I mentioned this in my last post, but it deserves its own: there's an extraordinarily easy way to read BBC News from within China. All you need to do is use this URL: newsvote.bbc.co.uk.
Something was going to give.
As Beijing prepares for the Olympics and the attending flood of foreigners, many of them reporters, expected to arrive this summer, the government's controls over the Internet have become increasingly sophisticated. But would the Olympic organizers really be OK with dozens of stories about reporters and athletes unable to reach Wikipedia and BBC?
Apparently, decision makers are indeed worried about press regarding censorship. AFP quotes an Olympic organizing committee representative as saying, "I believe you will be able to (access banned sites such as the BBC), but I can't give you a … Read more
Members of Congress on Tuesday showed almost no mercy for top Yahoo executives attempting to smooth over accusations about the company's role in the imprisonment of Chinese dissident journalists.
Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan endured nearly four hours of tongue-lashing from Democrats and Republicans alike on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
The subject of the hearing: Allegations that Callahan provided "false information" to the panel last year regarding a case that landed 37-year-old Shi Tao a 10-year prison sentence. A related case involving an online writer named Wang … Read more
On August 31, Lakshmana Kailash K. was arrested in Bangalore, India, and charged with posting insulting images of a revered historical figure on the Internet. The police claimed that he had uploaded disrespectful images of Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Indian equivalent of George Washington. Free speech, it seems, does not extend to that sort of thing in India.
Normally, this wouldn't be a press-worthy story. After all, India is not the first country to take a hard line against Internet free speech. The Thai military regime blocked the entire YouTube Web site earlier this year after a single video posted … Read more
Update 12:53 p.m. PDT: Congress has moved a step closer to enacting a new law regulating key aspects of how U.S. tech companies operate in countries whose governments censor or otherwise manipulate the Internet.
As expected, the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs backed a slightly amended version of the Global Online Freedom Act by a voice vote on Tuesday morning. The bill's preliminary nod is a prelude to the same House committee's plans to grill Yahoo executives early next month about a widely publicized case involving the imprisonment of a Chinese journalist.
The … Read more
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly named the House bill. It is the Global Online Freedom Act.
Updated Tuesday at 9:04 a.m. PDT: Try as it might, Congress failed last year to pass new rules for U.S. companies--backed by fines of up to $2 million--that do business in "Internet-restricting" locales like China.
But the politicians apparently aren't giving up on the idea just yet.
Ticked off that the United States gave the Dalai Lama the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal this week, China may be taking out its aggression by "hijacking" American search engines.
Over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan reports that numerous users trying to access Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft search engines from within China or using Chinese Internet service providers are being redirected to Chinese-owned search engine Baidu.
Sullivan says it's not exactly clear how that process is working, but he cites a news report from 2002 that indicates this sort of thing has happened in China before. At … Read more
As Burma's military government attempts to suppress the largest pro-democracy protests by Buddhist monks and civilians in decades, there are numerous reports on Friday that it has also cut off its citizens' Internet access and cell phone lines.
Burma--officially the Union of Myanmar--is already labeled by watchdog groups as one of the most restrictive locales in the world when it comes to blocking Internet content. But like in China and other censorship-happy countries, dissidents have come up with technological work-arounds such as proxies that connect them directly to computers outside the prohibitive country.
Now there are widespread reports that … Read more
This news may hit CNET tomorrow as a New York Times cross-post, but I haven't seen anything about it yet so I wanted to be sure it was reported here.
According to the Times, Verizon, one of the nation's two largest wireless carriers, told NARAL that it would not allow the reproductive rights organization to send text messages through a program using Verizon's mobile network, on the grounds that Verizon has the right to block "controversial or unsavory" text messages.… Read more
When creating a broad forum or social-networking site like Facebook, deciding what, if any, content should be prohibited is always a difficult decision. Pornography and unauthorized copyrighted material are usually forbidden, but any other restrictions will often spark calls of censorship and accusations that the forum infringes on the freedom of speech guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. In reality, the constitution doesn't dictate what must be allowed in these circumstances, just as you are permitted to make certain subjects off-limits in your own home. Despite the fact that there is no constitutional issue, there is a perception of one, and the concerns about censorship are very real and do have merit.
Lately, Facebook has been dealing with a growing controversy surrounding one of its groups. F**k Islam has more than 800 members, has generated almost 20,000 wall posts, and sparked a number of similar groups in addition to a host of groups built around their opposition to the group's existence. The debate has recently spilled into The New York Times.… Read more