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12.18.13

New Examples of Censorship in West Europe, Facebook, Google, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, and North America

Posted in News Roundup at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • The UK Government Is Already Censoring The Global Internet

    Today, a special police unit can decide that a certain website needs to disappear from the Internet, and threaten its domain name registrar into revoking the address “until further notice”, without any legal basis whatsoever.

    The name of the unit is PIPCU (Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit) and it has just reported on the success of Operation Creative – a three month long campaign that resulted in 40 websites accused of copyright infringement shutting down, or at least moving to a new Web address.

  • Who decides what we can read?

    Speaking at the Internet Service Providers Association, Security Minister James Brokenshire said that an announcement on blocking extremist websites is ‘forthcoming.’

  • Will French Parliamentarians Consent to a Democratorship?

    Numerous reactions are now being voiced against the inclusion in the 2014-2019 Defense Bill of article 13 whose provisions enable a pervasive surveillance of online data and communications. Gilles Babinet, appointed in 2012 as French Digital Champion to Nellie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, was quoted [fr] in the French newspaper Les Echos, “This law is the most serious attack on democracy since the special tribunals during the Algerian War” (our translation).

  • German Court Tells Wikimedia Foundation That It’s Liable For Things Users Write
  • Facebook Uses “Social Signals” and Profile Information to Stop Piracy

    Social networking giant Facebook has been granted a patent to use profile information to analyze whether shared files are “pirated” or not. The data is carefully analyzed using several social indicators including the interests of the poster and recipient, their geographical location, and their social relationship. According to Facebook the patent can help the company to “minimize legal liabilities,” but whether users will be happy remains to be seen.

  • Facebook Needs To Learn It Can’t Teach Tolerance By Acting As An Overzealous Censor

    Facebook is developing a speech impediment. The recent fracas over beheading videos was marked by severe bouts of waffling from the social media giant. On one hand, it seems to want to ease unfettered expression. On the other hand, it’s set itself up as the content police.

    These two aspects often collide with disastrous results. Beheadings are a go, but breast cancer groups can’t post photos of mastectomies. Recent partnerships with government agencies see Facebook willing to censor by proxy, even as it attempts to roll back its control in other areas. Giving 800+ million users access to a “report” button is well-intended, but the reality is more troubling. Something that’s simply unpopular can be clicked into oblivion in nearly no time whatsoever.

  • Condom to sex: Google’s weird list of banned words for Android 4.4 KitKat

    It seems that Google now wants you to make use of words in a more careful and responsible way, and thus, has drawn off many words, including a bunch of profane words, from its built-in dictionary for Android. With the rollout of Android 4.4 KitKat, Google has now stopped giving you predictive suggestions for a raft of words.

  • Saudi Arabia: Popular sci-fi novel banned

    Last Tuesday (26 Nov) representatives from the country’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice — the Haya’a — raided several bookshops selling the novel H W J N by Ibraheem Abbas and Yasser Bahjatt’s, demanding it’d be taken off the shelves. H W J N is a “fantasy, sci-fi and romance” novel about a genie who falls in love with a human, and is a best-seller in Saudi Arabia.

  • China’s rumor crackdown has ‘cleaned’ Internet, official says

    China’s campaign against online rumors, which critics say is crushing free speech, has been highly successful in “cleaning” the Internet, a top official of the country’s internet regulator said on Thursday.

  • Japan Reacts to Fukushima Crisis By Banning Journalism
  • Japan’s Dangerous Anachronism

    The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this month rammed through Parliament a state secrecy law that signals a fundamental alteration of the Japanese understanding of democracy. The law is vaguely worded and very broad, and it will allow government to make secret anything that it finds politically inconvenient. Government officials who leak secrets can be jailed for up to 10 years, and journalists who obtain information in an “inappropriate” manner or even seek information that they do not know is classified can be jailed for up to five years. The law covers national security issues, and it includes espionage and terrorism.

  • Japan’s New ‘Fukushima Fascism’

    Fukushima continues to spew out radiation. The quantities seem to be rising, as do the impacts.

    The site has been infiltrated by organized crime. There are horrifying signs of ecological disaster in the Pacific and human health impacts in the U.S.

  • Chris Hedges: Journalism is Being Pushed To the Fringes of Society
  • Canadian Cyberbullying Bill Expands Scope, Targets Open WiFi Over Terrorism, Child Porn Fears

    The drawn-out process in which a bill becomes a law lends itself to harmful things, like mission creep and bloating. Canada’s new cyberbullying legislation, problematic in its “purest” form, is now becoming even worse as legislators have begun hanging language aimed at other issues (child porn, terrorism, cable theft [?]) on the bill’s framework.

    As was noted earlier, language aimed at punishing revenge porn had already been attached to the bill. But the urge to target as much as possible with a broadly written bill is too much for Canada’s politicians to resist. Michael Geist notes that Bob Dechert (Secretary to the Minister of Justice) took a moment during the debate to speculate about the “dangers” of “stolen” cable.

  • The Government’s Secret Plan to Shut Off Cellphones and the Internet, Explained

    This month, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Homeland Security must make its plan to shut off the Internet and cellphone communications available to the American public. You, of course, may now be thinking: What plan?! Though President Barack Obama swiftly disapproved of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak turning off the Internet in his country (to quell widespread civil disobedience) in 2011, the US government has the authority to do the same sort of thing, under a plan that was devised during the George W. Bush administration. Many details of the government’s controversial “kill switch” authority have been classified, such as the conditions under which it can be implemented and how the switch can be used. But thanks to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), DHS has to reveal those details by December 12 — or mount an appeal. (The smart betting is on an appeal, since DHS has fought to release this information so far.)

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