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2013: March

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Updated: Blasphemy Against Free Speech...

Bangladesh extends blog censorship to avoid protests

Link Here30th March 2013
Full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief

Bangladesh has extended the censorship of supposedly blasphemous blogs after a threat by extremist muslims to march to the capital to demand the prosecution of atheist blogger.

The internet censor has ordered two leading Internet sites to remove hundreds of posts by seven bloggers whose writings are claimed to have 'offended' Muslims, according to its assistant director Rahman Khan:

These writings have defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. The two sites, and, have removed most of the posts.

Khan said the regulator was scrutinising other sites to identify and erase blasphemous blogs in an attempt to appease the extremists.

Update: Mass protest in Dahka calls for blasphemy laws against bloggers

30th March 2013. See  article from

Tens of thousands of muslim activists prayed on the streets of the Bangladeshi capital today during a rally calling for the introduction of blaspemy laws and the restoration of a caretaker government.

Members of the Islami Andolan Bangladesh are demanding the arrest of atheist bloggers who insulted Islam and to pass laws punishing those who insulted Islam in the parliament .

They have announced plans to lay siege to the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 25 if their demands are not met.



Update: Femen Hacked...

Femen website hacked over topless protest about women's rights in Tunisia

Link Here29th March 2013

The website of topless feminist group Femen has been hacked and replaced with a page declaring the women dirty pigs.

The message, in broken English, is spelt out in red and black capitals and reads:

Dirty pigs!
No fuck for you, even for your men!
Come here Tunisa!
We will cut your breasts and give food our dogs!
Die sluts, prostitutes from Israel!

Femen posted on their Facebook page Dear friends, our website was hacked. Don't trust the information that will be posted there till the moment we inform you that the website was fixed.

The women's rights group has received international news coverage in recent weeks amid fears for Tunisian topless protester Amina Tyler after threats to stone her to death were posted online.

An international Free Amina movement began on April 4 with the news that Amina has been imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital.



Harry's Place Hacked...

UK websites hacked over religious extremism

Link Here29th March 2013

Two of the leading British blogs taking issue with religious extremism have been taken offline for an entire week by a large-scale cyber attack. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, but by the very nature of their targeting, the sources are thought to be religious extremists.

Both Harry's Place and Student Rights suffered massive denial of service (DDOS) attacks over the past week - a cyber attack which blasts servers with traffic in order to overload them and effectively knock the websites out.

A statement posted on the Harry's Place website said:

We were taken down by another very nasty DDOS attack. The ferocity of this one was actually quite staggering, so clearly we're doing something that is getting under someone's skin, someone with a very a fair amount of resources behind them. That a humble blog like ours -- written by a few amateur pundits in their spare time, and relying entirely on donations from readers for its expenses -- seems to threaten forces with this sort of virtual fire-power at their disposal is as flattering as it is baffling.

Student Rights, the leading pressure group in the UK for tackling extremism on university campuses said in a statement:

Our website has been the target of a malicious and illegal attack for a prolonged period of time. Our work, as many know, is to challenge extremism including Islamist activity and the far-right. We can only imagine that the attack must have emanated from one of these two groups.

Authorities are currently investigating the attacks.



Internet Censors...

House of Lords Committee recommends measures to move internet video to Ofcom style heavy handed TV censorship

Link Here28th March 2013

The House of Lords' Communications Committee are looking for 'voluntary' participation in Ofcom's content regulation, but these kinds of voluntary arrangement are rarely truly voluntary. Usually the government threatens legislation if the required 'volunteering' doesn't take place.

These are the key paragraphs from the House of Lords Communications Committee recommendations :

204.  Ofcom should investigate the option of non-broadcast providers of TV-like services, such as Netflix and the content providers mentioned in Box 1, being invited to comply with an appropriate set of standards (the Broadcasting Code suitably amended for their environment) in return for some form of public recognition or kitemark. (Para 53)

211.  We urge the Government to ensure that cooperation on the regulation of converging media content, such as the category of TV and TV-like material, is included as part of the discussions between the EU and the US about the establishment of a free trade agreement. (Para 94)

221.  Specifically, Ofcom should be required, in dialogue with UK citizens and key industry players, to establish and publish on a regular basis the UK public's expectations of major digital intermediaries such as ISPs and other digital gateways, specifically with regard to protecting UK audiences and their families when accessing content through digital intermediaries' services, covering for example:

  • The scope of their responsibilities (given they are not always in direct control of the content to which they provide access);

  • Appropriate processes for receiving complaints and subsequent redress;

  • Any specific measures, such as access controls, content classification systems, or other actions which the UK public might expect them to take in protecting children from harmful material. (Para 141)



You Have 7 Days Or Else...

Saudi authorities demand the capability to snoop on Skype communications

Link Here27th March 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Saudi...Communications under threat

Encrypted messaging services such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp could be blocked in Saudi Arabia. The telecommunications censor is demanding a means to snoop on such applications.

Saudi newspapers are reporting that the companies behind the applications have been given a week to respond. No explanation has been given of why the demand has been made.

Internet communications has had a big impact in Saudi Arabia, which has the highest take-up of Twitter in the world, reports the BBC's Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher. He adds  that this latest threat would potentially deprive people of what has become an essential means of simply communicating with friends and family.

One Saudi user told the local media that she would feel uncomfortable talking to her relative on Skype without her hijab (headscarf) if she believed someone might be listening in on her.

Expatriate workers have messaged newspapers pleading with the Saudis not to stop their only affordable means of communication to their families back home.



Googleised Swedish...

Google tries to get the word 'ungoogleable' struck off Swedish language word list

Link Here27th March 2013

Objections from Google have forced the removal of the word 'ungoogleable' [ogooglebar in Swedish] from a list of new Swedish words, the Language Council of Sweden says. The word means something that cannot be found with a search engine.

But Google wanted the meaning to relate only to Google searches, according to the council, saying it was protecting its trademark.

Every year, the Language Council publishes its top 10 new words which have become popular in Sweden to show how society and language are changing.

Council head Ann Cederberg told the BBC she received an email from Google soon after publication of the list in December 2012, citing brand protection. It called for changes to the Language Council of Sweden's definition and asked for a disclaimer stressing that Google is a trademark.

The council, worried at the prospect of a lengthy legal battle and balking at the idea of changing the word's definition, removed it from the list. A statement on the Language Council of Sweden's website, asks:

Who decides language? We do, language users. We decide together which words should be and how they are defined, used and spelled.



Offsite Article: Porn: no longer a dirty little secret...

Link Here23rd March 2013
The normalisation of porn-use in the 21st-century West speaks to a serious crisis of values -- one that censorship won't solve, ie porn is too popular to ban. By Frank Furedi

See article from



Growing Up...

Nintendo ends its ludicrous 11pm internet watershed on content related to 18 rated games

Link Here22nd March 2013

A while ago the internet ship for the Wii U console introduced a ludicrous TV like watershed on 18+ rated content. Access was only allowed after 11pm.

The restrictions were something to do with Nintendo of Europe being based in censorial Germany.

Well those silly restrictions have now been removed much to the delight of our Wii U owning brothers and sisters in various regions throughout Europe including the UK, according to Daily Joypad .



Update: Who's Asking?...

Microsoft starts up a transparency report about the scale of law enforcement requests

Link Here22nd March 2013
Full story: Internet Transparency Reports...Google, Twitter and Microsoft report on law enforcement requests

Brad Smith , Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft writes in a blog post:

Today, we are releasing our 2012 Law Enforcement Requests Report. This is our first Law Enforcement Requests Report. It provides data on the number of requests we received from law enforcement agencies around the world relating to Microsoft online and cloud services and how we responded to those requests. All of our major online services are covered in this report, including, for example, Hotmail,; SkyDrive; Xbox LIVE; Microsoft Account; and Office 365. We're also making available similar data relating to Skype, which Microsoft acquired in October 2011.

We will update this report every six months.

In recent months, there has been broadening public interest in how often law enforcement agencies request customer data from technology companies and how our industry responds to these requests. Google, Twitter and others have made important and helpful contributions to this discussion by publishing some of their data. We've benefited from the opportunity to learn from them and their experience, and we seek to build further on the industry's commitment to transparency by releasing our own data today.

Like others in the industry, we are releasing publicly the total number of requests we receive from law enforcement in countries around the world and the number of potentially affected accounts identified in those requests.

We are also publishing additional data that we hope will provide added insights for our customers and the public who are interested in these issues. For example, we are providing more detailed information that shows the number of law enforcement requests resulting in disclosure to these agencies of "customer content", such as the subject line and body of an email exchanged through; or a picture stored on SkyDrive. We similarly are reporting on the number of law enforcement requests that result in disclosure only of "non-content" data, which includes account information such as an email address, a person's name, country of residence, or gender, or system-generated data such as IP addresses and traffic data.

I've tried to summarize what has struck me as some of the principal trends reflected in the data we're releasing today:

  • First, while we receive a significant number of law enforcement requests from around the world, very few actually result in the disclosure to these agencies of customer content. To be precise, last year Microsoft (including Skype) received 75,378 law enforcement requests for customer information, and these requests potentially affected 137,424 accounts or other identifiers. Only 2.1%, or 1,558 requests, resulted in the disclosure of customer content .

  • It's insightful, I believe, to look at the governments to whom customer content was disclosed. Of the 1,558 disclosures of customer content, more than 99% were in response to lawful warrants from courts in the United States. In fact, there were only 14 disclosures of customer content to governments outside the United States. These were to governments in Brazil, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand.

  • Of the 56,388 cases where Microsoft (excluding Skype) disclosed some non-content information to law enforcement agencies, more than 66% of these were to agencies in only five countries . These were the U.S., the United Kingdom, Turkey, Germany and France. For Skype, the top five countries accounted for 81% of all requests. These countries were the U.K., U.S., Germany, France and Taiwan.

  • Roughly 18% of the law enforcement requests (again, excluding Skype) resulted in the disclosure of no customer information in any form, either because Microsoft rejected the request or because no customer information was found.

  • Finally, while law enforcement requests for information unquestionably are important (and raise important issues around the world), only a tiny percentage of users are potentially affected by them. We have many hundreds of millions of accounts across our online and cloud services. To give you a sense of proportion, we estimate that less than two one-hundredths of  one % (or 0.02%, to put it another way) were potentially affected by law enforcement requests.



Update: #HandThemOverOrElse...

A Jewish Students group demands silly money from Twitter over allegedly slow response to a French court order to reveal information about insulting tweets

Link Here22nd March 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in France...Web blocking in the name of child protection

A Jewish student group has announced it was taking further legal action against Twitter over the supposed lack of response to a French court order to hand over data to help identify the authors of insulting tweets.

The association is claiming the extortionate sum of 38.5 million euros ($50 million) in damages, according to the text of the summons for Twitter to appear before the civil court's criminal division.

Twitter said it was in discussions with the Jewish student group but that unfortunately they are more interested in these grand gestures than in finding an adequate international procedure to obtain the requested information. It added that the French court had only notified it of the earlier ruling a few days ago and that they would appeal the January 24th decision.

Update: Handed Over

13th July 2013. See  article from

Twitter has handed French authorities data which could identify the users behind a spate of tweets accused of being antisemitic after a long court battle begun by anti-racism campaigners.

In a rare move, Twitter announced that in response to a valid legal request it had provided the Paris prosecutor with data that may enable the identification of certain users that the vice-prosecutor believes have violated French law . Twitter said this gesture put an end to the long legal dispute.



Offsite Article: Miserable Whingers...

Link Here21st March 2013
Daily Mail has a long rant about escort services on Facebook

See article from



Bat Signal Calls for Internet Action Against US CISPA Law...

Will the Internet Defence League also help fight against the proposed UK news and internet censor?

Link Here 20th March 2013

Anti-censorship campiagners have switched on an internet signalling system to help co-ordinate protests about a draft law in the US.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (Cispa) looks set to erode privacy in the US by exposing people's browsing habits and surveillance of internet usage.

The bat signal system tells followers to start displaying protest materials such as website banners and petitions.

Plans for the signalling system emerged in early 2012 following protests and website blackouts in opposition to two other draft laws in the US, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act. The web action was widely seen as influential in the campaign that saw both those laws shelved.

In a bid to harness the wave of activism those protests started, social news sites such as Reddit and Fark joined up with rights groups and many others to launch the Internet Defense League (IDL). Instead of reacting on an incident-by-incident basis, the IDL monitors threats to online privacy and let supporters know when to ramp up protests.

The IDL also said it would create protest materials such as website banners, petitions and information about how to contact politicians, so people can voice their opposition in a co-ordinated manner.

The question is, will the bat signal be turned on to help fight against the news and internet censor proposed for the UK.



Update: Wall of Censorship...

Mumbai police set up a lab for the surveillance and censorship of internet social networks

Link Here20th March 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

Mumbai police have set up a group for the surveillance of social networks.

This follows several arrests across the country for political cartoons or comments made online.

Obviously internet users are worried. Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society research group, said the natural reaction was to worry about the new police lab given the way the law has been used. He told AFP:

Police in the last four years have acted in an arbitrary and random fashion, often using the IT Act to settle political scores

When there's no crisis for the police, proactively keeping an eye on what people are saying or doing is overkill.

But the police unconvincingly claim that this will not be censorship.

Police commissioner Satyapal Singh claimed the lab was not set up to censor comments. His spin on police censorship was:

By reading the mindset of what people are writing on various modes of communication, we will try to provide better and improved safety and security to the Mumbai citizens.



Offsite Article: But is it Enough for the Sexualisationists?...

Link Here 19th March 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
One in three new TalkTalk customers with children opt for ISP level internet blocking

See article from



No Respect for Free Expression...

MP George Galloway initiates parliamentary motion calling for the censorship of Twitter

Link Here16th March 2013

EDM 1190 Twitter and the Detection of Crime

Primary sponsor: Galloway, George:

That this House

  • notes that Twitter is now a very widely used mode of social networking;

  • further notes that Twitter is a US-based enterprise whose primary motivation is to maximise its profits;

  • further notes that Twitter is now used for a variety of criminal activities including sending malicious communications;

  • further notes that Twitter refuses to co-operate with the UK authorities in general and the police in particular in trying to detect the source of criminal communications unless it is a matter of life and death , to be determined by Twitter;

  • believes that this failure to co-operate with the detection of the sources of criminal behaviour is reprehensible;

  • and calls on the Government to impose sanctions on Twitter until it agrees to fully co-operate with the UK authorities and police in the detection of crime.

As of 16th march, no other MPS had signed the motion



An Insult to Free Expression...

Bangladesh announces a panel of internet censors to trace supposed blasphemy on social networks

Link Here15th March 2013

Bangladesh has announced plans to monitor social media networks such as Facebook in a bid to identify bloggers who have been accused of insulting Islam and the religious character Mohammed.

A special panel is being set up, including leaders of the main intelligence agencies and the telecoms regulator, to exchange information and track down the people behind recent posts that have caused 'outrage' among Islamic groups.

Mainuddin Khandaker, a senior home ministry official who will head the panel, threatened:

We will try our best to dig out what's actually happening and find out the people who're making blasphemous comments against Islam and the Prophet.

There might be differences in opinion, but that does not mean anyone in the country has the rights to mock others' beliefs.

Islamic parties and leading clerics have targeted writings by atheist bloggers, calling nationwide strikes in protest and demanding the execution of those they accuse of blasphemy. Last month an alleged anti-Islam blogger was murdered. At least eight people have been killed in the anti-blasphemy protests. The government has blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem the violence, as well as stepping up security for the bloggers, some of whom claim to have been threatened by the activists of a leading Islamic party.



Read All About It (If You Can)...

Closure of Google Reader is bad news for censored folks in Iran

Link Here15th March 2013

Google Reader users are angry that Google is snuffing out its RSS newsfeed viewer. But as Quartz's Zach Seward points out , censored folks in Iran used Google Reader quite a bit to get around internet censorship. The news articles from censored websites are accessed by Google servers in the US (or other free countries) and are packaged by Google for access via

Theoretically this could be stopped by blocking the whole, or part, of but maybe this is step too far even for a repressive country like Iran.

Iranian users won't be helped by replacement software popping up in the wake of Google Reader, because these can then be easily blocked.

Google is a business, not a public utility, and its decision to kill Reader makes business sense. But was maintaining Reader really so much of a drain on Google's vast resources that it couldn't have let the little remora keep hanging on as long as possible, as a kind of pro-bono, don't be evil brand-burnishing project? Google didn't design Reader to be used this way, and couldn't have predicted that it would be, but there it is. Why extinguish the benefit?



Offsite Article: Gathering clouds over digital freedom?...

Link Here12th March 2013
The debate over the direction of the web has just started, and contradictory messages that need careful scrutiny are emerging from governments and corporations alike, says Kirsty Hughes

See article from



Update: Iran Blocks Unlicensed VPNs...

Where Iran leads, the EU will have to follow if it wants to block internet porn

Link Here11th March 2013
Full story: Iranian Internet Censorship...Extensive internet blocking

AN Iranian official Ramezanali Sobhani-Fard has told Reuters:

Within the last few days illegal VPN ports in the country have been blocked. Only legal and registered VPNs can from now on be used.

So, those looking to tap into Facebook, YouTube, various news sites and, yes, even Google's search engine itself (among other banned websites) will have to find different methods for doing so -- which do exist, according to an Iranian interviewed by Reuters who said he was using an unnamed software tool to bypass Iran's blocks.

 Iran's Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi explained further in the Tehran Chronicle:

We have started distributing official VPN services for Iranian users. Those need this service to open safe connections can apply in the program and we will review their cases one by one. If their request was approved, then we will introduce legal providers and licensed clients can buy their needed services.

By launching this program, Iranian government can prosecute users who are violating state laws and Internet Filtering Committee will be able to take offenders to national courts.



Offsite Article: How Facebook could get you arrested...

Link Here11th March 2013
Smart technology and the sort of big data available to social networking sites are helping police target crime before it happens. But is this ethical? Book extract from To Save Everything by Evgeny Morozov

See article from



Update: Inappropriately Wide Reaching...

British Naturism points out that Elspeth's Howe's Online Protection Bill has become a Censorship Bill

Link Here10th March 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

When first proposed, the House of Lords Online Protection Bill was of no concern to naturists, but it had the potential to become a concern. Originally the Bill proposed that children should be blocked from access to pornography, and pornography was defined as material intended to be sexually arousing. However amendments have been proposed which have increased the scope of the bill.

Baroness Benjamin has put forward an amendment which would change the definition from pornographic images to adult content . Lord Morrow has also moved an amendment which would insert at an age appropriate level past the word content .

The new line in the Bill would then read:

Manufacturers of electronic devices must provide customers with a means of filtering adult content at an age-appropriate level from an internet access service at the time the device is purchased.

The danger here is the lack of any definition of what the words adult and appropriate actually mean. There are several shortcomings in this Bill that absolutely must be addressed:

  • Appropriate must be defined on evidence and facts, not emotion, myth, and prejudice;
  • Classification must be evidence based;
  • Emotion and prejudice are not evidence;
  • Over-blocking is just as serious as under-blocking, both result in serious harm;
  • It must be clear which filters provide protection and which ones support prejudice and may be harmful;
  • Freedom of Expression is important and must be protected;
  • Blocking of web sites that are not harmful to children is libel;
  • Blocking web sites without justification is just as much censorship as preventing the publication of a newspaper. There must be a practicable means to find out if blocked and to contest the blocking.

Unless there is real protection for Freedom of Expression then the manufacturers, software providers, and ISPs will minimise costs and filter everything that could possibly cause offence to anyone. That will cause considerable harm, not just to Naturism, but to society in general and to children and young people in particular.



European Parliament blocks constituents emails re porn censorship...

Pirate Party MEP blows the whistle on a disgraceful disregard for democracy

Link Here 9th March 2013

Next week the European parliament will be voting on a resolution to ban all forms of pornography in media . After this information became known to a wider audience, many citizens have decided to contact members of the European parliament to express their views on this issue.

This is absolutely excellent. Citizens engaging actively in the democratic process is a very positive thing, at least in my opinion. Before noon, some 350 emails had arrived in my office.

But around noon, these mails suddenly stopped arriving. When we started investigating why this happened so suddenly, we soon found out:

The IT department of the European Parliament is blocking the delivery of the emails on this issue, after some members of the parliament complained about getting emails from citizens.

This is an absolute disgrace, in my opinion. A parliament that views input from citizens on a current issue as spam, has very little democratic legitimacy in my opinion.

I will be writing a letter to the President of the European Parliament to complain about this totally undemocratic practice.

In the meantime, please continue to email members of the parliament on both the issue of the porn ban and on any other issue that you feel that you want to bring to the attention your elected representatives. Citizens taking active part in the political process is a fantastic asset for a democratic system, not a spam problem.

I am very disappointed that some of my colleagues in this house evidently have a different opinion.



Offsite Article: On Joke Trials...

Link Here5th March 2013
Full story: Insulting UK Law...UK proesecutions of jokes and insults on social media
The Director of Public Prosecutions talks to Index about Twitter, Facebook and diminishing free speech

See article from



Facebook Has Created Something of a Monster...

Court hears that Facebook cannot prevent people from opening accounts as there is no ID verification system

Link Here3rd March 2013

A judge has claimed that: Facebook has created something of a monster which it cannot control.

The judge had been asked by a father to prevent his daughter from accessing Facebook after she used it to post sexually suggestive pictures and had sexualised contact with older men.

Facebook explained that it was powerless to stop the girl using an account because she could create new ones under different pseudonyms and access the site from different devices. Although Facebook insists only those aged 13 or above can create a profile on their site, the social network does not use any age or identity verification systems to enforce this rule.

Mr Justice McCloskey sitting in the High Court in Belfast said Facebook's defence largely rested on the idea that it has created something of a monster which it alleges it cannot control . The requested injunction was denied as unworkable.



Offsite Article: How Google And Bing Maps Control What You Can See...

Link Here 3rd March 2013
Behind the scenes of the most powerful maps in the history of the Earth. And how Google, Microsoft, DigitalGlobe, and the world's governments decide what does --- and doesn't --- belong on its surface.

See article from



Update: Kicking Ass...

High Court blocks UK internet users from 3 more major torrent sites

Link Here1st March 2013
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

Website blocking is continuing in the UK, with the High Court adding three major torrent sites to the country's official ban list.

Following complaints from the music industry led by the BPI, the Court ordered the UK's leading Internet service providers to begin censoring subscriber access to Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy.

Last year nine major record labels led by the BPI asked several of the UK's leading ISPs to censor The Pirate Bay. The process concluded at the end of April 2012 when the High Court ordered the site to be blocked.

October 2012 and the labels were back for more, this time asking six ISPs (BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk) to begin blocking three more leading BitTorrent sites under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

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