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Category Archives: Censorship

‘Extremely aggressive’ internet censorship spreads in the world’s democracies

“The largest collection of public internet censorship data ever compiled shows that even citizens of what are considered the world’s freest countries aren’t safe from internet censorship. The University of Michigan team used its own Censored Planet tool, an automated censorship tracking system launched in 2018, to collect more than 21 billion measurements over 20 months in 221 countries. They recently presented a paper [see below] on the findings at the 2020 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security. “We hope that the continued publication of Censored Planet data will enable researchers to continuously monitor the deployment of network interference technologies, track policy changes in censoring nations, and better understand the targets of interference,” said Roya Ensafi, U-M assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science who led the development of the tool…”

See also – “Censored Planet: An Internet-wide, Longitudinal Censorship Observatory.” The research team also included former U-M computer science and engineering student Prerana Shenoy and Katharina Kohls, an assistant professor at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. The research was supported in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Award CNS-1755841. “Remote censorship measurement techniques offer capabilities for monitoring Internet reachability around the world. However, operating these techniques continuously is labor-intensive and re-quires specialized knowledge and synchronization, leading to limited adoption. In this paper, we introduce Censored Planet, an online censorship measurement platform that collects and analyzes measurements from ongoing deployments of four remote measurement techniques (Augur, Satellite/Iris, Quack, and Hyperquack). Censored Planet adopts a modular design that supports synchronized baseline measurements on six Internet protocols as well as customized measurements that target specific countries and websites.Censored Planet has already collected and published more than 21.8 billion data points of longitudinal network observations over20 months of operation. Censored Planet complements existing censorship measurement platforms such as OONI and ICLab by offering increased scale, coverage, and continuity. We introduce anew representative censorship metric and show how time series analysis can be applied to Censored Planet’s longitudinal measurements to detect 15 prominent censorship events, two-thirds of which have not been reported previously. Using trend analysis, we find increasing censorship activity in more than 100 countries, andwe identify 11 categories of websites facing increasing censorship,including provocative attire, human rights issues, and news media.We hope that the continued publication of Censored Planet data helps counter the proliferation of growing restrictions to online freedom.”

Proposal to install spyware in university libraries to protect copyrights shocks academics

Coda Story – “A recent proposal recommending the deployment of surveillance software in order to monitor those accessing academic material has drawn fire from digital rights advocates and scientists. The plan was outlined on October 22 during a virtual webinar hosted by a consortium of the world’s leading publishers of scientific journals, featuring security experts discussing the threats posed… Continue Reading

Growing Discomfort at Law Firms Representing Trump in Election Lawsuits

The New York Times via MSN – “There was Big Tobacco. There was the Bin Laden family. There was even the hated owner of the Cleveland Browns football team as he moved the franchise to Baltimore. Now Jones Day is the most prominent firm representing President Trump and the Republican Party as they prepare to… Continue Reading

Trump administration buries dozens of clean energy studies

InvestigateWest [in collaboration with Grist] – “…Dan Simmons of the U.S. Department of Energy doesn’t appear to fully support renewables. In fact, he has presided over his agency’s systematic squelching of dozens of government studies detailing its promise. One pivotal research project, for example, quantifies hydropower’s unique potential to enhance solar and wind energy, storing… Continue Reading

How to return your mail-in ballot without using the postal service

Popular Information: “There are 44 states that don’t require any reason to vote by mail or allow concerns about COVID-19 as a valid reason. All 44 states provide alternatives to the USPS to return your mail-in ballot. The details of these alternative return methods are listed below. Six states — New York, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi,… Continue Reading

Trump Issues Order Giving Him More Leeway to Hire and Fire Federal Workers

The New York Times – “President Trump signed an executive order this week that could substantially expand his ability to hire and fire tens of thousands of federal workers during a second term, potentially allowing him to weed out what he sees as a “deep state” bureaucracy working to undermine him. The executive order, issued… Continue Reading

The Problem of Free Speech in an Age of Disinformation

The New York Times – The First Amendment in the age of disinformation. “…The United States is in the middle of a catastrophic public-health crisis caused by the spread of the coronavirus. But it is also in the midst of an information crisis caused by the spread of viral disinformation, defined as falsehoods aimed at… Continue Reading

Internet Freedom Has Taken a Hit During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Freedom on the Net 2020: The Pandemic’s Digital Shadow – “The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating a dramatic decline in global internet freedom. For the 10th consecutive year, users have experienced an overall deterioration in their rights, and the phenomenon is contributing to a broader crisis for democracy worldwide. In the COVID-19 era, connectivity is not… Continue Reading

America Is Having a Moral Convulsion

The Atlantic, David Brooks via MSN: “…The events of 2020—the coronavirus pandemic; the killing of George Floyd; militias, social-media mobs, and urban unrest—were like hurricanes that hit in the middle of that earthquake. They did not cause the moral convulsion, but they accelerated every trend. They flooded the ravines that had opened up in American… Continue Reading

TikTok: Technology Overview and Issues

CRS report via LC – TikTok: Technology Overview and Issues, Updated September 29, 2020:” TikTok is a globally popular video-sharing smartphone application (app) owned by ByteDance Ltd., a privately held company headquartered in Beijing, China. It is under increasing scrutiny by the U.S. government as a potential privacy and security risk to U.S. citizens. This… Continue Reading

Judge orders DOJ to publish info redacted as privileged from Mueller report

The Hill: “A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to publish information redacted from the Mueller report that had been designated as privileged. District Judge Reggie Walton said the Trump administration had failed to justify certain redactions from the report on the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016… Continue Reading

Internal USPS documents link changes behind mail slowdowns to top executives

Washington Post includes the 16 page presentation – “A senior executive at the U.S. Postal Service delivered a PowerPoint presentation in July that pressed officials across the organization to make the operational changes that led to mail backups across the country, seemingly contradicting months of official statements about the origin of the plans, according to… Continue Reading