"Reporters Without Borders is today, World Press Freedom Day, releasing an updated list of 39 Predators of Freedom of Information
– presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias and criminal organizations that censor, imprison, kidnap, torture and kill journalists and other news providers. Powerful, dangerous and violent, these predators consider themselves above the law. “These predators of freedom of information are responsible for the worst abuses against the news media and journalists,” Reporters
Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “They are becoming more and more effective. In 2012, the level of violence against news providers was unprecedented and a record number of journalists were killed. “World Press Freedom Day, which was established on the initiative of Reporters Without Borders, must be used to pay tribute to all journalists, professional and amateur, who have paid for their commitment with their lives, their physical integrity or their freedom, and to denounce the impunity enjoyed by these predators."
Promoting Global Internet Freedom: Policy and Technology. Patricia Moloney Figliola, Specialist in Internet and Telecommunications Policy, August 30, 2012
Amnesty International Report 2012 "documents specific restrictions on free speech in at least 91 countries as well as cases of people tortured or otherwise ill-treated in at least 101 countries – in many cases for taking part in demonstrations."
Human Rights and Technology Sales: How Corporations Can Avoid Assisting Repressive Regimes, By Cindy Cohn, Trevor Timm, & Jillian C. York - April 2012
EFF: "On Sunday, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron and the Interior Ministry were forced to defend a sweeping wiretapping proposal, which would aim to monitor every single email, text message, and phone call flowing through the whole country. The proposal would likely force all UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install “black boxes” on their systems that use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology, which would give authorities access to all communications data without a warrant or any judicial oversight. Law enforcement would have access to IP addresses, email addresses, when you send an email, to whom you send it, and how frequently—as well as corresponding data for phone calls and text messages. The government has claimed this proposal is needed to fight “terrorism and serious crimes,” but of course, it would be available to law enforcement for all purposes."
Bloggers Under Fire: "As activists and ordinary citizens around the world are increasingly making use of the Internet to express their opinions and connect with others, many governments are increasing their surveillance and censorship capabilities and taking legal or extrajudicial actions against bloggers and social media users. The threats to netizens are increasing. The Committee to Protect Journalists found in 2008 that 45% of all imprisoned journalists were arrested for activities conducted online. In their 2012 press freedom barometer, Reporters Without Borders cited 123 incidents of imprisoned "netizens" in twelve countries. Though the motivations of governments vary from country to country, the goal—to silence "threatening" voices—is the same. EFF supports the principles of free expression laid out in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and believes that those principles must extend online. While our domestic work focuses on helping bloggers in the United States understand their legal rights, our international work focuses on the legal and bodily threats to Internet users in countries around the world. To that end, we have partnered with Global Voices Online's Threatened Voices project, which tracks individual cases of bloggers under threat or detention, to help shed light on this global phenomenon."
World Press Freedom Index 2011-2012 - "Syria, Bahrain and Yemen get worst ever rankings - “This year’s index sees many changes in the rankings, changes that reflect a year that was incredibly rich in developments, especially in the Arab world,” Reporters Without Borders said today as it released its 10th annual press freedom index. “Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes. The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news." “Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011. Never has freedom of information been so closely associated with democracy. Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous. The equation is simple: the absence or suppression of civil liberties leads necessarily to the suppression of media freedom. Dictatorships fear and ban information, especially when it may undermine them."
Via CDT: "Earlier this week, Twitter announced that it will begin making certain Tweets inaccessible to users in countries where the content of those Tweets is illegal. In announcing its new policy, Twitter was acknowledging the challenge that all global social media sites face: governments ask tech companies to comply with local content laws and if these companies refuse to comply, they risk being blocked from the country entirely, further limiting information that citizens can access. If the company has employees on the ground, refusal also risks legal charges against employees. This, of course, raises a well-worn question: are human rights better served when a platform restricts some content in order to remain in a country, or when it resigns itself to a nationwide block of its service?"
Enhancing Personnel Reliability among Individuals with Access to Select Agents, Report of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), December 2011
International Bloggers and Internet Control, Hal Roberts, Ethan Zuckerman, Jillian York, Robert Faris, and John Palfrey. Berkman Center for Internet & Society, August 2011
"The Berkman Center is pleased to release Online Security in the Middle East and North Africa: A Survey of Perceptions, Knowledge, and Practice. This report describes the results of a survey of 98 bloggers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) carried out in May 2011 in order to study bloggers’ perceptions of online risk and the actions they take to address digital communications security, including both Internet and cell phone use. Digital communication has become a more perilous activity, particularly for activists, political dissidents, and independent media. The recent surge in digital activism that has helped to shape the Arab spring has been met with stiff resistance by governments in the region intent on reducing the impact of digital organizing and independent media. No longer content with Internet filtering, many governments in the Middle East and around the world are using a variety of technological and offline strategies to go after online media and digital activists. The survey was implemented in the wake of the Arab spring and documents a proliferation of online security problems among the respondents. In the survey, we address the respondents’ perceptions of online risk, their knowledge of digital security practices, and their reported online security practices. The survey results indicate that there is much room for improving online security practices, even among this sample of respondents who are likely to have relatively high technical knowledge and experience."
"Because we believe that Internet censorship is not only against the basic purpose of the Internet, which is to let people communicate what the want to with the people they want to communicate with, but also fundamentally against the universal right to freedom of opinion and expression [which] includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (UDHR, Article 19), we offer you here "How to bypass Internet Censorship". This book, How to bypass Internet Censorship. will not only help you find your way in the diversity of tools and techniques that allow you to defeat Internet censorship, but will also tell you more about how censorship works behind the curtains. You will also learn about the risks that may be linked to the use of such tools, and help you evaluate and mitigate them thanks to encryption or anonymization techniques."
Via Harvey Anderson...who works at Mozilla on legal and business affairs." Homeland Security Request to Take Down MafiaaFire Add-on, May 5, 2011 - "From time to time, we receive government requests for information, usually market information and occasionally subpoenas. Recently the US Department of Homeland Security contacted Mozilla and requested that we remove the MafiaaFire add-on. The ICE Homeland Security Investigations unit alleged that the add-on circumvented a seizure order DHS had obtained against a number of domain names. Mafiaafire, like several other similar add-ons already available through AMO, redirects the user from one domain name to another similar to a mail forwarding service. In this case, Mafiaafire redirects traffic from seized domains to other domains. Here the seized domain names allegedly were used to stream content protected by copyrights of professional sports franchises and other media concerns. Our approach is to comply with valid court orders, warrants, and legal mandates, but in this case there was no such court order. Thus, to evaluate Homeland Security’s request, we asked them several questions similar to those below to understand the legal justification..."
"A new Freedom House report found that while the majority of circumvention tools used to evade government censorship online perform similarly well, the country in which they are used and the nature of the censorship dictate their effectiveness. No one tool provides a silver bullet for security as governments become more sophisticated in filtering content and monitoring user activity. Freedom House recently released the findings of the report, which were based on user surveys..."
News release: "Today, the OpenNet Initiative, a partnership between the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs (Munk School) and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, announced the release of a new report titled West Censoring East: The Use of Western Technologies by Middle East Censors, 2010-2011 by Helmi Noman and Jillian C. York. The OpenNet Initiative has documented network filtering by national governments of the Internet in more than forty countries worldwide. National governments use network filtering as one of many methods to control the flow of online content, and utilize a variety of technical means to institute such filtering. The report analyzes the use of three American and Canadian-made tools: Websense, McAfee SmartFilter, and Netsweeper for the purpose of government-level filtering in the Middle East and North Africa. The investigation found 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. The authors analyze as well the increasing opacity of the usage of Western-made tools for filtering at the national level."
Peter Eckersley: "At the beginning of this year EFF identified a dozen important trends in law, technology and business that we thought would play a significant role in shaping digital rights in 2010, with a promise to revisit our predictions at the end of the year. Now, as 2010 comes to a close, we're going through each of our predictions one by one to see how accurate we were in our trend-spotting."
Transparency Report: "Transparency is a core value at Google. As a company we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that we maximize transparency around the flow of information related to our tools and services. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual. We’ve created an interactive map of Government Requests that shows the number of government inquiries for information about users and requests for Google to take down or censor content. We hope this step toward greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests. Our interactive Traffic graphs provide information about traffic to Google services around the world. Each graph shows historic traffic patterns for a given country/region and service. By illustrating outages, this tool visualizes disruptions in the free flow of information, whether it's a government blocking information or a cable being cut. We hope this raw data will help facilitate studies about service outages and disruptions."
Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security: Vol. 2, Privacy and the Smart Grid. The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel – Cyber Security Working Group, August 2010
Follow up to Google Launches Encrypted Search in Beta, via the Official Google Enterprise Blog, the announcement that the company moved encrypted search from https://www.google.com to https://encrypted.google.com. "The site functions in the same way. However, if school network administrators decide to block encrypted searches on https://encrypted.google.com, the blocking will no longer affect Google authenticated services like Google Apps for Education."
News release [includes database with links to data on individual countries, regions, and rank]
Official Google Blog: "...it's no surprise that Google, like other technology and telecommunications companies, regularly receives demands from government agencies to remove content from our services. Of course many of these requests are entirely legitimate, such as requests for the removal of child pornography. We also regularly receive requests from law enforcement agencies to hand over private user data. Again, the vast majority of these requests are valid and the information needed is for legitimate criminal investigations. However, data about these activities historically has not been broadly available. We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship. We are today launching a new Government Requests tool to give people information about the requests for user data or content removal we receive from government agencies around the world. For this launch, we are using data from July-December, 2009, and we plan to update the data in 6-month increments. Read this post to learn more about our principles surrounding free expression and controversial content on the web."
Follow up to Google Discontinues Censored Search in Mainland China and An Interview with David Drummond of Google about the company's new policies in China, additional perspective as follows:
Follow up to Google Discontinues Censored Search in Mainland China,
via the Atlantic, An Interview with David Drummond of Google about the company's new policies in China by James Fallows: "Since the Beijing Olympics, our experience in China has gotten worse. Although we have gained market share, it has become more and more difficult for us to operate there. Particularly when it comes to censorship. We have had to censor more. More and more pressure has been put on us. It has gotten appreciably worse – and not just for us, for other internet companies too."
Protectionism Online: Internet Censorship and International Trade Law, ECIPE [European Centre for International Political Economy] Working Paper No. 12/2009, By Brian Hindley, Hosuk Lee-Makiyama
"Herdict is a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Herdict is a portmanteau of 'herd' and 'verdict' and seeks to show the verdict of the users (the herd). Herdict Web seeks to gain insight into what users around the world are experiencing in terms of web accessibility; or in other words, determine the herdict. The brainchild of Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Herdict Web is a natural progression from the OpenNet Initiative. Whereas OpenNet views Internet filtering through an academic lens, Herdict uses crowdsourcing to learn about and present a real time view of the experiences of users around the globe."
2007 Circumvention Landscape Report: Methods, Uses, and Tools, March 2009 by Hal Roberts, Ethan Zuckerman, and John Palfrey
Google's gatekeepers, by Jeffrey Rosen, IHT: "For the past two years, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, along with other international Internet companies, have been meeting regularly with human rights and civil-liberties advocacy groups to agree on voluntary standards for resisting worldwide censorship requests. At the end of October, the Internet companies and the advocacy groups announced the Global Network Initiative, a series of principles for protecting global free expression and privacy.
Voluntary self-regulation means that, for the foreseeable future, Wong [Nicole Wong, the deputy general counsel of Google] and her colleagues will continue to exercise extraordinary power over global speech online. Which raises a perennial but increasingly urgent question: Can we trust a corporation to be good - even a corporation whose informal motto is "Don't be evil"?"
"The World Information Access 2008 Report presents important trends in the distribution of information and communication technologies around the world. The 2008 WIA Report explores information access by looking at trends in the blogger arrests worldwide, diversity in the ownership of media assets in the 15 largest media markets in the Muslim world, and the ideological diversity of political content online in 74 countries with large Muslim populations." Howard, Philip N, and World Information Access Project. World Information Access Report - 2008. 3. Seattle: University of Washington, 2008.
News release: "Chinese lawyers who take cases seen by the government as politically sensitive or potentially embarrassing face severe abuses ranging from harassment to disbarment and physical assaults, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today...The 142-page report, Walking on Thin Ice: Control, Intimidation and Harassment of Lawyers in China, details consistent patterns of abuses against legal practitioners. These include intimidation, harassment, suspension of professional licenses, disbarment, physical assaults, and even arrest and prosecution when lawyers take politically sensitive cases, seek redress for abuses of power and wrongdoings by party or government agents, or challenge local power-holders."
BBC News: How the open net closed its doors - "Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering challenges the long-standing assumption that the internet is an unfettered space where citizens from around the world can freely communicate and mobilise. In fact, the book makes it clear that the scope, scale and sophistication of net censorship are growing."
News release: "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."
"Reporters Without Borders calls on Internet users to come and protest in virtual versions of countries that are Internet enemies...There are 15 countries in this year’s Reporters Without Borders list of “Internet Enemies” - Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. There were only 13 in 2007. The two new additions to the traditional censors are both to be found in sub-Saharan Africa: Zimbabwe and Ethiopia...There is also a supplementary list of 11 “countries under watch.” They are Bahrain, Eritrea, Gambia, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen."
US Air Force shoots down blogs, airmen frustrated, by Ryan Paul: "The United States Air Force has stirred up controversy with a new Internet filtering policy that aims to prevent Air Force personnel from reading blogs while on the job. The ban has been implemented by the Air Force Network Operations Center (AFNOC), which houses the Air Force Cyber Command. The block is said to extend to virtually every web site that contains the word "blog" in the address, but doesn't impede access to sites that are deemed by AFNOC to be "reputable media outlet[s]".
The Connection Has Been Reset, by James Fallows.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: "For the past 16 months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been investigating allegations of political interference with government climate change science under the Bush Administration. During the course of this investigation, the Committee obtained over 27,000 pages of documents from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Commerce Department, held two investigative hearings, and deposed or interviewed key officials. Much of the information made available to the Committee has never been publicly disclosed. This report presents the findings of the Committee’s investigation. The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming."
Press release: "Eritrea has replaced North Korea in last place in an index measuring the level of press freedom in 169 countries throughout the world that is published today by Reporters Without Borders for the sixth year running...Outside Europe - in which the top 14 countries are located - no region of the world has been spared censorship or violence towards journalists. Of the 20 countries at the bottom of the index, seven are Asian (Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Vietnam, China, Burma, and North Korea), five are African (Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Somalia and Eritrea), four are in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Palestinian Territories and Iran), three are former Soviet republics (Belarus, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) and one is in the Americas (Cuba)."
Government Accountability Project (GAP): "The White House is coming under fire for “watering down” Senate testimony from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention delivered yesterday regarding the impact climate change is having on public health. Climate Science Watch, a GAP program focused on holding public officials accountable for the ways climate science data is used, has posted the director’s original testimony prior to being censored.
Press release: "A new First Report from the First Amendment Center examines the Federal Communications Commission's efforts to regulate indecency on the air. The FCC's Regulation of Indecency (115 pages, PDF), by Lili Levi, a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law, analyzes crucial cases involving broadcasts of speech or images deemed offensive enough to draw regulatory attention."
Press release: "Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) today slammed a Bill introduced into the Senate which would give members of the Australian Federal Police powers to ban access to Internet content. The Communications Legislation Amendment (Crime or Terrorism Related Internet Content) Bill 2007 would, if enacted, give senior members of the Australian Federal Police powers to ban access to Internet content which they "have reason to believe": encourages, incites, or induces the commission of a Commonwealth offence; or was published in part to facilitate the commission of such an offence; or that it is likely to have the effect of facilitating the commission of such an offence."
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on Access to Information in the People's Republic of China, July 31, 2007.
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing, Protecting Children on the Internet, July 24, 2007.
Press release: "The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released a new report on China's internet user population. There are now an estimated 137 million internet users in China, second in number only to the United States, where estimates of the current internet population range from 165 million to 210 million. The growth rate of China's internet user population has been outpacing that of the U.S., and China is projected to overtake the U.S. in the total number of users within a few years. The influx of tens of millions of new online participants each year can be expected to have far-reaching consequences for the Chinese population, for China itself and for the larger world. At the very least, the internet will offer ever greater numbers of Chinese a much more sophisticated information and communications world than the one they currently inhabit. And because the Chinese share a single written language, despite the multiplicity of spoken tongues, it could have a unifying effect on the country's widely dispersed citizenry. An expanding internet population might also increase domestic tensions that could spill over into China's relations with the U.S. and other countries while the difference between Chinese and Western approaches to the internet could create additional sore points over human rights and problems with restrictions on non-Chinese companies."
Press release: "The bill provides a privilege in federal court proceedings for reporters to refrain from revealing their confidential sources of information. The privilege is similar in nature to that currently offered by 32 states and the District of Columbia. The ability to assure confidentiality to people who provide information is essential to effective news gathering and reporting on highly sensitive and important issues. Typically, the best information about corruption in government or misdeeds in a private organization will come from someone on the inside who feels a responsibility to bring the information to light. But that person has a lot to lose if his or her identity becomes known. In many cases, the person responsible for the corruption or the misdeeds can punish the source through dismissal or more subtle forms of punitive action if the source’s identity becomes known. And so it is only by assuring anonymity to the source that a reporter can gain access to the information in order to bring it to public scrutiny."
ACLU v Gonzales [originally ACLU v. Reno, then ACLU v. Ashcroft], Final Adjudication on the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, March 22, 2007 (84 pages, PDF)
"CDT has released an analysis of the legislative proposals now pending before Congress, February 15, 2007" - CDT Analysis of Child Protection Bills Pending in Congress (10 pages, PDF)
Press release: "The Global Internet Freedom Task Force (GIFT), which is jointly chaired by Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, and Josette Sheeran, Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs, will host its first conference on Global Internet Freedom on January 30, 2007 in Washington, D.C. This event is a follow-up to the State Department's unveiling of the GIFT global strategy to monitor and respond to threats to Internet freedom held December 20, 2006. The presenters and attendees will include U.S. government officials and representatives of corporations, socially responsible investment (SRI) firms, and non-governmental organizations."
AP: "The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, who study everything from caribou mating to global warming, subjecting them to controls on research that might go against official policy. New rules require screening of all facts and interpretations by agency scientists. The rules apply to all scientific papers and other public documents, even minor reports or prepared talks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press."
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) press release: "defiance of Congressional requests to immediately halt closures of library collections, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is purging records from its library websites, making them unavailable to both agency scientists and outside researchers, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). At the same time, EPA is taking steps to prevent the re-opening of its shuttered libraries, including the hurried auctioning off of expensive bookcases, cabinets, microfiche readers and other equipment for less than a penny on the dollar...on December 1st, EPA de-linked thousands of documents from the website for the Office of Prevention, Pollution and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) Library, in EPA's Washington D.C. Headquarters."
The New York Times reported that the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab will launch a censorship circumvention solution called psiphon. According to the Citizen Lab, "psiphon is...a human rights software project...that allows citizens in uncensored countries to provide unfettered access to the Net through their home computers to friends and family members who live behind firewalls of states that censor."
Press release: "Chief Justice John Roberts praised in a recent speech "the importance and rarity of the judicial independence we have in our country," and warned against continuing attacks against it. "The long history of attack on judicial independence confirms that neither side in the political debate has a monopoly on the tactic," he said in a September 28 speech to "Fair and Independent Courts: A Conference on the State of the Judiciary." The conference was sponsored by the Georgetown University Law Center and the American Law Institute."
Press release: "Economic freedom has a greater impact than foreign aid in helping people in poor nations escape poverty, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2006 Annual Report...Economic Freedom of the World measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The cornerstones of economic freedom are personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property."
Economic Freedom of the World: 2006 Annual Report, By James Gwartney and Robert Lawson with William Easterly.
The Nation: Librarians at the Gates, by Joseph Huff-Hannon [posted online on August 22, 2006]:
As reported by Reuter's [via this ABCnews.com link], Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a blog on this website, which English speaking users may read by clicking the second icon located under the photo of the president, located on the far right hand side of the home page.
Press release: "In the 149-page report, "Race to the Bottom: Corporate Complicity in Chinese Internet Censorship, Human Rights Watch documents how extensive corporate and private sector cooperation – including by some of the world's major Internet companies – enables...China's system of Internet censorship and surveillance."
"CDT today urged lawmakers to reject legislation that would force Internet speakers to place government-sanctioned warning labels on a broad range of online content. "Mandatory labeling of legal online content under threat of criminal sanction is ineffective, unwise, and unconstitutional," CDT wrote in a pair of letters sent to the leaders of the Senate Commerce and Appropriations Committees. The language has been attached to a major telecommunications bill and more recently to an appropriations package. As written, the provision would apply to a broad range of Internet content, and could force online publishers to tag legal, and often socially valuable, material with a "digital scarlet letter." CDT supports voluntary labeling efforts and has long endorsed the use of voluntary parental control tools such as filters."
H.R.5319 - To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms.
Press release: "Amnesty International (AI) today released a new report, "Undermining Freedom of Expression in China," (32 pages, PDF) exposing how Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google have violated their stated corporate values and policies in pursuit of the potentially lucrative Chinese market. In sync with the report release, the organization unveiled irrepressible.info, a new campaign for free speech online that continues Amnesty International's work combating Internet censorship."
Reports on monitoring of employee website usage are not uncommon, but today's New York Times article highlights how blocking specific sites can impede work product. This can certainly be the case not only in the newsroom but in law firms and other corporate environments where competitive intelligence monitoring has become increasingly important.
"Irrepressible.org will harnass the power of the internet to mobilise people all over the world to take a stand against repression." [Link] "...Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information. The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression. Amnesty International, with the support of The Observer, is launching a campaign to show that online or offline the human voice and human rights are impossible to repress."
Special Report 2006: "North Koreans live in the most censored country in the world, a new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists has found. The world's deepest information void, communist North Korea has no independent journalists, and all radio and television receivers sold in the country are locked to government-specified frequencies. Burma, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, and Libya round out the top five nations on CP's list of the "10 Most Censored Countries."
Federal Secrecy After September 11 and the Future of the Information Society, Volume 2, Issue 1 (2006), Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society.
"Welcome to CenSEARCHip! This is a tool developed by Mark Meiss and Filippo Menczer at the Indiana University School of Informatics in March of 2006 to allow you to explore the differences in the results returned by different countries' versions of the major search engines. We currently work with the Web search and image search functions of four national versions of Google and Yahoo!: the United States, China, France, and Germany."
AP: "Reporters who write about government surveillance could be prosecuted under proposed legislation that would solidify the administration's eavesdropping authority, according to some legal analysts who are concerned about dramatic changes in U.S. law."
Follow-up to recent postings on Internet companies and operational issues concerning censorship in China, see this commentary from The Nation, America's Online Censors by Rebecca Mackinnon.
House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, February 15, 2006 Hearing, The Internet in China: A Tool for Freedom or Suppression?
Links to statements and testimony below are in PDF:
There have been several recent congressional communications and related articles addressing whether or not authors of CRS reports on issues pertaining to domestic surveillance have demonstrated bias in their research. Links to relevant documents are in chronological order, as follows:
Following-up on recent postings, Net Censorship Abroad - Free Speech Colides With E-commerce? and Hearing Focuses on Internet Censorship in China, see today's press release: "Yahoo!: Our Beliefs as a Global Internet Company - As a leading provider of Internet-based services, Yahoo! is committed to open access to information and communication on a global basis. We believe information is power. Citizens across the globe are benefiting greatly from increased access to communications, commerce and independent sources of information. The Internet has helped transform the way business is done, advanced consumer cultures, increased competition, allowed entrepreneurship to flourish, and provided citizens with more freedom in how they live, work, exchange ideas and make choices. Doing business in certain countries presents U.S. companies with challenging and complex questions. We are deeply concerned by efforts of governments to restrict and control open access to information and communication. We also firmly believe the continued presence and engagement of companies like Yahoo! is a powerful force in promoting openness and reform. Private industry alone cannot effectively influence foreign government policies on issues like the free exchange of ideas, maximum access to information, and human rights reform, and we believe continued government-to-government dialogue is vital to achieve progress on these complex political issues..."
Follow-up to postings on government censorship of dissemination of scientific data, this February 11, 2006 article from the Washington Post - Censorship Is Alleged at NOAA Scientists Afraid to Speak Out, NASA Climate Expert Reports: "James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who sparked an uproar last month by accusing the Bush administration of keeping scientific information from reaching the public, said Friday that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also muzzling researchers who study global warming."
Related references and resources on global warming issues:
Follow-up to February 2, 2006 posting, Hearing Focuses on Internet Censorship in China, this WSJ free feature today: Internet Censorship - Web Firms Face Grilling on China.
Follow-up to Gov't Climate Change Expert Contends Censorship of Data and NASA Chief Calls for "Scientific Openness" Amidst Claims of Gov't Secrecy, today this report from the New York Times on the resignation of a presidential appointee at NASA responsible for ordering revisions of data available to the public on the agency website.
Congressional Human Rights Caucus Members' Briefing: Human Rights and the Internet - The People's Republic of China, Wednesday, February 1, 2006: "China has one of the most sophisticated content-filtering Internet regimes in the world. The Chinese government employs sophisticated methods to limit content online, including a combination of legal regulation, surveillance, and punishment to promote self-censorship, as well as technical controls. Informational websites, including that of the BBC, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and the public encyclopedia, Wikipedia, have been partially or completely blocked in China."
Follow-up to January 29, 2006 posting, Gov't Climate Change Expert Contends Censorship of Data - today Sen. Barbara Boxer issued a press release that included the text of her letters to ranking members of two Senate committees stating, "It has come to my attention that the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Dr. James E. Hansen, has had his public papers and statements on critical scientific matters severely restricted by Bush Administration officials. Considering the gravity of these allegations, I strongly urge you to hold a hearing to investigate these charges."
From FederalNewsRadio, 'Jawbreaker' Author Struggles to Break His Story.
Following up on reports this past week that FEMA would block journalists from publishing photos of Katrina victims , news tonight from CNN that a temporary restraining order issued by Judge Keith P. Ellison (Southern District of Texas) has prompted the government to withdraw its "zero access policy".
As a follow-up to my April 2, 2005 posting, Significant Rise in Classification of Gov't Docs Focus of New Reports, this July 3, 2005 New York Times article, Increase in the Number of Documents Classified by the Government, reports on growing concerns within the government, by advocacy groups and the media, about the rapid rise in the classification of government documents. In 2004, 15.6 million documents were classified, a rate double that of 2001.
Reader's Block: Internet Censorship in Rhode Island Public Libraries, A Report prepared by the Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union, April 2005.
Are Libraries Places to Learn or Engage in Illegality? by Raizel Liebler.
A Starting Point: Legal Implications of Internet Filtering (PDF 16 pages)
Internet Points of Control, by Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 54 , Boston College Law Review, Forthcoming [Link to abstract]
From the Center for Democracy and Technology: "A Pennsylvania federal court today struck down a state Internet censorship law as a violation of the First Amendment. CDT had challenged the law because it had resulted in the blocking of more than a million innocent web sites."
"The State of Maine has budgeted for providing compensatory funds to public
libraries that will lose federal funds if they decide not to install filters as required by the Children's Internet Protection Act." [Link]
"Unintended Risks and Consequences of Circumvention Technologies: The U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau's (IBB) Anonymizer Service in Iran," April 28, 2004. [Link] See also this related CNet article by Declan McCullagh.
"The OpenNet Initiative is a University-based policy research project documenting filtering and surveillance practices worldwide. Our aim is to excavate, expose and analyze these practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion to uncover the potential pitfalls of present policies to explore the possibility of unintended and unexpected consequences and thus to help inform better public policy and advocacy work in this area...OpenNet Initiative research will be published on this website in a series of national and regional case studies, occasional papers, and bulletins."
The BBC News reported that access to news on issues relevant to readers on a global scale can be significantly expanded, according to Cambridge University Professor Ross Anderson, through the use "of peer-to-peer networks...to make censorship difficult, if not impossible..."
This Washington Post (reg. req'd) article reviews today's arguments in Ashcroft v. ACLU, No. 03-218.
From the Sunday New York Times, this report states:
The link to this article from CQ's Homeland Security subscriber publication, titled TSA Asks Media to Expunge Public Testimony on Airport Security Problems comes via Secrecy News. It states that TSA requested the removal of two pages of unclassified hearing testimony, presented last November, from the online archives of Federal Document Clearing House (FDCH), a primary provider of Congressional testimony to major database vendors, including CQ. FDCH acquiesed to the request, but CQ declined.
From the Center on Democracy and Technology:
"A new Florida State University Institute on Information study has found that only about half of the libraries surveyed have filters on even one computer." [Link]
Implementation Issues Surrounding the Children's Internet Protection Act, August 29, 2003.
As noted by OMB Watch, on August 29, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), an agency within the Office of Management and Budget, (OMB) released a draft bulletin "proposing a standardized process by which all significant regulatory documents (of the most important science disseminated by the federal government) will be subject to peer review by qualified specialists in appropriate technical disciplines."
Today, the California Supreme Court issued a decision (53 pages, pfd) in DVD Copy Control Inc. v. Andrew Bunner, resolving "the apparent conflict between California's trade secret law and the free speech clauses of the United States and California Constitutions." Thanks to Jim Tyre for the heads-up.
A follow-up to my March 7 posting: the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) was ruled unconstitutional for a second time by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision ACLU v. John Ashcroft, no. 19-1324, filed March 6.
The Internet under Surveillance, Obstacles to the free flow of information online, by Vinton G. Cerf (151 pages, pdf)
The USA Today reported on the status of Oregon House Bill 3101 which would eliminate state funding for libraries that refuse to install net filters for public access use of the Internet. Apparently "legislative counsel said it (the bill) is unconstitutional," placing at least a temporary hold on this legislative initiative.
From Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog, this informative posting on Internet software filtering company N2H2's current 10Q filing which includes the following language: "Free speech and privacy concerns could adversely affect the demand for our Internet filtering solutions."
On a related issue, see my April 10 posting: U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns (MA) dismissed a lawsuit by the ACLU on behalf of Harvard law student and cyber-activist Ben Edelman who argued a first amendment right to create software to decrypt an Internet blocking program by N2H2.
A new 28 page ACLU report (pdf), Freedom Under Fire: Dissent in Post-9/11 America, documents instances of "censorship, surveillance, detention, denial of due process and excessive force" on the part of the government. See the press release here.
On April 23, the Florida House passed HB 415: Relating to Internet Access in County and Municipal Libraries. The related Senate Bill, CS/SB 1250: Relating to Public Libraries/Computers has been referred to the Criminal Justice Committee.
On April 15, the Department of Homeland Security proposed new regulations for Procedures for Handling Critical Infrastructure Information. The rulemaking states: "The Department recognizes that its receipt of information pertaining to the security of critical infrastructure, much of which is not customarily within the public domain, is best encouraged through the assurance that such information will be utilized for securing the United States and will not be disseminated to the general public."
According to this article in PC World, "the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service is currently considering a regulation that would let it ignore any public comments on its rule-making process sent to it through Web-based forms." The agency also intends to ignore comments sent using form letters and postcards that result from lobbying/advocacy efforts. Furthermore, the Forest Service does not participate in the e-gov initiative Regulations.gov, the portal through which users may "find, review, and submit comments on Federal documents that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register."
For reference, the origin of these proposed changes were buried here: National Forest System lands; projects and activities; notice, comment, and appeal procedures, December 18, 2002 Federal Register, for which the comment period has already passed.
Today the the Copyright Office held a hearing on its Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works. The panel that testified on "compilations of lists of websites blocked by censorware ("filtering software") applications," included attorney Jonathan Band (who represents many organizations including the American Association of Law Libraries), David Burt, a pro-filtering advocate, former librarian and software tester who works for Internet filtering software company N2H2, Inc, and programmer/anti-censorship activist Seth Finkelstein.
U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns (MA) dismissed a lawsuit by the ACLU on behalf of Harvard law student and cyber-activist Ben Edelman who argued a first amendment right to create software to decrypt an Internet blocking program by N2H2. The filtering software, used by public and school libraries, is marketed as "CIPA compliant." Edelman posted a copy of the decision here, and for reference, also see his Edelman v. N2H2, Inc. - Case Summary & Documents site. The Washington Post also reported on this case here.
This Wired article highlights a software initiative developed by the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, called Internet Censorship Explorer (ICE). "ICE demonstrates state-sponsored content filtering and blocking by delivering the content of blocked URLs to end users. After completing a query form, ICE will attempt to access the user-specified URL or domain using proxy servers located in the designated country. ICE will then display the results returned by the proxy server." ICE maintains a database that currently identifies domains that are blocked by 14 countries (including the U.S.) Users may submit a blocked URL to add to this database, via this page.
The Kansas House Committee on Federal and State Affairs is considering HB 2420, requiring the installation of Internet filters on all public library computers accessible to those under the age of 18. According to this letter to the committee from the state's budget director, the yearly cost "would be approximately $573,750 to purchase filtering devices for 3,825 computers in 425 public libraries."
From the New York Times, Computers in Libraries Make Moral Judgments, Selectively, is a commentary by Geoffrey Nunberg who was an expert witness for the American Library Association in their case challenging the constitutionality of the Children's Internet Protection Act.
The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) was ruled unconstitutional for a second time by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision ACLU v. John Ashcroft, no. 19-1324, filed March 6.
The court stated that "...provisions of COPA are not narrowly tailored to achieve the Government's compelling interest in protecting minors from harmful material and therefore fail the strict scrutiny test: (a) the definition of "material that is harmful to minors"... (b) the definition of "commercial purposes,"..and (3) the "affirmative defenses" available to publishers..."
EPIC maintains an excellent online library of legal documents associated with this case, as well as on the 1998 law signed by President Clinton to protect minors through the use of criminal penalties for the distribution of harmful materials online.
Below are links with details about Wednesday's arguments by Solicitor General Theodore Olson and Paul Smith, for the American Library Association, in United States v. American Library Association, 02-361.
Start here, with Shelf-Censorship, an opinion piece that includes useful links and an important perspective on the key issues of the case, and then move on to the other articles as follows: Sides Debate Web Access in Libraries, Supreme Court looks at free speech and Internet filters in public libraries; Supreme Court Considers Web Porn Filter Case; and Foes lock horns in Web filtering case.
From the USAToday, this Op-Ed, Library restrictions borrow from colonial-era abuses is worth a read. And an opposing view from another Op-Ed in the same paper: Congressman Pickering on Children's Internet Protection Act.
Maryland House Bill 661, Internet Child Pornography - Removal, is opposed by the advocacy group Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT). CDT staff counsel John B. Morris testified before the Judiciary Committee Maryland House of Delegates on March 4 that the bill has "...due process problems under the Fourteenth Amendment, free speech problems under the First Amendment, technical problems that create a risk of instability for the Internet, and effectiveness problems..."
The CDT contends that the Maryland bill is substantively similar to a Pennsylvania law, and would result in the indiscriminate blocking of potentially hundreds of sites.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services commissioned a recently published study from the Information Institute at Florida State University, Public Libraries and the Internet 2002: Internet Connectivity and Networked Services, (PDF) to evaluate the extent of Internet connectivity in U.S. public libraries. The results, gleaned from 1,100 respondents, indicate that almost all public libraries have Internet connections and provide them to the public. 50% of these connections are high-speed. Approximately 75% of responding libraries indicated they do not use filtering on public access workstations.
The Center for Democracy and Technology issued a press release and a report (PDF) contending that a recent Pennsylvania law (18 Pennsylvania Statutes Sec. 7330) requiring ISPs to remove or disable access to Internet pornography upon notification by the state Attorney General violates constitutional principles of due process. The law also results in the blocking of sites with no objectionable content due to the prevalence of shared IP addresses among unrelated sites. See also my posting today referencing Ben Edelman's report on IP addresses and censorship issues.
Web Sites Sharing IP Addresses: Prevalence and Significance, a study by Benjamin Edelman of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, establishes that "more than 87% of active domain names are found to share their web servers with one or more additional domains, and more than two third of active domain names share their web servers with fifty or more additional domains." These findings have significant ramifications on large scale efforts to block and censor web content, as well as efforts to do so on a local or state level.
U.S. military websites are subject to a new directive issued on January 3 by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to remove sensitive, unclassified information published on the huge DOD web databases (comprising 770 gigabytes of total data), that could potentially be of assistance to the intelligence gathering efforts of our enemies.
According to this posting, the Chinese government is blocking user access to blogs created with Blogspot. This source also provides links to a range of information concerning the ongoing, systematic campaign by the Chinese government to censor and restrict citizen access to the Web.
The current issue of the ABA Journal eReport has a noteworthy article, Where in the World Wide Web to Fight, that weighs in on the growing concerns about jurisdiction and Internet libel cases. See my posting on the recent Australian case and the two U.S. cases here.
A new Missouri law went into effect on January 1, 2003 that "requires public (elementary and secondary) schools and public libraries that provide access to the Internet to either: use filtering software; purchase Internet service through a provider that provides filter services; or otherwise restrict minors' access to the Internet by local rule."
On January 7, teenager Jon Lech Johansen was acquitted by a Norweigan criminal court of charges related to creating a utility (DeCSS) that descrambled the code for DVD players, and publishing it on the Web.
This New York Times article documents the Bush administration's successful efforts to prevent the public release of a range of government documents largely based on post 9/11 security concerns. Members of Congress have been fighting these efforts on several fronts, including protesting the removal of data from government agency websites for what has been interpreted as partisan political, not security, reasons.
For some perspective on this issue, I take you back to 2001, and Executive Order 13233, Further Implementation of the Presidential Record's Act, issued November 1, 2001 by President Bush, as well as this related New Republic article in response to the order.
From the High Court of Australia, to the Fourth Circuit, and now the Fifth Circuit, jurisdiction issues as they apply to Internet libel cases are in the spotlight. The Fifth Circuit, in Oliver "Buck" Revell v. Lidov and Columbia University, affirmed the United States District Court For the Northern District of Texas decision that Revell, former Associate Deputy Director of the FBI under Reagan, and a resident of Texas, could not sue the author of an article critical of his role in the Pan Am Flight 103 tragedy over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, that was posted on a Columbia University owned website.
As a followup to my previous posting on the Australian Internet defamation case, this Christian Science Monitor commentary provides a perspective on how the threat of Internet libel litigation by individuals around the world may result in web censorship.
The Kaiser Family Foundation issued a study, See No Evil: How Internet Filters Affect the Search for Online Health Information. The focus of the study was how the choice of the 'least', 'intermediate' or 'most' restrictive web filtering options available through six high profile systems (8e6, CyberPatrol, N2H2, Smartfilter, Symantec and Websense), impacted access to both pornography and health related information from web sites.
The foundation has made the full-text of the study available in PDF only, but it is broken down into over half a dozen parts. Use this link to access a list of the various portions of the report. In addition, the full-text of the study was published in the December 11, 2002 issue of the Journal of the America Medical Association (subscription req'd), under the title, "Does Pornography-Blocking Software Block Access to Health Information on the Internet?", by Caroline R. Richardson; Paul J. Resnick; Derek L. Hansen; Holly A. Derry; Victoria J. Rideout. JAMA. 2002;288:2887-2894.
For more information about this new Internet domain for children, kids.us, please see NeuStar's (the domain name manager) Proposal for Guidelines and Requirements for the kids.us Second Level Domain.
Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School have published a new report on Web censorship: Empirical Analysis of Internet Filtering in China.
From the abstract: "The authors are collecting data on the methods, scope, and depth of selective barriers to Internet access through Chinese networks. Tests from May 2002 through November 2002 indicate at least four distinct and independently operable methods of Internet filtering, with a documentable leap in filtering sophistication beginning in September 2002."
Amnesty International has published a well researched report on the impact of state controls on Internet access to one of world's fasted growing population of users. The report provides a timeline that documents the imposition of various controls and regulations on Web access since its introduction to the public in 1995, and their impact on individuals and the society as a whole.
If you are interested in this issue, I refer you to related work on this topic referenced under my other postings here.
Data on health issues including abortions and contraception have been removed from government web sites, and complaints are escalating that such actions are motivated by the President's political agenda.
See my previous posting on this topic here, which includes references to Congressional concerns over this specific pattern of censoring health related data.
The Copenhagen press reported that the Chinese government has systematically censorsed access to the Danish search engine, Jubii. This is in no small measure due to the fact this engine provides access to sites banned by the Chinese government, including Amnesty International and the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Note: I was not familiar with Falun Gong, but on December 11, 2002 I watched an episode of Law & Order that focused on the Chinese government's alleged persecution of members of this group.
For related information, this commentary from ZDNet, How the U.S. can stop Internet censorship, addresses various software applications to counter state sponsored blocking of website content in the U.S. (via software filters in public libraries) and by countries such as China, North Korea and Vietnam, to name just a few.
Citing cybercrime as sufficient cause, the Australian government is planning to create a Hi-Tech Crime Centre whose power will include the ability to block web sites created to facilitate protests.
The controversial Child Online Protection Act which specifies the "requirement to restrict access by minors to materials commercially distributed by means of the World Wide Web that are harmful to minors," is currently under review again by U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit. In May 2002, the Supreme Court remanded the case, Ashcroft v. ACLU, back to this court to once again consider the constitutionality of creating barriers to Internet access. The 3rd Circuit had granted a preliminary injunction in the case, ACLU v. Reno, in June 2002.
EPIC maintains a resource center with links to court and legislative documents from these cases.
The Supreme Court will review a number of cases this week, including United States v. American Library Association, No. 02-361, requiring the use of filtering software by all libraries receiving federal funds. For up-to-date information on this case, see the American Library Association web site on CIPA.
The Free Expression Project, founded in 2000, is sustained by grants from a diverse group of backers that include the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. The organization advocates in court, through the publication of reports and surveys, and by the sponsorship of conferences, for an end to restrictions of expression on publicaly funded organizations such as libraries, museum, and universities.
The Memory Hole reports that a group of 12 members of Congress, lead by California Rep. Henry Waxman sent a letter to HHS Secretary Thomson expressing concern over the removal of data from HHS web sites. Specifically, content removed included, "scientific information related to abortion and HIV prevention, appointment of scientific experts based on ideology or ties to industry, and discriminatory audits of HIV prevention groups that do not agree with the Administration's "abstinence only" policy."
Senator Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), Rep. Christopher Cox (R., Calif.), and Rep. Tom Lantos (D., Calif.) authored this commentary on China's censorship of their citizen's access to the Internet. Cox and Lantos, co-sponsors of the Global Internet Freedom bill, want to focus attention on how China is blocking access to a wide range of content sites, which include the New York Times and Washington Post. China has also attempted to block access to search engines Google, Yahoo and AltaVista.
To read about other efforts on behalf of Chinese Web users, in this case by computer techies, see Guerrilla Warfare, Waged With Code.
See also Replacement of Google with Alternative Search Systems in China Documentation and Screen Shots, last updated 9/24/02.
This BBC commentary by Bill Thompson reviews the much discussed actions of search engine giant Google who has exluded content from their German and French search results. Content that is no longer available originates in what be called hate sites that are actually banned in these countries. See this excellent report, Localized Google search result exclusions, for details.
This story via Reuters offers insight into the role that the Internet is playing in countries where censorship is commonplace.
Professor Jonathan Zittrain and law student/Technology Analyst Ben Edelman are conducting research on Internet filtering in countries worldwide. July 15 marked the release of the first study in the series, reporting some 2,000+ web pages blocked in Saudi Arabia.
Zittrain and Edelman have also posted another article, Real-Time Testing of Internet Filtering in China, which provides users with a mechanism to test whether specific sites are blocked.
There is a growing concern in the U.S. about state sponsored Internet censorship in countries throughout the world. Jonathan Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman at Harvard are skillfully documenting this activity. Now Congress is responding to Web filtering with a bi-partisan legislative initiative, H.R. 5524. This bill seeks to "develop and deploy technologies to defeat Internet jamming and censorship."
OMB Watch is a non-profit advocacy group that has been shining a bright light on the activities of the Office of Management and Budget since 1983. Post 9/11, their work has become more prominent as they track new government guidelines and regulations that restrict public access to data.