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Links 20/12/2015: OpenMandriva Server Version, Alpine 3.3.0

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • LEGO: The New Open Source Toy?
    Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of these open sourced projects involve LEGOs. When perusing through Github, developers will find a variety of projects based around LEGOs—for example, a project that allows you to create custom decals (or clothes) for LEGO minifigs (LEGO people). Or, a developer may stumble upon a project that enables him or her to create music, electronically, with a 32×32 inch LEGO plate and 2×2 inch LEGO bricks. The latter of the two involves a little more technology—a webcam, basic coding knowledge, and music software—but nonetheless, it is possible to achieve.

  • License Plate Tracking Has Gone Open-Source
    Computer vision-assisted license plate reading seems to be a favorite spectre of a certain sort of privacy worrier, at least anecdotally speaking. Something to do with its potential for tracking and profiling an activity that seems to make Americans in particular feel their most, uh, liberated (driving cars).

    The technology has had a steady uptake among law enforcement agencies, who of course think it's wondertool for busting crimes, but now an open-source implementation is starting to make some waves in the developer world and beyond. This is OpenALPR, and, as Mike James notes at I-Programmer, it's not a new thing but is getting some new attention in the wake of a recent code release. LPR is here for the masses and it's incredibly easy to use.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Funding

    • FUUG grant for Obnam development: what happened then
      In September, The FUUG Foundation gave me a grant to buy some hardware for Obnam development. I used this money to buy a new desktop-ish machine, see below for details. It's sat in a corner, and I use it as a server: it's not normally connected to a monitor or keyboard. It runs Obnam benchmarks. Before this, I ran Obnam benchmarks and experiments on my laptop, or on BigV virtual servers donated by Bytemark.s


  • Programming

    • Why Many Still Turn to Private Servers for Testing Environments
      With the evolution of the cloud, it may come as a surprise to some that there are so many businesses still using dedicated servers. In fact, according to Zephyr's annual How The World Tests Report, nearly half of respondents host their test environments in their private servers, while 36 percent chose a mix of cloud and hardware solutions. The question, then, is what conditions do these organizations have and why are private servers so essential to their workflows?


  • New Zealand approves the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and other reasons to fear for humanity
    This is on the BBC so must be true: New Zealand has given approval to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to carry out marriage ceremonies in the country. Members of the church call themselves Pastafarians and believe that the world was created by an airborne spaghetti and meatballs-based being, although its own website notes that some followers consider it to be a satirical organization. The N.Z. registrar-general said his decision was based solely on whether the organization upholds or promotes religious beliefs, or philosophical or solely convictions, not whether the beliefs are all a big joke or not.

  • Security

    • BadWinmail Microsoft Outlook Bug Can Give Attackers Control Over PCs [iophk: "These kinds of bugs have been in Outlook as long as Outlook has been around. This is nothing new. What's needed are fines for people hooking Windows up to the Internet."]
      Just by looking at an email message in Outlook, attackers can now take control over your PC. The good news is that Microsoft has patched the issue, but unless you updated Outlook after December 8, you're still vulnerable to this issue.

      Security researcher Haifei Li discovered this peculiar Outlook bug, which he named BadWinmail. According to a technical report he put together after the vulnerability's discovery, the attack is extremely easy to carry out and does not require any complex interaction from the end user.

    • MacKeeper Leaks 13 Million Mac Owners' Data, Leaves Passwords Open To Easy Cracking
      Researcher Chris Vickery said he uncovered four IP addresses that took him straight to a MongoDB database, containing a range of personal information, including names, email addresses, usernames, password hashes, phone numbers, IP addresses, system information, as well as software licenses and activation codes. All Vickery had to do was look for openly accessible MongoDB databases on the Shodan search tool.

    • Penetration Testing
      Penetration testing, also called pentesting, is an attack method which scans for broad vulnerabilities in networked computers. It is primarily used in professional settings in order to ascertain the status of security in a machine.

    • Exploit Logs You Into Linux Systems After Hitting Backspace 28 Times

    • Insane bug makes it incredibly easy to hack many Linux systems

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Spymasters: CIA documentary sheds little light on drones, 9/11 or torture
      There are a few ways to judge The Spymasters: CIA in the Crosshairs, a new documentary which interviews all 12 living former heads of the CIA (and several other key personnel) and premieres on Showtime at 9pm on Saturday. You can view it as a piece of filmmaking, as an apologia for the tactics the agency has to employ to get its very difficult job done, or as a rewriting of history from the CIA’s point of view. On two out of three of these criteria, it sadly comes up short.

      As a film, The Spymasters is a bit of a failure. In aesthetic, tone and pacing it seems directly based on The Gatekeepers, a 2012 film that interviewed all the former heads of Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police. However, the former spooks in Spymasters aren’t nearly as candid as the Israelis. This new film is slow-moving and, at a solid two hours, long-winded. The first 15 minutes consist of throat-clearing platitudes, it is often hard to tell who is speaking, and interruptions from directors Gedeon and Jules Naudet frequently take the viewer out of the experience entirely.

    • Oh, the suffering of the CIA: In Showtime’s “The Spymasters,” America’s chief spooks bare their souls on the pain of the terror war
      Whom to waterboard? Which village to drone? A bizarre documentary explores the spy elite's secret suffering

    • Weapon Used in November 13 Paris Attacks Came From CIA-linked Arms Dealer
      At least one of the guns used in the November 13 terror attacks in Paris was purchased by Century International Arms and then re-exported to Europe. One of the largest arms dealers in the United States, Century Arms has close ties to the CIA and has faced charges in America and Europe of involvement in illegal arms deals.

      The weapon, an M92 semiautomatic pistol, was produced at the Zastava arms factory in Kragujevac, Serbia. Last week, factory manager Milojko Brzakovic told AP he had checked its records on seven weapons that it manufactured that were used in the Paris attacks. It delivered several of the weapons inside Yugoslavia before that country dissolved amid capitalist restoration and civil war in the 1990s, but it delivered the pistol in May 2013 to Century Arms, based in Delray Beach, Florida.

    • Anonymous war with Isis could lead to spread of internet censorship, group warns
      Social media campaigns will “legitimize the spread of internet censorship and will lead to the increased censorship for everyone, including Anonymous,” the message reads. “Dealing with government agents et al will not only result in many more informers in Anonymous but will also damage its reputation as it will lead to a view that Anonymous is too close to US intelligence interests.”

    • There Have Been Zero Terror Attacks in the U.S. by People Radicalized by ISIS Through Social Media
      The term “radicalized” is a problematic one, namely because virtually no one who carries out sub-state political violence (which we’ll broadly refer to as terrorism) follows the same pattern. Some are hyper-religious while others have but a passing knowledge of the Bible or Quran. Some are battle-hardened fighters, while others carry out their “jihad” in a typical workplace violence mode. But in the wake of a terrorist attack, authorities and the press alike scramble to ask the question: When exactly did the attacker begin to show signs of violent ideology? In the case of Islamic-tinted violence, the question more specifically is: When did they first show support for either al Qaeda or ISIS ideology?

    • Why wasn't San Bernardino prevented? The hard truth that no one wants to admit.
      Americans want to treat San Bernardino and the risk of future such attacks — and that risk is real — as purely a terrorism problem, because that feels like a problem with difficult but achievable and politically palatable solutions. We want to ignore the ways in which this is also a mass shooting problem, because American political and social factors have made addressing the broader mass shooting problem seem just about impossible.

    • Stephen Zunes: No Candidates Are Looking at Root Cause of ISIL, “This Monster We Created.”
      Juan González: GOP to Puerto Rico–”Drop Dead”; GOP Debate: Trump Defends Muslim Ban, Other Candidates Debate How to Restrict Rights & Go to Wa; Democracy Is Being Dismantled Before Our Eyes: Bob Herbert on Sheldon Adelson-Backed GOP Debate; Ben Carson: I am OK with Killing “Thousands of Innocent Children and Civilians”; Trump Calls for Closing Parts of Internet as Cruz & Rubio Debate NSA Powers; Stephen Zunes: No Candidates Are Looking at Root Cause of ISIL, “This Monster We Created.”

    • Our say: Why did arrested man have guns in his trunk?
      How could a man barred from possessing guns because of a 2009 conviction for illegal possession of a firearm have a 30-30 lever-action rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun in the trunk of his car?

  • Transparency Reporting

    • A Victory for Privacy and Transparency: HRW v. DEA
      In a victory for millions of people in the U.S. who have placed telephone calls to locations overseas, EFF and Human Rights Watch have confirmed that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s practice of collecting those records in bulk has stopped and that the only bulk database of those records has been destroyed.

      From the 1990s to 2013, the DEA secretly and illegally collected billions of records of Americans’ international calls to hundreds of countries around the world. In April 2015, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of our client, Human Rights Watch, challenging the constitutionality of the program and seeking to have the records purged from the government’s possession.

      Today, HRW has agreed to voluntarily dismiss that suit after receiving assurances from the government, provided under penalty of perjury, that the bulk collection has ceased and that the only database containing the billions of Americans’ call records collected by the DEA has been purged from the government’s possession.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Carbon emissions from Indonesian peat fires vary considerably based on fire type, research shows
      Revised carbon loss estimates for recurrent fires on tropical peatlands have been revised by a research team. The study also found that peatlands closer to canals have a higher probability of high frequency fires, which release harmful carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

    • Experts say efforts to stop Indonesian fires may not work for 2016
      Those fires have contributed to the smoke crisis choking Southeast Asia almost annually.

      But many experts believe fires in Indonesia are likely to start up again when the rainy season ends in March. They say not enough has been done yet to head off the risks.

      Slash-and-burn clearance of land – much of it to plant oil palm, and trees to make pulp and paper – is the main culprit fuelling the fires that smoulder deep underground in peat. They have pushed up pollution levels, disrupting daily life from Indonesia to Singapore and Malaysia.

      Who is responsible for starting the fires is unclear, although the finger is often pointed at small-scale growers of the palm which produces cheap, edible oil.

      Mansuetus Alsy Hanu, national coordinator for Indonesia's Palm Oil Smallholder Union, said his members are often unfairly blamed, and better mapping of the land would show some fires break out on larger holdings.

      Still he admitted that financial pressure on small growers pushes them towards slash-and-burn clearance.

    • Efforts to stop Indonesian haze fires may not work for 2016
      South Sumatra's governor, Alex Noerdin, is adamant there will be a "significant reduction" next year in fires on deforested and peat land in his province.

      Those fires have contributed to the haze crisis choking South East Asia almost annually.

      But many experts believe fires in Indonesia are likely to start up again when the rainy season ends in March. They say not enough has been done yet to head off the risks.

    • MORTON MARCUS: Global warming, NSA among mounting problems up in Santa Land

      Often at this season, I visit Elvin Elfenhausen, my inside guy at the North Pole. “How’s the Jolly Old Man?” I ask.

      “Not very jolly,” he sighs. “Nor would you be jolly if everything around you was turning from reliable snow and ice to slush and water.”

      “I forgot,” I say. “Global Warming?

      “Yes, but not just Global Warming,” Elvin says. “That supposedly slow disaster is happening with disturbing quickness. And it seems everything else is going to pot. Santa’s thinking of moving.

      “Santa moving his workshop from the North Pole?” I exclaim. Immediately, I wonder which of my friends in the economic development business I should call with this startling opportunity.”

      “Where’s he thinking of going?” I prod. “How many jobs? What incentives? Cash? Tax abatement? A frozen TIF district? Labor training support? Does he want a new building or would an existing structure, zoned manufacturing, suffice? Does he demand a sleigh launching and landing site?”

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Geo-blocking | Digital Single Market
      Geo-blocking and other geographically-based restrictions undermine online shopping and cross-border sales. The Digital Single Market strategy includes a commitment for an initiative to end unjustified geo-blocking by way of legislative proposals to change the e-Commerce framework or the Services Directive framework

    • Facebook and Google combine to beat off online hate speech in Germany [iophk: "Who decides what is "offensive"? Between censorship and zero-rating, FB is going to fully destroy the net."]
      GERMANY HAS managed to get the large internet companies to come together and agree to smash hate speech off the internet.

      People say that the internet is mostly pornography, but actually a huge chunk of it is hate speech and nasty talk of some kind. Taking it offline would be a challenge, but it is a challenge that companies like Google are ready to accept, according to Germany's justice ministry and a number of reports.

    • Want To Know How Ridiculous The Omnibus Bill Is? It Has A Meaningless Porn Filter Clause Four Times
      Following Congress passing the Omnibus spending bill, it of course did not take long for President Obama to sign the bill, meaning that the fake cybersecurity bill/actual surveillance bill, is now law. Particularly ridiculous is that in his little speech about it, Obama talked about how he "wasn't wild about everything in it" but that he was happy that it was a bill "without ideological provisions." Except, you know, for the many ones that did get in there.

      But, what do you expect with a 2000+ page bill that Congress was only given a couple of days to look at before voting on. Zach Carter, over at Huffington Post has examples of a couple of ridiculous provisions in the omnibus, starting with a ban on giving any funding to ACORN, the organization that was the target of scorn from Republicans a few years back. So what's so ridiculous about that? Following the pile on against ACORN years ago the organization shut down. It hasn't existed in years. Preventing funding for it seems, you know, kinda pointless, as it doesn't exist.


      So Congress can't seem to get much of anything done, but it does pass an omnibus bill that includes a weird meaningless porn filter requirement four times... and a damaging surveillance bill. And you wonder why people dislike and distrust Congress.

    • Indonesia’s Forgotten Genocide
      October marked 50 years since the Indonesian military launched one of the twentieth century’s worst mass murders. Yet the anniversary passed almost unnoticed. The massacre of some 500,000 members or sympathizers of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) during 1965-1966 is the least talked-about genocide of the last century.

    • It is 50 years since the Indonesian massacre of 1965 but we cannot look away
      As 250 million Indonesians face up to the 50th anniversary of one of the most crushing episodes of our nation’s history – the massacre of up to 500,000 or more alleged Communists between 1965 and 1968 by the Suharto regime – the business of confronting the past has reached a new urgency. And it is an urgency that has only a week ago was sharpened by new disappointments.

      That new disappointment is our president Joko Widodo’s stance on “1965” – as the tragedy is commonly referred to. In a statement in front of the leaders of the Muhammadiyah, the country’s second largest Muslim organisation, he has refused to apologise to the victims of 1965. And so ended the campaign promises he made –hollow ones to start with, of giving priority to the country’s unresolved cases of human rights violations, including 1965 – that earned him the people’s votes.

    • Vitriol from 'offended' individuals a concern
      Our biggest concern is not Amos' posts, which the authorities are already addressing, but the vitriol coming from "offended" individuals.

      Such vitriol has seemingly got a free pass in spite of its obscene, threatening, abusive or insulting nature - the very offences that Amos was previously convicted for.

    • Singaporean blogger Amos Yee in new police investigation over alleged anti-Islamic comments
      According to a statement released by the Singapore Police Force, 17-year-old blogger Amos Yee is again under police investigation, after he allegedly made offensive anti-Islamic comments on his personal blog.

      In a November 27 blog post, Yee wrote about former Singapore Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng and allegedly made anti-Islamic comments. He expressed similar sentiments in a Facebook post the next day.

    • Amos Yee to be interviewed by police for offensive remarks
      The police have said officers will interview teenage blogger Amos Yee “upon his return to Singapore”, in connection with investigations into offensive remarks made online about religion.

      Yee, 17, was to have shown up at Jurong Police Division on Monday (Dec 14) to assist with investigations, but he failed to do so.

      In a blog post last month, Yee had responded to remarks supposedly made by former Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng and made references to Islam.

      The police said in response to media queries that Yee is not prohibited from travelling overseas.

    • Amos Yee is top trending person on Google in Singapore this year, after Lee Kuan Yew [Ed: watch the Streisand Effect below]
      Amos Yee, a teenaged blogger detained for a video he posted about Lee Kuan Yew in March, was the second highest-trending person on Google in Singapore this year – after the late former prime minister.

      The haze was the top trending news story of 2015, with ‘PSI Singapore’ the top news search of the year, followed by the Southeast Asia Games. MERS was the most popular international news search.

      Reality TV show Bigg Boss was the top trending TV show in a list featuring four Korean dramas. The iPhone 6s was the most searched for gadget.

    • 'PSI Singapore', 'Lee Kuan Yew' the top Google searches in S'pore this year
      Other top searches included "SEA Games", which were held in Singapore in June; "WhatsApp Web", the web version of the chat app released this year; "iPhone 6s"; "QZ8501", the AirAsia flight which crashed on route from Surabaya to Singapore; and "Amos Yee", the controversial teenage blogger.

    • The highest Google searches in S’pore this yr
      Blogger Amos Yee, who drew consideration for his criticisms of the previous prime minister, was looked for as individuals stored tabs on the controversy on-line.

    • ‘PSI Singapore’ tops Google’s search phrases

    • What’s hot in 2015… according to Google

    • "PSI Singapore" was Singapore's top trending search on Google in 2015
      Rounding up the rest of the list is teenage blogger Amos Yee, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) virus and the Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, which crashed in December 2014, killing 162.

    • ‘PSI Singapore’ tops Google’s search terms
      Blogger Amos Yee, who drew attention for his criticisms of the former Prime Minister, was looked up as people kept tabs on the controversy.

    • Haze was Singaporeans' top Google search term for 2015
      While Mr Lee did not take top spot overall, he was the most trending person followed by controversial YouTuber and blogger Amos Yee and Mr Lee's daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling.

    • Art review: For Those Who Have Been Killed
      Somewhat different from this pair is the painting titled Wheelbarrow, which is oddly dated to “1990-2015”. It’s an incongruity that is revealed to be part of a tranche of old paintings of Leow’s, most of which lie rolled up in a custom-made coffin next to Wheelbarrow. The damage wrought by time seems to mirror the relentless march of the news cycle, which Leow tops off by painting an overlay of a quote from the nation’s current potty-mouth of the year, Amos Yee.

    • And on Saturday…
      Otherwise, we might have to call out – as surely as Amos Yee can’t stop himself trolling for attention – “Humbug!”

    • 8 free speech concerns the Community Action Network highlighted for the UPR
      In January 2016, Singapore’s human rights record will face international scrutiny at the United Nations (UN) for the second time.

    • Universities 'are killing free speech', says group of leading academics
      Universities are "killing free speech" by banning anything that causes offence, a group of leading academics have warned.

      Students are being denied the opportunity to debate opposing views due to political correctness and censorship, the group argued in a letter published in The Telegraph.

    • Politically correct universities 'are killing free speech'

    • Universities must halt student censorship culture - academics
      Because universities increasingly see fee-paying students as customers, they do not dare to stand up to the "small but vocal minority" of student activists who want to ban everything from the Sun newspaper to the historian David Starkey.

      The letter says: "Few academics challenge censorship that emerges from students. It is important that more do, because a culture that restricts the free exchange of ideas encourages self-censorship and leaves people afraid to express their views in case they may be misinterpreted. This risks destroying the very fabric of democracy.

      "An open and democratic society requires people to have the courage to argue against ideas they disagree with or even find offensive. At the moment there is a real risk that students are not given opportunities to engage in such debate.

    • Academics Warn Politically Correct Universities ‘Are Killing Free Speech’ With Censorship

    • Will China’s Censorship Spread?
      On Monday, prominent human-rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang went on trial for writing seven social-media posts criticizing Chinese policies and government officials. Supportive online messages posted during the trial were swiftly taken down.

      At the same time, China’s Internet began to fill with images of Wuzhen, a scenic southern river town that is playing host to China’s biggest annual Internet conference this week. And on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in the presence of leaders of several Central Asian countries and a who’s who list from China’s biggest and richest online companies, laid out his vision for an Internet where governments like Beijing’s could regulate the Web how they see fit.

    • China tells the world to respect its censorship

      Chinese president Xi Jinping opened the World Internet Conference by telling world leaders to respect other nation's cyber sovereignty. The leader went on to say that every country has the right to govern the web in accordance with local laws, and that China stands against "internet hegemony." The move reinforces China's right to suppress information on a whim, like when it shuttered Instagram during the Hong Kong democracy protests. By making it an issue of sovereignty, the country is effectively shouting "back off" to rivals who would dare criticize its heavy-handed attitude toward censorship.

    • 'Freedom requires strict order': China preps for second World Internet Conference
      China on Wednesday will kick off its World Internet Conference, a three-day gathering in the eastern city of Wuzhen. With Chinese leaders stressing all things Internet as a major economic development strategy, and with foreign tech firms salivating over the massive but tightly managed market, many are looking to the conference for signposts to the future.

    • Xi Jinping defends China’s right to ‘sovereign’ internet

    • The chill behind China's vision of a 'beautiful' internet
      Wuzhen, I can only imagine, has been chosen as the venue for China's World Internet Conference because it is beautiful.

      That is one of the recurring themes of the event: that the internet is a thing of beauty which should be shared and cherished by all mankind.

      And Wuzhen is a water town, a village held together by interconnecting canals, criss-crossed by elegant stone bridges.

      So that kind of works for the internet metaphor too. But the town, as it happens, is also unbearably cold at this time of year.

    • China lays out its vision of the internet: more control, more censorship
      President Xi Jinping has defended his government's broad censorship of the internet, in a high-profile speech underscoring China's increasingly emphatic attempts to justify its strict online control.

      Mr Xi said cyberspace was not a "place beyond the rule of law" and that countries must not interfere in the internal affairs of others, in remarks made to an international audience of world and business leaders at a technology conference in Wuzhen on Wednesday.

    • Hong Kong Newspaper's Sale to Alibaba Fans Censorship Fears
      Chinese Internet giant Alibaba’s announcement this week that it’s buying Hong Kong’s premier English-language newspaper has set off concerns that the move will stifle the city-state’s free press.

      The e-commerce site on Monday said it had agreed to buy media assets of the SCMP Group Ltd., whose holdings include the South China Morning Post. Alibaba executives said the purchase was aimed at improving China’s image and countering what it calls the bias of Western news outlets.

    • Tiatr doesn't need censorship, says Wagh

    • Govt shouldn’t censor tiatrs, but, tiatrists should have self-censorship: Wagh
      "Tiatrists are not mere artists but defenders of society and have a right as well as do enjoy the freedom of expression to speak out and criticise the government and other personalities," remarked Kala Academy chairman Vishnu Surya Wagh on Monday.

    • ‘Censorship problem is not unique to India’
      The c-word is just another one of India's tales of paradoxes, the way William Ma-zzarella, professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago known for authoring Censorium: Cinema and the Open Edge of Mass Publicity sees it as he revisits the way the censorship story has been unfolding in the country the recent times.

    • Censorship is about the opportunity to exert power: William Mazzarella
      William Mazzarella, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, has authored Censorium: Cinema and the Open Edge of Mass Publicity (2013) and co-edited Censorship in South Asia: Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction (2009). Currently in Mumbai to talk about film censorship in India, Mazzarella on how censorship is used as a tool for publicity. Excerpts from an interview:

    • The theatre of censorship
      This past year, censorship has made big and recurring news in India. The Censor Board for Film Certification (CBFC) under Pahlaj Nihalani’s chairmanship has proved to be simultaneously a bane for filmmakers and a god-given-muse for Twitter humorists. The CBFC has gone where few previous iterations of the board have gone before. Whether it’s a list of banned words —including ‘Bombay’ and ‘masturbation’ — or cutting short James Bond’s kisses on screen. There has been a heightening of the old desi variety of crowd-sourced censorship.

      Our society seems to take offense easier and insist more volubly on our right to silence each other. And yet, while traditional channels of censorship have increased their scope and heightened their intensity, India is seeing a wide open space of cultural production online, which is somewhat free of the claustrophobic pressures of moral policing.

      The Godrej Cultural Lab this Friday is hosting a talk titled ‘Censoring India’ by William Mazzarella from the University of Chicago.

    • An uncensored talk
      Of course the government has and continues to try to regulate access to various internet sites, not least pornographic ones. At the same time, we all know that people find ways to access what they want to see. I think the interesting question is why and how censorship persists despite the fact that it obviously is unable to exert tight control — even the authorities themselves admit that. So the only answer has to be that censorship is in fact not only, or not even mainly, about control. Instead, as I was saying earlier, it’s about what can be gained from harnessing the controversy around a particular set of words or images and using that controversy to bolster authority. Of course that’s always a delicate and volatile game.

    • Encryption And Censorship In A Globalized World
      For example, an Iranian man was recently jailed when images were shared online of him posing with several women dressed in miniskirts and crop tops. Photographs of women in provocative Western attire are deemed immoral and illegal in the nation, even while such images are relatively commonplace on Western social media accounts. In fact, in just the last eight months more than 700 people have been arrested in the country for “economic, moral and social” crimes.

    • Filmmakers’ investigation shows how Angola’s regime attacks critics

    • Angola: Nicki Minaj concert causes controversy
      Given the swathes of corruption and human rights abuses in Angola, the rapper’s performance should not lend credibility to the dos Santos regime

    • Latin American journalism and advocacy groups recognized by Index on Censorship's Freedom of Expression Awards

    • How drug cartels impose censorship on Mexican newspapers
      In Monday’s Guardian, in reporting on the number of journalists around the world who have been killed so far this year, I noted that only four of the 55 victims came from Mexico.

      But that relatively low figure, plucked from the death toll compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists, conceals a terrible truth because it follows years of murders of media workers in that country.

      To put the situation in context, I turned to a special report published on Friday by the Washington Post, Censor or die: The death of Mexican news in the age of drug cartels.

    • Media Comment: When the media engages in self-censorship
      Balancing journalism’s twin goals of telling the public what it wants to know and what it needs to know is not only an ethical matter for journalists but a very real concern for the media consumers.


      It is fair to ask whether two major newspapers, Yediot Aharonot and Israel Hayom, are suffering from problems that may lead to self-censorship.

      Our well-researched assumption from years of review is that the former is very anti-Likud and almost pathologically anti- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while the latter is at the other end of the spectrum, being consistently sympathetic to Netanyahu and his policies.

      The mainstream media has been lax, both the pro- and the anti-Netanyahu press, claims Yoav Yitzhak in a November 29 report at his News1 web site on whether Sara Netanyahu had “hidden away” gifts she and her husband received, as he has published, when visiting abroad rather than handing them over to the proper government clerks responsible for their storage.

    • How one Iranian TV show is breaking censorship boundaries
      In the 1980s, the main form of home entertainment in Iran consisted of two TV channels and two radio stations. For those who were tired of watching or hearing news about the ongoing war with Iraq and sanctions, there was only one source of entertainment: old movies from the time of former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Despite the danger of being arrested and having to pay a fine or go to jail, people continued to watch videos by renting smuggled and banned VCRs. Media expert Dr. Fereydoun Ahmadvand told Al-Monitor, “One of the reasons videos became so popular among people and ultimately forced a retreat in the state’s position was the need for diversity and the desire to hear several voices and have cultural pluralism, which did not at all exist in Iran during the years of war.”

    • Iranian State-Run Newspaper Runs Unprecedented Anti-Censorship Editorial

    • Ian F. Svenonius' 'Censorship Now!!' offers a smarter, more precise model of the D.C. punk hero's shtick
      To remix an old saw for the Internet age: Familiarity breeds a particularly nasty, exhausted sort of apathy—the burnout of overexposure to a brand, whether it be Hulu's fusillade of unchanging ads, Upworthy's smug click bait, or an artist's monomaniacal shtick. For a longtime devotee, the first few pages of Ian F. Svenonius' "Censorship Now!!" carry plenty of that checked out disappointment. A longtime D.C. indie-punk fixture, Svenonius has spent two books (2006's "The Psychic Soviet" and 2012's "Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group")—and 20 years as frontman for The Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, Weird War, and Chain and the Gang—mining a narrow melange of socio-musicological history, academic inquiry, and Marxist camp.
    • Censorship Now!! by Ian Svenonius Review
      Svenonius posits some rather radical steps concerning a remedy for censorship, takes a deep dive into the often unacknowledged cultural ramifications seeded during the earlier (and even earliest) days of the Internet and the corporate cooption of college rock that robbed it of its teeth, its vitality, its integrity. He also discusses the historical role of sugar in empire building, the potential corruptive powers (or misinterpretations) of backward-messages on vinyl records and, as we said, the 1988 film Heathers (concerning copycat crime sprees and the culpability of pop culture icons.) But there isn’t a shred of facetious snark or anecdotal wiseass-ery going on here. Each subject is thoroughly investigated and ruminated upon, scrutinizing some of the historical gunk that may have been disregarded from our more popular discourses and shrewdly polishing some ponderous interpretations to provide insight to the curious reader.

    • Lebanese Cartoonists Launch Indiegogo Campaign to Fight Censorship in Beirut
      The Lebanese nonprofit cartoon collective Samandal is in dire financial straits after the central government cracked down on them with censorship charges and fines.

    • Accused of Blasphemy, Lebanese Comic Book Combats Censorship

    • Argentines protest media law change, fear censorship
      Supporters of Argentina's former president protest fearing new conservative leader Mauricio Macri will change media ownership laws. Natasha Howitt reports.

    • Argentina: Mass protest outside Buenos Aires congress over media censorship fears
      Hundreds of people have protested outside Argentinas congress amid fears of censorship and media monopoly. Protesters gathered in Buenos Aires on 17 December to demand the new president, Mauricio Macri, and his government reconsider proposed reforms that could lead to private organisations taking control of the countrys mass media.

      They say they are worried about censorship in Argentina if the anti-monopoly laws are loosened or repealed, and demanded that the president keeps the rules against market concentration.

      Martin Sabetella, director of the Federal Authority of Audiovisual Communication Services (AFSCA) watchdog – which is in charge of enforcing the legislation – said: We have come here to defend the audiovisual communications law, which is a tool to ensure freedom of expression, a plurality of voices, to guarantee a deep democracy that is enriched by all voices.

    • Republican hopefuls cut up on NSA surveillance, Trump needs to ‘shut down’ elements of web

    • Donald Trump doesn't understand how the internet works
      The internet is a powerful tool for good as well as evil. So like almost every organization, ISIS has used it to organize and to spread its message. And Donald Trump wants to put a stop to that.

      "We're losing a lot of people because of the internet, and we have to do something," Trump said at a rally earlier this month. "We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them maybe in certain areas closing that internet up in some way."

    • Stupidity and lies: Presidential candidates flunk the tech test
      When it comes to political theater these days, there's no lack of boneheaded ideas backed by deliberately misleading statements (aka lying) and topped with a heaping helping of fearmongering. two hands pointing at each other creating an electrical charge against blue background The power of PowerShell: An intro for Windows Server admins

      In this increasingly devops-minded world, automation is king. Here’s how to get started with PowerShell Read Now

      Presidential candidates at this week's debate were falling over each other in their rush to embrace bad policies, from dismantling the Internet to banning encryption and restarting NSA phone surveillance (not that it's needed).

    • #Index100: Unveiling this year’s 100 global free speech heroes
      A graffiti artist who paints murals in war-torn Yemen, a jailed Bahraini academic and the Ethiopia’s Zone 9 bloggers are among those honoured in this year’s #Index100 list of global free expression heroes.

    • National Secular Society defends cinemas’ freedom not to screen religious adverts
      The NSS has defended cinema chains' freedom to refuse religious or political advertising after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) accused them of "failing to uphold Britain's long tradition of freedom of expression."

      The EHRC has offered its legal expertise to the Church of England, should the Church seek to use the law to force cinemas to screen its advert featuring the Lord's Prayer. The EHRC also said it would examine issues raised by Digital Cinema Media's (DCM) decision not to screen the advert as part of its ongoing examination of the laws protecting freedom of religion and belief.

    • Lord's Prayer ad ban 'slippery slope towards censorship' - Equality Commission
      The ban on an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer from being shown in cinemas could be part of a "slippery slope towards increasing censorship", and will be investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, it was announced on Friday.

    • The Music as Resistance playlist
      Music has long been used as a form of resistance, from civil rights movements to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The latest issue of Index on Censorship magazine, focusing on taboos and the breaking down of social barriers, features an exclusive new short story by Ariel Dorfman about a military trumpeter who plays a defiant, rebellious song on his instrument.

    • Egypt lawyer challenges censorship law
      The prosecution and imprisonment of journalists by the Egyptian government has garnered widespread criticism from governments and rights groups worldwide. In August Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi [BBC profile] approved [JURIST report] a 54-article counter-terrorism law that has been met with significant controversy, as many believe it infringes on the freedom of the press. Many have said that the law defines terrorism too broadly and imposes harsh sentences and fines on violators. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] (HRW) criticized [JURIST report] Egypt's new counterterrorism law saying it infringes on freedom of the press. HRW opposes the fact that the new law gives prosecutors the power to detain suspects without a court order. Also in August Egyptian police arrested [JURIST report] three people under the law for their role in spreading propaganda related to the Islamic State on Facebook.


      The prosecution and imprisonment of journalists by the Egyptian government has garnered widespread criticism from governments and rights groups worldwide. In August Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi [BBC profile] approved [JURIST report] a 54-article counter-terrorism law that has been met with significant controversy, as many believe it infringes on the freedom of the press. Many have said that the law defines terrorism too broadly and imposes harsh sentences and fines on violators.

    • Cecil Rhodes was a racist, but you can’t readily expunge him from history
      Quintessential racist and British supremacist though he was, Cecil Rhodes cannot simply be written out of Oxford’s history

    • [Old] Dell responds to accusations of censorship

      Dell says it is not censoring IdeaStorm, merely responding to IdeaStorm community requests to “merge” ideas.

      Commenting in response to our post Dell censors IdeaStorm Linux dissent, Dell spokesperson John Pope said that the company isn’t censoring dissent on IdeaStorm.

      “If ideas are submitted and they turn out to be the same, we have been asked by the IdeaStorm community to merge them — as well as any votes cast and comments logged — for simplicity,” said Dell spokesperson John Pope.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s plea for internet freedom means nothing if he keeps kissing up to China
      Mark Zuckerberg is an extremely competent CEO when it comes to building an enduring internet company. But he’s less skilled when it comes to navigating the politics of the internet, as evidenced by his statement during Brazil’s unexpected crackdown on WhatsApp.

    • WhatsApp-ening? Brazil briefly censors Facebook-owned app for 48 hours

    • The awkward irony in Brazil blocking WhatsApp
      It wasn't long ago that Brazil was trumpeting its bona fides on electronic surveillance, slamming the National Security Agency's spying programs as a "grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties" in a 2013 speech to the United Nations.

      Now, though, Brazil is finding itself in an awkward position as it moved to block an immensely popular messaging app within its own borders for 48 hours. Prosecutors demanded that the service, WhatsApp, be shut off for its 100 million Brazilian customers after the company did not comply with a secret order for user data. (That ban was soon reversed by a higher court, but the damage was done.)
    • WhatsApp service has been restored in Brazil, but more Internet trouble is still on the way

    • Dutch Gallery Accused Of Censorship After Removing ‘Offensive’ Names Of Artworks
      AN art gallery has been criticised after removing words such as ‘negro’ and 'Mohammedan’ from the descriptions of its artworks in case they cause offence.

      'Indian’ and 'dwarf are two other words that have been altered at the the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam – leading to accusations that it is pandering to political correctness.

      It has removed 'offensive’ words from around 200 titles and descriptions of it works of art, replacing them with less racially charged terminology.

      Martine Gosselink, head of the history department at the Rijksmuseum and initiated the project, said: 'The point is not to use names given by whites to others.

    • Why Facebook Isn't Censoring Trump's Hate Speech
      Facebook has had a super-clear policy on hate speech spelled out on the service since March 2015. What's off limits? "Content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, serious disabilities, or diseases."

    • Facebook Inc (FB) Supports Donald Trump Hate Speech
      Fast Company posted, simply, “I’m with Trump, it’s time for a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.'” The comment was flagged and removed for violating community guidelines.

    • Are Facebook’s censorship policies politically motivated?
      During a recent United Nations summit in New York, Mark Zuckerburg was put in the hot seat when German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, directly called him out about Facebook’s inaction over anti-immigration comments.

      Zuckerburg responded that his team “needed to do some work on the issue.”

      Censorship on Facebook is nothing new, but the social media site’s stance on global issues has been unpredictable and at times confusing. In this article we will take a more in depth look into Facebook’s reaction about censorship of anti-immigration content, and then investigate FB’s stance on a number of controversial topical issues in the past.
    • Wyoming ‘Data Censorship’ Law Under Fire In Federal Court
      Way back in March, I wrote about a freshly passed Wyoming law that criminalized “collecting resource data.” The law appeared designed to stop pesky journalists and activists from documenting abuses on ranches and poultry and dairy farms — a so-called ag-gag law. But the actual language of the law was exceptionally broad. In my earlier post, I wrote that “by my reading, you’ve technically violated this law and could be subject to a year’s imprisonment if you idly counted the dandelions in a Wyoming farmer’s front yard without asking the farmer first.” (I see now that your dandelion count would have to be reported to the government, or you’d have to intend to report it, to violate the law — but still.)

      And so I concluded my post with these (abridged) words: “Bad laws like this do accomplish one good thing: they keep public interest lawyers employed. Lawyers like those at the Center for Food Safety should be lining up already to see Wyoming’s law struck down.”

    • 'NK girl band cancelled concert due to censorship'
      North Korea's Moranbong Band abruptly cancelled its scheduled performances in Beijing in protest of China's request not to sing propaganda songs praising its young leader, a lawmaker claimed Tuesday.

    • Turkey's decades-old censorship law may be amended
      Article 298 of the Constitution, which stipulates heavy fines and bans on TV stations during every election period in a blatant display of censorship, may be amended, as President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan ordered changes to the article used to justify bans by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) that oversees elections.

      The possible amendment was reported after the president met Ä°lhan Yerlikaya, head of Turkey's television and radio watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÃœK), earlier this week. Yerlikaya and ErdoÄŸan discussed bans on private-run TV channels during the meeting.

    • Censors can try, but won’t stop digital speech
      If you were planning to hold a Internet conference for the world, where would you choose to hold it? Silicon Valley? Boston? London? Germany? Tokyo?

      Whatever locale you guessed, it is a pretty safe wager that China was not among the top 10 options.

      Yet, on Wednesday, no less a luminary that Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed more than 2,000 guests to the coastal city of Wuzhen, China as they began participation in the something called the World Internet Conference.

      That’s right. China is hosting an Internet conference. Has the nation noted as one of world’s heaviest-handed cyber censors suddenly gone soft and decided to join the digital marketplace of ideas?

    • Facebook Content Police Censors Image from a German Museum
      The clash of cultures is inevitable once you move beyond your own borders. A lot of American companies had issues being present in China, for example – and that lead to bans of particular companies. Watching YouTube or being on Facebook (NYSE:FB) in China is impossible without a friendly VPN/Proxy server, because those companies refused to ‘play ball’ with the Chinese authorities. And yes, all the companies which were targeted would often criticize their policy and refused to abide to censorship. Yet, every once a while, a slight ‘what the he…’ happens when the censorship scissors of Facebook’s Political Correctness Police appears. This time, a victim was none other than Bundeskunsthalle – National Museum of Art in Germany.

    • Al-Jazeera blocks article slamming Saudi Arabian human rights record
      The Qatar-based news network, Al-Jazeera, has prevented an article slamming human rights in Saudi Arabia from being viewed outside the US.

      The article, titled “Saudi Arabia Uses Terrorism as an Excuse for Human Rights Abuses” and published on Al-Jazeera America’s website on 3 December, cites reports 50 people are intended to be executed for alleged terrorist crimes, injustices in the treatment of Saudi’s minority Shia population and criticises the country’s relationship with the US.

      The article is understood to still be available in the US, but when viewed in other countries is replaced with an error page.

      A tweet from Al-Jazeera America’s account with the article’s headline, pictured on a Bahraini website, appears to have been deleted, while the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz quotes Al-Jazeera's director apologising for the article, The Intercept reports.

    • Al Jazeera Blocks Anti-Saudi Arabia Article
      THE CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS of Al Jazeera appears to have blocked an article critical of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record from viewers outside the United States. The news network, which is funded by the government of Qatar, told local press that it did not intend to offend Saudi Arabia or any other state ally, and would remove the piece.

      The op-ed, written by Georgetown University professor and lawyer Arjun Sethi and titled, “Saudi Arabia Uses Terrorism as an Excuse for Human Rights Abuses,” ran on the website of Al Jazeera America, the network’s U.S. outlet. It comments on reports of 50 people recently sentenced to death for alleged terrorist activity and criticizes the U.S. government’s silence on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

    • It’s time for the arts world to look hard at its own racism
      We are condoning our forefathers’ bigotry if we fail to modify or rename portraits with offensive titles

    • South Korea’s art community expresses concerns about new museum director
      Bartomeu Marí, the new director of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, attempted to ban a satirical sculpture from an exhibition during his previous role in Barcelona

    • Should we censor art and books to fit our times?
      The Tate’s director, Nicholas Serota, says he would never remove offensive words from the title of an artwork on display in his gallery. His views contrast with those of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which has changed the titles of several of its paintings to take account of modern sensibilities. For example, Young Negro Girl, painted around 1900 by the Dutch artist Simon Maris, has been retitled Young Girl Holding a Fan. Serota says he would only do this if the artist gave permisison to do so – which means that for historic art he’d do nothing.

      We should tread with extreme caution before taking such a drastic step as renaming art, and there’s a clear danger of oversensitivity in making any decision. But for Serota to say “never” is wrong. There are many words and phrases which, while accepted in their day, are clearly insulting and derogatory in the modern context and distort or confuse our understanding of the art itself.

    • HRW: Drop dubious case against rights activist
      Malaysian authorities should immediately drop charges under the Film Censorship Act against rights activist Lena Hendry, Human Rights Watch and 11 Malaysian and international human rights organisations said on 11 December 2015 in letters to Malaysia’s prime minister and attorney general.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • The Hit List
      The Islamist war on secular bloggers in Bangladesh.

    • Drastic New Security Measures Put in Place for CES
      Attendees at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 5-9 will be subject to metal detector screening, pat downs and bag checks. Even laptop bags are being discouraged.

    • Ethiopia: Lethal Force Against Protesters
      Police and military forces have fired on demonstrations, killing at least 75 protesters and wounding many others, according to activists. Government officials have acknowledged only five deaths and said that an undisclosed number of security force members have also been killed. On December 15, the government announced that protesters had a “direct connection with forces that have taken missions from foreign terrorist groups” and that Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force will lead the response.

    • CIA torturers could still face justice: UN envoy
      Those responsible for the torture of suspected terrorists in the wake of the 11 September attacks cannot dodge justice forever, a top UN human rights official, Juan Mendez, told Middle East Eye.

      Mendez criticised US officials for not prosecuting intelligence agents for the widespread use of torture that was detailed in the US government’s own report – a damning probe that was released a year ago this week.

      “I’m certainly disappointed that the official policy of the US is to consider that bygones be bygones and to let torturers off the hook, but I wouldn’t say that this will never happen,” Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, told MEE on Sunday.

    • Luncheon for Miss World Canada, Anastasia Lin, Examines Censorship, Free Speech
      She should be in China competing to wear the Miss World crown on Dec. 19. But the Chinese regime denied Anastasia Lin, Miss World Canada, entry into the country and declared her “persona non grata” because she speaks out about human rights in China.

    • Western democracy’s new maxim: surveillance and soft despotism
      September 21, 2014, was a day of global climate action. To testify to the scale of the protest in cities around the world, people at the Sydney rally were asked to smile for the drones flying above us.

      It was the first time I had been asked to smile at a drone. I felt uncomfortable. I was being watched, becoming an object of my own protest – a pixel, not an agent.

      What kind of society do our so-called “Western and networked democracies” count as normal if humans are constantly objectified, monitored and profiled?

    • Millionaire found not guilty of rape after claiming he tripped and fell on woman
      The Saudi property developer said he had already had sex with the young woman’s 24-year-old friend and it was possible his penis may have been poking out of his underwear when he tripped.

    • Donald Trump stands firm on proposed US travel ban for Muslims
      Republican front-runner Donald Trump has stood firm over his provocative call for banning Muslims from the United States as his party’s presidential candidates pushed their own plans for fighting Islamic State (IS) militants.

    • EFF Publishes "Pwning Tomorrow," a Speculative Fiction Anthology
      As part of EFF’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, we are releasing “Pwning Tomorrow: Stories from the Electronic Frontier,” an anthology of speculative fiction from more than 20 authors, including Bruce Sterling, Lauren Beukes, Cory Doctorow, and Charlie Jane Anders. To get the ebook, you can make an optional contribution to support EFF’s work, or you can download it at no cost. We're releasing the ebook under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International license, which permits sharing among users.
    • EFF's 2015 Holiday Wishlist
      For the last four years, EFF has greeted the holiday season by publishing a list of things we'd like to see happen in the coming year. Sometimes these are actions we'd like to see taken by companies, and sometimes our wishes are aimed at governments, but we also include actions everyday people can take to advance our digital civil liberties. This year has seen a few wishes come true. For example, our FOIA lawsuit against the NSA led them to disclose the (redacted) details of their Vulnerabilities Equities Process. We’ve also been pleased to see more journalists and news organizations using SecureDrop to securely accept documents from anonymous sources and the House Judiciary Committee is finally considering reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Let's shut down the internet: Republicans vacate their mind bowels
      The presidential debate did not score highly on accuracy or sense.

    • Please Don’t Shut Down the Internet, Donald Trump
      What, exactly, did Trump mean? If you look at his different statements on the subject, it seems that he wants to knock out the infrastructure that provides Internet access in areas of Syria and Iraq that are controlled by ISIS. That’s one way to disrupt their recruitment, and the plan is technically feasible, at least in part. In theory, the United States could sever fibre-optic cables, destroy satellite dishes, and knock out cellular towers. It could also put pressure on telecommunications companies in the region. The headquarters of ISIS’s media operations, according to a defector who was quoted in the Washington Post, uses a Turkish wireless provider. Turkey is a NATO ally, and its government hasn’t recently shown any particular affection for free speech online. President Trump could call up its leaders and make a deal.

    • F.C.C. Asks Comcast, AT&T and T-Mobile About ‘Zero-Rating’ Services
      The Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday it was exploring whether new services from Comcast, T-Mobile USA and and AT&T violate net neutrality rules.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The fate of branding as we know it in a 3D-printing world
      We recall that the basic framework for 3D printing consists of a person who downloads a CAD file or the like, which digital file then instructs the 3D printing device to produce the desired product, using the proper materials. If there is a brand that is identified with the product, then the brand will appear on the product. The consumer may carry out the production process either within the confines of his home or business (think of a dental implant or airplane wing) or at a fulfillment center. In either situation, the ultimate manufacturer is the consumer (or the fulfillment center acting on the consumer’s instructions). The result is that 3D printing largely renders redundant the traditional product distribution function-—from manufacturer to distributor/importer to retailer to customer.

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