(OII) The interests of advocates of online child protection and freedom of
expression have often been portrayed as diametrically opposed. The OII
invited advocates on both sides of this debate to meet in October 2009, in
order to open channels of communication, explore different perspectives on
the fundamental rights of protection and freedom, and map areas of agreement
and difference. A report of the discussions, including participant position
papers, is now available. Issues discussed at the forum included content blocking and filtering, government legislation and law enforcement, and parental involvement and
education. There was also discussion of location-based services, data
protection and privacy, liability of Internet Service Providers, age
verification online, lawful interception legislation, appropriate
classification of written content and pseudo-images of sexual abuse, and
(Heise) Die Staatskanzleien der Bundesländer haben den jüngsten Entwurf für einen neuen Jugendmedienschutzstaatsvertrag (JMStV) auf den Gesetzgebungsweg gebracht. Die Schlussfassung soll den Ministerpräsidenten plangemäß in deren Sitzung am 25. März vorgelegt werden. Die derzeit anstehende Novelle soll für eine Vereinheitlichung des Jugendschutzes auf Bundes- und Länderebene sorgen. Gleichzeitig wurde das Zusammenspiel der Selbstregulierung durch Brancheninstitutionen (etwa die Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia) und der staatlichen Aufsicht im Rahmen der "regulierten Selbstregulierung" neu justiert. Dabei wurden auch Internetanbieter wie Social Networks ins Auge gefasst. Große Hoffnungen setzen die Länder auf technische Maßnahmen und den "Rating-und-Filtering-Ansatz", nach dem Inhalte von Anbietern gekennzeichnet und so etwa durch Software auf dem PC der Minderjährigen gefiltert werden können.werden also privilegiert. siehe auch Kennzeichnung von Internetinhalten als Teil des "technischen Jugendschutzes".
(Xinhua) The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has pledged fresh measures to fight offensive content transmitted by mobile phones and websites. China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, the country's three mobile carriers, have been required to examine the quality of their business partners. The MIIT also asked the Internet service providers to supervise the content of websites and close irregular websites.
(The Australian) Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has demanded social networking giant Facebook detail how it will prevent cyber-vandalism in the wake of the defacing of an online memorial site for 12-year-old school stabbing victim Elliott Fletcher. Senator Conroy's blast came as Facebook, in its first public comments since Monday night's attack on the website, defended its reliance on users to report offensive material before taking action.
(Reuters) Chinese police said the crackdown on Internet pornography had brought 5,394 arrests and 4,186 criminal case investigations in 2009 - a fourfold increase in the number of such cases compared with 2008. The announcement said the drive would deepen in 2010.
(Guardian) A Guardian investigation has discovered that several internet companies have quietly introduced filters to prevent Indian users from accessing sexual content.
The Yahoo search engine and Flickr photo-sharing site (owned by Yahoo) altered their sites earlier this month to prevent users in India from switching off the safe-search facility. The block also applies to users in Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea. Microsoft has also barred Indian users of its Bing search engine from searching for sexual content. Users who do try to search for sexual material receive a notice informing them that "your country or region requires a strict Bing SafeSearch setting, which filters out results that might return adult content". The clampdown is understood to be in response to recent changes to India's Information Technology Act of 2000, which bans the publication of pornographic material.
(Forbes) This week, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released regulations, dated Dec. 15, requiring the registration of all Web sites.
MIIT's justification was the need to eliminate sexual content. As a Ministry spokesman stated, "This is about mobile pornography, it's not referring to any other issue." The explanation, however comforting it sounds, is disingenuous. The wording of the rules is broad enough to cover all sites, domestic and foreign, whether or not they carry sex-themed material. "Domain names that have not registered will not be resolved or transferred," the regulations state. In other words, unregistered sites will become unavailable to users in China. see also Blacklist, White List? China's Internet Censors Spawn Confusion (WSJ) by Loretta Chao.
(Sydney Morning Herald) Senator Stephen Conroy's consultation paper on mandating the filtering of internet sites by Australian internet service providers suggests that Australia could soon have the most restrictive internet regime in the Western world. The incorporation of international lists of overseas-hosted child sexual abuse material would be sufficient to align mandatory Australian practices with the voluntary practices of most liberal democracies. Indeed, the implication is that it might total the sum of all other jurisdictions' voluntary filter lists. However, the commitment to add other content that is only prohibited in Australia will mean that the scope of the content to be captured will be much more extensively drawn than in equivalent nation
(Rebecca MacKinnon) China's blocking of overseas websites - including Facebook, Twitter, and thousands of other websites including this blog - is more extensive and technically more sophisticated than ever. Controls over domestic content have also been tightening. The past few weeks have seen four new moves which are not officially or overtly aimed at political content, but which have implications for the way in which the government controls all conveyors of all kinds of speech. First, late November saw the launch of a mobile porn crackdown. The draconian way in which this crackdown is being implemented involves a great deal of collateral damage for non-pornographic content. Second, Chinese the state-run media is going after the search engines again for turning up smutty results when users search for smutty information. Third, last week the government shut down more than 500 file-sharing websites as part of an anti-porn and anti-piracy crackdown, on the grounds that these websites don't have proper licenses. Fourth, CNNIC, the organization which runs the .cn top-level domain has announced that it is no longer accepting domain name applications from individuals.
(IDG News Service) Chinese regulators have taken a wide-ranging war against online porn one step further by closing a series of popular BitTorrent and other video-sharing Web sites in recent days. The move against video-sharing sites comes as efforts grow to stamp out porn elsewhere too. Regulators have cranked up their work to eradicate porn accessed by mobile phone and called for more control of vulgar content in online PC games. Last week state media also criticized Google and local rival Baidu over pornographic search results.
(Xinhua) Tip-offs on Internet and mobile WAP sites containing pornographic contents have surged in China as authorities announced to give each qualified informer with up to 10,000 yuan (1,465 U.S. dollars) in reward. Since the announcement, the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center had received more than 13,000 online tip-offs and more than 500 phone calls, 10 times the usual daily number. The center, together with ministries and the National Office against Pornographic and Illegal Publication, issued a circular encouraging the public to report on websites and mobile WAPsites that contain obscene information or put on illegal advertisements of sex products. China has launched several rounds of crackdowns on online pornography. In mid-November, the crackdown was extended to WAP sites that can be accessed by mobile handsets.
(IDG News Service) Online games in China should move away from "lowbrow" content such as monster hunting, Chinese regulators said, highlighting the uncertain regulatory conditions faced by game operators in the country. The game features the regulators dislike, especially monster hunting as the main way for players to gain experience points and new powers, exist in virtually all hit online games. Game operators should also limit highly popular systems that let players kill other human-controlled characters, the country's culture ministry said in a statement on its Web site.
(Guardian) 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.
(First Monday) 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.
(BBC) Egypt should not have been picked as the venue for a key net talking shop, say human rights activists. Reporters Without Borders said it was "surprised" that the Internet Governance Forum will take place in Egypt's Sharm-el-Sheikh resort. Set up by the UN, about 1,400 participants are expected to attend the three day meeting which gets under way on 15 November. Delegates will debate security, access and the growth of social networks. In a statement Reporters Without Borders said: ""It is astonishing that a government that is openly hostile to internet users is assigned the organization of an international meeting on the internet's future." See also Open Net Initiative profile for Egypt and UN slated for stifling net debate.
(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.
(Council of Europe) The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) points out that media regulation must respect freedom of expression and information. Technological change in the audiovisual media has made it necessary to revise the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT), whose aim is to ensure freedom of transmission and retransmission of broadcasting in Europe regardless of frontiers. It proposed that the current revision of the ECTT should respect this freedom, define the "public service mission" of audiovisual media services and re-examine the role of the Standing Committee with regard to its supervisory function over compliance with convention obligations and arbitration. PACE also proposed that measures should be taken to address the allocation of radio-frequency spectrum following the analogue switch-off of broadcasting in many countries as well as the independence of national regulators for the audiovisual media sector.
(IDG News Service) Some of the few PC makers who offered a controversial Web filtering program mandated by China have reversed those plans, dealing the latest blow to China's efforts to deploy the software nationwide. Lenovo, Acer and Sony have all stopped bundling the program, named Green Dam Youth Escort, with PCs sold in China, the companies said.
(WSJ) 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.
(Michael Geist) The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that the Internet hate provision found in the Human Rights Act is unconstitutional. The Tribunal ruled that the restriction on speech imposed by the provision is not a reasonable limit under Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
(Heise) "What's wrong with the Germans?" – an dieser provokanten Frage hat Electronic-Arts-Manager Gerhard Florin am Donnerstag auf der Kölner Spielemesse gamescom seine harte Kritik am deutschen Jugendschutz und dem System der Selbstkontrolle aufgehängt. Besonders an der Nicht-Freigabe vieler Spiele entzündet sich die Kritik des EA-Vertreters: "Das ist für mich Zensur".
(RSF) 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".
(Reuters) 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.
(01net) Ce qui est bien avec Internet, pour un journal, c'est que le problème de la place ne se pose pas. Quand on a beaucoup d'informations, on peut tout mettre en ligne sans avoir à faire un tri. C'est ce qu'a dû se dire L'Est républicain, qui a publié une série d'articles sur les démêlés juridico-financiers d'un député de l'Essonne. Mais le journal a été rappelé à l'ordre par la justice. Il a été condamné à 1 euro de dommages et intérêts et à 3 000 euros de remboursement de frais de procédure pour atteinte à la vie privée, comme le révèle le site Legalis.net.
(Xinhua) 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.
(AP) 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.
(Financial Times) 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.
(OpenNetIniative) 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
(AFP) 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, the statement said.
(Economist) 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.
(Economist) 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.
(FT) Google's global website was blocked in China on Wednesday night, marking an escalation in Beijing's unprecedented crackdown on the world's leading search engine company. Attempts to access Google.com and Gmail from different computers in Beijing started failing after 9pm local time, but the websites could be accessed through proxy servers ? normally a sign that a website is being blocked by internet censors. The service in Beijing at least was back after two hours. The blocking came after Google appeared to resist an earlier order to restrict access to foreign websites through Google.cn, its local website.
(BBC) 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.
(CNET News.com) by Declan McCullagh. A new generation of Iranians has found ways to bypass the country's Internet restrictions and disseminate details about Iran's internal turmoil in the wake of the recent election. In technical circles, at least, Iran is well-known for erecting one of the world's most restrictive Internet blockades, second only to China in its scope. Certain blogs are cordoned off, politically unacceptable keywords are blocked, and Web sites like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, the BBC, and YouTube remain - at least at the moment - off-limits. But the government's censors have been unable to staunch every data leak.
(Guardian) 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.
(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.
(China Daily) The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's latest regulation to preinstall filtering software on all new computers by July 1 has triggered public concern, anger and protest. A survey on Sina.com, the largest news portal in China, showed that an overwhelming 83 percent of the 26,232 people polled said they would not use the software, known as Green Dam. Only 10 percent were in favor. In the Green Dam case, buyers, mostly adults, should be given the complete freedom to decide whether they want the filtering software to be installed in their computers or not. Respect for an individual's right to choice is an important indicator of a free society, depriving them of which is gross transgression. Let's not allow the Green Dam software to block our way into the future.
(RAPID) 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.
The software, known as Green Dam Youth Escort, ostensibly protects children from harmful information online by filtering out sites that contain prohibited keywords. It will be mandatory on every computer sold in China after July 1, 2009.
(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.
(CENT) 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.
(Europa) 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
(Reuters) 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.
Die Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien (BPjM) hat mit Beschluss vom 4. Dezember ein Blog, das sich mit dem Thema Magersucht befasst hat, als jugendgefährdend indiziert. Einen entsprechenden Bericht des Fach-Blogs beck-blog bestätigte die BPjM-Vorsitzende Elke Monssen-Engberding gegenüber heise online. Nach Angaben der BPjM handelte es sich bei dem indizierten Angebot um ein sogenanntes "Pro-Ana"-Blog, das die krankhafte Magersucht verherrlicht und damit Jugendliche gefährdet habe. Das ursprünglich bei Google gehostete Blog ist inzwischen offline.
(Economist) 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.
(BBC) Film-style age ratings could be applied to websites to protect children from harmful and offensive material, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said.
Mr Burnham said the government was looking at a number of possible new internet safeguards. He said some content, such as clips of beheadings, was unacceptable and new standards of decency were needed. He also plans to negotiate with the US on drawing up international rules for English language websites. Mr Burnham, a father of three young children, believes internet service providers should offer child-friendly web access.
(BBC) 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.
(Guardian) Chinese government officials have defended their decision to block several foreign news websites, including the BBC, as the country moves away from its pledge for uncensored internet access during the Beijing Olympics. The BBC, Voice of America, Hong Kong's Ming Pao News and Asiaweek have all had their websites blocked in China since early December. Restrictions had previously been lifted in August, when foreign journalists demanded full access during the Olympics. China's foreign ministry said today that it was within its rights to block sites that showed content illegal under the country's law.
(CNET) The UK's Internet watchdog reversed its decision to prevent users in that country from visiting a Wikipedia page containing an image of a naked child. The Internet Watch Foundation had taken exception with a page dedicated to a 1976 album by rock band The Scorpions. The cover of that album - called Virgin Killer -includes the image of a prepubescent girl, which the group deemed a "potentially illegal indecent image," landing Wikipedia on the group's blacklist. As a result, Internet service providers in the U.K. began filtering access to all pages of the online encyclopedia over the weekend. The IWF reversed that decision after an appeal and presentation by the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia. "The IWF board has today considered these findings and the contextual issues involved in this specific case, and - in the light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability - the decision has been taken to remove this Web page from our list," it said. see How to make child-porn blocks safe for the internet (Guardian) by Cory Doctorow.
(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.
(ARN) An information security expert claims the government has the wrong approach to Internet filtering, and should focus on protecting Australians from technical risks rather than content. IBRS information security advisor, James Turner, has setup the Website nothingbutnet.net.au to lobby Australian ISPs to provide a safer Internet feed cleansed of known malicious content, like spam and viruses.
(OUT-LAW News) Search engines in Argentina have been banned from linking to stories naming up to 100 famous people including football legend Diego Maradona in a move critics have said is tantamount to censorship. Google and Yahoo! have filtered search results relating to the names on their Argentine sites but not their international ones, the companies told internet filtering campaigning organisation the OpenNet Initiative (ONI).
(AFP) 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.
(AP) Under the watchful eye of law enforcement in 40 states, Craigslist pledged Thursday 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.
(BBC) The Thai government says it is planning to build an internet firewall to block websites deemed insulting to the country's hugely popular royal family. The Information Ministry says it has received many complaints about such sites, most of which are based abroad. Thailand's royals are supposed to be above politics and are protected by strict laws which prohibit criticism. The Information Ministry says it plans to spend millions of dollars erecting the digital firewall around the country to prevent Thailand's internet users from accessing the controversial sites.
(ANHRI/IFEX) 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.
(MENASSAT) 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.
(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).
(Net Family News) The world's most connected country - South Korea, where 97% of the population has broadband Internet access - is conducting an experiment in Internet control that the world (especially the US) might do well to watch. I say "especially the US" because we're having a discussion here (at the Internet Safety & Technology Task Force) about online verification of minors' ages. The Guardian reports that Seoul is trying to "curb online anonymity and debate." New legislation, some of which is "due to pass" next month would require all forum and chatroom users to make verifiable real-name registrations (South Koreans have national ID cards). The legislation would also make all news sites subject to the same restrictions as newspapers and broadcast media, answerable to the Korean Communications Standards Commission regulatory body.
(Heise) 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.
(Guardian) 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.
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.
(Washington Post) The video-sharing service YouTube is banning submissions that involve "inciting others to violence," following criticism from Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman that the site was too open to terrorist groups disseminating militant propaganda. The company earlier this year removed some of the videos that Lieberman targeted, many of which were marked with the logos of al-Qaeda and affiliated groups. But the company refused to take down most of the videos on the senator's list, saying they did not violate the Web site's guidelines against graphic violence or hate speech. Now that videos inciting others to violence are banned, more videos by the terrorist groups in question may be removed.
The producers of a film defending the anti-evolutionary theories of Intelligent Design probably did not infringe copyright when they used a sample of John Lennon's song Imagine in the film. The judge ruled in the Supreme Court of the State of New York that "fair use is available as a defence in the context of sound recordings." Past rulings outlawed the use of even very short music clips without copyright holders' permission.
(Techtree News) Technology giants like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have reached an agreement with other Internet companies and human rights groups to draw up a voluntary code of conduct for doing business in countries like China that impose restrictions on Internet. The three companies have sent separate letters to Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), and Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.). Among the few specifics about the code mentioned in the letters include formulating principles on freedom of expression and privacy, identifying guidelines for their implementation, and drawing up a governance, accountability and learning framework.
(CNET) 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).
(BBC) 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).
(Reuters) 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.
(BBC) 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.
(BBC) 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 messbu Larry Lessig.
(Guardian) 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.
(OUT-LAW News) Two British newspaper publishers have been fined in French courts because they violated French privacy laws. The publishers were liable because the articles were viewed in France on the internet. Olivier Martinez, an ex-boyfriend of Kylie Minogue, sued Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) and Associated Newspapers for breach of France's strict privacy laws after the newspapers published stories suggesting Martinez and Minogue had recommenced their relationship. MGN was sued because of an article at sundaymirror.co.uk, while Associated was sued over articles at dailymail.co.uk and thisislondon.co.uk. For each title the publishers were ordered to pay 4,500.
(Reuters) 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.
(Guardian) 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.
(Pew Internet) Many Americans assume that China's internet users are unhappy about their government's control of the internet, but a new survey finds most Chinese say they approve of internet regulation, especially by the government.
(Guardian) The Chinese government has cracked down on international media coverage of the unrest in Tibet, blocking websites and censoring the local feeds of broadcasters including BBC World and CNN. China's internet clampdown came over the weekend, following the outbreak of widespread unrest and violence in Tibet last week, and has hit websites including Yahoo, YouTube and Guardian.co.uk.
(Wired) 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.
(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 - Justification - Child protection - Principle of proportionality.
(CNET.com) 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.
(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.
(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.
(BBC) Pakistan has blocked access to the popular YouTube website because of content deemed offensive to Islam. Its telecommunications authority ordered internet service providers to block the site until further notice. Reports said the content included Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that have outraged many.
(Guardian) From government to big business, if you have a dirty secret, Wikileaks is your nightmare. David Leigh and Jonathan Franklin on the site a US court has tried to muzzle. See also Wikileaks judge gets Pirate Bay treatment
(BBC) A Moroccan computer engineer has been sentenced to three years in jail for setting up a Facebook profile in the name of a member of the royal family. Fouad Mourtada was arrested on 5 February on suspicion of stealing the identity of Prince Moulay Rachid, younger brother of King Mohammed VI. The Casablanca court also ordered Mr Mourtada, 26, to pay a $1,300 fine.
(Guardian) A legally enforceable cinema-style classification system is to be introduced for video games in an effort to keep children from playing damaging games unsuitable for their age, the Guardian has learned. Under the proposals, it would be illegal for shops to sell classified games to a child below the recommended age.
(AP) China will take a new step to tighten control of the Internet when rules go into force limiting online video-sharing to state companies. But regulators, wary of hurting a fast-growing industry, are expected to let private operators work around the restrictions. The rules are aimed at expanding a Chinese censorship system that tries to block Internet use to spread dissent while promoting it for business and education. Communist leaders are especially anxious about unflattering video showing up online ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August, a major prestige project.
(Guardian) Sir Christopher Meyer, the chairman of the press watchdog, today said that the system of media regulation was "pretty weird" and needed to be sorted out with a new communications act. Meyer, appearing before the House of Lords communications committee, said the system of separate media regulators including Ofcom, the Press Complaints Commission he chairs, the BBC Trust and the Advertising Standards Authority was a "typical British fudge" and needed rationalisation.
(BBC) Ministers want to make it easier for parents to protect their children from violent games by introducing a new, simpler classification system based on age ratings used by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Under the new scheme, it would become illegal for retailers to sell any video game to a child who was younger than the age rating on the box. At present, only the most violent games are regulated. The majority of games receive an age rating based on a voluntary system run by Pan-European Game Information (PEGI). PEGI ratings are not legally enforceable, however.
(BBC) The developer of controversial video game Manhunt 2 has failed in its latest attempt to release the game in the UK. A high court judge ruled that the Rockstar Games' title must be re-evaluated by an appeals committee. The British Board of Film Classification successfully argued that the game had been approved for release on a misinterpretation of the law by the a decision by the Video Appeals Committee (VAC). The latest ruling means that the VAC must now re-evaluate the game under new guidelines.
(Huffington Post) A Turkish court has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube because of clips allegedly insulting the country's founding father. It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal in Turkey to insult the revered figure, whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices nearly 70 years after his death.
(Guardian) A TV advertisement for a computer game, Stranglehold, showing a shoot-out between four men was banned yesterday by the advertising watchdog for being too violent. After an investigation triggered by complaints from the public, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the advert breached advertising rules relating to violence and cruelty, and health and safety. The watchdog said the advert for the 18-rated game featured almost continuous shooting and realistic computer-generated scenes of violenc
(Hesie) Die Analyse des komplizierten Systems des deutschen Jugendmedienschutzrechts sei bislang zu schlampig ausgefallen, meint eine Gruppe namhafter Juristen. In einem Artikel der Fachzeitschrift "MultiMedia und Recht" kritisieren sie den jüngst vorgestellten Bericht des Hans-Bredow-Instituts in Hamburg zur Evaluation des Jugendmedienschutzstaatsvertrages und Jugendschutzgesetzes. Die Juristen stellen den Bericht als "defizitäre Defizitanalyse" in Frage.