Tag Archives: Internet

No Surprise: China Seeks More Internet Control

Paul Mozur at the New York Times has it right in a tweet:

And Beijing is most likely looking at doing both.

Social stability is a major concern of the government leadership. The economic slowdown is now causing massive layoffs with more to come. Industrial workers and the growing middle class in China are now under threat of loosing the economic stability promised by the government.

For so long the Chinese government has basically told the people of China that if they — the people — don’t push for political reform, the government will implement economic reform that will make everyone’s lives better. Now that businesses in China have to start cutting back on employees, that protection is gone and the leadership is afraid the people may demand changes that will challenge the iron heel rule of the Communist Party.

Rather than deal with the issue of economic AND political reform, Beijing is just going all out to make sure information about how bad the economic situation is does not get wide distribution.

Controlling Internet content has always been a part of that plan. So now, the new rules on domain names looks to be another step by the party leadership to control information.

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Filed under Censorship, China, Freedom of Information, Internet Freedom

More Proof Censorship Fails

We all know the Internet is Cuba is virtually non-existent. (Unless you go to one of the places set up by the US Interest Section or an international hotel.) Well, it does exist but it is so slow you will die of old age before you can download one episode of Game of Thrones.

Face it, governments such as those in Cuba do not like the free and unfettered nature of the Internet. The leaders of Cuba, China, Iran, etc are all afraid of what will happen to their nice cushy jobs if the people found out what is really going on in the world.

No matter how hard governments try to restrict their people from getting information, there are gaps in the security nets. The Chinese have learned how to use their mobile phones and virtual networks to get past the Great Firewall of China. Iranians used Twitter and SMS to communicate during the uprisings that called for free and fair elections.

And now a new twist has shown up in Cuba – thumb drives.

The Only Internet Most Cubans Know Fits in a Pocket and Moves by Bus

It’s called El Packete, and it arrives weekly in the form of thumb drives loaded with enormous digital files. Those drives make their way across the island from hand to hand, by bus, and by 1957 Chevy, their contents copied and the drive handed on.

People want entertainment and they want uncensored news. And they will get it any way possible.

Even by 1957 Chevy.

And yes, there are a few people who know how to get messages out: Yaoni Sanchez (@yoanisanchez) is probably the most famous of the Cuban bloggers — at least to the rest of the world.

Here is the movie OFFLINE mentioned in the article. It is Cubans talking about the Internet (or lack of it). The movie was smuggled out in a thumb drive.

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Filed under Censorship, Cuba, Internet Freedom

Pakistan blocking WordPress

TechCrunch reports the Pakistan government is blocking WordPress sites.

According to multiple local outlets, WordPress blogs are currently not accessible in Pakistan and pointing the blockage at the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). TechCrunch has not been able to confirm that yet. As it stands right now, WordPress.com and blogs hosted by WordPress cannot be reached. Self-hosted WordPress blogs still work.

it is not surprising that Pakistan would block these sites. The government has a track record of blocking Twitter, Facebook and other Internest social sites.

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Now Reuters is being blocked in China

Reuters now joins the ranks of The New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. Its websites are being blocked by the Great Firewall of China. (Reuters websites become inaccessible in China)

Reuters says they do not know why their website is being blocked. Inquiries to the Cyberspace Administration of China have gone unanswered.

Perhaps one reason for being blocked is included in Reuters’ comment about the action:

“Reuters is committed to practicing fair and accurate journalism worldwide. We recognise the great importance of news about China to all our customers, and we hope that our sites will be restored in China soon,” a Reuters spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

That whole “fair and accurate journalism” is a real problem for the Chinese leadership.

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Censorship rules on Hillary’s call for Internet freedom in China

In honor of the departure of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, here are the censorship rules issued by the Chinese government following here 2010 call for an end to Internet censorship.

(Many thanks to China Digital Times Directives from the Ministry of Truth)

Censorship Vault: Hillary on Internet Freedom

Carry only domestic Xinhua copy regarding U.S. Secretary of State Hillary [Clinton]’s remarks on Internet Freedom. All other coverage must be deleted without exception. Keep close tabs on forums, blogs, instant messaging tools, and social networking services. We urge websites in all locales to earnestly implement these measures. There are still websites which have not implemented related requests with regards to Hillary’s remarks on Internet freedom, and have republished coverage against regulation. We urge websites in all locals to seriously and thoroughly investigate their main and subsidiary sites. Documents not in compliance with these requests must be deleted without exception. (January 22, 2010)

Not only did Clinton call for Internet freedom on January 21, 2010, she also asked China to investigate the hacking of Gmail accounts that lead Google to stop censoring its search engine and eventually end its mainland Chinese operation. China’s Foreign Ministry retorted that “China’s Internet is open” and that Clinton’s speech was “harmful to Sino-American relations.”

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Social media picking up slack in Mexico war zones

A study conducted by Microsoft investigates the emergence of “war correspondents” in Mexico. The study looked at how citizens are using Twitter to disseminate information about gang attacks and potentially dangerous situations to large numbers of people.

InSight Crime reported on the Microsoft study:

The study, titled “The New War Correspondents: The Rise of Civic Media Curation in Urban Warfare” (pdf), analyzed Tweets relating to the Mexican cities of Reynosa, Monterrey, Saltillo, and Veracruz over a 16-month period. The study identified a group of people, dubbed “curators,” who published a high volume of Tweets related to drug violence, sharing information and warning other users. The report argues that in some ways, these individuals are taking on the role of a new generation of “war correspondents.”

For the authors of the report, the importance of these citizen curators points to a deficiency in more traditional sources of information, namely the government and established media outlets. Local governments and newspapers often face intense intimidation from organized criminal groups, with many forced to cooperate with them, or to refrain from printing stories on criminal violence.

The independent media have been attacked by the narcos for reporting on any deaths related to the gang warfare taking place in Mexico’s northern regions. Likewise, government officials have also been threatened (some bribed) to prevent them from taking any action.

The intimidation of media and government sources leaves a vacuum of information. And that is where the citizen journalists step in. But there are problems with this as well.

No matter where citizen journalists operate — Mexico, Syria, New Orleans, etc — the bottom line is the credibility of the reporter. With no way to check the veracity of the information, receivers of the news have to make their own judgments about credibility.

As InSight Crime points out:

There are risks in leaving the gathering and dissemination of crime news in the hands of these non-professional curators. One question is how to assess the reliability of the information. Using Twitter allows these contributors to avoid the dangers faced by traditional media outlets, as they can remain anonymous, but this very anonymity makes it difficult to know if their information can be trusted.

And, as the Microsoft authors point out, some of the curators of information gain credibility and trust.

Social media curators seek to spread information to new audiences by selectively identifying and sharing content coming from the broader stream. These curators develop reputations with their audiences based on the perceived value of the information that they spread. Some curators simply pass on information posted by others, while other curators add commentary or insert their own interpretations or updates.

For journalists, tapping into this Twitter exchange could help develop stories and gain a better understanding of what is happening in the drug wars in Mexico. (And maybe even learn how there are cross border issues involved.)

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Filed under Connections, Mexico

Great Firewall adds another term to block: Jasmine

After the “Jasmine Revolution” in Egypt, the party leadership in China has been getting nervous.

During the uprising in Egypt, “Mubarak” and “Egypt” were blocked by the censors running the Great Chinese Firewall. The latest term to be blocked could hurt people who want to talk about a particular kind of very popular tea.

Searches for the word “jasmine” were blocked Saturday on China’s largest Twitter-like microblog, and the website where the request first appeared said it was hit by an attack.

According to the Associated Press, activists circulated a call for people to gather in more than a dozen cities Sunday for a “Jasmine Revolution.” (China blocks web calls for “Jasmine Revolution)

According to the report, those receiving the message did not know who started the call but they seemed more than willing to pass it on. The message reportedly called on people to show up in town squares in 13 cities and shout “We want food, we want work, we want housing, we want fairness.”

The authorities are taking the chain-letter seriously. They started rounding up  dissidents and their lawyers all day Saturday.

A U.S.-based Chinese-language website — Boxun.com — was the first to post the call. Within hours it was hit with a denial of service attack.

The site operators told the AP it was the most serious denial of service attack they ever received. They added the company believes the attack is related to the Jasmine Revolution proposed on Feb. 20 in China.

I really do wonder what will happen if people want to discuss the qualities of different jasmine teas.

UPDATE:

You can go to the Boxun site to get an update of what happened. (Use Google Translate if you don’t read simplified Chinese characters.)

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Filed under Censorship, China, Freedom of access, International News Coverage