QuickLinks - Content regulation
QuickLinks - Content regulation
Issue no. 403 - 24 November 2009
- CN - China's Censorship 2.0: How companies censor bloggers
by Rebecca MacKinnon. This study explores an under-studied layer of Chinese Internet censorship: how Chinese Internet companies censor user-generated content, usually by deleting it or preventing its publication. Systematic testing of Chinese blog service providers reveals that domestic censorship is very decentralized with wide variation from company to company. Test results also showed that a great deal of politically sensitive material survives in the Chinese blogosphere, and that chances for its survival can likely be improved with knowledge and strategy.
- CN - Chinese Agencies Struggle Over Video Game
(New York Times)
The virtual World of Warcraft game is the subject of a regulatory dispute in China, where such games are big business. The background: the Chinese General Administration of Press and Publication ordered the Shanghai-based operator of World of Warcraft, NetEase, to shut down its servers for World of Warcraft. The agency said that it had rejected the company's application to become the new host of the game's four million Chinese players. But the Ministry of Culture had struck back. "In regards to the World of Warcraft incident, the General Administration of Press and Publication has clearly overstepped its authority," a ministry official was quoted as saying "They do not have the authority to penalize online gaming." The ministry said it had that authority. And it said NetEase was perfectly free to offer the game on computers in China. The matter now appears destined for settlement by the State Council, the Chinese government's cabinet.
- IR - Iran moves to silence opposition with internet crime unit
Iran has moved to block the last remaining outlet of expression for the country's political opposition with the launch of a special force to police the internet. A 12-member team reporting to the chief prosecutor will scour websites with a view to pressing charges against those judged to be "spreading lies" and "insults" against the Islamic system. Members will include police and personnel from other, unspecified, parts of Iran's security apparatus.
Issue no. 402 - 18 October 2009
- CN - China bans online games which glamorize gangs
China has banned websites featuring or publicizing online games which glamorize mafia gangs, saying violators will be "severely punished". The Culture Ministry said such games "advocate obscenity, gambling, or violence," and "undermine morality and Chinese traditional culture," the official Xinhua news agency said. "These games encourage people to deceive, loot and kill, and glorify gangsters' lives. It has a bad influence on youngsters," the report said, citing a ministry circular.
- EG - Three bloggers arrested on same day
Reporters Without Borders calls on the Egyptian authorities to explain why police arrested three bloggers - Abdel Rahman Ayyash, Magdi Saad and Ahmad Abu Khalil, two of them on their return from a trip abroad. All three were arrested on the same day, 21 July. "These arrests seem to be yet further evidence of the desire of the security services to silence politically-committed bloggers", Reporters Without Borders said. "We urge the authorities to state publicly why they are being held".
- Web Censoring Widens Across Southeast Asia
Attempts to censor the Internet are spreading to Southeast Asia as governments turn to coercion and intimidation to rein in online criticism. Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam lack the kind of technology and financial resources that China and some other large countries use to police the Internet. The Southeast Asian nations are using other methods -- also seen in China -- to tamp down criticism, including arresting some bloggers and individuals posting contentious views online. See interactive graphics.
Issue no. 401 - 26 July 2009
- CN - China shuts down Internet in Xinjiang region after riots
China has completely shut down Internet service in the autonomous region of Xinjiang after ethnic riots left at least 140 people dead and hundreds more injured. Twitter also appears to be blocked throughout the country. Government-owned news agency Xinhua is reporting that the violence began when Uighur demonstrators "started beating pedestrians and smash [sic] buses." The article quotes a public security official who says, "it was like a war zone here, with many bodies of ethnic Han people.
- CN - China to implement program for clean online games
The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) of China said that the country will next year start to implement a five-year program advocating clean online games. Sun Shoushan, vice director of the GAPP, said the administration will put forward the "China Green Online Games Publishing Program" this year and the implementation begins since next year. The official made the remarks at a forum during the seventh session of the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (Chinajoy), one day after the GAPP issued a notice warning of the illegal release of online games and declaring stricter control on the games' approval. Some illegal companies release pornographic and violent games on the Internet, the notice said.
- CN - Chinese Web sites close amid tightening controls
Two more Web sites dedicated to social networking went offline in China amid tightening controls that have blocked Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites that offered many Chinese a rare taste of free expression. China's crackdown on social networking sites began in March, when Chinese Web users found they could no longer visit YouTube shortly after video appeared on the site purporting to show Chinese security officials mistreating Tibetans. The blockages continued through the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations and the recent ethnic riots in Xinjiang, with homegrown and overseas micro-blogging and photo-sharing sites among those targeted. Experts say the fact the sites are not coming back online shows the harsh measures are part of a long-term strategy to pare back the power of the Internet and silence some voices finding expression here.
- CN - How China polices the internet
Like the entire political apparatus in China, the censorship machine is controlled by two institutional bodies: the Communist party and the government. At the national level, the propaganda department of the party and the information office of the state council (the cabinet) are in charge. But these institutions only deal with big, strategic issues or nationwide challenges to the party's image and power. Day-to-day surveillance and control of the population are carried out by a far greater number of departments: the double structure of censorship institutions is duplicated at the provincial, county and city level; in addition, every government department operates its own internet surveillance. Together, the authorities keep a 24-hour watch on what is said online. The police force still does surveillance via keyword searches on search engines, with every officer being given a certain number of keywords to cover. Increasingly, however, more advanced methods are being employed, such as the use of "data-mining" software. The "internet cops" can also order website hosts to take down unwanted content. Elsewhere, government departments monitor the online response to their policies and watch out for unrest brewing in their area of responsibility, or for accusations of misconduct or corruption against one of their own. This information is then - selectively - passed on to the local propaganda department and information offices, which decide on a response.
Issue no. 400 - 5 July 2009
- CN - China's internet censors
Protecting China's innocents from smut, violence and the Dalai Lama. The internet is full of stuff of which China's government disapproves. Yet there are 300m Chinese internet-users. Keeping the two apart has embroiled the Chinese authorities in a long cat-and-mouse struggle. Service-providers and internet cafés are closely supervised, and a wide array of filtering mechanisms already overlays the national internet architecture. A fresh initiative goes one step further. From July 1st every personal computer sold in China will have to come with new filtering software called Green Dam Youth Escort. It has yet to be decided whether Green Dam must be pre-loaded, or left on a disk for users to install. But it has sparked an uproar.
- CN - Civic-Minded Chinese Find a Voice Online
(New York Times)
There was a time when the story of the 21-year-old waitress who fatally stabbed a Communist Party official as he tried to force himself on her would have never left the rural byways of Hubei Province where it took place. Instead, her arrest on suspicion of voluntary manslaughter erupted into an online furor that turned her into a national hero and reverberated all the way to China's capital, where censors ordered incendiary comments banned. Local Hubei officials even restricted television coverage and tried to block travel to the small town where the assault occurred. On Tuesday, a Hubei court granted the woman, Deng Yujiao, an unexpectedly swift victory, ruling that she had acted in self-defense and freeing her without criminal penalties. The case of Ms. Deng is only the most recent and prominent of several cases in which the Internet has cracked open a channel for citizens to voice mass displeasure with official conduct, demonstrating its potential as a catalyst for social change.
- CN - Google to cut China porn results
Google says it will take "all necessary steps" to remove pornography from its Chinese language portal, Google.cn. The firm was responded to criticism from China's internet watchdog which said Google was "disseminating pornographic and vulgar information". Google has been warned twice about allowing unacceptable porn sites to be seen in search results.
- CN / EU - Chinese censorship of Internet 'unacceptable': EU
The EU accused China of "unacceptable" Internet censorship, as Brussels rejected Beijing's claim that an internet filter due to be introduced is instead aimed at blocking pornography. "The aim of this internet filter, contrary to what Chinese authorities contend, is clearly to censor internet and limit freedom of expression," the European Commission said in a statement. "We therefore urge China to postpone the implementation of this mandate and request that a meeting is organised at technical level to better understand what is at stake," it added. The matter will be raised at "information society" talks hosted by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in Beijing on July 9.
- EU - Commissioner Reding welcomes New European Charter on Freedom of the Press
Commissioner Viviane Reding met today Mr Hans-Ulrich Jörges, editor-in-chief of the German magazine Stern and initiator of the European Charter on Freedom of the Press. The Charter was signed on 25 May by 48 European journalists from 19 countries to protect the press from government interference and ensure journalists' access to sources of information. The Charter, which formulates the main values that public authorities should respect when dealing with journalists, was presented and handed over by Mr Jörges to Commissioner Viviane Reding who welcomed journalists' adoption of this first European Charter of Freedom of the Press.
- IR - The Twitter crisis: how site became voice of resistance in Iran
As foreign journalists were expelled from Iran or confined to their hotel rooms, and as events moved at speed through the day, web users across the world turned in enormous numbers to their counterparts in Iran, who were using blogs, YouTube and social networking sites to spread information that would otherwise not have reached a wide audience. As one Twitter user with apparent links to the opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi put it: "Everybody try to film as much as poss today on mobiles - these are eyes of world." Mobile phone footage and grainy pictures were copied on to blogs and news sites, while mainstream broadcasters, their correspondents constrained, relied on user-generated footage in an attempt to circumvent the censored state broadcasts.
- TH - Thailand's lèse majesté law
The battle in Thailand over the royal family between government and opposition goes online. The government's efforts to protect the good name of the king are not only damaging democracy but may even rebound upon the royal reputation.
Issue no. 399 - 7 June 2009
- 10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger
(Committee to Protect Journalists)
CPJ names the worst online oppressors. Booming online cultures in many Asian and Middle Eastern nations have led to aggressive government repression. Relying on a mix of detentions, regulations, and intimidation, authorities in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Egypt have emerged as the leading online oppressors in the Middle East and North Africa. China and Vietnam, where burgeoning blogging cultures have encountered extensive monitoring and restriction, are among Asia's worst blogging nations. Cuba and Turkmenistan, nations where Internet access is heavily restricted, round out the dishonor roll.
- US - Craigslist to close erotic services category
Pressure from US officials has forced classified advertising website Craigslist to pull the shutters down on its controversial sex adverts in favour of a new, closely-monitored system. In an announcement, Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster said the site would be closing the "erotic services" category. Instead, the site will open a new "adult services" category, in which every advert will be manually approved by staff before it is seen by members of the public.
Issue no. 398 - 13 April 2009
- Freedom on the global Internet still a pipe dream
Reporters Without Borders is an anti-censorship watchdog organization. As blogs and news Web sites have grown in popularity, the group's focus has similarly migrated to the Internet. Unfortunately, the the annual Internet Enemies report again paints a grim picture of Internet freedoms in parts of the world where it says the authorities regularly chuck bloggers in jail for online posts that displease the regime.
Issue no. 397 - 8 March 2009
- EU - Freedom of speech: ICT must help, not hinder
Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. Event on the idea of an EU "GOFA" (US Global Online Freedom Act), European Parliament Plenary Session, Strasbourg, 3 February 2009.
Issue no. 396 - 8 February 2009
- CN - China says Internet crackdown to be "long-lasting"
China sought to portray its Internet crackdown as a campaign to protect youth from filth and nothing to do with stifling political dissent, with an official promising long-lasting action against "vulgarity." China has already detained 41 people as part of the crackdown, but the government's move was in reality no different from laws in the United States and Europe which also aim to keep children from harmful sites, said Liu Zhengrong, deputy director of the State Council Information Office's Internet Bureau. The government has closed over 1,200 websites, including a popular blog site.
- CN - Cracking down on dissent
Increasingly worried about a sickly economy sowing social unrest, the Chinese government is tightening state control over the media. Its main aim appears to be to smother dissemination of politically sensitive discussions and information on the Internet. On January 5th authorities notified 19 popular domestic and foreign Internet companies - including Sina, Tencent, Baidu and Google - that a failure to expunge pornography from their mainland websites could lead to a shutdown. The more alarming development for Chinese leaders is a document circulating on the Internet called Charter 08, a potent political manifesto signed by hundreds of Chinese intellectuals and even some government officials calling for sweeping democratic reforms in China. The government was not amused, and official reaction has been swift. Authorities have banned further distribution of the document on the Internet.
Issue no. 395 - 27 December 2008
- VN - Vietnam tightens rules on blogs
Vietnam has tightened restrictions on internet blogs, banning bloggers from raising subjects the government deems inappropriate. Blogs should follow Vietnamese law, and be written in "clean and wholesome" language, according to a government document seen by local media. Internet service providers will be held accountable for the content of blogs they host.
Issue no. 394 - 7 December 2008
- Google's Gatekeepers
(New York Times)
A long article by Jeffery Rosen about Google's and YouTube's relationship with national censorship laws. Over the past couple of years, Google and its various applications have been blocked, to different degrees, by 24 countries.
- KR - S. Korea cracks down on malicious Internet use
South Korean police have rounded up more than 2,000 people for spreading malicious rumours on the Internet during a month-long crackdown sparked by an actress's suicide. The National Police Agency said 11 people have been formally arrested and detained for serious legal breaches and that prosecutors would be asked to charge another 2,019 with various offences.
Issue no. 393 - 9 November 2008
- CoE - Council of Europe launches guidelines in cooperation with online games and Internet service providers
(Directorate of Standard-Setting)
The Council of Europe has launched, in close cooperation with European online game designers and publishers and with Internet service providers, two sets of guidelines which aim to encourage respect and promote privacy, security and freedom of expression when, for example, accessing the Internet, using e-mail, participating in chats or blogs, or playing Internet games. See guidelines for: Online games providers (PDF) Internet service providers (PDF).
- EG - Crackdown against bloggers and Internet activists
The Egyptian security apparatus is conducting an aggressive campaign against bloggers and Internet activists in many cities around Cairo, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reports.
- EG - Egypt arrests online 'spouse-swapping' couple
Egyptian authorities have detained a couple accused of soliciting other married couples over the Internet for 'spouse-swapping' parties in their home, Daily News Egypt reports. A 48-year-old unnamed man and his 37-year old wife were arrested for organizing parties they advertised on a web site where participants offer to 'swap' spouses with other invited married couples.
- US - Craigslist to crack down on prostitution ads
Under the watchful eye of law enforcement in 40 states, Craigslist pledged to crack down on ads for prostitution on its Web sites. As part of Craigslist's agreement with attorneys general around the country, anyone who posts an "erotic services" ad will be required to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card. The Web site will provide that information to law enforcement if subpoenaed. Craigslist's CEO said the deal will allow legitimate escort services to continue advertising, while providing a strong disincentive to companies that are conducting illegal business.
Issue no. 392 - 5 October 2008
- CH - Schweizer Parlament verabschiedet Pornoverbot auf Handys
Nach der kleinen Kammer, dem Ständerat, sprach sich nun auch die große Kammer des Schweizer Parlaments, der Nationalrat, mit 103:52 Stimmen bei 18 Enthaltungen dafür aus, dass die Regierung (der Bundesrat), gegen ihren Willen Gesetzesbestimmungen für ein Verbot von Pornografie und Gewaltdarstellungen auf Handys ausarbeiten muss.
- TR - Turkish court bans Richard Dawkins website
A Turkish court has banned internet users from viewing the official Richard Dawkins website after a Muslim creationist claimed its contents were defamatory and blasphemous. Adnan Oktar, who writes under the pen name of Harun Yahya, complained that Dawkins, a fierce critic of creationism and intelligent design, had insulted him in comments made on forums and blogs.
- US - Anonymous web comments protected like journalists' sources
A court in Montana has ruled that a newspaper does not have to reveal the identity of those who posted comments on its website. A state law that protects journalists from revealing their sources also protects a news site's user comments, the court ruled.
Issue no. 391 - 31 August 2008
- CN - Olympic head: No deal on Internet censorship
by Desiree Everts. Olympic officials said there was "no deal" with the Chinese government to restrict Internet access for foreign journalists covering the Beijing Games. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said during a press conference in Beijing that he is "adamant in saying there has been no deal whatsoever to accept restrictions," according to the BBC. In addition, he applauded the organization of the Summer Games, falling short of an apology following widespread public criticism that China had backtracked on assurances that members of the media would not be restricted. See also China lifts ban on Tiananmen sites (Guardian). Content_Regulation.htm">Content_Regulation
- UK - Video websites 'must vet content'
YouTube has been criticised by MPs, who say it must do more to vet its content. In a review of net safety, the Culture, Media and Sport select committee said a new industry body should be set up to protect children from harmful content. It also said it should be "standard practice" for sites hosting user-generated content to review material proactively. YouTube's owners said the site had strict rules and a system that allowed users to report inappropriate content. The committee also wants a rethink on how best to classify video games - but there is disagreement over who should run the new ratings system. See Committee recommendations and full report. See also Web firms should screen content, says Parliamentary committee (OUT-LAW News).
Issue no. 390 - 20 July 2008
- Blog standard
Authoritarian governments can lock up bloggers. It is harder to outwit them.
Issue no. 389 - 22 June 2008
- Blogger arrests hit record high
More bloggers than ever face arrest for exposing human rights abuses or criticising governments, says the World Information Access Report. Since 2003, 64 people have been arrested for publishing their views on a blog, says the University of Washington annual report. In 2007 three times as many people were arrested for blogging about political issues than in 2006, it revealed. More than half of all the arrests since 2003 have been made in China, Egypt and Iran. See Blogger Arrests.
- CN / EU - China's censorship of Web unacceptable
EU's telecoms chief Viviane Reding has said that China's censorship of the Internet was "unacceptable" and that the Beijing Olympics were a chance for the country to show its commitment to free flow of information. Reding, who is the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media said she regards the Internet as a free medium for expression and any curtailment of that is limiting the citizen's right to information. "People should be free to receive information, we do not think blocking of sites for political reasons is the right way to proceed," Reding told Reuters. "We say, for instance, to the Chinese very clearly that their blocking of certain Internet content is absolutely unacceptable to us," she said.
- UK - ASA puts brakes on LG mobile phone
A television ad for LG mobile phones has been banned by the advertising watchdog because it appeared to show a woman using her handset while driving.
- UK - Minister backs code to tackle online sex and violence
The government has signalled its support for a common set of standards for internet content in response to worries about the impact of violent and sexual output online. The culture secretary, Andy Burnham, said he wanted to see online content meet the same standards required for television as the boundaries between the two media continue to blur. Television in the UK is governed by the broadcasting code of Ofcom, the media regulator. There is no overall regulation for the internet. See Secretary of State speech to the Convergence Think Tank 11 June 2008.
- US - Website judge dropped from trial
A US judge has removed himself from an obscenity trial he was overseeing after it emerged that his own website featured sexually explicit images. Federal appeals court judge Alex Kozinski, 57, earlier suspended the trial of a businessman accused of distributing obscene videos. Mr Kozinski said he was not aware the explicit photographs and videos on his website could be seen by the public. Public access to his site has since been blocked. Mr Kozinski is a high-ranking and highly respected judge, and is chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. See also The Kozinski mess by Larry Lessig.
Issue no. 388 - 1 June 2008
- SG - Singapore bans two porn websites in symbolic move
Singapore has banned access to two pornographic websites in a "symbolic statement" of the country's societal values, its media regulator said. The two sites, which the regulator declined to identify but local media named as YouPorn and RedTube, work in a similar fashion to popular video-sharing website YouTube. The two Web sites allow users to add and download sex videos.
- UK - Ofcom defends 9pm watershed
Ofcom has dismissed claims by a group of MPs that the 9pm watershed is failing to protect young children because they can now access television online. Giving evidence at a culture, media and sport committee hearing, the Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards, denied the regulator had put itself in an "impossible and absurd position" by not doing more to regulate objectionable content on the web. Richards was responding to claims made by Nigel Evans, the Ribble Valley conservative MP, who argued that Ofcom's powers over broadcasting should be more rigorously applied to internet content. The cross-party group of MPs raised concerns about services such as the BBC iPlayer, which make it possible for anyone to view post-watershed content at any time of the day. The Ofcom partner for content and standards, Stuart Purvis, said a lot of the responsibility rested with parents to make sure their children were not watching inappropriate material.
Issue no. 387 - 12 May 2008
Issue no. 386 - 20 April 2008
Issue no. 385 - 21 March 2008
- Dynamic Medien Vertriebs GmbH v Avides Media AG
(European Court of Justice)
Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) of 14 February 2008 Case C-244/06. Reference for a preliminary ruling: Landgericht Koblenz - Germany. Free movement of goods - Article 28 EC - Measures having equivalent effect - Directive 2000/31/EC - National rules prohibiting the sale by mail order of image storage media which have not been examined and classified by the competent authority for the purpose of protecting children and which do not bear a label from that authority indicating the age from which they may be viewed - Image storage media imported from another Member State which have been examined and classified by the competent authority of that State and bear an age-limit label.
- Facebook: We didn't give data leading to Morocco arrest
Facebook has denied giving the Moroccan government information to identify a man who was sentenced to prison for posting a fake profile of a Moroccan prince. A Moroccan court sentenced the 26-year-old IT engineer to three years and fined him 10,000 dirhams ($1,320) for setting up a Facebook account in the name of King Mohammed's brother, Prince Moulay Rachid.
- Seeking Tighter Censorship, Repressive States Target Web 2.0 Apps
It's not the governments who censor keywords that worries Ethan Zuckerman, whose job it is to help dissidents around the world. He fears that governments will simply decide to go after the Web 2.0 tools that activists are using to publish.
- US - Congress, Content Regulation, and Child Protection: The Expanding Legislative Agenda
(Progress & Freedom Foundation)
by Adam Thierer. The 110th session of Congress has witnessed an explosion of legislative proposals dealing with online child safety, or which seek to regulate media content or Internet communications in some fashion. More than 30 of these legislative proposals are cataloged in a new joint legislative index that was released today by the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Progress & Freedom Foundation, compiled to help keep track of the growing volume of legislative activity on these fronts. Many of the measures highlighted in the index raise serious free speech concerns.
- US - Wikileaks gets its domain name back
Iconoclast blog by Declan McCullagh. Wikileaks is getting its domain name back. After spending more than three hours hearing arguments from a raft of attorneys - two representing the Swiss bank that fought to get the site's plug pulled and about 10 who have been trying to get the site back online - a federal judge here has ruled in favor of Wikileaks. Wikileaks, which uses Wikileaks.org as its primary domain, is a whistle-blowing site that focuses on posting leaked documents.
Index page see also Internet policy, Protection of minors, Filtering and rating
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