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06 Feb 2012 10:33


Tech, World: Google, Facebook forced to block content by Indian high court

  • last month Facing legal complaints that their sites “create enmity, hatred, and communal violence” and “will corrupt minds,” Facebook and Google told an Indian court that they could not block content, and that it would be difficult to pre-screen. The complaint was filed by a journalist, Vinay Rai, who has been on a crusade over this issue.
  • this month Facing an order from the Delhi High Court to block said content from their services, Google and Facebook say they’ve already removed objectionable content, and Facebook has submitted a compliance report to the court on Monday, but not without joining Yahoo and Microsoft in having misgivings on the case. source

27 Jan 2012 18:10


Tech: Twitter responds to controversy over new country-based censorship

  • cause On Thursday, while evoking a post the company wrote during the Arab Spring, Twitter discussed a new policy for allowing countries to censor tweets, arguing it would allow the company to go more places.
  • reaction While many reacted to the news negatively, Twitter was not without its defenders, most notably UNC professor Zeynep Tufekci, an expert on the intersection of social media and global politics.
  • response A day later, Twitter updated the post with a FAQ, saying the overall goal is transparency: “We have users all over the world and wanted to find a way to deal with requests in the least restrictive way.” source

18 Jan 2012 22:41


Politics: Three reasons understanding SOPA is important

  • one It could empower action against foreign websites which, let alone actively engaging in copyright infringement, merely “facilitate” it. This could place an enormous burden on proprietors for the deeds of their random readers and commenters.
  • two The definition of “facilitate?” Broadly used, “to make easier.” This is very vague, and could have serious unintended effects. For instance, does Youtube make it easier for piracy to occur? Undoubtedly. Should the site itself be liable for that?
  • three Upload a copyrighted song to Youtube that nets big viewership, and you could be in deeper trouble. Each view adds to the amount a plaintiff can accuse you of costing them, racking up heavy charges (this could result in Youtube-based felony convictions). source
  • » A great breakdown: Mashable’s dissection of the entire SOPA bill, in case you haven’t read it, does wonders in terms of clearing up what on its face is a confusing piece of legislation. It’s a solid breakdown that cuts through the legalese.

30 Sep 2011 19:45


World: Follow-up: More on the videos YouTube blocked in the UK

  • Due to the source of the content, we wanted to do some fact-checking on the banned videos we noted in our post earlier today. Nothing against, the authors of the original article, but we felt it was worth a double-check. So, here we go. Above is a clip of a bizarre protest that took place in March, which involved members of a nationalist anti-authority British organization called the British Constitution Group. The protests, which were covered by both BBC and The Daily Mail (which has significantly more detail and photos), showed a group of people claiming that a bankruptcy proceeding around one of the group’s members was illegal. They attempted to make a citizen’s arrest of the judge; the Magna Carta was cited as the reason they were allowed to make the citizens’ arrest. (We told you it was weird.) Above is video of what happened. If you’re in the UK, you will not be able to watch this video; If you’re in the U.S. and want to see what a blocked video looks like, click through to this proxy. Granted, the video is months old, and its blocking is also months old, but there we go. After some fact checking, we can prove that this video was in fact blocked. source

30 Sep 2011 16:11


World: YouTube removes protest videos at request of UK government

  • When viewers in the UK attempt to watch videos of the protest, they are met with the message, ‘This content is not available in your country due to a government removal request.’
  • Paul Watson on YouTube’s new partnership with the UK government over protest videos • The British government is hoping the removal of certain protest images from the popular video sharing website will prevent copycat demonstrations from forming in the future. The British government isn’t the only one requesting YouTube pull demonstration videos: A geographic search reveals the US government has also requested YouTube remove certain videos along with keyword searches. (EDIT: Due to the source of the article, we did a fact-check and confirmed that videos were in fact banned by YouTube due to a UK government request.) source

13 Jul 2011 22:18


World: How heavily does the Chinese government censor the Internet?

  • 1.3 million websites shut down by the Chinese gov’t last year source
  • » This means there were 41% fewer websites accessible to China’s residents at the end of last year, compared to a year earlier. And the statistic comes directly from the Chinese government itself (well, a government-run think tank, at least), so it’s probably not an overstatement.

21 Feb 2011 15:29


World: China begins tightening internet controls to thwart protests

  • China An enormous geopolitical power, boasting one of the world’s skyrocketing manufacturing economies. Complicating the diplomatic picture, by virtue of being the largest single holder of American debt, China is a tenuous ally of the U.S. government.
  • also China A repressive state that crushes domestic dissent, and supports mass-murdering totalitarianism in North Korea, is now gearing up its vaunted system of internet censorship to put down hopes of a revolution movement. Geopolitics are so rarely moral issues. source

01 Dec 2010 20:54


Tech: Amazon Web Services, Wikileaks and censorship: A harbinger

  • Amazon’s quickly taken over the Web with its cloud computing services. If you’re reading this on our WordPress site, the image of the logo is from Amazon’s S3 service. If you’re reading this on Tumblr, the entire infrastructure scales thanks to Amazon’s cloud computing functionality. Ditto Twitter. Even more than shopping, cloud computing has become Amazon’s biggest gift to the Web. But the way they quickly booted Wikileaks off their site is just … wow. This is a very bad sign for the Web’s future growth.
  • What happened? In the wake of the huge DDoS attack it faced prior to its document release on Sunday, Wikileaks, which usually hosts its servers in this secret lair in Sweden, turned to Amazon’s EC2 services to ensure they’d stay online as the data broke. This was how they managed to stay online despite being the biggest story of the entire week.
  • Congressional pressure Eventually, certain members of Congress, namely Joe Lieberman, criticized Amazon for hosting the site and said Amazon and others should boycott Wikileaks. A day later, Amazon (who just recently pulled the free-speech card on a pedophilia book) complied. Wikileaks had a suitably withering response to Amazon’s actions.
  • The implications The problem here is obvious. Amazon created a service so widely used that they couldn’t control it if they tried. The New York Times (which has run multiple Wikileaks reports) even uses Amazon Web Services. This tool is only useful is Amazon is completely impartial to the content on it. This incident proves they’re not. source

28 Sep 2010 10:29


U.S.: Pentagon-censored author can’t believe his book was burned

  • The whole premise smacks of retaliation. Someone buying 10,000 books to suppress a story in this digital age is ludicrous.
  • Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer • Regarding the Pentagon going out of its way to censor his memoir, “Operation Dark Heart” – by destroying thousands of copies. By the way, in case you’re wondering, it’s on the Kindle in digital form, but heavily redacted. Way to stand up for free speech, federal government! source

26 Sep 2010 10:07


U.S.: The Pentagon gets all book-censory over a memoir

  • Apparently, The Pentagon didn’t want certain details getting out. So they took Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s book and reportedly destroyed a bunch of copies. Can’t wait until they hear about the Kindle. Some quick numbers on the incident:
  • 9,500 number of copies of “Operation Dark Heart” the Pentagon bought – and destroyed! Muahahahahah
  • $25.99 the cost of buying all those books at retail – a taxpayer cost of $246,905 according to our count source