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Western Companies Make Mideast Censorship Possible: This Week in Online Tyranny

March 31st, 2011 03:00 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

oni.pngWestern Companies Enable Mideast Censorship Online. The OpenNet Inititative has released a report on the roles Western tech companies have played in enabling repressive Arabic regimes to filter and control the use of the Web by their citizens.

In the report, authors Helmi Noman and Jillian C. York “find that nine countries in the region utilize Western-made tools for the purpose of blocking social and political content, effectively blocking a total of over 20 million Internet users from accessing such websites.”

sudan.pngSudan unleashes “cyber-jihadists” on protesters. In a ringing blow to Iranians (one of the champions of online repression), the ruling party of Sudan has gone one step further and dressed its online dissident-crushing apparatus up in divine drag. Calling them “cyber-jihadists,” they have promised to unleash them on anyone thinking of speaking their mind in the increasingly hermetic country.

Ran Yunfei, Chinese blogger arrested. A well-known writer and online newspaper publisher has been arrested in a continuing crackdown on a possible porting of the Jasmine Revolutions from the Middle East to China.

First academic paper on Wikileaks. Mark Fenster, Research Foundation Professor at the Frederic Levin School of Law at the University of Florida, has become the first academic to publish a paper on the implications of Wikileaks. The paper is titled “Disclosure’s Effects: WikiLeaks and Transparency.”


“WikiLeaks’s ability to receive and distribute leaked information cheaply, quickly, and seemingly unstoppably enables it to bypass the legal framework that would otherwise allow courts and officials to consider and balance disclosures’ effects. For this reason, WikiLeaks threatens to make transparency’s balance irrelevant. Second, its recent massive disclosures of U.S. military and diplomatic documents allow us to reconsider and test the assumption that disclosure produces effects that can serve as the basis for judicial and administrative prediction, calculation, and balancing. For this reason, WikiLeaks threatens transparency’s balance by disproving its assumption that disclosure necessarily has predictable, identifiable consequences that can be estimated ex ante or even ex post.”

Bahrain’s pioneer blogger arrested. Mahmood Al-Yousif, a godfather of Bahraini blogging, announced his imminent arrest with a post on his Twitter account. The tweet has since been deleted.

mahmood police.jpgMicrosoft keeps Arabic users from using HTTPS. Jillian York reported that she and others tested and found that users in Arabic countries, as well as users in Iran, Myanmar, Nigeria, Kazahstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, could not employ the secure browsing protocol. In response, Microsoft said it was not intentional, but a bug, and they have fixed the bug.

Hugo Chávez wins free press award. Ah. It’s good to laugh, isn’t it?

Google reaches settlement with U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges Google for Buzz. The settlement arose from Google’s rollout of Buzz, in which users were not given the option to join, and many found their private information was inadvertently exposed in the process. The settlement will bar Google from any “future privacy misrepresentations, requires it to implement a comprehensive privacy program, and calls for regular, independent privacy audits for the next 20 years.”

webcam_capitaldome_jan_08.jpgU.S. Congressmen order investigation into mobile phone tracking. Based on an apparent worry over their own privacy, Congressmen Ed Markey and Joe Barton began an investigation of cell carriers, to make sure their actions complied with the Section 222 of the U.S. Communications Act’s, which requires “express prior authorization of the customer for use, disclosure of or access to the customer’s location information for commercial purposes,”

Egypt still arresting bloggers. The latest was Maikel Nabil Sanad. Sanad is a conscientious objector. He was arrested for “defaming the military.” (In reality, he criticized its lack of transparency – hard to imagine a less defamatory statement, what with it being 100% accurate.) This is one more indication that post-revolution Egypt is not as different from pre-revolution Egypt as so many of us were hoping it would be. While throwing the baby out with the bathwater would be deluded, so would pretending the bathwater’s clean.

Mahmood tweet screen from Now Public

Source: Western Companies Make Mideast Censorship Possible: This Week in Online Tyranny

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