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 2012: Jan-March



30th March   

Comments: PC Extremists Bay for Tweeter's Blood...

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Tweeter jailed for racist insults in the UK
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

Ragged Union JackA student who admitted posting racially offensive comments on Twitter about footballer Fabrice Muamba has been jailed for 56 days.

Swansea University student Liam Stacey, 21, from Pontypridd, admitted inciting racial hatred over remarks about the Bolton Wanderers player, who collapsed during a FA Cup tie at Tottenham.

A district judge in Swansea called the comments vile and abhorrent . Sentencing Stacey at Swansea Magistrates' Court, District Judge John Charles told him: In my view, there is no alternative to an immediate prison sentence.

Stacey broke down in tears as he was led away to begin his jail term.

The troubles started when Muamba collapsed. Stacey tweeted: LOL. Fuck Muamba he's dead!!! #haha.

A number of people challenged Stacey on Twitter following his first comment, and he responded with a number of offensive posts aimed at other Twitter users. Such as the one reported by the the Huffington Post, suggesting one of his detractors go pick some cotton.

He later tried to delete his tweets but was arrested the following day at his student house in Swansea. When interviewed by police, Stacey said he had been drinking since lunchtime on Saturday and was drunk when he made the comments.

Jim Brisbane, chief crown prosecutor for CPS Cymru-Wales, said:

Racist language is inappropriate in any setting and through any media. We hope this case will serve as a warning to anyone who may think that comments made online are somehow beyond the law.

A Swansea University spokesperson said:

The student remains suspended from the university pending the conclusion of our disciplinary proceedings.

Offsite Comment: The Tweet Police

28th March 2012. See article from spectator.co.uk by Nick Cohen

spectator nick cohen logoThis morning Swansea magistrates jailed a 21-year-old student called Liam Stacey for eight weeks for posting racially offensive comments on Twitter about Fabrice Muamba.

...

I've no doubt that he's a vile man, who by the sound of it was drunk at the time he posted, but what remains disturbing about the case is that the Crown offered no evidence that Stacey had incited racial violence or any other crime. That his speech was racist was enough to send him down.

This verdict, like so many others, shows how little confidence the judiciary has in wider society. It's as if the judges, politicians and the police believe that a neo-Nazi can turn the usually placid British into Ku Klux Klan supporters with a few inflammatory words; that we are a bomb just waiting for someone to light the fuse and ignite us.

...Read the full article

Offsite Comment: Twitter prosecutions: The CPS is attempting to deprive us of our liberty for the use of words

29th March 2012. See article from dailymail.co.uk by Abhijit Pandya
30th March 2012. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk by Alexander Boot

Daily Mail logoA man, Liam Stacey, has been imprisoned in the UK for using Twitter.

Yes, imprisoned for using words that do not constitute incitement of any sort. Such is the tragic state of affairs for liberty in this country.

The most important liberty of all being at stake: that absolute freedom of one's body from interference from the State.

That he lost his liberty for a mere vulgar prank, which had no attack on another's physical body that should justify the loss of liberty of his own, is not the most worrying aspect of Stacey's prosecution and conviction.

Not at all...

...Read the full article

Offsite Comment: Don't jail tweeters, that's not where the real racist problem lies

29th March 2012. See  article from  guardian.co.uk by Joseph Harker

The GuardianAm I the only one to think that 56 days in jail for a drunken rant, despicable though it was -- so noxious, in fact, that no newspaper has the stomach to publish it -- is a bit severe? Yes, punish him; but if he is to change his behaviour, which we all want to see, he hardly needs a sentence of this length. I'd be happy to see him do some community work, where he might come into contact with some of those he currently dehumanises.

At the moment, it seems, the criminal justice system is unleashing all its energy on the little guys. Twitterers, train ranters, even footballers -- for venting their emotions in public. These are all issues which, a few years ago, would have gone mostly unnoticed by all but the victims. Now, though, these incidents are likely to be recorded, replayed, retweeted, stuck on YouTube and viewed by millions. And the state seems keen to go after these quick wins to try to claim that racism will no longer be tolerated.

...Read the full article

Offsite Comment: How the disgraceful Twitter jail sentence is being seen in Australia

30th March 2012. See  article from  abc.net.au by Brendan O'Neill

China flagIf you thought it was only authoritarian states like China or Iran that imprisoned pesky bloggers and tweeters, think again.

This week, Britain became a fully paid-up member of that clique of illiberal intolerant, tweeter-harassing states.

...Read the full article

More details of what Stacey actually said

9th April 2012. See  article from  dougstanhope.com , thanks to goatboy

Doug Stanhope Deadbeat Hero DVDAfter some digging I found screen shots of Liam Stacey's tweets in question. Just stupid, what's the worst thing I can say for attention repetitive garbage. Dick for the sake of being a dick. Go rape your mother and go suck a nigger dick you aids ridden cunt . Like he took all the worst words he knew would get reactions and cut n pasted them. Definitely a shithead but inciting racial hatred?

Not really a White Power/Nazi Rally call to arms that should qualify for a prison sentence.

Update: And as if the sentence wasn't extreme enough

23rd May 2012. Based on article from  minivannews.com

Liam Stacey jailed for using Twitter to mock heart-attack football star Fabrice Muamba has been banned from his university for the rest of the year. He has now been suspended from Swansea University as a top up to his jail sentence.

 

29th March   

Updated: Religious Extremists Bay for Tweeter's Blood...


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Tweeter faces extreme punishment for supposed blasphemy in Kuwait
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Kuwait...Baying for blood

kuwait mobSome lawmakers threatened to stage protests if the government failed to arrest a tweeter who allegedly committed blasphemy by insulting Mohammad and other religious figures.

MP Jamaan Al-Harbash said, the nation should punish him if the government fails to do so. We are waiting for the arrest of the renegade so that calamity can be avoided.

MP Waleed Al-Tabatabae said, if the 'barking dog' is not arrested and legal measures are not taken against him, we will call gather at the Irada Square today.

Badar Al-Dahoum called for killing the irreligious man who insulted the Prophet, and asked for according the death penalty to those insult Islam, Prophet and his companions.

Writer Mohammad Al-Mulaifi said, we will wait outside the State Security Building to submit a complaint demanding this person's arrest.

Update: Arrested

29th March 2012.  See  article from  reuters.com

Kuwaiti authorities have now arrested a man for insulting Mohammad via his Twitter account, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry claimed in a statement that man had defamed the Islamic faith and slandered Mohammad, his companions and his wife.

 

27th March   

Update: A Kiss is Just a Kiss...

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More cheap and crap censorship from Facebook
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

facebook visible culturaFacebook has come under fire again after a picture of two men kissing was removed from the site because it infringed publishing rules of posting images of a sexual or delicate nature.

The snap was uploaded by Madrid-based Visible Cultura LGTB to promote its Gay Arts

It was taken down for reportedly breaching censorship rules, which bar images of a political, sexual or other sensitive nature.

And as usual, when caught out making crap censorship decisions, Facebook said the image was removed in error and it has now been reinstated. A spokesperson said:

Upon investigation, we concluded the advertisement does not violate our guidelines and was removed in error. The ad is now running and we apologise for the inconvenience.

Visible Cultura LGTB posted a censored version of the image and the response:

Can a kiss between two men be inappropriate?

Until when are we going to put up with this Facebook nonsense? Are we really in the 21st century?

 

26th March   

Update: Saudis Ignore the 'Day of No Outrage'...

Another tweeter causes 'outrage' in Saudi Arabia
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Saudi...Blasphemy laws used to settle private scores

Twitter logoA man in Saudi Arabia is accused of offending Islam and Mohammed in remarks on Twitter.

Hundreds of Twitter users were 'outraged' and demanded the arrest of Mohammed Salama on apostasy charges as was the case of Hamza Kashgari who is already in jail for supposedly offensive tweets.

The Saudi Arabic language daily Sabq, which carried part of Salama's remarks, said he claimed Mohammed had once tried to commit a suicide because he doubted the Koran. It also quoted Salama as saying on Twitter : If God gives chances but does not forget, then why He forgot Israel and did not give chances to Gaddafi. The paper also said Salama believed that God will let us enjoy liquor, usury and sorcery in Paradise after we were deprived of them in life.

The paper reported that Hundreds of Twitter users are demanding the arrest and trial of Salama for insulting Islam, the Prophet  and God as was the case with Kashgari.

 

19th March   

Twitter Police...

Police admit taking regular action against supposedly racist tweets
Link Here

Twitter logoA man has been arrested after allegedly making racist remarks on Twitter relating to critically ill footballer Fabrice Muamba.

South Wales police confirmed the arrest of a man for allegedly making racially offensive comments on Twitter.

Officers did not confirm that Muamba was the target of the remarks.

However, police forces throughout the UK regularly take action against those who post racially offensive remarks on Twitter but rarely feel the need to issue a public statement indicating it has happened.

Update: More Details

23rd March 2012. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

Liam Stacey a university student, has admitted posting the comments on Twitter, which were forwarded to police by disgusted fellow users.

After pleading guilty to inciting racial hatred the 21-year-old undergraduate was released on bail on condition he stays off Twitter and other social networking sites.

And he was warned by magistrates that all options would be considered when he is sentenced next week.

His messages -- which started with LOL [laugh out loud]. Fuck Muamba. He's dead!!! -- provoked several Premier League stars into complaining.

 

18th March   

Dangerous Aspirations...

The Most Beautiful Teen in the World competition taken down by Facebook
Link Here

Facebook logoA Facebook page inviting sexy pictures from teenagers hoping to be named the The Most Beautiful Teen in the World has been taken down after it sparked inevitable 'outrage'.

Facebook claimed in a statement that the page violated Facebook's statement of rights and responsibilities: We do not tolerate bullying and take action on content reported to us which we categorize as such.

Teens uploaded pictures of themselves for the page created by an unidentified Facebook user. The often-provocative photos, many showing boys with their shirts off and girls in bikinis, posing in their bedrooms and bathrooms at home, were then judged by other Facebook users in comments for all to see.

Harsh language in user comments and the concept of such a competition were too much for some and complaints resulted.

The page shut down by Facebook was open to anyone, meaning it did not require users to friend the publisher, or like the page in order to log on and see the thousands of pictures of youngster.

It is an absolute pool for people that like this sort of thing for the absolute wrong reason, John Abell, New York bureau chief for Wired.com, told ABC News.

The page was not a one off and there are others like it still available on other websites.

 

11th March

 Offsite Article: Closet Censors...

Link Here
Creating a new Yahoo profile? Be sure to keep any description of your sexuality in the closet. Yahoo is blocking profiles containing the word 'sexual', such as transsexual and bisexual

See article from xtra.ca

 

8th March   

Bloggers are Responsible for their Comments not the Blog Host...

High Court judgement confirms that Google is not responsible for claims of libel about comments posted on Blogger.com
Link Here

Old BaileyA former Tory local council candidate has failed in his libel action against Google over comments posted about him on a blog.

Payam Tamiz started legal proceedings against Google after allegedly defamatory comments were written about him on the London Muslim section of Blogger.com.

Google argued that it had no control over any of the content and had no way of knowing whether the comments posted were true or not.

In a written judgement handed down at the high court on Friday, Mr Justice Eady said Google should not be regarded as a publisher under the established principles of the common law.

Eady said that even if Google was regarded as the publisher of the offending words, it would be exempted from liability in accordance with regulation 19 of the European Union's electronic commerce directive 2002.

 

7th March   

Update: Searching for Censorship...

Spain asks European Court to comment on the legality of demands of Google to de-list personal information
Link Here  full story: The Right to be Forgotten...Bureaucratic censorship in the EU

European Court of JusticeSpain's highest court wants the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to decide if requests by Spanish citizens to have data deleted from Google's search engine are lawful.

The Spanish court said it had asked the ECJ to clarify whether Google should remove data from its search engine's index and news aggregator.

Madrid's data protection authority has received over 100 requests from Spanish citizens to have their data removed from Google's search results. An example case is a plastic surgeon who wants to get rid of archived references to a botched operation.

The Spanish judges also asked the ECJ whether the complainants must take their grievances to California, where Google is based, or whether  they can be addressed by Google Spain.

Google has maintained that it cannot lawfully remove any content for which it is merely the host and not the producer, a principle enshrined in EU law on eCommerce since 2000. Google told the Spanish prosecutor it needed more legal justification for removing references to events in an individual's history.

 

6th March   

An Urge to Spout Bollox...

Thailand blames Facebook for teenage pregnancies
Link Here

Facebook logoAccording to Thai government body the National Economic and Social Development Board, Facebook has a lot to answer for in the country.

It said that Thai teenage mothers accounted for 14% of all births in 2009 and 2010, putting Thailand top of Unicef's list of most teen pregnancies in Asia.

The research, reported by Thailand's National News Bureau, seems to tie together the fact that 18 to 24-year-olds are the largest group of Facebook users, with the suggestion that young folk post seductive messages or video clips online.

Not surprisingly, the ludicrous correlation from the NESDB has drawn the ire of local bloggers. Saksith Saiyasombut argued that Thailand's prudish attitude towards sex education might be more to blame. He revealed that recent national sex ed exam asked students: What should you do if you have a sexual urge? The answer, apparently, was call friends to go play football .

 

4th March   

Thin End of the Wedge...

Tumblr Bans 'Thinspiration' Blogs
Link Here

tumblr 2012 logoTumblr, the popular blogging site, announced on Feb. 23 it is enforcing a new policy that will prohibit blogs that promote eating disorders and other self-harm.

The Tumblr blog announced:

We are deeply committed to supporting and defending our users' freedom of speech, but we do draw some limits. As a company, we've decided that some specific kinds of content aren't welcome on Tumblr.

The eating disorder community sometimes referred to as thinspo (short for thinspiration ) or pro-ana (anorexia nervosa) is one of the fastest growing communities on Tumblr.

Bloggers who continue to share this content will be given a short amount of time to edit their posts and, if they fail to do so, will be removed from the site.

If one was to search by using keywords such as pro-ana, thinspo, thinspiration, purge, bulimia, or anorexic, public service ads will appear alongside, stating the dangers of eating disorders, as well as adding contact info in order to get help.

 

3rd March   

Putting up with Crap Censorship...

Economics of mass internet censorship leads to shameful and incompetent overblocking
Link Here

techdirt logoTechdirt has apparently been deemed harmful to minors in Germany. The German Media Control Authority has apparently been pushing internet youth filters to protect kids from dangerous things online. So far, it has officially approved two internet filters.

It was discovered that Techdirt was one of many blocked sites as the filter claims that Techdirt has pornographic images and depictions of violence. We do?

Local Hanno reached out to a spokesperson for the JusProg filter, and got the usual runaround. We do not want to censor political opinions. BUT... The spokesperson claims that the system is automated and looks at links. When asked why Techdirt was blocked, it was explained that since we use certain words perhaps twenty times in discussions about pornography and censorship, the system deemed us clearly a danger. Apparently, we can appeal to JusProg, but it appears that might require some familiarity with German... So, in the meantime, let's just hope that we haven't already damaged the youth of Germany too much.

 

3rd March

 Offsite Article: Outsourcing Facebook Censorship to Morocco...

Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
An investigation finds that outsourcing censorship and moderation to Morocco and Mexico is cheap. And shock horror, the local workers aren't saddled with expensive nonsense like CRB vetting.

See article from telegraph.co.uk

 

27th February   

Dangerous Friends...

Zimbabwe court orders caning for insult on Facebook
Link Here

Zimbabwe flagA teenager will be beaten with two strokes of a cane for calling a woman a prostitute on Facebook, a Zimbabwe court has ruled.

The 17-year-old, is believed to be the first in the country to be punished for making such a comment on the site.

The boy admitted using his mobile phone to photograph a woman talking on the phone without her knowledge before posting it on Facebook He then posted the photo online with a caption saying she was a typical Chiredzi prostitute , in the local Shona language.

The woman saw the photo as the pair were friends on Facebook and called police, who arrested the boy. His Facebook page has now been removed.

Magistrate Tinashe Ndokera found the boy guilty of criminal assault . He ordered him to be caned twice.

 

21st February

 Offsite Article Media Industry Sails in for a Broadside Attack...

Link Here  full story: Pirate Bay...Pirate Bay, Swedish file sharing site
A UK court finds that The Pirate Bay and its users infringe copyrights

See article from publicaffairs.linx.net

 

19th February   

Updated: Facebook Censorship Rules Revealed...

Facebook first line censors based where labour is cheap
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

facebook summery rules Amine Derkaoui, a 21-year-old Moroccan man, is pissed at Facebook. Last year he spent a few weeks training to screen illicit Facebook content through an outsourcing firm, for which he was paid a measly $1 an hour. He's still fuming over it.

It's humiliating. They are just exploiting the third world, Derkaoui complained in a thick French accent over Skype just a few weeks after Facebook filed their record $100 billion IPO. As a sort of payback, Derkaoui gave us some internal documents, which shed light on exactly how Facebook censors the dark content it doesn't want you to see, and the people whose job it is to make sure you don't.

Whenever Facebook deletes an image it deems objectionable, it refers the offending user to its rambling Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. That policy is vague when it comes to content moderation, and probably intentionally so. If users knew exactly what criteria was being used to judge their content, they could hold Facebook to them. It would be clear what Facebook was choosing to censor according to its policies, and what amounted to arbitrary censorship.

Well, now we know Facebook's exact standards. Derkaoui provided us with a copy of the astonishingly specific guidelines Facebook dictates to content moderators. It's the public's first look at exactly what Facebook considers beyond the pale, and what sketchy content it won't allow in videos, images and wall posts. The document is essentially a map of Facebook's moral terrain.

The content moderation team Derkaoui was a member of uses a web-based tool to view a stream of pictures, videos and wall posts that have been reported by users. They either confirm the flag, which deletes the content, unconfirm it, which lets it stay, or escalate it to a higher level of moderation, which turns the content in question over to Facebook employees.

Example rules defining content for which abuse reports are confirmed and the content is taken down:

  1. Any OBVIOUS sexual activity, even if naked parts are hidden from view by hands, clothes or other objects. Cartoons/art included. Foreplay allowed (Kissing, groping, etc.). even for same sex (man-rnan/woman woman

  2. Naked private parts including female nipple bulges and naked butt cracks; male nipples are ok.

  3. Pixelated or black-barred content showing nudity or sexual activity as above.

...Read the full article

Update: For Example

19th February 2012. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

lovers of naked snowThe Facebook page, Lovers Of Naked Snow , attracted more than 2,000 followers in the week after it was set up. But it was censored due to the revealing nature of one photograph.

Facebook sent notifications raising 'concerns' over one of the photographs. The page was taken down when the administrators didn't speedily repsond.

Lee Shaw, who also posted his picture on the site, said: It is such a shame that it has been closed down due to a few people not understanding the light-hearted context it was set up for.

A spokesman for Facebook declined to comment on the group itself but said content was removed if it was deemed to have broken the social network's rules. He added photos containing nudity violate Facebook's terms and will be taken down when reported.

But now we can be clear as to the reason. The photo was judged to have transgressed the Facebook prohibition on:

  1. Naked private parts including female nipple bulges and naked butt cracks; (male nipples are ok).

 

16th February

 Offsite Article: Asking for more than just a 140 character explanation...

Link Here  full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs
US senators Dick Durbin and Tom Coburn have just sent a letter to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo requesting detailed information about the company's handling of takedown notices, injunctions and subpoenas.

See article from forbes.com

 

16th February

 Offsite Article: Asking for more information about Google's Blogger censorship...

Link Here  full story: Blogger Censorship...Google announces censorship by country
Google responds to questions from Reporters Without Borders

See article from en.rsf.org

 

14th February

 Offsite Article: A Necessary Change in Policy...

Link Here
Social news sharing website Reddit announces a ban on legal, but suggestive or sexual content featuring minors.

See article from reddit.com

 

10th February   

Update: Twitter Censorship...

And how it is used to stop broadcast of the whereabouts of pirated music
Link Here  full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs

Party In early June, about three weeks before Beyonce's latest album came out, one of her songs, a collaboration with the rapper Andre 3000, made its way to the open seas of the Internet. Twitter recently published a batch of data that sheds light on the leak and provides insight into how Twitter censors information on the Internet.

It began when a website called RapUp published a link to the song, Party . Someone tweeted the link and lots of people retweeted it. From the perspective of Beyonce's record label, Columbia, this was not cool. So Columbia turned to a London-based contractor called Web Sheriff, which sent a takedown request to Twitter. It contained a list of over 100 of those copyright-infringing tweets and retweets. Twitter wrote back quickly: We have removed the reported materials from the site.

Twitter has removed thousands of tweets from its site over the years, and last month, it published the more than 4,000 takedown requests that have floated into its inbox since 2009.

...Read the full article

 

10th February   

Update: Twitter Censorship...

Brazil court case to consider asking Twitter to censor tweets that reveal police speed traps
Link Here  full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs

BrazilA request for an injunction to stop Twitter users from alerting drivers to police roadblocks, radar traps and drunk-driving checkpoints could make Brazil the first country to take Twitter up on its plan to censor content at governments' requests.

Twitter unveiled plans last month that would allow country-specific censorship of tweets that might break local laws.

As far as we know this is the first time that a country has attempted to take Twitter up on their country-by-country take down, Eva Galperin of the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation said: Twitter has given these countries the tool and now Brazil has chosen to use it, she said.

Carlos Eduardo Rodrigues Alves, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office, said the injunction request was filed Monday. He said a judge was expected to announce in the next few days whether he will issue the order against Twitter users.

 

10th February   

Update: Three Disgraces...

Facebook censorship of art and fun at the Louvre
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

art vs pornography Recently I posted a sublime, cheeky photo on Facebook. The reaction from my friends was swift: Everyone loved it! Within just a couple of hours it had been liked by more than 100 people and shared by 50. It was very quickly going viral and from past experience, I know that within three days it would have been liked and shared by more than 1,000 people.

The photo was taken at the Louvre in Paris. Four women with their backs to the camera are standing in front of Henri Regnault's Three Graces -- a painting which features three nude women. In the art gallery three of the four women have stripped off their clothes to the point where their bottoms are showing. It's very tasteful, and very funny. People described it as delicious, delightful, hilarious. Friends in the art community all across Canada loved it. Reaction from francophone friends was overwhelming -- the French, of course, have such a strong joie de vivre and appreciation of the finer things in life.

You can imagine my surprise when I logged onto Facebook the next morning and found the picture had been removed due to its violating community standards. Whose community? Whose standards?

...Read the full article

Offsite: And another disgrace

See  article from  news.pinkpaper.com

lhomme imageA Facebook group which posts daily pictures of men to gay subscribers has been partly restricted by the social networking site over claims of indecency.

L'Homme du Jour, which has almost 5,000 members, today had administrative access blocked for three days because they posted the image you can see here in this story.

The picture, by photographer Antonio Bezerra, may have been blocked by the site's automated system because it has hints of pubic hair on display, although this has not been confirmed.

...Read the full article

 

8th February   

Long Life Free Speech...

South Korea arrests Twitter user for posting 'long live Kim Jong-il'
Link Here

Twitter logoThe South Korean authorities should immediately release a social media activist accused of helping the enemy for re-tweeting messages from North Korea's official government Twitter account, Amnesty International said today.

Park Jeonggeun, a 24-year-old Socialist Party activist, was charged by South Korean law enforcement authorities with violating the country's national security law for re-tweeting the message long live Kim Jong-il from North Korea's official Twitter account.

Park, who says his re-tweets were meant to ridicule North Korea's leaders rather than support them, has been held at Seoul Detention Centre since 11 January and could face up to seven years in jail.

This is not a national security case, it's a sad case of the South Korean authorities' complete failure to understand sarcasm, said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.

Imprisoning anyone for peaceful expression of their opinions violates international law but in this case, the charges against Park Jeonggeun are simply ludicrous and should be dropped immediately, he said.

 

7th February   

Update: Stigmatising Breastfeeding...

Worldwide protests against Facebook's censorship of breastfeeding pictures
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

IrelandProtesters assembled at more than 30 locations worldwide at 10am yesterday to oppose Facebook's policy regarding the removal of images of breastfeeding from the social networking website.

Irish protesters stood their ground for two hours to highlight the fact Facebook is removing breast feeding photos. Moreover, parents argued that Facebook's censorship reflects a disturbing trend stigmatising breastfeeding in public.

Chris Finn, a representative from Friends of Breastfeeding, an advocacy group in Ireland. said:

Some might ask why would a mother want to post a picture of herself breastfeeding on Facebook. And the only question I can ask you back is, 'Why wouldn't she'?

We're here to stand up and say that our nation's attitude towards breastfeeding needs to change. Why? Because breastfeeding is just the biologically normal way to feed a baby, and the only way to make a change is if we see breastfeeding.

Facebook said that its terms prohibit nudity. Therefore, images containing a fully exposed breast are deemed to violate those terms of user safety. A statement said:

These policies are based on the same standards that apply to television and print media. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and we are very glad to know that it is important for mothers, including the many mothers who work at Facebook, to share their experience with others on the site.

 

5th February   

Update: Tweet Tweak...

Thailand approves of the new Twitter censorship by country policy
Link Here  full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs

Twitter logoThe Thai government becomes the first to publicly endorse Twitter's decision to permit country-specific censorship of content

Thai information and communication technology minister, Jeerawan Boonperm, called Twitter's decision a welcome development and said the ministry already received good co-operation from internet companies such as Google and Facebook. The Thai government would soon be contacting Twitter to discuss ways in which they can collaborate , she told the Bangkok Post.

Thailand has some of the most repressive censorship laws in the world, ranking it 153 out of 178 in Reporters Without Borders' 2011 Press Freedom Index. In particular these are used to target criticism of the monarchy. Lese-majeste laws include punishments by up to 15 years in prison, but under Thailand's 2007 computer crimes act prosecutors have been able to increase sentences.

Thailand's endorsement could have profound ramifications across the region, said Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch Thailand, while it already adds more damage to an already worrying trend in Thailand . Twitter gives space to different opinions and views, and that is so important in a restricted society -- it gives people a chance to speak up, he said. But if this censorship is welcomed by Thailand, then other countries, with worse records for human rights and freedom of speech, will find that they have an ally.

 

1st February   

Blog Block...

Blogger to be censored on a per country basis
Link Here  full story: Blogger Censorship...Google announces censorship by country

Blogger.com logoGoogle has quietly announced changes to its Blogger blogging platform that will enable the blocking of content only in countries where censorship is required.

Google's announcement three weeks ago, buried in a Blogger help page, went unnoticed until it was highlighted by TechDows.

Google wrote that it would begin redirecting Blogger traffic to country-specific URLs, meaning whatever country you're in, you'll get that country's domain for Blogger-hosted blogs. Doing that, Google wrote, means content can be removed on a per country basis. Google added:

Migrating to localized domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law.

 

31st January   

Fair Play Destroyed in America...

US reveals awesome surveillance capabilities used to refuse entry to tourists over trivial jokey tweets
Link Here

us prisonTwo British tourists were refused entry into the USA after joking on Twitter that they were going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe . Leigh Van Bryan was handcuffed and kept under armed guard in a cell for 12 hours after landing in Los Angeles with pal Emily Bunting.

The Department of Homeland Security flagged him as a potential threat when he posted an excited tweet to his pals about his forthcoming trip to Hollywood which read:

Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?

Leigh was also quizzed about another tweet which quoted hit US comedy Family Guy which read:

3 weeks today, we're totally in LA pissed people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin Marilyn Monroe up!

After making their way through passport control at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). the pair were detained by armed guards. Despite telling officials the term destroy was British slang for party , they were held on suspicion of planning tocommit crimes. They were held in cells for 12 hours and then put on a plane back home. The couple must now apply for a US visa should they ever want to travel to America again.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was recently criticised over false accounts it set up on Twitter. These are then used to scan networks for sensitive words and then for tracking the people who use them. Online privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre requested information on the surveillance, but this was not forthcoming. However words deemed as being sensitive by the DHS include:Illegal immigrant, Outbreak, Drill, Strain, Virus, Recovery, Deaths, Collapse, Human to animal,and Trojan.

 

30th January   

Offsite: Searching for a More Complete Profile...

Google changes its privacy policy to better suit its ad serving
Link Here  full story: Behavioural Advertising...Serving adverts according to internet snooping

Google logoGoogle has announced that it was placing 60 of its Web services under a unified privacy policy that would allow the company to share data between any of those services. (Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome are excluded due to different regulatory and technical issues.)

Any user with a Google account --- used to sign in to services such as Gmail, YouTube and personalized search --- must agree to the policy. Users who don't want to have their data shared have the option to close their accounts with Google.

The changes will apply from March 1st.

Data-protection agencies in Ireland and France said they would assess the implications of the push. At least one consumer-advocacy group fretted that the policy -- which makes it easier for Google to target advertisements to specific groups -- might tie users' hands and make it harder for them to limit what the company can do with their information.

This announcement is pretty frustrating and potentially frightening from a kids and family and teenager standpoint and an overall consumer privacy standpoint, said James Steyer, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Common Sense Media.

...Read the full article

 

28th January   

Tweet Tweak...

Twitter to be censored on a per country basis
Link Here  full story: Twitter Censorship...Twitter offers country by country take downs

Twitter logoTwitter is giving itself the facility to withhold content in specific countries, while keeping that content available for the rest of the world, the company has announced.

Until now, the only way for Twitter to censor content was to universally eliminate it from the site. This change means content deemed inappropriate by a specific government can be withheld locally, explains a blog post called The Tweets Still Must Flow.

When we receive a request from an authorized entity, we will act in accordance with appropriate laws and our terms of service, a Twitter rep told Mashable.

If and when content is withheld, affected users will be notified of either an account or tweet's censorship. Twitter will make that decision public on Chilling Effects, through an expanded partnership that charts Cease and Desist Notices.

Update: Twitter Boycott

28th January 2012. See article from mashable.com

Twitter's new approach to censoring tweets has users rallying around the hashtag #TwitterBlackout, a call to boycott the microblogging service.

The change lets Twitter withhold content on a country-by-country basis, when a government deems the tweets inappropriate. Rather than wholly removing the content from the site, it will now only be blocked locally.

Many users have expressed dissatisfaction with the change. Tweets have been streaming in, in various languages, all with the #TwitterBlackout hashtag.

Anonymous has also supported the blackout. One of its tweets read:

SPREAD THE WORD #TwitterBlackout I will not tweet for the whole of January 28th due to the new twitter censor rule #Twitter #J28?

Offsite: What Does Twitter's Country-by-Country Takedown System Mean for Freedom of Expression?

28th January 2012. See  article from  advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org by Eva galperin

So what should Twitter users do? Keep Twitter honest. First, pay attention to the notices that Twitter sends and to the archive being created on Chilling Effects. If Twitter starts honoring court orders from India to take down tweets that are offensive to the Hindu gods, or tweets that criticize the king in Thailand, we want to know immediately. Furthermore, transparency projects such as Chilling Effects allow activists to track censorship all over the world, which is the first step to putting pressure on countries to stand up for freedom of expression and put a stop to government censorship.

What else? Circumvent censorship. Twitter has not yet blocked a tweet using this new system, but when it does, that tweet will not simply disappear---there will be a message informing you that content has been blocked due to your geographical location. Fortunately, your geographical location is easy to change on the Internet. You can use a proxy or a Tor exit node located in another country. Read Write Web also suggests that you can circumvent per-country censorship by simply changing the country listed in your profile.

...Read the full article

Update: Twitter boss explains

5th February 2012. See  article from  mashable.com

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo took the stage at AllThingsD's media conference to defend the company's new censorship policies. He argued that Twitter's new policies allow for greater freedom of speech on the platform. Previously, when a government demanded that Twitter remove a tweet or block a user, access to that content would be blocked from the entire world. Now, Twitter can hide the tweet or user from that individual country, but allow the rest of the world to see it. Costello explained:

There's been no change in our stance or attitude or policy with respect to content on Twitte. What we announced is a greater capability we now have. Now, when we are issued a valid legal order in a country in which we operate, such as a DMCA takedown notice, we are able to leave the content up for as many people around the world as possible, while still operating within the local law. You can't operate in these countries and choose the laws you want to abide by.

We don't proactively go do anything. This is purely a reactive capability to what we determine to be a valid and applicable legal order in a country in which we operate. We're fully blocked in Iran and China. And I don't see the current environment in either country being one in which we could go and operate anytime soon.

 

28th January   

Privates on Parade...

Indian Army orders its personnel to refrain from using social networking websites
Link Here

indian army logoThe Indian Army has reportedly asked all its personnel to quit social networking websites with immediate effect. It has directed them to refrain from joining social networking websites including Facebook, Orkut, and Google+. The policy is said to safeguard the well-being of army personnel.

According to sources, the Indian Army had been monitoring the social networking activities of its officers to find out if they posted uniformed photos of themselves, weaponry, or other units for the past few months. It has now decided to issue a blanket ban on all such websites throughout the ranks.

The US Army has also suggested care over information sharedvia social networking lest it be used by terrorist organisations to target army units. They suggested:

  • Restricting privacy settings to Only Me or Friends.
  • Remove any personally identifiable data.
  • Avoid sharing details about bases and capabilities
  • Disable GPS/tagging/tracking applications

 

24th January   

Updated: Megaupload Megapanic...

Filesonic ends sharing on its 'cyberlocker' service in response to Megaupload arrests
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

filesonic logoFilesonic, one of the Internet's leading cyberlocker services, has taken some drastic measures following the Megaupload shutdown and arrests last week. In addition to discontinuing its affiliates rewards program, the site has disabled all sharing functionality, leaving users only with access to their own files. Many hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of links all around the web have now been rendered useless, at least temporarily.

This combination of news all adds up to a pretty big deal. Filesonic isn't just some also-ran in the world of cyberlockers. The site is among the top 10 file-sharing sites on the Internet, with a quarter billion page views a month.

Like Megaupload, Filesonic appears to based in Hong Kong and it's clear that the authorities there already worked with the US government to shut down Kim Dotcom's operations and seize his assets there.

The events of the last week have turned the cyberlocker world upside down and there is quite literally panic among users and site operators.

The Megaupload takedown appears to be a game-changer.

Offsite: Panic continues

24th January 2012. See  article from  torrentfreak.com

Fileserve, another leading player, also ended its affiliate program this weekend. Additionally, this morning TorrentFreak received news that Fileserve has now joined Filesonic in banning all 3rd party downloads.

VideoBB and VideoZer have both reportedly closed their rewards program and according to reports have also been mass deleting accounts and huge numbers of files.

Other sites closing their affiliate programs and/or deleting accounts/files include FileJungle, UploadStation and FilePost.

...Read the full article .

 

21st January   

Updated: Encyclopedic Protest...

Wikipedia to go dark for 24 hours in protest at the proposed SOPA internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

Wikipedia logoWikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has announced that the encyclopedia will go dark this Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, aka SOPA.

Wales tweeted that the English-language version of Wikipedia would go down at midnight this Wednesday, Eastern standard time (5am in the UK), and come back up in 24 hours.

The heat is rising in the SOPA debate. Over the weekend, for example, three top Obama-administration officials issued a statement that said, in part, While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.

Presumably at least partially in response to the White House's statement -- and a possible Obama veto -- SOPA author Smith has dropped the DNS-blocking provision of the controvertial bill -- an action also taken by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), sponsor of the Senate's equivalent, the PROTECT IP* Act.

Update: Google Joins the Protest

18th January 2012. Based on article from  minivannews.com

Google logoGoogle's main search page has included a typically minimalist link:

Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!

This links to a protest page with comment and a petition:

Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.

Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.

Update: Wikipedia hails a successful protest

20th January 2012. See  article from  telegraph.co.uk

The English version of Wikipedia was inaccessible worldwide for 24 hours (unless readers turned off javascript that is)

Founder Jimmy Wales said:

More than 162 million people saw our message asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge, it said.

You said no. You shut down Congress's switchboards. You melted their servers. From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet.

Along with Facebook, Google and other major technology corporations, Wikipedia says the laws would place onerous obligations on websites to vet content uploaded by users, and threaten free expression online.

Update: On Hold (Until the heat is off?)

21st January 2012. See  article from  guardian.co.uk

US SenateIn a dramatic display of the power of online protest, a congressional vote on the anti-piracy bills Pipa and Sopa have been shelved after some of the internet's main players demanded a legislative rethink.

Just two days after chunks of the internet went dark in opposition to proposals that critics claim will hamper the flow of online information, Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced the postponement of a planned ballot on Pipa, also known as the Protect IP Act.

Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on similar legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or Sopa, until there is wider agreement on the legislation.

The decision to postpone the votes was made in light of recent events , Reid said -- taken to be a reference to Wednesday's day of action in which Wikipedia led the way with a 24-hour blackout.

During the CNN primary debate in South Carolina on Thursday, the four remaining Republican candidates vying for the White House nod came out against the Sopa. GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney said the law was far too intrusive and could hamper job creation and would harm the economy. His main rival, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, said existing laws were sufficient to allow an aggrieved copyright holder to sue, while libertarian Ron Paul said the bill threatened freedom.

 

20th January   

Update: Megaupload Goes Megadark...

Megaupload is shut by US authorities and bosses have been arrested
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

Money In The Bank Explicit The U.S. Justice Department has charged seven individuals connected to the file-sharing site Megaupload.com, accusing them of a massive worldwide online piracy scheme that costed more than $500 million in damages and generated more than $175 million in profits, according to a Justice Department release. Megaupload's CEO is the rapper and DJ Swizz Beatz.

The business is allegedly led by Kim Dotcom of Hong Kong and New Zealand. Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand along with associates.

The main site, Megaupload.com which has been shut down, is accused of infringing on copyright by distributing movies, television shows, books and software even before their release dates. The companies Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited are accused of having a business modelexpressly designed to promote uploading of the most popular copyrighted works for many millions of users to download. The site provided financial incentives for uploading popular content, the indictment charges.

The interest in this case is likely to be high as it is conveniently timed to match interest in the recent SOPA protest.

Update: Data owners fight to get their data

4th June 2012. See article from tweaktown.com , thanks to Nick

The Megaupload case continues, with Kyle Goodwin from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) asking the court to return the files, that were legal, back to Goodwin.

Goodwin lost his files when Megaupload was seized in January, since then they've been to court, both for a hearing and a mediation, but nothing has changed according to the EFF.

On May 24, EFF filed a brief asking the court to order Goodwin's rightfully owned data returned. But the problem is, is that's not just Goodwin's files, it's the thousands upon thousands of other Megaupload users who had data on their servers, where they thought it was safe.

EFF has asked the court to implement a procedure to make all of those customers whole again by giving them access to what is legally theirs.

Goodwin used Megaupload to house business files, with others losing person data and information.

Update: MPAA: Megaupload Users Can Have Their Files Back, But...

11th June 2012. See  article from  torrentfreak.com

Almost half a year has passed since Megaupload's servers were raided by the U.S. Government, and still there is no agreement on how former users can retrieve their files. Previously the authorities and MPAA have objected against such a mass retrieval, but in a filing at the court today the movie industry changed its tone. The MPAA states that users can have their files back as long as access to copyrighted files is blocked.

In the wake of the January shutdown of Megaupload, many of the site's legitimate users complained that their personal files had been lost.

Among these users are many people in the U.S. military who used the site to share pictures and videos with family. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom previously informed TorrentFreak that least 15,634 soldiers had accounts at Megaupload, between them sharing hundreds of thousands of files.

But as of January those files were rendered inaccessible and attempts by the parties involved to come to a solution have failed miserably.

Last month one of Megaupload's users, represented by the EFF, filed a motion asking the court to facilitate such a user data retrieval. Today, the MPAA filed a response to this motion in which they appear to be more open to the request.

The MPAA Members are sympathetic to legitimate users who may have relied on Megaupload to store their legitimately acquired or created data, although the Megaupload terms of use clearly disclaimed any guarantee of continued access to uploaded materials,MPAA's lawyers write.

But along with this sympathy comes a caveat. The movie studios don't want users to have access to copyright-infringing files.

If the Court is willing to consider allowing access for users such as Mr. Goodwin to allow retrieval of files, it is essential that the mechanism include a procedure that ensures that any materials the users access and copy or download are not files that have been illegally uploaded to their accounts.

Update: US authorities refuse to give back property they have stolen...

13th June 2012. See  article from  tgdaily.com

Innocent bystanders who lost mountains of data, personal files, documents, and more when the popular but illegitimately operated cloud-based site MegaUpload was taken down, may end up being just plain out of luck, at least for a while. The US Deparment of Justice wants to block former user Kyle Goodwin from accessing his high school football videos which he uploaded to the site.

But what happens to those who didn't do anything wrong? Lawyers for the US Attorney say the answer is nothing. In the same way that if you left a video game at a friend's house on the night that police raided your friend's house with a warrant, the government does not have a duty to make sure you get your stuff back in before the case is resolved.

 

17th January   

Abuse in 140 Characters...

Ceop call for moderation of twitter feeds
Link Here

ceop logoBritain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) centre said more can be done to safeguard children who use the Twitter website.

Apparently social networking sites Facebook and Bebo both report far more incidents of illegal activity to Ceop than Twitter does. Perhaps the 140 character tweets are not the most likely communication method for grooming and the like.

Peter Davies, head of Ceop, said:

Providers of online services have a responsibility to safeguard their environment in order to minimise the risk to children and close down opportunities for offenders.

Many companies work closely with us to enhance their ability to do this, including Facebook and Bebo.

The centre does receive reports relating to material on Twitter but it's important to say these amount to a very small proportion of 1,000 reports a month relating to a wide range of online environments.

Twitter have removed illegal images and other content on our request.

We believe more can be done around the moderation of Twitter feeds and the strengthening of Twitter's reporting mechanisms.

It's important that all providers have in place robust and effective reporting mechanisms so that when illegal, offensive or inappropriate material is posted it is quickly removed and reported to law enforcement as necessary.

 

12th January   

Dangerous Musings...

Bangladesh Facebook commentator sentenced to 6 months jail for musing about the death of the PM
Link Here

Bangladesh flagLast August, Muhammad Ruhul Amin Khandaker, a lecturer of the Department of Information and Technology at Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh, updated his Facebook status to comment on a series of fatal road traffic accidents involving celebritries.

With a heavy dose of irony the lecturer asked on his Facebook profile why the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, couldn't suffer a similar fate.

Maybe it wasn't clever or very funny, but expressing the wish that a political leader could vanish is the kind of thing stated all over the internet on a daily basis. Clearly there is a line to be drawn between people just wishing they did not have to endure politicians in their life and people who are directly making a threat to the life of an elected leader.

That line is called common sense. But in this case the Bangladeshi government doesn't seem to possess a great deal of it as the High Court just sentenced Khandaker to six months in jail.

 

10th January   

Update: Infant Censors...

Facebook again caught making crap censorship decisions about breast feeding pictures
Link Here  full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor

express yourself mums logoFacebook has again apologised for crap and arbitrary censorship after it deleted a page showing two little girls pretending to breastfeed their dolls.

Express Yourself Mums, an NHS-backed breastfeeding website, discovered its group had been removed on for a supposed policy violation .

The previous day co-owner Sharon Blackstone had posted a picture of her seven-year-old daughter Maya playing with her doll. She said:

After giving her doll a naming ceremony, Maya told me that her baby needed to be fed. As she's only ever seen me breastfeed her little sister, it was the most natural thing in the world for her to pretend to do it the same way.

Like many mums, I got out my phone and took a picture because I thought it was a sweet moment. I shared it with the 600 other mothers on our Facebook page because I thought it was something they'd like to see. After all, don't millions of people post cute pictures of their kids on Facebook?

A few minutes later, my business partner Carly Silver also posted a similar shot of her seven-year-old daughter Izzy cradling her baby doll in her arms.

Last Friday afternoon Express Yourself Mums discovered the page (with 600 fans) had been removed. The reason given was a vague list of restrictions including nudity or obscenity.

Under pressure to reinstate the page from more than 400 women who formed a campaigning group, Facebook has now apologised for the error and reinstated the page. Facebook says any complaint is reviewed by its operation team, which then makes the decision about whether to remove the images or close down the group. A Facebook spokesman said:The group was removed in error. It will be reinstated, and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

[Presumably the Facebook censorship system is as cheap as possible and gives low grade 'operators' minimal time to make decisions which turn out to be arbitrary. I guess these are re-considered by more senior censors if a fuss is kicked up. One has to wonder how many people and businesses suffer from equally crap decisions but cannot organise sufficient press coverage to get Facebook to reconsider].

 

8th January   

Fatwa on Facebook...

Senior Iranian cleric pronounces that using Facebook is a sin
Link Here

Facebook logoAn Iranian ayatollah has said that the social networking website Facebook was un-Islamic and being a member of it is a sin, the ISNA news agency reported.

ISNA broadcast coverage of the response of Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpaygani, a senior cleric, to the question about Facebook and Iranian membership in the social networking service. The ayatollah explained:

Basically, going to any website which propagates immoralities and could weaken the religious belief is un-Islamic and not allowed, and membership in it is therefore haram (a sin).

Only the use of websites propagating religious criteria and not leading to any kind of ethical immoralities is of no problem.