New film censorship guidelines, set to take effect on March 15, have received guarded reception from the local artistic community.
Malaysian Film Producers Association president Ahmad Puad Onah, said: With the new guidelines, the Film
Censorship Board is willing to discuss the story and give options to filmmakers on how to change certain scenes that may be deemed offensive.
It is very helpful. Previously, the censorship board only accepted the finished product. So, the
filmmakers have to bear the extra cost of omitting whatever needs to be cut and even suffer losses if the film is banned.
He was among those in the local film community who had a chance to view and discuss the new guidelines. Ahmad said: My
worries are the verbal and oral instructions given. The minister still can cut out scenes if these are 'deemed' sensitive in relation to current issues, even though these comply with the guidelines.
The four key areas that the filmmaker has to
consider is the need to be sensitive towards public order and safety, respecting religious aspects, social culture and moral values.
It will also encourage producers to exercise self-censorship. As filmmakers, we need to heed the negative
ramifications of producing provocative and offensive subjects. If we are making a movie for the Malaysian audience, of course we need to abide by the laws of the country.
Film maker Datuk Paduka Shuhaimi Baba said: I think it is a good move
as I think the board is trying to be more liberal and they are now breaking a lot of barriers. They now allow us to submit and discuss the script if they feel we have touched on taboo areas, which makes it less stressful for movie makers. The board is
more open to discussion and involving related parties like filmmakers in drafting the guidelines reflects this fresh approach.
Gay men can at long last be depicted in Malaysian films - so long as they repent or even go straight in the end.
Strict censorship rules in the mostly Muslim country mean books and films are routinely banned or scenes deleted that are deemed
detrimental to moral values or religious sensitivities.
The new censorship guidelines reverse a ban on scenes featuring homosexuality, Malaysian Film Producers' Association president Ahmad Puad Onah said. But there's a catch: We are now allowed
to show these scenes . As long as we portray good triumphing over evil and there is a lesson learnt in the film, such as from a gay (character) who turns into a (straight) man. Previously we are not allowed to show these at all.
rules, he insists, will allow greater freedom of expression for film-makers. But kissing, undressing and obscenity scenes will still be banned: We can do almost anything now but we are urged to give due considerations on the film's impact on certain
areas like public order, religion, socio-culture elements and moral values.
It is not just homosexuality - subjects such as illegal racing can also be depicted. A report at the weekend said local movie V3 Road Gangster was being shown
in the cinemas since the illegal racers either died or were caught by police at the end.
Update: Be moral or you'll be censored
31st March 2010.
Malaysia's censorship guidelines made public on the Home Ministry's Web site this week make the dishonest claim that adults should be free to choose whatever material they wish to watch, as long as the material is legitimate in terms of the law and
does not have the potential to cause harm.
...But... the new rules list dozens of elements that might be objectionable, but indicates a movie containing them might not necessarily be prohibited. In another departure from previous
guidelines, it notes that curse words might be allowed based on whether they are appropriate in the context of a film.
All profanities and scenes of amorous kisses will be excised if they are overly explicit, such as involving nudity.
Religious sensitivities in this Muslim-majority country take up a chunk of the guidelines, which discourage scenes of Muslims drinking alcohol, gambling and becoming involved in vice. ...BUT... it would be permissible if the filmmaker wants to
depict a person's transformation from being evil to good.
Also, depictions of Muslims who convert to other religions should not highlight the benefits (of the act) without showing its ...BAD... consequences.
including homosexuality and unnatural sex, remain discouraged, extending to erotic voices and kissing on body parts that could arouse sex, including the neck, chest and ears. Women should not wear bikinis that are too tiny and
tight, according to the guidelines.
Passionate hugs between men and women or gay people are also discouraged.
Movies that should be promoted include those highlighting virtues such as respect for God, honesty, courage and environmental
Google's Chinese search engine was defying local law by returning links involving the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the Xinjiang independence movement, according to a report from NBC News.
NBC was able to access previously-censored links from
Google.cn, including the famous 1989 image of a lone man blocking a line of Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square. A search for tank man in Chinese characters on the search engine returned just one link to the photo - though several are available from the
company's engine overseas.
Meanwhile, searching for Tiananmen Square massacre , Xinjiang independence and Tibet Information Network turned up long lists of previously censored results.
NBC did say, however, that
search results were erratic and that in some cases, access to verboten sites was indeed denied.
Google is expected to announce the closure of google.cn by as early as April 10 after the Chinese government refused to acquiesce to demands that it stop self-censorship of the site.
It is understood that Google will continue to operate other
services in the country and will maintain its research and development operations.
It is understood that Sergey Brin, who founded Google with Larry Page while the pair were students at Stanford University, has been personally involved with the
investigation into gmail attacks and the decision to withdraw from China.
Reports from China said Google will compensate the division's employees following the closure.
China whinge at Google for highlighting Chinese censorship
24th March 2010. From business.timesonline.co.uk
China hit back at Google last night after the internet search giant closed its flagship Chinese site, carrying out a threat issued two months ago in a dispute over censorship.
The company stopped censoring its search results in China and
redirected users of the Google.cn service to its uncensored Google.com.hk site based in Hong Kong. The White House, which had backed Google in its dispute, expressed disappointment that an American company felt compelled to take such a drastic
Beijing isssued a furious riposte to Google, accusing it of violating the terms of the agreement it made when it opened its self-censored Chinese search engine in 2006. An official in charge of the Internet Bureau of the State Council
Information Office said: This is totally wrong. We're uncompromisingly opposed to the politicisation of commercial issues, and express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conducts.
largest internet company has been in talks for two months with Beijing over its threat to shut down its Chinese-language search engine and close its offices, rather than kowtow to government censors. It delivered the ultimatum after alleged cyber attacks
aimed at its source code and at the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. The company said the attacks originated in China.
Although we have gained market share, it has become more and more difficult for us to operate there. Particularly when it comes to censorship. We have had to censor more. More and more pressure has
been put on us. It has gotten appreciably worse and not just for us, for other internet companies too.
So we increasingly came to feel that the original premise of our entry into China was being undermined. We thought when we went in that we
could help to open the country and things could get better by our being there. Things seemed to be getting worse.
And what happens now?
We don't know what to expect. We have done what we have done. We are fully complying with Chinese law.
We're not operating our search engine within the Firewall any more. We will continue to talk with them about how to operate our other services.
The first steps are being taken towards a possible overhaul of New Zealand's censorship legislation.
Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs officials have been meeting key stakeholders and industry and government body officials during the past
fortnight to gather submissions for a tightly targeted review of the current laws. However, that scope may widen, given that the present act has been described as unwieldy and expensive and badly out of step with technology.
Film, Video and Publications Classification Act 1993 evolved from the Video Recordings Act 1987, which was passed as an urgent response to the video format that emerged in the early to mid-1980s, but was outside the reach of the existing film censorship
law, the Films Act 1983.
One person keen to see reform is Wellington's Aro Video owner, Andrew Armitage. Last year, he launched an online campaign , seeking
to end what his store and others like Christchurch's Alice in Videoland saw as economic censorship and laws that unfairly disadvantaged the medium of DVD.
We are grossly over-regulated, while the competitive streams are vastly
under-regulated. It's an uneven playing field at the moment, and it means many films and television programmes are not available on DVD because the distributor cannot justify the classification costs. Getting some DVDs past the censor can cost as
much as $1100 a disc.
New Zealand's chief censor, Bill Hastings, says he is sympathetic to their plight: It is kind of a perfect storm - new ways of downloading entertainment content and the recession. I can understand people feeling a lot of
pain because some people are getting a free ride, while they feel they are paying too much. We want as many video stores to remain as possible and DVDs to be available for as low a compliance cost as possible . Our fees haven't changed for 13
years. I don't know what other government agency can claim that.
Hastings, who has also been involved in the tightly targeted review of the legislation, believes that digital technology is the biggest challenge facing censorship in New
Zealand. At the moment, we have a lot of different agencies - the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, my office and the Film Video Labelling Body, all doing their own thing.
Hastings says he has
three ideas that could fix things pretty well .
The first is to include digital content in the definition of film.
Second, we need to incorporate free into the definition of supply, so that everything can be consistently labelled. Right now, the legislation is triggered only when
something is offered for trade, exchange or hire.
Third, we need the ability to print digital labels. This should substantially reduce industry compliance costs, increase ease of enforcement and provide more information to the consumer.
I want a repeal of the section of my act which exempts video games, unless they are restricted. That is a crazy advantage that one segment of the industry enjoys. Surveys show consumers are confused when they go into a shop with weird foreign
labels all over the place. We want consistency and we don't believe the compliance costs will be huge.
Hastings has the same response for those who want to raise the threshold for trans-Tasman cross- rating of films and DVDs. Currently, if a film
gets an M rating in Australia, it automatically gets an M rating in New Zealand, but complaints have been aired. Happy Feet, an animated film about penguins for example, was initially given Australia's G rating. But then our phones rang red with
complaints from parents about how their toddler begged them to leave the cinema because of the leopard seal (that attacked the cute penguins), so in the end we raised it to PG.
As for the flood of 'objectionable' material available online,
Hastings would prefer to do something rather than nothing: You can't have every country in the world subject to overseas servers sending them things without them doing something about it.
Hastings says ministry officials have high hopes of
having censorship reforms in place by next year, but he is sceptical. There's no way that will happen. It is too complicated.
Authorities in two Indonesian provinces said that they will not comply with a controversial anti-pornography law they say would stifle traditional Balinese and Papuan culture.
Komarudin Watubun, deputy house speaker for the Papua provincial
council, said it would be impractical to impose the law in Papua: The people here in Papua have never bothered with the law. It's like other laws in Indonesia where many people just realize that it cannot be enforced so why should we bother with it.
Meanwhile, Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika said he has long objected to the anti-pornography law since it goes against Balinese society: We reject porn crimes, but this law also does not suit the sociological and psychological aspect of
Balinese society .
Law professor Adrianus Meliala, from the University of Indonesia, said the law's provisions are unlikely to be applied evenly across the country: Law enforcers are reluctant to perform legal actions which are not popular
and will cause a controversy, so they will avoid charging people .
Two films directed by internationally acclaimed Filipino directors Jeffrey Jeturian and Brillante Mendoza for ABS-CBN's short film project, AmBisyon, were banned (rated X) by the Philippines Movie & Television Review & Classification Board
Jeturian's film Ganito tayo ngayon, Paano na tayo bukas? focused on the state of the economy. His camera follows a newspaper from the time it is delivered to a homeowner to when it is used to wipe feces from a foot of a
Jeturian uses a newspaper printed with the same controversial advertisement that came out in early January trumpeting the Arroyo administration's economic successes. The film ends with President Arroyo's photo on the crumpled
The MTRCB said the film was banned for undermining the faith and confidence of the people in government.
Mendoza's film, Ayos Ka, is a music video whose hopeful soundtrack is a stark contrast against images of
poverty, prostitution, drugs and murder.
The MTRCB claimed Mendoza's film is injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its people.
ANC, ABS-CBN's 24-hour news channel, produced the AmBisyon 2010 film series in
the name of public interest. It sought to offer a nation on the verge of a critical election the chance to focus on issues, not personalities. In a statement, ANC said it will appeal the ruling.
Vietnamese officials whinge at art in French cultural centre
Vietnamese officials 'offended' by a nude statue have asked a French cultural centre in Hanoi to remove the artwork.
The L'Espace centre told sculptor-painter Phuong Vu Manh that six officials, including police and Ministry of Culture
representatives, visited the gallery, and were all angered by his work, the artist said.
The sculpture, called A Statue of Phuong Vu Manh depicts him painted green, labelled with diseases and on a drip, to depict, he says, how pollution
affects people in modern society.
The statue had been on display for about 10 days. He suspected that the removal of a floral display obscuring the statue's private organs may have triggered officials' disapproval.
Indonesia's reputation for tolerance in tatters after confirmation of anti-porn law by Constitutional Court
Indonesia's Constitutional Court has thrown out an appeal of a controversial anti-porn law, in a blow to some secular parties, minorities and artists who had said it threatened freedom of expression.
Already the law, which some Indonesians said is
ambiguous, has been used to jail dancers in a nightclub and is seen as a threat to the country's precarious reputation for tolerance.
The court said concerns about the law's ambiguity, lack of regard for certain ethnic and religious minorities,
and its potential to incite vigilantism, were exaggerated. There was one dissenting opinion from the panel of eight judges.
Although the law has been passed, its effectiveness and implementation are still questionable, said Maria Farida
Indrati, the only female judge on the panel: This is because of the ambiguity in the articles and explanations of the law. Those who will be directly affected by this law are women and children. So where is the protection as stated in the law, she
In the final legislation, pornography is described as pictures, sketches, photos, writing, voice, sound, moving picture, animation, cartoons, conversation, gestures, or other communications shown in public with salacious content or
sexual exploitation that violate the moral values of society. Offenders face up to 15 years imprisonment.
One of the world's most popular English-language news publications will not be distributed in Thailand this week because of an article on the nation's monarchy.
In an email issued to subscribers, the UK-based magazine The Economist, said that due
to the sensitive nature of the publication's coverage of the Thai monarchy, the March 20th edition will not be distributed in the South East Asian country. There were no indications that the online edition of The Economist would be affected.
article in question examines concerns in Thailand over the question of potential royal succession and how it relates to recent political unrest in the country.
Friday's self-censorship by The Economist marks the fourth time since late 2008 that
the publication has been pulled from circulation in the Thai kingdom over a story about the nation's monarchy.
Some of Japan's leading anime artists have voiced their opposition to a government proposal to outlaw sex and violence in children's comics and impose an age limit on anyone buying sexually explicit anime.
Headed by such well-known figures in
the industry as Fujiko Fujio A, the creator of Hattori the Ninja and the Laughing Salesman , and Tetsuya Chiba, who draws the Tomorrow's Joe manga, the artists told reporters in Tokyo that the law would affect their freedom of
Machiko Satonaka, another manga artist, said that the proposed legislation, created by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, pertains to freedom of expression and is open to a variety of interpretations. She added that she was horrified
that the city government was planning to regulate comic characters because no one is actually being harmed.
The city assembly, which will vote on the proposed law on Friday, wants to restrict comics and animated images that contain
sexually provocative depictions of nonexistent minors - an ambiguous concept that is taken to mean characters that people could reasonably assume to be minors, based on their appearances.
The new law would require the manga and animation
industry not to sell works that depict sexual situations involving minors while also identifying works that depict rape and other violence as harmful materials and restrict minors' access to such comics.
An Indonesian court jailed six people under the country's anti-pornography law for performing an erotic dance at a bar in the early hours of New Year's Day.
The four female dancers, the show promoter and bar manager received a two and half months
each for a performance in Bandung, West Java, which violated a repressive anti-pornography law that came into effect in October 2008.
They have been proven guilty of showing an erotic dance in front of the public, prosecutor Dodi Junaidi
told AFP, adding that the judge in his ruling also fined them one million rupiah ($109) each.
The law criminalises all works and bodily movements deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality.
New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has started an internet filter which is being used by ISPs Maxnet and Watchdog.
Thomas Beagle, spokesperson for online freedom lobby Tech Liberty says he's very disappointed that the filter is
now running, it's a sad day for the New Zealand internet . He told Computerworld the filter went live on February 1 but DIA has delayed announcing that until it held a meeting with its Independent Reference Group. He says he's disappointed the launch
was conducted in such a stealthy mode .
The manager of the Department of Internal Affairs' Censorship Compliance Unit, Steve O'Brien, denies any subterfuge in the launch, saying the trial has been going on for two years and that has been
communicated to media for quite some time : The Independent Reference Group has met and the filter system processes were demonstrated as set out in the code of practice, that is that the website filtering system prevents access to known
websites containing images of child sexual abuse .
Tech Liberty understands that Telstra Clear, Telecom and Vodafone have said they will implement the filter, with Orcon, Slingshot and Natcom saying that they won't.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the censorship and self-censorship which the home affairs ministry has imposed on Malaysia's leading English-language daily, The Star, by issuing it with a warning about an article criticising the caning of three Muslim
women under Sharia law.
As one of the country's most widely-read newspapers, The Star should have a free hand to provide its readers with the broadest range of news and views on social issues, Reporters Without Borders said. We urge
Prime Minister Abdul Razak to reconsider this decision and to quickly amend the 1984 Publishing and Printing Presses Act, whose licence renewal system denies newspapers the security they need.
In response to the pressure from the government
and Muslim groups, the newspaper was forced to publish an apology and withdraw the offending article from its website. Written by managing editor P. Gunasegaram and published in the paper on 19 February, the article, entitled Persuasion, not
compulsion, said the sentence of caning passed on 9 February on three Muslim women accused of adultery was disproportionate. It was the first time in years that a Malaysian court has issued such a sentence.
After receiving the home affairs
ministry's warning letter, the newspaper refused to publish an article by one of the newspapers contributing columnists, Marina Mahathir , in which she argued that Sharia laws were written by men, not God, and as such were open to debate. She finally
posted the column on her blog .
The Jakarta chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists have filed a lawsuit against the Indonesian Censorship Institute for its decision to ban the film Balibo .
Hendrayana, executive director of the Legal Aid Center for the
Press (LBH Pers), which is representing AJI Jakarta in proceedings at the State Administrative Court, said the ban was a violation of the public's right to information.
In early December, the censorship institute, also know as the LSF,
banned the film, which tells the story of five Australian journalists killed when Indonesian troops took over the border town of Balibo in East Timor in October 1975. A sixth journalist died weeks later when Indonesian forces invaded Dili.
Hendrayana said the LSF had no clear reason to ban the film and officials' worries that its screening might hurt bilateral relations between Indonesia and Australia had proved to be unfounded.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has previously said the restriction was to protect the country's image abroad. Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik has said the film was not fit to be screened and could damage relations between Indonesia,
East Timor and Australia.
Update: Australian media call to put Balibo ban on presidential agenda
Australia's Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has asked Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to raise the banning of Robert Connolly's film Balibo with Indonesian President Susilo Bamban Yudhoyono during his visit to Australia this
The fact that the government of Dr Yudhoyono will not even allow the film to be shown to the Indonesian public suggests that this matter is far from resolved, said MEAA's federal secretary Christopher Warren.
As far as this
country's community of journalists is concerned, the failure of Indonesian power holders to acknowledge and take appropriate action for what happened in Balibo in 1975 represents an important barrier to the development of full and cordial relations
between Australia and Indonesia.
The Aceh office of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission has proposed a draft of the province's broadcasting qanun , or bylaw, that will be used as a standard to censor films, TV and programs to ensure they adhere to Islamic law.
however, received strong opposition from the local branch of the Independent Journalists Association (AJI), which objected on the grounds that the proposed measure violated press freedom laws.
Mukhtaruddin Yakob, head of the local branch of the
AJI, said the draft had been submitted at the end of January to the governor's office for preliminary review: The proposed qanun is inconsistent with the [national] Press Law and the Broadcasting Law, he told the Jakarta Globe.
said the qanun would require inappropriate censorship of the program content of broadcasters operating in the staunchly Islamic province.
The proposed bylaw would require radio and television stations to broadcast live the obligatory weekly prayer
on Fridays and prohibit them from airing crime reconstructions, obscene material and sexual harassment cases.
It also bans broadcasters from airing fund-raising efforts that are not in the Muslims' interests, Mukhtaruddin said.
the qanun, movies, television shows (including soap operas and documentaries) and commercials would be subject to censorship by the Aceh Film Censorship Board and Aceh Film Advisory Board (Bapfida).
There are claims the latest law governing filmmaking in Indonesia is stricter than its predecessor dating back almost 30 years.
Director Riri Riza and producer Mira Lesmana say producers and directors had been hoping for more self regulation in
the revised regulation.
But Lesmana told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program that the new law hands all power to the government: It puts the government in total control of all the activities of making a film, from permits, from what to say
and what not to say, all the way up to penaltie s. Which for us is just going totally backwards to what we wanted.
She says even self-funded projects have to follow the regulations: We don't have a classification board. What we have
is a censor board and there is no film whatsoever that can be shown in the cinema if you don't have censor cards saying that it is suitable.
Riza says one aspect of the new law is that 60% of screen time has to be reserved for Indonesian
productions, regardless of quality: That is something that you call government intervention in the industry . It's trying to regulate whatever aims in the film industry, which is dangerous.
He says he wants to remind the Indonesian
government that Article 28 in our constitution that protects the freedom of saying whatever you want to say and freedom to access information .
A Cambodian government morality committee will soon begin holding bimonthly meetings to review Web sites featuring racy images of Khmer women, and will consider blocking access to those deemed in conflict with national values.
includes officials from the Post and Telecommunications Ministry as well as the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Interior Ministry.
Ros Sorakha, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said: As young
Cambodians have access to such technologies, they indulge and commit wrongdoings that deviate from our customs and traditions by accessing and replicating erotic and pornographic pictures over Internet sites. She was addressing the annual conference
of the National Committee for Upholding Cambodian Social Morality, Women's and Khmer Family Values.
Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, who is also president of the morality committee, said the monitoring of objectionable Web sites is
entirely consistent with its mission: If we can stop the flow and influence of foreign culture, then we can maintain our own culture and traditions and foster values for our women.
Cambodia to block websites 'against the principle of the government'
An official for Telecom Cambodia (TC) has indicated that the state-run company would seek to block access to Web sites it deems inappropriate , should it be granted control over the country's domestic and international Internet exchange.
If any Web site attacks the government or any Web site displays inappropriate images or pornography, or it's against the principle of the government, we can block all of them, said Chin Daro, TC's deputy director, during an interview at the company's
offices. If TC plays the role of the exchange point, it will benefit Cambodian society because the government has trust in us, and we can control Internet consumption.
Government officials have long been looking to funnel all Internet
service providers (ISPs) through a state-run central exchange point, and they have recently indicated that they plan to execute the change as soon as possible, according to industry insiders.
Chin Daro also said during the interview that he
believed the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications was looking to grant the monopoly as soon as the necessary infrastructure was in place.
Indonesia looks to Australia's internet censoring proposal
17th February 2010. Based on article from online-casinos.com
Tifatul Sembiring, the Indonesian Minister of Information and Communications publicly announced recently an outline of plans to filter content on the internet by using a system like the one Australia has chosen for their censoring efforts.
proposed plan, by means of a monitoring committee would determine what online content is to be blocked at the internet service provider level. Under the new system, ISPs would be prohibited from distributing, transmitting, or otherwise making accessible
content such as pornography and anything else deemed illegal or immoral.
Access to content containing, supposed lies and misleading information will also be banned in Indonesia.
Article 4 in particular looks to target gambling in the
country. Websites that have any connection to gambling are prohibited which could change the outlook for online gambling adversely in the nation.
People who use the web feel this is a dangerous plan that spells the end of freedom of expression and
the right to information. Opposition to the proposed plan is growing fast with journalists and political reporters leading the charge. The youth of Indonesia also feel their right to free expression will be removed if this law takes effect.
activists and the Alliance of Independent Journalists have been very vocal saying that this is a clear violation of political and internet freedom, denouncing the plan as ambiguous and ill-conceived. At least 1400 Facebook members have responded with
protest letters. Although the government has said this is just a first draft, the protests continue with growing support.
The Indonesian government rejected a controversial draft
regulation on multimedia content which had sparked protests by both journalists and online users, media reports said.
According to KOMPAS.com, Minister for Communication and Information (MCI) Tifatul Sembiring said he will erase it ,
acknowledging that it threatens freedom of the press in the country.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself said during a cabinet plenary meeting on 18 February that the draft proved to be a sensitive issue that caused debates among the
public. He added that further consideration on the draft should be given.
The Jakarta Globe quoted MCI spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto as saying that the proposed regulation provides for a 30-member multimedia content team that would act on
public complaints about disturbing content, and would only order Internet service providers to block Web sites that it felt were displaying material already banned under Indonesian law.
China has tightened controls on internet use, requiring anyone who wants to set up a website to meet the censors and produce ID documents.
The technology ministry claimed the measures were designed to tackle online pornography, but internet
activists see it as increased government censorship.
A number of websites are now being registered overseas in an attempt to avoid controls.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Tuesday lifted a freeze introduced in
December on registration for new individual websites. But the technology ministry said would-be website operators would now have to submit identity cards and photos of themselves, as well as meeting censors before their sites could be registered.
A new mythical animal is on the prowl on the Chinese internet.
The Yake lizard is the latest creation of China's nimble and imaginative netizens as a way to poke fun at the authorities and their bid to corral online debate and to block access to
sites the censors deem inappropriate.
Internet satirists were inspired by the language used by a Uighur artist performing on the Spring Festival Gala show, noted for wholesome family entertainment peppered with propaganda.
When the artist
from the restive, mainly Muslim western Xinjiang region performed the song The Party's Policies are yakexi using the Uighur word for good , Chinese netizens were not convinced. After all, seven months ago angry Uighurs took to the
streets, leaving nearly 200 people - mostly Han Chinese- dead after a night of rioting.
Netizens pounced on the word to ridicule the song and the censors. They soon found a suitable pun, and the Uighur word became Yake lizard. The word xi
in Chinese can mean lizard.
China's most popular blogger, the youthful writer and racing driver Han Han, then set up a competition, offering 5,000 yuan (£500) to the creator of the best new lyrics for the Yake Lizard song.
has helped to ensure the Yake lizard has become an internet mascot within the confines of the Great Firewall of China. Blogs and chatrooms have created certain characteristics for the legendary lizard. One noted that the creature used to flourish in the
Soviet Union but was now virtually extinct there and to be found mainly in mainland China, North Korea and Cuba.
On February 5 an unidentified man was arrested for comments he posted to a webboard. His house was searched, his computer confiscated as evidence, his family frightened, and friends panicked. These are ordinary people who express opinions that the
authorities consider dangerous, and the mainstream media never allows. The Internet is their only outlet.
The police released this man on February 6, told him to stop making comments on the webboard, and they will let the case go away
How many other cases there are there like this one? It is a perfect method of intimidation and creating fear without having to do the paper work to the end, not having to bother the court, and without public attention. Many Thais
now say they will withdraw from the internet exchanges, at least for a long while.
The government announced last month (Jan 2010) that they would set up a committee to oversee the cases to prevent the abuses of the law. During the past year, the
convictions in three cases were severe (18, 10 and 7 years of prison).
A dozen more people were arrested, charged for lèse majesté, either by the lèse majesté law or under the Computer Crimes Act 2007 which is a
lèse majesté law in disguise. The CCA has not been used against pornography or identity theft but solely for lèse majesté. Four recent arrests were for translating news from Bloomberg about the monarch's health, for spreading
so-called inauspicious rumours after the downturn in the Thai stock market.
An unconfirmed source reports there are about 200 lèse majesté cases in court at the moment. We can imagine how widespread the intimidation and fear
A blogger, who had allegedly posted doctored images of Kelantan Mentri Besar, Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. The image is reported to have Nik Abdul Aziz having anal intercourse with Anwar.
Kelantan PAS Security
Committee, secretary Mohamad Ibrahim, lodged a report after discovering the pictures on the Internet.
According to another news report, the blogger is currently being held under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which relates
to improper use of network facilities or network service to comment, request or suggest in a communication which is obscene, false, offensive, or used to abuse, threaten or harass another person.
If convicted, the blogger faces a maximum one year
jail term and/or a maximum fine of RM50,000.
Igan D'Bayan's painting titled Gothika Filipina 2 should have been included in the Asian International Art Exhibition (AIAE) held from November 2009 to January 2010. But the curators didn't allow the painting to join the display at the National
Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Invited to participate in the prestigious annual exhibit together with nine other prominent Filipino visual artists, D'Bayan was surprised when he was told by Lay Ann Orlina, wife of sculptor Ramon Orlina who
chairs the Federation of Asian Artists (FAA)-Philippine Committee, that there was a potential problem with his painting.
D'Bayan was given several options: submit another (presumably less provocative) painting, cover the offending area, or
stand by his work and be willing to face the consequences. The flummoxed artist replied that he would stand by what he had painted.
Igan subsequently received an email saying that his painting couldn't be accepted for the exhibit because the
secret part of a woman was painted too clearly, and that they hoped the artist could replace it with other works that don't bring any bad interpretation from or to the audiences (sic).
Igan D'Bayan will now hold a one-painting show of
Gothika Filipina 2 at The Crucible Gallery at the Art Walk, fourth floor, SM Megamall A, Manila, starting on Tuesday, Feb. 16. The internationally censored painting will be on view until Feb. 28.
The Hollywood film Valentine's Day , starring Julia Roberts, has been banned in Brunei following recent warnings from religious leaders declaring that Valentine's Day is not for Muslims because it encouraged promiscuous activity .
An Indonesian movie Rumah Dara (literally Maiden House) starred Shareefa Danish and Julie Estelle has been banned in Malaysia.
The slasher movie is the first Indonesian film that cannot be seen in the Malaysian theaters.
Information Commission at the House of Representatives (DPR) Tantowi Yahya said Malaysia applies its own mechanism of censorship. Tantowi said he has yet to watch the movie. Prior to being premiered in Indonesia on January 22, the movie had been on the
theaters in Singapore, North America and Korea.
Rumah Dara is the first slasher movie directed by Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel, who are widely acknowledged as The Mo Brothers.
They're most likely strangers to Indonesian movie fans as their debut feature-length film, Rumah Dara (Dara's House) the story of a twisted family that kill its guests was only released in local theaters a couple of days ago.
to its domestic premiere, the movie, originally titled Macabre , was screened at a number of film festivals around the world, and left quite an impression.
In their first feature, the self-styled 'Mo Brothers' show a natural feel
for genre rules that makes this fresh meat for gore hounds, proclaimed Derek Elley, in a film review for the Los Angeles-based entertainment magazine Variety.
Writing for The Austin Chronicle, an alternative newsweekly in Texas, Richard
Whittaker said the movie may put the Southeast Asian nation on some gore hounds' maps. This may be the bloodiest film of the [Fantastic Fest Film] festival.
In September last year, a new Indonesian film law was introduced, increasing the
amount of government control over the film industry, largely through its censorship agency. The typical violence of a slasher film is still considered taboo and usually prohibited.
Rumah Dara, according to its directors, was subjected to
this harsh scrutiny and some of the close-up scenes of violence were cut.
But Kimo reassured horror buffs that the cut scenes were just a very small part of the movie and did not affect the integrity of the film: We thought that it could've
been so much worse, he added. We could've been banned.
The film has also faced public criticism for its extreme violence, with one reporter saying after a press screening that the film had no value and was immoral.
In a latest action against the online porn industry, China has reinforced its arsenal of laws now in effect.
The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate said that the new rules would target wireless carriers, along with
advertisers, advertising agents, third-party payment platforms and websites if they are found to be involved in the porn business for profits.
Measures against porn websites are already in operation but now others involved in the online porn
business will have to prove that they were unaware of any porn content on the websites. However, a single complaint from any netizen could foil the attempt, according to the rule's definition of awareness.
The rule also enhances the protection for
teenagers younger than 14 by cutting the conviction threshold in half. For instance, as few as 10 video clips verified as porn will carry the sentence of making, copying, publishing, selling and circulating porn articles for making profits, according to
China has censored this year's nominations for the Academy Awards, blocking out the name of a documentary about the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake.
China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province , was one of five films
nominated for best documentary short.
The movie shows the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, when over 70,000 people died, including 10,000 children, who were killed as their shoddily-built school buildings collapsed around them.
The 40-minute film shows how the parents are stonewalled and ignored by Communist party officials. It was blocked from being aired in China, and the words unnatural disaster have been censored from the Chinese internet.
When the film
garnered its Oscar nomination, Chinese media outlets either removed the film from their reports, or omitted the entire category.
There is also speculation that the Oscar ceremony itself may not be aired live in China because of the potential
embarrassment if the movie wins.
A Malaysian court has charged a blogger with posting comments that insulted a late state sultan.
Khairul Nizam Abdul Ghani pleaded not guilty at a court in central Negeri Sembilan state. He was accused of insulting Sultan Iskandar Ismail of
southern Johor state, who died Jan. 22, The Star and New Straits Times newspapers reported.
He was charged with improper use of network facilities by transmitting comments deemed obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive. The
offense carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine.
It was unclear what Khairul Nizam wrote. It has been removed from his blog and lawyers and court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Last year, several
people were charged with posting allegedly derogatory comments. One pleaded guilty and was fined 10,000 ringgit ($3,000). The others are on trial.
Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association condemn the 13-year jail sentence passed on journalist Ngwe Soe Lin by a special court inside Rangoon's Insein prison on 27 January. He is the second video reporter for a Burmese exile radio and
TV station based in Oslo to be convicted in the space of a month.
The military junta has again expressed its phobia of uncontrolled video reporting by imposing a heavy prison sentence on a Democratic Voice of Burma video journalist, the two
organisations said. He should be freed at once, as should Hla Hla Win, the young women reporter who was given a 20-year sentence four weeks ago after providing DVB with video material.
Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media
Association added: As regards media freedom, we believe that none of the conditions are being met for this year's elections to be considered free and democratic. At least 15 journalists and netizens are currently detained in Burma.
Naing, the head of the Oslo-based DVB, confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that Ngwe Soe Lin worked for the station. Referring to the sentence, he said: It is a clear sign of the nature of the threats hanging over those who work as journalists, and
on the control that is going to be exerted over the media prior to the elections.
Free speech advocates have been rejoicing after a Malaysian court quashed a government ban on a book about the challenges facing Muslim women.
We were hoping, we were praying that this would mark a good day for all Malaysians, said
Professor Norani Othman, the editor of the banned book, Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism , a collection of essays by international scholars. It's a good day for academic freedom.
In July 2008, the Ministry
of Home Affairs banned the book, published in 2005 by Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian nongovernmental organization, on the grounds that it was prejudicial to public order and that it could confuse Muslims, particularly Muslim women.
in Islam filed a judicial review in the Kuala Lumpur High Court in December 2008 on the basis that the ban was unconstitutional because it infringed upon freedom of speech and religion and gender equality.
Justice Mohamad Ariff Yusof said that he
had failed to find that the facts of the case supported the decision to ban the book on the grounds that it could disrupt public order: There are just seven pages of text which are objected to out of 215 pages in the book, he said. The book
itself was in circulation for over two years in Malaysia before the minister decided to ban it.
He ordered the government to pay court costs incurred by Sisters in Islam.
Noor Hisham Ismail, the senior federal counsel who represented
the ministry, said he could not yet say whether the government would appeal the decision.
Professor Norani, the book's editor and a sociologist at the National University of Malaysia, said she was overjoyed by the decision and hoped that it would
encourage others to produce books that questioned the politicization of Islam.
Muslims have been advised to stay away from book, Muslim Women and The Challenge of Islamic Extremism
. It can create doubt and disharmony among the people in the country, according to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM).
Its director general, Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz Wan Mohamad said the contents of the book
contravened the Islamic Publication Materials Censorship Guidelines issued by Jakim in 1996.
Several obvious errors were found (in the book), he said in a statement today. He said among others, the book stated that Islamic family laws and
Syariah criminal laws were promoting prejudice and discrimination against women.
The book also questioned the fatwa institution and the ban on non-Islamic scholars from discussing Islamic issues. It also promoted the re-interpretation of the
verses in the Quran, especially those on gender bias, he said.
Chinese censors will continue to insist that all films are suitable for kids
A movie rating system cannot be implemented at the present time, a Chinese official has said.
Zang Zengxiang, deputy director of the Beijing municipal bureau of radio, film and television, said the bureau has been researching the feasibility of a
movie rating system for several years. He said the research proved clearly that Beijing couldn't carry out a movie rating system for many reasons but he didn't explain any of them.
Audiences in the capital have grown used to spending their money
on censored movies. All domestic and foreign movies must be censored in order to receive public viewing licenses from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
Movies that show numerous sexual or violent scenes undergo
large-scale deletions, an act that has been fiercely criticized as producing emasculated stories by some film industry insiders.
The fruitless struggle against censorship started in 2003 with the first movie rating proposal by Wang
Xingdong, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Li Yu, director of the Berlin Film Festival's nominated film Apple , which went through censorship a total of five times for its sex scenes, told METRO she never
believed a rating system could be implemented under the current cultural and economical environment: We refer to censorship as an 'iron' rule, meaning that no one can move or dodge it . She added that the absence of a rating system took away the
adult audience's right to watch adult scenes, and made it impossible to prevent younger moviegoers from seeing films with violence and sexual content.
One of Google's Nexus One features is voice-to-text, and apparently is reasonably accurate, accurate to the point of censoring certain spoken words. Apparently if you try using a bit of foul language when voicing a text the censor replaces said swear
word with ####, reports an article over on Cnet.
Apparently a group at Reuters discovered the Nexus One censor ability which stops swear words from being placed into a text. A spokesperson for Google had stated the censor is not directed at
teaching anyone good manners; they just supposedly want to make sure swear words don't accidentally appear in texts.
The Nexus One no swearing censor seems to have cause somewhat of a stir on forums and the blogosphere with some believing the
censorship is justified while others not so, and argue the freedom of speech line.
But do Google have the right to censor words? The problem is, who decides what words are inappropriate, as what is a swear word in one part of the world isn't
necessarily a swear word somewhere else. The other question is can the censor be refined or turned off by the user as if not then the big brother line comes into play.
Indonesian authorities will prosecute four exotic dancers arrested at clubs on New Year's Eve for allegedly violating a new anti-pornography law, a police spokesman has said.
The female dancers and two male club managers were detained in the city
of Bandung said West Java provincial police spokesman Col. Dade Ahmad. They appeared to have been preparing for a striptease and were wearing sexy clothing, Ahmad said, when the police raided the Bellair Cafe and the Music Lounge after midnight.
Indonesia's 2008 anti-pornography law was pushed through parliament by conservative Muslim parties, but opposed by rights groups that argue it criminalizes traditional dance and art, particularly in far flung provinces where partial nudity is
Ahmad said that they could be sentenced to prison terms of five to 10 years if convicted. Ahmad said the six will be the first people prosecuted under the law in Bandung.
Bandung Mayor Dada Rosada said he was also
considering revoking the cafes' operating permits.
The arrest of four women for sexy dancing during a Hogmanay party in Bandung has raised worries this may be the prelude to wider Islamist restrictions in Indonesia. The women, as well as a manager and event organiser, could become the
first people charged under a one-year-old anti-pornography law banning public displays of naked flesh.
The law was brought in with the backing of the small but influential Islamist political parties in the country. Critics said the parties' real
intention was to use the law to spread fundamentalist Islam to control artistic and cultural expression in a multicultural society. The law, they warned, threatens pre-Islamic cultures, which have long co-existed with moderate Islam.
Utsman, leader of the West Java branch of the Indonesian Ulama Council, the leading clerical organisation, is pleased with Islam's growing influence in Bandung, and would like to see a more widespread crackdown: We are trying to eliminate the
non-Islamic parts of West Java's traditional culture, to make it more Islamic, Utsman boasted. For example, he said that participants at weddings are urged to celebrate by reciting Koranic verses, not by dancing, as is the custom.
couple of weeks have passed since the arrests, it was still not clear what happened at Belair, which showcased bikini-clad women dancing on a bar counter.
Arman Achdiat, the Bandung police chief of detectives, said the authorities had received
complaints, via text messages, that the dancers had gone beyond bikini dancing and offered customers flashes of full nudity. This happened at private table dances, said Achdiat, declining to say whether investigators caught the dancers in the act.
Holding a copy of the anti-pornography law, Achdiat said more questioning of the dancers was needed to determine whether to charge them under the criminal law or the more severe anti-pornography law, which entails punishment of up to 10 years in
prison for the dancers and 15 years for the manager and organiser.
Clubs such as Belair came to Saritem in Bandung more than a decade ago, and about 10 now offer what is known here as sexy dancing, often featuring some nudity, said Budi
Rajab, a sociologist and expert on Bandung at the local Padjadjaran University.
The crackdown seems to be working and Saritem's business has yet to recover fully. On a recent evening there were few customers in the district's warren of narrow
streets, where family-owned brothels employed young women from rural Java. A lot of people think Saritem is still closed, or they're afraid to come, said Rully, whose family has worked in Saritem for four generations.
China said remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticizing China's censorship of the Internet were unjustified and damaged bilateral ties.
In a speech in Washington, Clinton called on U.S. technology companies to resist
censorship of the Internet and said perpetrators of cyber attacks such as those who targeted Google Inc. must face consequences. Clinton also said China's Internet controls could harm the Asian nation's development.
We are firmly opposed to
these words and deeds which are against the facts and damage Sino-U.S. relations, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a Chinese-language statement posted on the ministry's Web site. We urge the U.S. side to respect facts and stop using
the issue of so-called Internet freedom to make unjustified attacks on China.
Clinton's long-planned address on Internet freedom laid out the Obama administration's view of an uncensored global Internet where everyone has access to the same
information, and governments and corporations don't block knowledge or steal intellectual property.
Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation, Clinton said. In an
interconnected world, an attack on one nation's network can be an attack on all.
Clinton compared firewalls that governments in China, Uzbekistan, Tunisia and elsewhere have erected to keep out information to the Berlin Wall and the Iron
Curtain that divided the West and the Soviet Union's sphere of influence during the Cold War.
Virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls, she said. With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is
descending across much of the world.
Google issued a statement praising Clinton's remarks. The company said it believes in unfettered access to information and will continue work with governments, human rights organizations and
bloggers to promote free expression.
They arrive at a gritty desert crossroads weary from a 13-hour train ride but determined. The promised land lies just across the railway station plaza: a large white sign that says Easy Connection Internet Café .
The visitors are
internet refugees from China's western Xinjiang region, whose 20 million people have been without links to the outside world since the government blocked virtually all online access, text messages and international phone calls after ethnic riots in July.
Authorities unplugged Xinjiang in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the ethnic rioting between the Han Chinese majority and the mainly Muslim Uighur minority that the government says left almost 200 dead.
It blamed overseas activists for
the riots, saying they stirred up resentment in the Uighur community through websites and e-mails.
It's the largest and longest such blackout in the world, observers say.
Every weekend, dozens of people pile off the train in Liuyuan, a
sandswept town on the ancient Silk Road that's the first train stop outside Xinjiang.
We must get online! We must! said Zhao Yan, a businesswoman from Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. She has rented the same private booth in the internet
café every weekend since August in an uphill battle to keep her small trading business going.
Online game operators in Beijing will test a ratings system advising parents on sexual and violent content in their games, ahead of the introduction of government guidelines, state media said.
The move comes amid a massive nationwide government
repression of Internet porn and violencea campaign seen by some critics as a way for the country's censors to reinforce the Great Firewall of China against political dissent.
Over 30 operators have agreed to rate their games according to
their suitability for children and adults this month. Gamers will need to provide their identification numbers in order to play, to prove they are old enough to view the content.
The Beijing Animation Game Industry Union's secretary-general, Liu
Chungang, said the group's decision was a self-disciplinary, non-governmental act within the industry .
The culture ministry plans to introduce its own ratings system later this year, the newspaper said. Culture Minister Cai Wu was quoted
by state media in December as saying his ministry had banned 219 Internet games for carrying lewd, pornographic and violent content.
Chinese web censos banned individual domain registration without a business license in early December But an official from China's Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) told the English-language newspaper ChinaDaily that the decision may be
reversed so long as measures are in place to verify an applicant's personal information.
The decision appears to be effort to keep citizens from wandering outside China's Great Firewall for easier registration.
Banning domain name
registrations for individual applicants will have a negative impact on the industry because the applicants can either turn to foreign registers or apply with false information, Qi Lin, assistant deputy with the CNNIC,said.
ABS-CBN has questioned the decision of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to suspend the airing of the talent program Showtime for 20 days because of supposedly vulgar words uttered by its contest juror Rosanna
Roces on two episodes last week.
In a statement sent to Inquirer on Tuesday, ABS-CBN said it has decided to remove Roces as the show's juror in the spirit of self-regulation.
Despite this, MTRCB still imposed a 20-day
preventive suspension [on] the program. Thus, the network questions the need for [this] when Roces has already been removed from the program.
The order signed on Monday by MTRCB chair Marissa Laguardia said the 20-day suspension was given to
Showtime to prevent further probable violation of pertinent provisions of Section 3c of Presidential Decree No. 1986, which gives the MTRCB the authority to keep segments or scenes that are immoral, indecent, contrary to law and/or good
customs, injurious to the prestige of the country or its people, from being aired on television.
The Jan. 4 episode featured another juror, Vice Ganda, telling Roces: After splitting up [with your last boyfriend], you quickly replaced him
with a horserace jockey). Roces shot back: You're shameless, a beast, a demon. Don't do that You're not even beautiful, Vice Ganda is just your name.
In another incident report submitted on Jan. 7, Roces was singled out for her
comment to a contestant. She said: Curse your teacher these teachers are shameless
ABS-CBN's popular morning program Showtime resumed airing on Tuesday, January 19.
The talent show was back on its
regular time slot after a court granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Court of Appeals against the 20-day ban by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).
The MTRCB had suspended the show due to controversial
remarks made by one of the show's judges, Rosanna Roces. While telling student guests on the show to not limit their learning to textbooks and teacher's lessons, Roces also told them to swear at their teachers.
The Court of Appeals (CA)
has junked the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board's (MTRCB) appeal seeking to reverse the appellate court's earlier decision to set aside a 20-day preventive suspension order it issued against Showtime.
The Movie and Television
Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) is keen to elevate to the Supreme Court their case against ABS-CBN noontime show, Showtime.
MTRCB chairman Consoliza Laguardia, together with MTRCB counsel, Jonathan Presquito, said they are not yet
ready to give up on the case; this, even as the court of appeals recently decided to dismiss the MTRCB's motion for reconsideration concerning the reversal of the 20-month suspension order they issued against Showtime.
China is to pull the plug on screenings of Avatar at most cinemas and replace the Golden Globe-winning film with a 'patriotic' biopic on the life of Confucius, according to reports.
Hong Kong's Apple Daily said the state-run China Film
Group has ordered cinemas across China to stop showing the 2D version of the film and to show only the 3D edition, amid concerns from China's censors that it could cause unrest. Because there are so few 3D cinemas on the mainland, the order effectively
prevents general distribution of the James Cameron blockbuster.
The Central Publicity Department is said to have issued an order to the media prohibiting it from hyping up Avatar, the newspaper said.
The film opened on 4 January to
queues across the country, with Imax cinemas said to be booked for weeks ahead. It was due to run until 28 February, including over Chinese new year. Instead, the reports said, the 2D version will close on 23 January.
China has started scanning phone text messages. Customers of China's two largest mobile phone networks, China Mobile and China Unicom, have had text services blocked after sending risqué messages, state media reported.
China Mobile said it
was complying with police demands to report illegal texts, which included pornography and violence or promoted fraud, crime, terrorism and gambling. It said any breach meant a mobile phone would be blocked.
Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on
our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite
First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance,
technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.
Second, we have evidence
to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been
accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.
Third, as part of this investigation but
independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not
been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.
We have already used information gained from this attack to make infrastructure and
architectural improvements that enhance security for Google and for our users. In terms of individual users, we would advise people to deploy reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on their computers, to install patches for their operating
systems and to update their web browsers. Always be cautious when clicking on links appearing in instant messages and emails, or when asked to share personal information like passwords online. You can read more here about our cyber-security
recommendations. People wanting to learn more about these kinds of attacks can read this U.S. government report (PDF), Nart Villeneuve's blog and this presentation on the GhostNet spying incident.
We have taken the
unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate
about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic
progress and development in the world today.
We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our
discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives
outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.
These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have
led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese
government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the
knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.
Posted by David Drummond,
SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer
Update: Tank Man finally appears on Chinese Google
Users on Google.cn's image search can now see the iconic picture of Tank Man, among other images from the massacre in the Beijing square in 1989.
Students and intellectuals protested communist rule for seven weeks in the square in 1989 in the face
of a brutal security crackdown. Roughly 100,000 people are believed to have taken part in the protests - with up to 3,000 of those killed during the demonstrations.
Tank Man: One of the most iconic images of the Tiananmen Square massacre, that of
a man standing alone and defenceless in a face off against four tanks, now appears on Google.cn
Indonesian journalists will appeal the country's decision to ban the Australian film Balibo .
Indonesia's Film Censorship Agency banned Robert Connolly's acclaimed film in December due to its political content.
Based on the true
story, the film depicts Indonesian soldiers brutally murdering five Australia-based newsmen in the East Timorese border town in 1975, contradicting the official explanation they were killed in crossfire.
Indonesia's Independent Journalist Alliance
(AJI) has defied the ban, risking jail terms and heavy fines by staging a series of free public screenings across the country.
AJI has this week decided to go one step further by formally challenging the ban in Indonesia's State Management Court,
which deals with complaints against state institutions.
In a democracy, the right to create art should not be forbidden, AJI lawyer Hendrayana, said: And as we've seen from the AJI screenings, this film does not create problems. It shows
the ban is just paranoia.
When Hu Shuli abandoned the editorship of China's most influential news magazine, it looked like a victory for the forces of censorship.
Ms Hu, a resourceful and dogged editor often described as China's most formidable journalist, had made her
career by testing the limits of what is allowed in China's rigid media environment. Then it suddenly looked as if she had come up hard against those limits. There was widespread speculation that the iron hand of the censor was behind her departure from
the hard-hitting business magazine Caijing. Her editing career seemed to be over.
But now the fiery 56-year-old is back. She has taken a job as editor of another magazine, Century Weekly, and the first issue has just hit China's newsstands. Those
worried that crusading journalism may have died a death in China need not fear it looks like Ms Hu is keen to continue her inimitable style at her new publication.
Thailand must halt a backward slide on freedom of expression after a sharp rise in cases of people accused of insulting the revered monarchy, a leading rights group said.
Amnesty International said it welcomed a panel established by Prime
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in December to scrutinise the enforcement of Thailand's tough lese majeste laws, which carry a jail term of up to 15 years.
But the London-based group said the government should suspend the use of the law until it has
scrapped provisions allowing any citizen to report another for alleged violations, and urged Thai authorities to stop censoring websites.
Amnesty International supports the prime minister's new initiative, and encourages the Royal Thai
government to amend the lese majeste law so that it complies with international law and standards, an Amnesty statement said.
The group highlighted two cases since April 2009 in which Thai nationals received heavy jail sentences for allegedly
defaming the royals and said that hundreds of other cases of alleged lese majeste remained active.
It said many people charged under the law had also been charged under the computer crimes act, leading to a big increase in monitoring of the
Internet for any material that allegedly defames the royal family.
Amnesty said it was also concerned that the law had been characterised by the government as a matter of national security, allowing cases to be held behind closed doors.
group said it acknowledged the nation's considerable progress under 82-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, especially in human rights, but said this made the recent roll-back in freedom of expression of even greater concern .
Access to IMDb.com was blocked in China this week, adding the movie business Internet portal to a fast-growing list of banned Web sites featuring user-generated content, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The site, fully named the Internet
Movie Database, is owned by online bookselling giant Amazon.com, and claims over 57 million monthly visitors.
There's no Chinese-language edition of IMDb and industry insiders here say they can't understand why it's been shut down for since
Typically the government's censorship efforts focus on trying to block China's 338 million Web users from accessing online pornography and violence. The government seldom reacts to queries about blocking foreign Web sites or gives any
official notice when such action is taken.
For clues to Beijing's beef with IMDb, a quick scan of the site turned up plenty of information relating to politically sensitive search terms such as Dalai Lama and Rebiya Kadeer the
names of members of two exiled ethnic minorities considered separatists by China's one-party government.
For instance, IMDb lists The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet's Struggle for Freedom, a 2009 documentary whose planned screening this week
at the Palm Springs International Film Festival caused the state-run China Film Group to pull two of its films from competition in protest.
Likewise, typing Kadeer persona non-grata for her alleged masterminding of recent violence in
western China's Xinjiang region turns up the IMDb listing for China: Rebirth of an Empire, a 2009 documentary featuring Kadeer and exiled Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng.
A film-maker has been jailed in China for six years for making a documentary in which ordinary Tibetans praised the Dalai Lama.
The film, Leaving Fear Behind , was shot by Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan from a poor farming family in
western Qinghai province, and his friend Golog Jigme Gyatso, a monk. The two men had spent several months before the 2008 Beijing Olympics interviewing Tibetans about the upcoming games and their views of the Chinese Government.
The 108 Tibetans
spoke with remarkable openness in the interviews and had agreed to show their faces on camera.
The pair had finished shooting the documentary and smuggled the tapes out of Tibet when a riot erupted in the capital, Lhasa, in March 2008. They were
arrested a few days later as unrest spread rapidly through Tibetan-populated regions of China.
On December 28 Wangchen, 35, was sentenced to six years in prison by a court in the western city of Xining. The trial received no publicity and his
family were not informed. News of his prison term was finally relayed out of the country to friends and relatives who had been campaigning for nearly two years for his release.
Before making the documentary, Wangchen said: The idea of our film
is not to get famous or to give entertainment. It is very difficult to go to Beijing and speak out there. So that is why we decided to show the real feelings of Tibetans inside Tibet through this film.
A statement on www.leavingfearbehind.com,
where footage can be downloaded, said that Mr Wangchen had not been allowed outside legal aid and that the Government had barred a lawyer hired by his family from representing him. His wife, Lhamo Tso, said: I appeal to the court in Xining to allow my
husband to have a legal representative of his own choosing.
Chinese police have said that their crackdown on Internet pornography has brought 5,394 arrests and 4,186 criminal case investigations in 2009 -- a fourfold increase in the number of such cases compared with 2008.
The announcement on the Ministry
of Public Security's website (www.mps.gov.cn) said the drive would deepen in 2010.
Police would intensify punishments for Internet operations that violate laws and regulations , said the statement from the ministry's Internet security
section. Strengthen monitoring of information, it urged, Press Internet service providers to put in place preventive technology.
The ministry did not say how many of the 5,394 suspects arrested were later charged, released or