice to prosecutors and ensure a consistency of approach across the CPS to these types of cases.

Starmer said:

These interim guidelines are intended to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and the need to uphold the criminal law.

They make a clear distinction between communications which amount to credible threats of violence, a targeted campaign of harassment against an individual or which breach court orders on the one hand, and other communications sent by social media, e.g. those that are grossly offensive, on the other.

The first group will be prosecuted robustly whereas the second group will only be prosecuted if they cross a high threshold; a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest if the communication is swiftly removed, blocked, not intended for a wide audience or not obviously beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in a diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression.

The interim guidelines thus protect the individual from threats or targeted harassment while protecting the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some and painful to those subjected to it.

We want the interim guidelines to be as fully informed as possible, which is why we held a series of roundtable discussions and meetings with Twitter, Facebook, Liberty and other stakeholders, police and regulators, victim groups, academics, journalists and bloggers, lawyers and sports organisations ahead of drafting them. I would now encourage everyone with an interest in this matter to give us their views by responding to the public consultation.

Initial assessment

As part of their initial assessment, prosecutors are now required to distinguish between:

  1. Communications which may constitute credible threats of violence
     
  2. Communications which may constitute harassment or stalking
     
  3. Communications which may amount to a breach of a court order
     
  4. Communications which do not fall into any of the above categories and fall to be considered separately i.e. those which may be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false.

Those offences falling within the first three categories should, in general, be prosecuted robustly under the relevant legislation, for example the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), where the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors is satisfied.

Cases which fall within the final category will be subject to a high threshold and in many cases a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest.

The high threshold

Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 engage Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, therefore prosecutors are reminded that they must be interpreted consistently with the free speech principles in Article 10.

Prosecutors are also reminded that what is prohibited under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 is the sending of a communication that is grossly offensive. They should only proceed with cases involving such an offence where they are satisfied that the communication in question is more than:

  • Offensive, shocking or disturbing; or
     
  • Satirical, iconoclastic or rude comment; or
     
  • The expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it.

The public interest

In line with the free speech principles in Article 10, no prosecution should be brought unless it can be shown on its own facts and merits to be both necessary and proportionate.

A prosecution is unlikely to be both necessary and proportionate where:

  • a) The suspect has swiftly taken action to remove the communication or expressed genuine remorse;
     
  • b) Swift and effective action has been taken by others, for example service providers, to remove the communication in question or otherwise block access to it;
     
  • c) The communication was not intended for a wide audience, nor was that the obvious consequence of sending the communication; particularly where the intended audience did not include the victim or target of the communication in question; or
     
  • d) The content of the communication did not obviously go beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in an open and diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression.

The age and maturity of suspect should be given significant weight, particularly if they are under the age of 18. Children may not appreciate the potential harm and seriousness of their communications and as such prosecutions of children are rarely likely to be in the public interest.

 

 Update: One Size Fits All Doesn't Work...But...

David Cameron explains that he is against default ISP blocking but will require ISPs to provide a blocking system that can be tailored to family needs


Link Here 20th December 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

David CameronThe Daily Mail is claiming a victory in spurring David Cameron into supporting its cause in getting parents to opt for internet blocking albeit not the overly blunt default ISP blocking. (But the Daily Mail clearly aren't quite fully committed to the anti-sexualisation cause. They have done a fine job traumatising all the 'sensitive' young girls who worry that they will never be as sexy as Kate Moss in bikini showing a bit of nipple) .

In an article for the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister says it is utterly appalling that so many children have been exposed to the darkest corners of the internet, adding: A silent attack on innocence is under way in our country today and I am determined that we fight it with all we've got.

He announces that Conservative MP Claire Perry is to be appointed as his adviser on reversing the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. She will be in charge of implementing the new web blocking system, which will also require internet providers to check the age of the person setting controls.

Cameron explained why he does not go along with the idea of default ISP blocking.

Some might ask why, then, this Government has not taken the route of default on filters for new computers, so that each one that is bought comes with blanket filters for all unsuitable content. There's a simple reason why we haven't done this: all the evidence suggests such a crude system wouldn't work very well in practice. With the system, when people switch on their new computer, a question will pop up asking if there are children in the house. If there are, then parents will be automatically prompted to tailor their internet filters

With the system, when people switch on their new computer, a question will pop up asking if there are children in the house. If there are, then parents will be automatically prompted to tailor their internet filters (posed by model)

Take the experience of one parent I met. She has a tablet computer which her young daughter sometimes plays games on. It's got straightforward on/off filters, so she turned the filter on to protect her daughter.

However, the filters were so wide-ranging that she then found she couldn't access things like TV stations on demand; they were blocked too.

The result? She just switched the filter off again, as it was becoming annoying.

The point is we need a more sophisticated system than this -- one that allows parents to tailor exactly what their children can see.

Ministers are understood to have imposed a timetable on internet providers, who will be required to produce detailed plans by February on ensuring that all parents are giving the option of imposing filters.

Cameron says that when people switch on a new computer, they will be asked if there are children in the house -- and if they answer yes, they will be automatically prompted to tailor internet filters. They will include options to block particular kinds of content, individual sites or restrict access at specific times of the day. If parents click through the options to set up a new system quickly, filters against pornography and self-harm sites will be automatically left on.

Perry said effective checks on the age of a person setting up filters -- probably using credit card details and the electoral roll -- would be vital to ensure children could not get round the new system.

 

 Update: Encroachment...

Ed Vaizey blogs about why the UK refused to sign the UN telecoms treaty


Link Here 20th December 2012

Ed VaizeyWhat's it all about?

The idea behind WCIT was to revise and update a treaty governing international telecommunications services. These are known as the International Telecommunications Regulations -- the ITRs. As one of the UK delegation put it in her own blog, this was a treaty that wasn't about the internet, but really it was.

It all harks back to another century, in fact, and as far as telecommunications is concerned, that's another age -- pre-liberalisation, pre-privatisation, before the great boom in mobile telecoms and, of course, before the internet transformed the way we communicate and conduct business. It was concluded in 1988, had never been revised since that time and, to no one's great surprise, there was much about it that was ripe for revision. The UK and most developed countries could, in fact, for the most part have lived quite happily without the ITRs. But the position of other governments, particularly those from developing countries, was that they needed these regulations to be able to conduct telecoms business on a secure legal basis and -- more to the point -- they needed them updated for the 21st century. We accepted that position in good faith and that's why we sent such a large delegation - a multi-stakeholder team of 25 people drawn from government, business, the academic community and civil society.

Running into trouble

And, to be fair, a lot of progress was made in the two weeks of the conference. Provisions were included on roaming. The provisions of the treaty that deal with charging were modernised -- allowing for the old settlements system but explicitly acknowledging the role of competition and commercial agreements. But what the UK team kept running into were proposals to include the internet, content issues, spam and so on -- and that's what ultimately made it impossible to sign the treaty.

Governments know best?

The point is that the internet has grown up outside a model of government control and regulation. That's not to say that there is no regulation of activity on the internet -- a pretty good rule of thumb is if it's illegal in the real world, chances are that it is illegal in the online world. But the rules governing the way the internet is run -- for example which domain names should be permitted, who should run them and so on -- have been developed by a community of engineers, business, civil society and governments working together in what is known as the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. This, though, is in sharp contrast to the approach being advocated in the ITRs where only governments had a voice in the negotiations, and where very few nations involved other stakeholders in the way we did in the UK.

We value a free and open internet

So when it came to the crunch, the revised ITRs, with provisions on security, on spam and with an unacceptable resolution on internet governance was not a treaty that I could let my delegation sign. The UK -- together with the US, EU member states and a number of others (55 in total) -- could not sign it because we value an open internet too much to see it hampered by excessive regulation.

The WCIT, however, is not the end of the battle -- these issues will be debated again in numerous international meetings in the coming months and years. And in those debates we will continue to fight for the approach that we know works -- and that is to keep the internet free and open.

 

  Gambling on Censorship...

Israel drafts law to allow police to block websites without a court order


Link Here 19th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Israel...Legislation proposed to let police block websites

Israel flagIsrael's Justice Ministry is drafting legislation that would allow the police to block access to child pornography and gambling websites without a court order.

The state is currently awaiting a related Supreme Court ruling on the same issue. The government is appealing a district court ruling concluding that a police power to bar access to physical locations without a court order can be extended to internet websites.

The ministry's bill would allow an authorized police officer to order an ISP to block access to any gambling or pedophilia site. A website could be blocked even if it also conducts legal activity, as long as the illegal activity constitutes more than a marginal portion of its total activity. The police order would be in effect only for a limited time period.

Attorney Jonathan Klinger, an expert in the intersection of law and technology, said that, as written, he didn't think the law could survive a court challenge:

But above all, this is a bill that seeks to bring us down to the level of countries like Qatar, Pakistan, Iran, China and others. We have yet to see any country in the world that has censorship but doesn't use it for political purposes.

 

 Offsite Article: The future of internet governance? I wouldn't start from here...


Link Here 18th December 2012
If there was ever any doubt that the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was the wrong body to run the internet, you only needed to look at its handling of its own World Conference. By Rohan Jayasekera

See article from blog.indexoncensorship.org

 

 Update: Tunnels Blocked...

China finds technologies to block the VPNs used to work around internet censorship


Link Here 17th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Great Firewall of ChinaChina appears to be tightening its repressive control of internet services that are able to burrow secretly through what is known as the Great Firewall , which prevents citizens there from reading supposedly inappropriate overseas content.

Both companies and individuals are being hit by the new technology deployed by the Chinese government. A number of companies providing virtual private network (VPN) services to users in China say the new system is able to learn, discover and block the encrypted communications methods used by a number of different VPN systems.

China Unicom, one of the biggest telecoms providers in the country, is now killing connections where a VPN is detected, according to one company with a number of users in China.

Users in China suspected in May 2011 that the government there was trying to disrupt VPN use, and now VPN providers have begun to notice the effects.

Astrill, a VPN provider for users inside and outside China, has emailed its users to warn them that the Great Firewall system is blocking at least four of the common protocols used by VPNs, which means that they don't function. But the company added that trying to stay ahead of the censors is a cat-and-mouse game -- although it is working on a new system that it hopes will let it stay ahead of the detection system.

 

 Update: Blocking Dodgy Stats...

Daily Mail publish a low key article about the failure of their 'Block Online Porn' campaign


Link Here 16th December 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Daily Mail logoThe Daily Mail wrote:

Ministers were accused of betraying parents last night after they ruled out an automatic block on internet porn to protect children.

The Department for Education said expert advice was against an automatic block, which would force those wanting access to online porn sites to contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP) to opt in .

Instead, as the Daily Mail revealed last month, ISPs will simply be asked to actively encourage parents to switch on internet filters if children are likely to be using computers in the home.

Then a little mathematical bullshit creeps into the Daily Mail (or perhaps NSPCC) interpretation of the statistics.

The very best statistic in the entire consultation for the Daily Mail argument was that 35% of parents support the default internet blocking idea. From the government response:

There was no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet by their ISP: only 35 percent of the parents who responded favoured that approach.

There were even smaller proportions of parents who favoured an approach which simply asked them what they would like their children to access on the internet, with no default settings (13 percent) or a system that combines the latter approach with default filtering(15 percent).

In fact the 15% mentioned was from a separate question, and the parents in this 15% almost certainly agreed with the default blocking so were already counted in the 35%. And yet the Daily Mail effectively double counted the 15% to incorrectly arrive at that statistic that 50% of parents supported website some flavour of website blocking. Presumably they then contacted the NSPCC to comment on this supposed 50% statistic:

Confirmation of the decision, slipped out on the DfE website without fanfare, came despite evidence from the Government's consultation that half of parents back an automatic block on internet porn.

Some 35 per cent of parents responding to the consultation backed the opt-in system, with a further 15 per cent wanting it imposed with additional controls.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said the Government's proposals did not go far enough. Alan Wardle, of the NSPCC, said:

The best option to protect children is for adult content to be automatically blocked by Internet Service Providers.

Given that half of the parents who took part in the Government consultation wanted this option, we are concerned their views have not been heard.

The Daily Mail also published an article on the subject by Labour PC extremist Harriet Harman. And as MichaelG asked: was she the only person they could find who supports their North Korean approach to state internet censorship?

See the article: Children pore over sexual images as their parents watch Downton in the next room... yet ministers do nothing by Harriet Harman

 

 Update: Claire Perry and the Daily Mail Blocked...

Government announces that public consultation on parental internet controls came out strongly against the idea of default website blocking by ISPs


Link Here 15th December 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

UK Government armsMinisters have stepped back from forcing telecommunications companies to filter websites for online pornography after parents rejected the idea in a government-sponsored consultation.

A report released by the department for education and the home office instead said that internet service providers will be asked to advise and steer parents towards making an active choice by offering software that blocks out pornography and self-harming sites.

The decision follows a 10-week public consultation process. David Cameron had indicated as recently as last month that he wanted firms to follow the lead of TalkTalk, which was the first big name internet service provider to introduce network-level filtering of websites for its customers.

The report, released with little fanfare, said:

It is... clear that in accepting that responsibility, parents want to be in control, and that it would be easier for them to use the online safety tools available to them if they could learn more about those tools.

They also want information about internet safety risks and what to do about them. There was no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet by their ISP: only 35% of the parents who responded favoured that approach.

In fact the figures for all those that responded to the consultation showed:

  • 14% in favour of default ISP blocking
  • 85% opposed to default ISP blocking
  • 1% unsure.

The campaign for greater curbs against online porn had been led by the Tory MP Claire Perry, and was followed up by the Daily Mail.

The industry pointed out that Perry's plans were unworkable.

The Government will now go to work with the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to help parents with the knowledge and tools required to provide flexible and workable parental control.

 

 Offsite Article: We're no longer citizens, we're suspects...


Link Here 15th December 2012  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
The new Communications Data Bill continues the trend away from privacy to giving the state full access to our private lives.

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 Update: Hands Off...

Calls for UN control of internet governance rejected by US, Canada and UK


Link Here 14th December 2012

UN logoThe US, Canada and UK have refused to sign an international communications treaty at a conference in Dubai.

The three countries had objected to calls for the UN to take over aspects of the governance of the internet, especially as several countries had been pushing for this with a view to increasing censorship controls.

Russia, China and Saudi Arabia were among those pushing for internet censorship. Many attendees believed it was an anachronism that the US government got to decide which body should regulate the net's address system as a legacy of its funding for Arpanet - a precursor to the internet which helped form its technical core.

It marks a setback for the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which had said it was sure it could deliver consensus. The ITU had organised the 12-day conference in order to revise a communications treaty last overhauled 24 years ago. Dubai conference centre 193 countries have been debating changes to a communications treaty in Dubai

Negotiators from Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Kenya have said they would need to consult with their national governments about how to proceed and would also not be able to sign the treaty as planned on Friday.

A proposal from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Sudan calling for equal rights for all governments to manage internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources was eventually shelved. But there was fresh controversy on Wednesday night after an alternative non-binding resolution was debated which suggested the UN agency's leadership should continue to take the necessary steps for ITU to play an active and constructive role in the development of broadband and the multi-stakeholder model of the internet.

Read the full article

 

  One Repressive Law Out, One Repressive Law In...

Parliamentary Committee criticises defamation law that will lead to website operators taking down contested content without considering the merits of the complaint


Link Here 13th December 2012

Houses of ParliamentRepressive plans to tackle the supposed problems of internet trolling could have a chilling effect on online freedom of expression, a committee of MPs and peers has said.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights warned that libel law reforms might cause website operators to delete statements that had not broken the law. Chairman Hywel Francis said:

There should be a higher threshold put in place before material has to be removed.

We think there is a real risk that website operators will be forced to arbitrate on whether something is defamatory or lawful, and will too readily make decisions on commercial grounds to remove allegedly defamatory material rather than engage with the process.

Proposals in the Defamation Bill aim to protect website operators such as Facebook or Twitter from claims against them when defamatory statements are published by their users, while making it easier to identify the people accused of making such statements.

To be entitled to this protection, the websites must either facilitate contact between the complainant and the author or remove the offending material when they cannot establish contact.

Under the bill, a statement is regarded as defamatory if it has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of a person or a company, but any claim for damages will fail if it can be shown, for example, that the defamatory statement is substantially true .

The bill is due to begin detailed scrutiny in the House of Lords on 17 December.

 

 Offsite Article: How the Home Office let their Minister down...


Link Here 13th December 2012  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
Open Rights Group outlines some the parliamentary criticisms of the Government's Snooper's Charter

See article from openrightsgroup.org

 

 Update: Too Nasty by Half...

Parliamentary committee sees through the government's bollox and reports on how nasty the Snooper's Charter really is


Link Here 12th December 2012  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

Theresa MayMinisters signalled they will rewrite the Snooper's Charter which gives police, security services and anyone else the government nominates new powers to snoop on communications. An influential parliamentary committee branded it overkill and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it needed a fundamental rethink .

Home Secretary Theresa May accepted the substance of a highly-critical report by the committee set up to scrutinise the draft version of the Bill, which would allow a range of official bodies to monitor emails, web phone calls and activity on social networking sites.

The committee of MPs and peers said the legislation would give the Home Secretary sweeping powers to issue secret notices ordering communications companies to disclose potentially limitless categories of data . And they accused the Government of using fanciful and misleading figures to support its case for the legislation.

Clegg said he was ready to block the Bill in its current form, and called on the Home Office to go back to the drawing board :

I believe the coalition Government needs to have a fundamental rethink about this legislation.

We cannot proceed with this Bill and we have to go back to the drawing board. We need to reflect properly on the criticisms that the committee have made, while also consulting much more widely with business and other interested groups.

 

 Update: High Court on High Stakes...

Russian Supreme Court upholds internet blocking of gambling websites


Link Here 12th December 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia flagThe Russian government which has decided that gambling whether online or off is not a good thing and prohibits the activity in all but brick and mortar casinos in zones at the very edges of Russia’s domain. Since 2009 the Russian authorities have closed and dismantled thousands of parlour casinos and underground poker rooms.

A decree that online gambling is a prohibited activity and the responsibility is up to the ISPs to block access to gambling sites now has the Supreme Court backing it up.

A recent lower court ruling exonerated ISP company executives from an area close to the Estonian border who refused to comply with the order to deny service to gambling patrons.

The Supreme Court however said the ISP must block the gambling site that is now on the government blacklist of over 1500 supposedly illegal web sites. The Supreme Court also extended its definition of bad, to include the dissemination of information related to the implementation of activities of gambling, which makes it necessary to disconnect even sites that contain only information about gambling portals.

 

 Update: UN Disunited...

Internet censorship proposal threatens to derail UN telecoms conference


Link Here 10th December 2012

itu logoAn unexpected new proposal for international internet censorship left a global conference on the issue on the edge of collapse.

The deep divisions over treatment of the internet came after a group of Arab states put forward a plan late on Friday that would require countries around the world to explicitly regulate internet companies. The proposal inevitably won the backing from repressive countries including Russia and China. The plan would extend current regulation of telecommunication companies to internet service companies.

The pitch for direct regulation came as an unwelcome surprise to delegations from the US and other countries that have supported the current light system of regulation for the internet. The conference has been hijacked by a group of countries that want to extend regulation of the internet, said one person familiar with the US position: This is completely unacceptable to the US point of view.

Tariq al-Awadhi, head of the Arab states delegation, said that it made sense for internet companies to be included in the regulations since this would help force them to work together with network operators.

The call for new regulation could lead to a break-down in the talks, according to people involved in the discussions. The US delegation will refuse to support anything that extends regulation in a way that damages internet freedom and has full backing from Washington to walk out on the talks if necessary, said the person familiar with the US position.

 

 Update: We Fight Censorship...

US House of Representatives votes against UN control of the internet


Link Here 7th December 2012

US SenateThe United States Congress may be a mess and the most unruly and uncompromising bunch in the land but they all apparently think that the UN should not be setting policy on the Internet. To that end, members of the House of Representatives - Democrats and Republicans - voted unanimously (397-0) against the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations' efforts to push increased government control over the Internet.

The vote is a declaration against the goings-on at the World Conference on International Telecommunications in Dubai. The goal of the conference is to update telecommunications regulations that haven't been updated since 1988. Those International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) do not address the Internet and other growing technologies.

The fear among advocacy groups is that counties that want to control their population's access to a free internet such as North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, and Syria will use the conference as a way to push their own agendas. Those agendas include eliminating anonymity from the Internet, limits on free speech and the surveillance of internet traffic they deem to be bad. This also includes everything from prohibitions on copyright violations and pornography to prohibitions on defamation and political speech.

 

 Offsite Article: Advertisers Busted in Browser Snooping Scandal...


Link Here 6th December 2012
The US Fedarl Trade Commission has announced a settlement with Epic Marketplace, an online advertising company that had abused a security flaw in popular web browsers in order to covertly sniff other websites visited by consumers.

See article from aclu.org

 

  Blocking and Electioneering...

Norwegian politicians take inspiration from UK's internet filtering ideas


Link Here 26th November 2012

Norway flagWith parliamentary elections slated for 2013, Norway's political parties have picked up on the issue of access to online pornography.

The newspaper VG reported that the country's Christian Democratic Party has come out in support of policies that would require mobile carriers and internet service providers to offer free parental filters to parents. The model would be based on a similar one being pursued by the United Kingdom.

The Norwegians seem to be focused on solutions that would mandate that parents be presented with parental filtering options without actually being forced to use them.

Other parties do not sound so keen. Conservative Party spokesperson Andre Oktay Dahl said parental filters is not a political issue, but one for families to address, and added he is more keen to fight child abuse online than tackle abuse of porn, which he said was not as widespread a problem.

Labour Party politician Jan BÝhler expressed his party’s support for filters, which he said would be more effective placed on devices, but also argued against moves by the government to block content, saying: We cannot censor the entire world.

 

 Updated: UN Internet Toll Keepers?...

Google warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet


Link Here 24th November 2012

Google logoGoogle has warned that a forthcoming UN-organised conference threatens the free and open internet .

Government representatives are set to agree a new information and communications treaty in December. It has been claimed some countries will try to wrest oversight of the net's technical specifications and domain name system from US bodies to an international organisation.

Google has asked web users to add their name to an online petition to support its view.

The [UN agency] International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty, it wrote on its Take Action site.

Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access.

Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets.

Google added that it was concerned that only governments have a voice at the ITU and not companies or others who had a stake in the net, concluding that the World Conference on International Telecommunications (Wcit) was the wrong place to make decisions about the internet's future.

The ITU is not openly publishing each government's proposals ahead of the conference, however a site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has revealed some of the details. Most recently these included a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation.

Parts of the US tech industry have also been concerned by remarks by the ITU's secretary general, Dr Hamadoun Toure, that the meeting should address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and sources of costs, and to decide upon the most appropriate way to do so . Gary Shapiro CEA's Gary Shapiro says firms fear having to pay a toll to send traffic through countries' data networks

The ITU is hosting the conference to draw up the treaty between 3 to 14 December in Dubai.

Update: EU warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet

23rd November  2012. See  article from  bbc.co.uk

EU flagThe UN should not be allowed to take over control of the internet, Euro MPs have warned.

Internet control currently lies largely with US-based groups such as Icann, which regulates the web address system. But reports in the Russian press have suggested the Kremlin and others wanted control of key internet systems passed to a UN agency.

The European Parliament has said the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) was not the appropriate body to have authority. Members of the European Parliament backed a resolution which urged member states to reject changes to the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITR) which would negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content and security, business relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online .

A site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has published several documents relating to the new treaty. Among them was a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation. Russia said in a document:

Member states shall have equal rights to manage the internet, including in regard to the allotment, assignment and reclamation of internet numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and to support for the operation and development of basic internet infrastructure.

Update: Ed Vaizey warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet

24th November  2012.  See  article from  wired.co.uk

Ed VaizeyThe International Telecommunications Union (ITU) should not have a say over the future of the web, according to Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

Vaizey was speaking to Wired.co.uk. The issue is that the ITU was set up to regulate telephony services. Since 1988, lines have blurred between telephony and internet services and as such the ITU wants to amend its rules to extend to internet governance. This is what Vaizey (as well as many other people and organisations including Google) disagree with:

We [the UK government] have made our position clear. We support the multi-stakeholder model for internet governance. Internet policy is made from the ground up, not top-down. The internet has grown effectively without interference from government. We don't think a treaty-based organisation should have a say over the internet.

Vaizey's feelings are echoed by a number of other companies and individuals. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told Wired.co.uk:

The ITU approach is completely broken. Secretive deliberations in which civil society groups (such as Wikipedia) are excluded from the process is hopelessly broken.

 

  .Objection...

Governments object to top level domains being grabbed


Link Here 24th November 2012

ICANN logoFollowing the conclusion of the first round of applications to ICANN for the creation of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), ICANN has published the Early Warnings of objections from governments.

Australia has objected to a suite of generic names on the grounds that a private entity should not be able to gain exclusive control of a generic term for commercial gain. Its objections included .baby (applicant: Johnson & Johnson), .makeup (applicant: L'Oreal) .video and .tunes (applicant: Amazon), and .grocery (two competing applicants, Safeway and Walmart).

Australia also objected to the creation of a set of domains with an overtly negative or critical connotation (including .fail, .sucks, .wtf and .gripe), saying that brand owners may seek to protect their reputations and the gTLD needs a plan to limit the need for defensive registrations.

Other objection include .islam and .halal by UAE, .army, .navy and .airforce by US and India.

The UK only commented on who should run .rugby

 

 Update: UN Internet Toll Keepers?...

Google warns that a UN internet group threatens the free and open internet


Link Here 22nd November 2012

Google logoGoogle has warned that a forthcoming UN-organised conference threatens the free and open internet .

Government representatives are set to agree a new information and communications treaty in December. It has been claimed some countries will try to wrest oversight of the net's technical specifications and domain name system from US bodies to an international organisation.

Google has asked web users to add their name to an online petition to support its view.

The [UN agency] International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is bringing together regulators from around the world to renegotiate a decades-old communications treaty, it wrote on its Take Action site.

Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access.

Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets.

Google added that it was concerned that only governments have a voice at the ITU and not companies or others who had a stake in the net, concluding that the World Conference on International Telecommunications (Wcit) was the wrong place to make decisions about the internet's future.

The ITU is not openly publishing each government's proposals ahead of the conference, however a site called Wcitleaks, run by researchers at George Mason University, has revealed some of the details. Most recently these included a proposal from Russia suggesting that the US should have less control over the internet's operation.

Parts of the US tech industry have also been concerned by remarks by the ITU's secretary general, Dr Hamadoun Toure, that the meeting should address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and sources of costs, and to decide upon the most appropriate way to do so . Gary Shapiro CEA's Gary Shapiro says firms fear having to pay a toll to send traffic through countries' data networks

The ITU is hosting the conference to draw up the treaty between 3 to 14 December in Dubai.

 

 Update: China getting as bad as Britain for overreacting to jokers on Twitter...

Blogger in trouble for joking about the deaths of Chinese communists


Link Here 22nd November 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

China flagA blogger is facing five years in prison after he was arrested for writing a joke on Twitter about the deaths of Chinese Communist Party delegates.

Zhai Xiaobing, from Beijing, has received the support of hundreds of internet users following the joke about the party's congress on November 8.

Mr Xiaobing's tweet on November 5 suggested the next movie in the Final Destination horror film franchise would be about the Great Hall of the People collapsing on party delegates.

He posted on Twitter: An earth-shaking debut will be seen at the global premiere on Nov. 8!

Family members said that Miyun county police had taken him away on November 7 and seized his computer.

A Miyun county police officer said that Zhai was being investigated for spreading terrorist information .

 

 Offsite Article: There's no way to stop children viewing porn in Starbucks...


Link Here 22nd November 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
Filtering doesn't work. It also puts power into censorware firms which help cover up human rights abuse

See article from guardian.co.uk

 

 Update: Consistent with Repressive Values...

Egyptian state prosecutor orders the blocking of all internet porn


Link Here 20th November 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Egypt...Egypt blocks political and porn websites

Egypt flagIncreasing influence of Islamist groups within Egypt has led to state prosecutor, Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, ordering the blocking of all pornographic pictures or scenes inconsistent with the repressive values and traditions of the Egyptian people.

The prosecutor cited a 2009 that ordered all porn sites to be banned, and another this March, when an Egyptian judge decreed that all pornography on the internet was illegal.

Critics of the rise of Islamic parties in the country warn that the move will inevitably be a pretext to censor other speech, as well. Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American activist, tweeted: '

I'm not arguing with anyone about porn but know this: 'ban' porn sites today, ban your sites tomorrow.'

 

 Comment: A Watershed for the Internet...

David Cameron set to bully parents into accepting low quality internet censorship


Link Here 18th November 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

David CameronThe Daily Mail has reported that David Cameron is to bully parents into signing up for impractical internet censorship.

In future, anyone buying a new computer or signing up with a new ISP will be asked whether they have children when they log on for the first time.

Those answering yes will automatically be taken through the process of installing website blocking for content with an adult theme. They will then be subjected to a series of questions about how stringent they want censorship to be.

There will be an option to impose a watershed on adult interest material, and to prevent children viewing social networking sites such as Facebook during certain hours of the day.

Ministers will also demand that ISPs impose appropriate measures to ensure that those setting the parental controls are over 18.

And they will be told to prompt existing customers to install porn blocking technology.

The proposals, due to be announced by the Government later this month, go much further than previously suggested.

Offsite Comment: Victory in sight: government signals climb down from default filtering?

18th November 2012. See  article from  openrightsgroup.org

According to reports this Saturday in the Daily Mail and Telegraph, David Cameron will be asking ISPs to ask customers if they have children, and if so, help them install filtering technology.

While the Daily Mail cite this as a victory for their campaign to switch porn off in every household, and allow people to opt in to porn , in fact it would be a humiliating climb down.

...Read the full article

 

 Update: Extreme Forms of Censorship...

Russians new internet blocking law censors 180 victims in 2 weeks


Link Here 16th November 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia flag180 websites have already been blocked under Russia's repressive new Internet law that's been in effect for the past two weeks.

The blacklist compiled by the Federal Surveillance Service for Mass Media and Communications (Roskomnadzor) is secret, but authorities unconvincingly claim that its purpose is to eliminate extreme forms of offensive content.

In its first two weeks of application, the law has produced a few high-profile casualties that critics say point to the fundamental weaknesses of a system that allows authorities to summarily shut down content without any need for a court order or reference to any supervisory body. The definitions of offensive content are also murky, critics say, and could easily include political conversation that looks extremist to a policeman's eyes and other forms of commentary that might be simply misunderstood.

That criticism seems to have already been borne out. This week alone Roskomnadzor has closed down, among others, a Wikipedia-like encyclopedia of satire, which contained an article about how to make hemp (often associated with marijuana) soup; an online library, which included a copy of The Anarchist's Cookbook, a 1970's American-authored manual for radicals; and a popular torrent-tracking website, on which users had apparently exchanged a file called The Encyclopedia of Suicide.

The agency allowed those websites to reopen after the supposedly offensive content was removed. But experts say those examples were hugely popular websites whose closure attracted immediate public attention and a storm of complaints; restoring service may not prove so easy for smaller victims of the law.

 

  Enhancing Online Safety for Politicians...

Australian opposition coalition publishes discussion paper suggesting that an internet censor be appointed for the protection of children using social networks


Link Here 16th November 2012

enhancing online safety for children Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott has floated a suite of online child safety ideas that would include legislation to appoint a censor for social media, which would become answerable to a Children's e-Safety Commissioner charged with taking a national leadership role in online safety for children.

The proposals stand a very good chance of becoming law as the opposition is well ahead in opinion polls.

The key proposals up for discussion are:

  • a. The benefits that might flow from establishing an independent agency or Commissioner-led body. such as a 'Children's e-Safety Commissioner.' charged with coordinating a national response to online safety, including the development of education campaigns and national guidelines for schools, parents, children and internet providers.
     
  • b. The role, nature and operation of such an agency or Commissioner if so established, including methods to promote its existence to parents, children and educators.
     
  • c. Whether or not any existing agencies are capable of performing a national, coordinated role or what may be needed to allow them to do so.
     
  • d. Whether resources available to the Australian Federal Police are adequate and what additional resources may be required to ensure greater enforcement against illegal online activities directed at children.
     
  • e. The extent to which existing resources available to the Australian Federal Police are used effectively and efficiently and any options available to re-direct existing resources to address emerging online priorities.
     
  • f. The extent and capacity of police and law enforcement agencies to interact with relevant international organisations and whether improved global coordination could deliver better online safety outcomes for children.

 

  Mediawatch-UK Website Blocked for Porn...

And then they claim that website blocking would be based on clear parameters of what would, and what would not, be acceptable


Link Here 16th November 2012

Mediawatch-UK bannerMediawatch-UK wrote on their blog:

The UK [website blocking] proposal involves an independent regulator which would be tasked with setting clear parameters of what would, and what would not be, acceptable on a clean feed . Websites which felt they were being unfairly blocked would have a right to appeal any decision.

Earlier this year we found that our website and blog were being blocked by filters designed to offer a safe browsing experience for children on mobile devices. These filters are applied as a default on all mobile devices which access the internet unless adult users choose to remove them. Although neither our blog nor our website include pornography such material is alluded to in the context of our campaign and our sites were being filtered out.

We contacted the Mobile Broadband Group and pointed out the misclassification and it was a simple matter to get the restrictions lifted.

 

 Offsite Article: UN Censored...


Link Here 16th November 2012
Act now to stop unaccountable, censor-friendly UN agency from hijacking control of the Internet!

See article from boingboing.net

 

 Update: Sensitive to Criticism...

Google report increased government censorship of content


Link Here 14th November 2012  full story: Google Transparency Reports...Google reveals the scale of copyright claims

google transparency report logo Like other technology and communications companies, Google regularly receives requests from government agencies and courts around the world to remove content from our services. In this report, we disclose the number of requests we receive from each government in six-month periods with certain limitations.

Governments ask companies to remove content for many different reasons. For example, some content removals are requested due to allegations of defamation, while others are due to allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography. Laws surrounding these issues vary by country, and the requests reflect the legal context of a given jurisdiction. We hope this tool will be helpful in discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.

  • UK.

    We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove 14 search results for linking to sites that criticize the police and claim individuals were involved in obscuring crimes. We did not remove content in response to this request. In addition, we received a request from another local law enforcement agency to remove a YouTube video for criticizing the agency of racism. We did not remove content in response to this request.

    The number of content removal requests we received increased by 98% compared to the previous reporting period.
     
  • US

    We received five requests and one court order to remove seven YouTube videos for criticizing local and state government agencies, law enforcement or public officials. We did not remove content in response to these requests. We received a court order to remove 1,754 posts from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family. We removed 1,664 of the posts, which fell within the scope of the order. We received three court orders to remove 641 search results for linking to websites that allegedly defame organizations and individuals. We removed 233 of the search results requested, which fell within the scope of the orders. In response to a court order, we removed 156 search results because the web pages in question used a trademark in violation of an earlier order.

    The number of content removal requests we received increased by 46% compared to the previous reporting period.
     
  • Thailand

    We received two requests from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in Thailand to remove 14 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy in violation of Thailand's le'se-majeste' law. We restricted three of these videos from view in Thailand out of respect for local law.

 

 Offsite Article: Politician's Brains Addled by Internet Porn...


Link Here 14th November 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
Nutter MP Anne Coffey blames schoolgirls being groped on the inevitable internet porn. Of course she offers no evidence nor much of an explanation

See article from dailymail.co.uk

 

 Update: In Remembrance of British Free Speech...

Kent police accused of malicious use of the Malicious Communications Act


Link Here 12th November 2012

poppy burningA man has fallen victim to Kent Police who detained him for posting an image of a burning poppy on Facebook. He was detained on Sunday night on suspicion of making malicious telecommunications.

The force tried to justify their attack on free speech in a statement:

A man (was) interviewed by police this morning following reports that a picture of a burning poppy had been posted on a social media website.

Officers were contacted at around 4pm yesterday and alerted to the picture, which was reportedly accompanied by an offensive comment.

The offensive comment was the trivial comment:

How about that you squadey cunts

The man was later released pending further inquiries.

His detention was met with disbelief on Twitter, where people mounted a fierce discussion over civil liberties. David Allen Green, a journalist and lawyer for the New Statesman, tweeting as Jack of Kent, wrote:

What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by Kent Police for burning a poppy?

Australian musician and comedian Tim Minchin also expressed his incredulity, tweeting:

You've a right to burn a (fake!) poppy. Whether I agree with the action is utterly irrelevant. Kent Police are out of line.

 

 Update: Bad Ideas Filtered Out...

Australia abandons its general internet blocking policy in favour of blocking child porn only


Link Here 9th November 2012

Stephen ConroyAustralia's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has ditched plans for internet blocking and will instead rely on individual ISPs to block child pornography.

In a surprise move the Government has abandoned plans to block online content that it does not like but has struck a deal with telcos to block about 1400 sites on an Interpol blacklist.

Experts welcomed Senator Conroy's decision to abandon the internet blocking.

In 2009 Senator Conroy said the filter was necessary to protect children from illegal online content and would be 100% accurate but critics savaged the Big Brother approach as a threat to free speech, and pointed out that it would blacklist innocent sites as well.

Opposition spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said it was a humiliating backdown, and said the filter had always been a bad idea . H e told The Australian:

It would never have been effective. It would have just given parents a false sense of security. There is no substitute for parents taking responsibility for their children.

Conroy said in a statement:

Blocking the INTERPOL 'worst of' list meets community expectations and fulfils the government's commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child abuse material online.

I welcome the support of Australia's major ISPs and the Internet Industry Association for taking appropriate steps to meet their lawful obligations. This means that more than 90% of Australians using internet services will have child abuse material blocked by their ISP.

The Australian Christian Lobby said the Government had broken an election promise. Managing director Jim Wallace said it was a great disappointment and spokeswoman Wendy Francis said a broader filter was necessary because:

it is important to prevent unwanted access to pornography. We must protect our children from forming unhealthy attitudes towards women and sex.

 

 Update: Howes About That Then?...

Nutter bill to mandate an internet porn blocking option receives a 2nd reading in the Lords


Link Here 9th November 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

elspeth howeElspeth Howe has launched a Lords private member bill obliging Britain's ISPs to impose a block block on all pornographic images along with any websites that reference porn or anything else considered adult.

The bill would bring in a system whereby adults will only be able to see porn if they specifically opt in after a strict age verification check.

The legislation faces opposition from Liberal Democrat peers, who argue that the proposed system is not the best way to protect children online.

Howe, an independent Crossbench peer claimed the bill was needed because of the dangerous effect that sexual content was having on relationships between boys and girls. She said that access to porn was giving children the wrong idea about relationships and could lead to teenage boys treating girls as sex objects.

Her Online Safety Bill , received its first reading earlier this year but it is now receiving a second reading which is the first chance for debate.

The legislation only has a chance of becoming law if it receives the support of ministers. Only when the Government grants enough Parliamentary time to debate a private members' bill does it have any hope of passing into law.

 

 Update: Black Day...

Russian internet blocking blacklist goes live


Link Here 3rd November 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in Russia...Russia restoring repressive state control of media

Russia flagThe Russian law supposedly aimed at the protection of children from harmful web content has come into effect. From now on, authorities will be able to force certain web pages offline, without requiring a court order.

It primarily refers to internet sources containing child pornography, suicide instructions or those promoting drugs. In cases with other kinds of illegal information, the decision on whether or not to ban a website will be made by a court.

A register of websites with information that is banned to be distributed in Russia went online on Thursday. The blacklist is operated by the country's media and communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor. Ordinary internet users will be able to check whether a particular internet site has been banned but cannot see the list.

Now anyone (anonymously) can use the source to report on a website they believe to be illegal or suspicious, and the watchdog is obliged to respond (but not necessarily block the website).

Under the law, once a website with censorable content is discovered, Roskomnadzor has to inform the owner of the source and their hosting-provider and demand that the prohibited information is removed. In case the source is still available 48 hours after such a request is sent, access to it will be blocked by Russian ISPs.

Update: A little propaganda maybe

3rd November 2012. See  article from  rferl.org

Russia says it has received 5,000 reports of child pornography on the Internet in the first 24 hours under a new internet censorship law.

Officials at Roskomnadzor, the regulators and censors for mass media and communications, said that they were surprised by the large number of complaints. But they added that nearly 96% of the warnings proved to be unfounded.

A spokesman said 10 Internet service providers had already been asked to contact the owners of offending sites and remove the content within 48 hours.

Activists say the new law may be used as a pretext for shutting down websites seen as critical of the government.

 

  Bollox Prosecution...

South Korean law professor acquitted of obscenity after his posting was accepted as a political comment


Link Here 2nd November 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in South Korea...Repressive new internet censorship law

South Korea flagA law professor here was acquitted in South Korea on charges that he posted a series of photographs showing male genitals on his blog.

Kyungsin Park was charged in February with violating the country’s online obscenity law. Park, at the time, was a commissioner of the South Korea Communications Standards Commission, a government agency with an authority to delete Internet content it considered harmful.

He had taken it upon his own to post the photos on his own blog after the commission deleted an Internet users' photos without giving its original owner a chance to defend himself.

Park posted the photos on his own blog, called Censor’s Diary , and invited a debate of the commission’s decision.

An appeals court reversed a lower court's guilty ruling. The appeals court said Park’s posting could not be ruled indecent because the photos should be viewed in the context of his attempt to criticize the government’s regulations on online content.

 

 Update: Filtering Out Claire Perry Bollox...

Open Rights Group report on parliamentary debate about blocking porn


Link Here 2nd November 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Open Rights Group logo Yesterday there was a Westminster Hall debate about the responsibilities of Internet companies. You can read a transcript over at the Parliament website . Be warned - for anybody who cares about freedom of expression online, it doesn't make for particularly pleasant reading. It includes general calls for internet companies to take down offensive material, criticisms of YouTube for publishing the infamous video insulting Mohammed, and the now familiar calls for default-on network filters to protect children online.

It's useful to note that Westminster Hall debates aren't particularly formal interventions or statements of the Government's policy. They are secured by MPs who want to discuss something important to them, and can indicate MPs feelings and signal to the Government what Parliamenarians' priorities might be.

But even though it's just a Westminster Hall debate, it seemed important to note that I spotted Claire Perry MP citing a statistic that I haven't seen before, and which got my spidey senses tingling. She suggests that the number of parents installing network filters at home has dropped ten percent over the past three years, standing now at 39%.

This seemed to contradict some of the statistics I've seen from recent research such as the EU Kids Online project. They found that 54% of parents say that they block or filter websites at home or and 46% track the websites visited by their children. These findings are far higher than in Europe generally, with the UK topping the country ranking for use of filters , that The UK is near the top of ranking of countries in terms of parents actively mediating their children's safety.

So this afternoon I've written to Claire Perry asking her about this statistic - where it's from and what it means. You can read the letter below. We'll let you know her reply as and when we receive one.

It's an important issue, because too often we see evidence in this debate that doesn't necessarily stand up to scrutiny. For instance, the Safety Net campaign, which has led calls for default-on network filters, state that 1 in 3 10 year olds have seen pornography online (Psychologies Magazine 2010) . This is in the The Facts section of their website. However, the figure comes from a chat that Psychologies magazine had with a group of 14-16 year olds in one school in London in 2010.

It's important we're dealing with robust evidence, so we are all clear the nature of the problem we're looking at.

 

 Offsite Article: Linx Reports on Parliamentary Debate about the Snooper's Charter...


Link Here 2nd November 2012  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
Theresa May faced tough questions when she appeared before the Joint Committee on the draft Communications Data Bill.

See article from publicaffairs.linx.net

 

 Update: Thai Blockosphere...

Thailand's list of blocked website URLs reaches one million


Link Here 1st November 2012

MICT logoThailand's first blocklist was created by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in January 2004 during the Thaksin Shinawatra administration. It blocked 1,247 URLs by name.

Thailand's first blocklist marked the first and only attempt at transparency by Thailand's Internet censors. Every subsequent blocklist, the webpages blocked, the reasons for blocking and even the number of pages blocked is held in secret by Thai government.

Following Thailand's military coup d'etat on September 19, 2006, the military's fifth official order on its first day in power was to block the Internet. Under the coup regime, tens of thousands of webpages were blocked.

The coup government's first legislative action was to promulgate the Computer Crimes Act 2007. In its first drafts, the CCA prescribed the death penalty for computer crimes; this was modified in the final law to only 20 years in prison.

The new elected opposition government has continued the folly of its predecessors. It was further revealed that Thai government censorship was rising at a rate of 690 new pages blocked every single day.

Thailand's censorship has shown no signs of abating and almost none of the webpages blocked during the emergency have been unblocked. In 2012, more than 90,000 Facebook pages were blocked. So are online pharmacies and gambling sites.

To date, Thailand has spent THB 2,173,913,043---more than two billion baht---(almost USD $71 million) to censor our Internet.

On December 28, 2011, Thailand was blocking 777,286 webpages. Today, November 1, 2012, Thailand blocks ONE MILLION URLs

 

 Offsite Article: Unpopular Government...


Link Here 1st November 2012  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping
Big Brother Watch has published new research showing just how little support the Home Office's draft Communications Data bill has.

See article from bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

 

 Update: Indecently Repressive...

India set to extend a repressive print ban on supposedly indecent representations of women to the internet


Link Here 29th October 2012

India flagIndia's cabinet has approved the introduction of an amendment to the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act of 1986 in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament. This increases the penalties for making supposedly indecent exposure of women and extends the scope of the law to cover audio-visual media including SMS, Internet, etc. The original law was limited to the print media.

The key amendments include raising the penalty to a maximum of three years of jail and fine of Rs 50,000-Rs 1 lakh. The second conviction will entail imprisonment of two to seven years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

The law was enacted in 1986 to prohibit supposedly indecent depiction of women through advertisements, publication, writing and painting. Officials claim the proposed amendments were finalised after extensive consultations with the stakeholders, including lawyers and civil society representatives.

 

 Update: Insulting to Free Speech...

Police get involved in 4000 petty squabbles on Facebook


Link Here 28th October 2012

police federation logoPolice have gotten involved in 4,000 petty squabbles on Facebook and Twitter. Statistics from 22 out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales show arrests for insulting messages are averaging three a day.

The police say they are wasting valuable time and resources tackling internet users directing abuse at each other. In most cases, police simply tell victims to delete their tormentors from their networks, but the Crown Prosecution Service says a few dozen   incidents have led to court, with the figure growing rapidly in recent months.

An policeman from North Wales said:

You will always have one or two serious incidents of harassment and bullying on Facebook and the like but for the most part it's petty stuff. It takes up a lot of time and the normal result is advice from us to all parties to grow up.

Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said:

We have concerns that we don't have the resources to police everything that's said on the internet. We can't have people getting upset in a one-off situation and involving the police. I do think this could be the thin end of the wedge. If we show too much willingness and get involved in every squabble, we're setting ourselves up to keep doing this because it will be expected.

Statistics from 22 out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales show there were at least 4,098 arrests under the relevant laws between the start of 2009 and the middle of 2012, averaging three a day. More than 2,000 people were either charged or given an out-of-court fine or caution.

 

 Update: Condoning Violence...

Saudi suggests that violence protests are the fault of internet content rather than the violent participants


Link Here 24th October 2012

Saudi flagWhile most of the Internet governance world's focus is on the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) coming this December, which will renegotiate the International Telecommunications Regulation treaty, the ITU has already begun preparations for another global conference next year, the World Telecommunications Policy Forum (WTPF). WTPF will consider a broader range of issues, certainly including Internet governance and public policy, including Internet content.

Up until now the internet has been formalised as:

A decentralized and open system, which must be allowed to enable the world's citizens to connect freely and express themselves consistent with fundamental principles of freedom of expression, while taking into consideration national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.

However Saudi Arabia is not impressed be the definition about the limits of freedom of expression, and has published a contribution suggesting increased censorship:

Freedom of expression is a recognized fundamental principle but is subject to considerations of national security, public order, public health and public morals (Art. 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -1966, and Art. 34 of the ITU Constitution). It is also recognized that national mores differ -- what may be considered acceptable free speech in one country may be considered an offensive and unacceptable in another. Bearing in mind that countries cannot apply their own laws to acts in another country, there is a crying need for international collaboration to address freedom of expression which clearly disregards public order. An obvious example is the current anti-Islamic film on YouTube which was created with the clear intent of conveying hatred. Any reasonable person would know that this film would foment violence and, indeed, many innocent persons have died and been injured with this film as a root cause. Yet neither the authors nor the content provider are being held accountable for their responsibility to maintain public order. This behavior, along with other malicious and criminal activities such as child pornography, identity theft, spam, denial of service attacks, and malware aimed at destroying or crippling businesses, inter alia, must be addressed by states in a collaborative and cooperative environment and strongly underscores the need for enhanced cooperation.

'Enhanced cooperation' seems to be a UN term for 'cooperation' enforced by governments.

 

  Proxy for Repression...

Uzbekistan blocks some proxy servers


Link Here 24th October 2012

UzbekistanUzbekistan's national Internet services provider Uztelecom has blocked web proxy clients, further restricting access to alternative views on the web.

Several internet services providers' clients in Uzbekistan have reported that access to proxy servers have been blocked in the country.

Web proxies remain the only available way for the majority of Uzbek people to bypass Internet censorship and to access news and analytical sites blocked in the country.

Uztelecom, the country's only company that has access to international channels, is blocking user requests for the word proxy in the address of a proxy server.

Servers without the word proxy in their address, for example, are still functional.

 

 Offsite Article: BPI Kicks Ass...


Link Here 23rd October 2012  full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block
Media Companies ask UK ISPs to block file sharing sites Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents.

See article from bbc.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Internet anti-censorship tools are being overwhelmed by demand...


Link Here 22nd October 2012
US-funded programs to beat back online censorship are finding an increased demand in repressive countries. More than 1 million people a day use online tools to get past extensive blocking programs and government surveillance

See article from washingtonpost.com

 

 Offsite Article: Censorship and Social Networks. Violence is in. Nipples are out!...


Link Here 20th October 2012
"Censorship of images of women's breasts reflects repression that foments body shame and phobia". Dr. Paul Rapoport, founder of The Topfree Equal Rights

See article from hollywoodtoday.net

 

 Update: Nutter Dischord...

Famed Turkish pianist on trial for a Twitter insult


Link Here 19th October 2012  full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people

Black Earth Fazil Say World-famous Turkish pianist Fazil Say has appeared in court in Istanbul charged with inciting hatred and insulting the values of Muslims.

The indictment against him cites some of his tweets from April, including one where he says:

I am not sure if you have also realised it, but if there's a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it's always an Islamist.

Dozens of the pianist's supporters gathered outside the courthouse with banners, one of which called on the ruling Islamist-based AK Party to leave the artists alone .Say has played with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and others, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the EU.

Egemen Bagis, Turkey's minister in charge of relations with the EU, suggested the case against him should be dismissed, saying the court should regard his tweets as being within his right to babble ...BUT... Bagis also criticised the pianist for insulting people's faith and values .

Update: Court Report

23rd November  2012. See  article from  gatestoneinstitute.org

Fasil Say appeared in an Istanbul court on October 18 and was charged with hate speech and insulting religion for Twitter messages mocking the conduct and beliefs of Islamic fundamentalists.

In one tweet, he commented on a muezzin, who calls Muslims to prayer, for his hurried style. Apparently reflecting his distaste for the spread of fundamentalism in Turkey, Say tweeted a complaint about a call to prayer that lasted only 22 seconds, and added, Why such haste? Do you have a mistress or a glass of raki [Turkish liquor] waiting?

In another message, he quoted the classical Persian poet Omar Khayyam, who asked if heaven should be considered a tavern or whorehouse, since it is described in the Koran as a place where wine is served by virgins.

A third tweet by Say remarked, I am not sure if you have also realized it, but if there's a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it is always an Islamist.

The Turkish prosecutors in the case argued that Say's tweets threatened public order. Say's case was adjourned until next February.

About 100 people demonstrated against his indictment in front of the court in Istanbul, and members of the German Bundestag from across the political spectrum expressed their concern at the repressive attitude of the Erdogan regime. Many prominent Turkish personalities, including Egemen Bagis, Erdogan's cabinet minister for relations with the European Union, have also called for the case to be dismissed.

 

 Update: Calling for Censorship...

Muslim protestors gather outside Google HQ in London


Link Here 15th October 2012  full story: The Innocence of Muslims...Muslim world gets wound up by silly movie

Google logoThousands of Muslims are engaging in a series of protests against Google HQ for what they say is a hateful and offensive anti-Islam video, claiming they now live in an age of mockery .

A protest by 10,000 Muslims outside the offices of Google in London is the first in an attempt to force the company to censor an anti-Islamic film from YouTube

Organiser Masoud Alam said:

Our next protest will be at the offices of Google and YouTube across the world. We are looking to ban this film.

This is not freedom of expression, there is a limit for that. This insult of the Prophet will not be allowed.

The group's next action was a march which Alam hoped would be a million strong would take place in Hyde Park in the next few weeks.

Barricades were erected in front of Google's headquarters and a crowd bearing placards with the words We love our prophet more than our lives and Muhammad is the founder of freedom of speech had amassed by lunchtime. One of the speakers, Sheikh Faiz Al-Aqtab Siddiqui, told The Daily Telegraph: Terrorism is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well. The makers of this film have terrorised 1.6 billion people.

Religion Beyond Criticism: Al-Qaida praises the killings

14th October 2012. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

The leader of al-Qaida has called for holy war against the United States and Israel over an anti-Islamic video which triggered mayhem in the Muslim world.

Ayman al-Zawahiri praised as demonstrators who breached the US embassy in Cairo and the attackers who stormed the US consulate in Benghazi last month in violence linked to the film as honest and zealous .

In an audio message released by al-Qaida's media arm As-Sahab and posted on militant websites on Saturday, al-Zawahiri claimed Washington had allowed the film's production under the pretext of freedom of expression, but this freedom did not prevent them from torturing Muslim prisoners .

 

 Update: Internet Champions vs Government's Joke Police...

Major internet companies set to oppose the Government's Snooper's Charter


Link Here 14th October 2012  full story: Snooper's Charter...Tories re-start massive programme of communications snooping

House of Commons logoGoogle, Facebook and Twitter are set to torpedo reprehensible Home Office plans to spy on every citizen's emails and website visits.

The companies have threatened to block the snoopers charter, which requires them to store all data for a year so that security agencies, police and councils can request its disclosure should they need to investigate internet insults.

Civil liberty groups point out that the powers would create a surveillance state, but Britain's security and intelligence agencies claim they are vital to investigate insulting messages and crimes against political correctness.

Parliamentary testimonies of internet bosses have been released by a cross-party committee of MPs and peers that is scrutinising the draft Communications Data Bill. They reveal directors from Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Twitter believe the Bill would breach users' privacy and allow repressive regimes to spy on Britons.

Facebook said it might go to court to resist the new law, while Google and Twitter executives said they could refuse to unlock encrypted data if the Government were to seek the information via third-party providers such as BT. Facebook said it might go to court to resist the new law, while Google and Twitter said they could refuse to unlock encrypted data

 

  Big Brother National ID Card by the Back Door...

Government to unveil its Identity Assurance Programme


Link Here 12th October 2012

Big Brothers Clegg and CameronThe Government will announce details this month of a controversial national identity scheme which will allow people to use their mobile phones and social media profiles as official identification documents for accessing public services.

People wishing to apply for services ranging from tax credits to fishing licences and passports will be asked to choose from a list of familiar online log-ins, including those they already use on social media sites, banks, and large retailers such as supermarkets, to prove their identity.

Once they have logged in correctly by computer or mobile phone, the site will send a message to the government agency authenticating that user's identity.

The Cabinet Office is understood to have held discussions with the Post Office, high street banks, mobile phone companies and technology giants ranging from Facebook and Microsoft to Google, PayPal and BT.

Ministers are anxious that the identity programme is not denounced as a Big Brother national ID card by the back door, which is why data will not be kept centrally by any government department. Indeed, it is hoped the Identity Assurance Programme, which is being led by the Cabinet Office, will mean the end to any prospect of a physical national ID card being introduced in the UK.

The public will be able to use their log-ins from a set list of well known private organisations to access Government services, which are being grouped together on a single website called Gov.uk, which will be accessible by mobile. A cross-section of social media companies, high street banks, mobile phone businesses and major retailers has been chosen in order to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible.

Major web sites are able to recognise individuals by their patterns of use, the device they are accessing from and its location. Facebook, for example, asks users who sign on from an unusual location to take a series of security questions including identifying friends in photographs.

 

 Update: Webcam Girls Reprieved...

Repressive cybercrime law suspended by top court pending legal challenges


Link Here 10th October 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in the Philippines...A miserable attack on web cam girls

Philippines flagThe Philippines' top court has suspended a repressive new law supposedly targeting cybercrime, following protests by critics who say it stifles free speech.

The new law, called the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, came into effect earlier this month. The law predictably cited child pornography, identity theft and spamming but also made libel a cybercrime punishable by up to 12 years in jail.

The act is also adopted a heavy hand to prevent cybersex, defined as sexually explicit chat over the internet, often involving cam girls performing sexual acts in front of webcams for internet customers. Government officials would also have had new powers to search and seize data from people's online accounts.

The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the act from being enforced after 15 petitions questioning its legality were filed.

But protesters say the legislation would be used to target government critics and crack down on freedom of speech.

 

 Update: Socially Adept...

Facebook and Twitter are widely used in China despite being blocked by the Great Firewall


Link Here 7th October 2012  full story: Internet Censorship in China...All pervading Chinese internet censorship

Facebook logoDespite the fact that Twitter and Facebook are technically blocked in China, the two services are still widely used, according to data from market researcher GlobalWebIndex (see graph, bottom).

When asked which services they had contributed to in the last month, 25% of surveyed Chinese users said they had used Google+, 15% used Facebook, and 8% accessed Twitter. Local equivalents are Qzone (66%), followed by Sina Weibo (61%), and Tencent Weibo (56%).

GlobalWebIndex has been tracking the growth of social media use in China since 2009. At that point, there were 11.8 million Twitter users there, a number that grew to 35 million in the second quarter of 2012. Facebook use, meanwhile, jumped from 7.9 million to 65.2 million during the same time period, said GlobalWebIndex founder Tom Smith.

So how do Chinese users access Facebook and Twitter? According to Smith, people are using virtual private networks (VPNs), virtual cloud networks (VCNs), or internationally routed connections, meaning users won't be picked up by analytics and won't actually register as being in a Chinese location.

In short, Smith said, the 'Great Firewall' is not as solid as many people think.

 

 Offsite Article: Online porn: ban this sick filth?...


Link Here 7th October 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
Even the best laid plans by the Government to try and make internet service providers block porn sites would be rendered pointless by hilarious tech gaffes argues Dr Brooke Magnanti.

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

 Offsite Article: Activists warned to watch what they say...


Link Here 4th October 2012
Social media monitoring becomes next big thing in law enforcement. John Cooper QC said that police are monitoring key activists online and that officers and the courts are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to social media

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 Update: Maintaining Innocence...

India blocks YouTube and Facebook in Kashmir citing unrest over Innocence of Muslims


Link Here 2nd October 2012

India flagInternet users in Kashmir were unable to access Facebook and YouTube after the Indian government had issued orders to ISPs to block access to the websites, IBNLive reported.

The move is believed to be in response to the protests against the anti-Islam video on YouTube but it now seems that access to the entire websites have been restricted , IBNLive reported.

In late September, reports indicated that the Jammu & Kashmir state government had told service providers to ensure that the controversial YouTube video was not accessible by users in the troubled state. Mass protests broke out in Kashmir in September over the anti-Islam film posted on YouTube.

Responding to the blocking of YouTube and Facebook, Hameeda Nayeem, chairperson of the Kashmir Centre of Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), told Al Jazeera:

Surveillance of social media websites in Kashmir was not new. In 2010 (during the protests), Facebook was monitored and many boys were arrested because of their activities on Facebook.

There has always been surveillance ... the latest move is based on that blasphemous film, but it is just another excuse to monitor and block communication services. For instance, SMS services have often been turned off in the state.

 

  Freedom on the Net...

Freedom House report details worldwide diverse threats to internet freedom


Link Here 2nd October 2012

freedom house freedom on the net 2012 Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released by Freedom House.

Despite these threats, Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories.

Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House said:

The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier---but no less dangerous---methods for controlling online conversations.

Freedom on the Net 2012, which identifies key trends in internet freedom in 47 countries, evaluates each country based on barriers to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights.

The study found that Estonia had the greatest degree of internet freedom among the countries examined, while the United States ranked second. Iran, Cuba, and China received the lowest scores in the analysis. Eleven other countries received a ranking of Not Free, including Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Thailand. A total of 20 of the 47 countries examined experienced a negative trajectory in internet freedom since January 2011, with Bahrain, Pakistan, and Ethiopia registering the greatest declines.

Several downgrades, particularly in the Middle East, reflected intensified censorship, arrests, and violence against bloggers as the authorities sought to quell public calls for reform. In Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, and China, authorities imposed new restrictions after observing the key role that social media played in the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

At the same time, 14 countries registered a positive trajectory, with Tunisia and Burma experiencing the largest improvements following dramatic political openings. The remaining gains occurred almost exclusively in democracies, highlighting the crucial importance of broader institutions of democratic governance in upholding internet freedom.

Countries at Risk: As part of its analysis, Freedom House identified a number of important countries that are seen as particularly vulnerable to deterioration in the coming 12 months: Azerbaijan, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka.

Key Trends

  • New laws restrict free speech: In 19 of the 47 countries examined, new laws or directives have been passed since January 2011 that either restrict online speech, violate user privacy, or punish individuals who post content deemed objectionable or undesirable.
     
  • Bloggers and ordinary users increasingly face arrest for political speech on the web: In 26 of the 47 countries, including several democratic states, at least one blogger or ICT user was arrested for content posted online or sent via text message.
     
  • Physical attacks against government critics are intensifying: In 19 of the 47 countries assessed, a blogger or internet user was tortured, disappeared, beaten, or brutally assaulted as a result of their online posts. In five countries, an activist or citizen journalist was killed in retribution for posting information that exposed human rights abuses.
     
  • Paid commentators, hijacking attacks are proliferating: The phenomenon of paid pro-government commentators has spread over the past two years from a small set of countries to 14 of the 47 countries examined. Meanwhile, government critics faced politically motivated cyberattacks in 19 of the countries covered.
     
  • Surveillance is increasing, with few checks on abuse: In 12 of the 47 countries examined, a new law or directive disproportionately enhanced surveillance or restricted user anonymity. In authoritarian countries, surveillance often targets government critics, while in middle-performing countries, safeguards for user rights and oversight procedures are lagging far behind governments' technical capacities and legal powers, leading to abuse.
     
  • Citizen pushback is yielding results: A significant uptick in civic activism related to internet freedom, alongside important court decisions, has produced notable victories in a wide set of countries. Advocacy campaigns, mass demonstrations, website blackouts, and constitutional court decisions have resulted in censorship plans being shelved, harmful legislation being overturned, and jailed activists being released. In 23 of the 47 countries assessed, at least one such victory occurred.

Other Significant Country Findings:

  • China: China is home to the world's largest population of internet users, but also the most advanced system of controls---one that has become even more restrictive. In 2011, the authorities abducted dozens of activists and bloggers, holding them incommunicado for weeks and sentencing several to prison. The government also tightened controls over popular domestic microblogging platforms, pressuring key firms to more stringently censor political content and to register their users' real names. Meanwhile, China's influence as an incubator for sophisticated restrictions was felt across the globe, with governments such as Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Iran using China as a model for their own new internet controls.
     
  • Iran: The Iranian authorities used more nuanced tactics in a continued campaign against internet freedom that began after disputed elections in 2009. These tactics included: upgrading content filtering technology, hacking digital certificates to undermine user privacy, and moving closer to establishing a National Internet. Iranian judicial authorities also meted out some of the harshest sentences in the world for online activities, including imposing the death penalty on three bloggers and IT professionals.
     
  • Russia: The internet is the last relatively uncensored platform for public debate in Russia. However, since January 2011, massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and smear campaigns to discredit online activists have intensified. After online tools played a critical role in galvanizing massive anti-government protests that began in December 2011, the Kremlin signaled its intention to further tighten control over internet communications.
     
  • Pakistan: Disconcerting recent developments in Pakistan include a ban on encryption and virtual private networks (VPNs), a death sentence imposed for transmitting allegedly blasphemous content via text message, and a one-day block on all mobile phone networks in Balochistan province. Several other initiatives to increase censorship---including a plan to filter text messages by keyword and a proposal to develop a nationwide internet firewall---were officially shelved in response to civil society advocacy campaigns, although some suspect that the government is still working on them behind closed doors.
     
  • Egypt: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) maintained many of its predecessor's tactics of internet control, while intensifying others. Mobile phones, the internet, and social media remained under vigorous surveillance, bandwidth speeds were throttled during specific events, and SCAF-affiliated commentators manipulated online discussions. Several activists and bloggers were intimidated, beaten, shot at, or tried in military courts for insulting the military power or disturbing social peace. Despite recent elections, the future trajectory of internet freedom in Egypt remains precarious and uncertain.
     
  • United States: Internet access in the United States remains open and fairly free compared with the rest of the world. Courts have consistently held that prohibitions against government regulation of speech apply to material published on the internet, but the government's surveillance powers are cause for some concern. In early 2012, campaigns by civil society and technology companies helped to halt passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were criticized for their potentially negative effects on free speech.
     
  • Azerbaijan: As the host of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in November 2012, the government of Azerbaijan has been eager to promote itself as a leader of ICT innovation, but has also slightly increased restrictions on internet freedom. Rather than significantly censoring online content, the government has employed tactics such as raiding cybercafes to gather information on user identities, arresting politically active netizens on trumped-up charges, and harassing activists and their family members. In a worrisome development, the authorities ramped up their surveillance capabilities of mobile phones in early 2012.

 

 Offsite Article: Open to Abuse...


Link Here 1st October 2012  full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
Open Rights Group response to Dept for Education consultation on internet website blocking

See article from openrightsgroup.org

 

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