censorship

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The Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association warns that restricting online access would be ruinous for the region

After Hong Kong’s leader suggested she may invoke emergency powers that could potentially include limiting Internet access, one of city’s biggest industry groups warned that “any such restrictions, however slight originally, would start the end of the open Internet of Hong Kong.”

While talking to reporters on Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suggested the government may use the Emergency Regulations Ordinance in response to ongoing anti-government demonstrations. The law, which has not been used in more than half a century, would give the government a sweeping array of powers, including the ability to restrict or censor publications and communications. In contrast to China’s “Great Firewall” and routine government censorship of internet services, Hong Kong’s internet is currently open and mostly unrestricted, with the exception of laws to prevent online crime, copyright infringements and the spread of obscene material like child pornography.

In an “urgent statement” addressed to Hong Kong’s Executive Council, the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association (HKISPA) said that because of technology like VPNs, the cloud and cryptographies, the only way to “effectively and meaningfully block any services” would entail putting all of Hong Kong’s internet behind a large-scale surveillance firewall. The association added that this would have huge economic and social consequences and deter international organizations from doing business in Hong Kong.

Furthermore, restricting the internet in Hong Kong would also have implications in the rest of the region, including in mainland China, the HKISPA added. There are currently 18 international cable systems that land, or will land, in Hong Kong, making it a major telecommunications hub. Blocking one application means users will move onto another application, creating a cascading effect that will continue until all of Hong Kong is behind a firewall, the association warned.

In its statement, the HKISPA wrote that “the lifeline of Hong Kong’s Internet industry relies in large part on the open network,” adding “Hong Kong is the largest core node of Asia’s optical fiber network and hosts the biggest Internet exchange in the region, and it is now home to 100+ data centers operated by local and international companies, and it transits 80%+ of traffic for mainland China.”

“All these successes rely on the openness of Hong Kong’s network,” the HKISPA continued. “Such restrictions imposed by executive orders would completely ruin the uniqueness and value of Hong Kong as a telecommunications hub, a pillar of success as an international financial centre.”

The HKISPA urged the government to consult the industry and “society at large” before placing any restrictions in place. “The HKISPA strongly opposes selective blocking of Internet Services without consensus of the community,” it said.

Eurovision cancels Chinese broadcast due to LGBTQ censorship

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Following allegations of LBGTQ and tattoo censorship, the remainder of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will no longer be broadcast in China.

The decision comes from Eurovision’s organiser, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), who terminated the agreement with China’s Mango TV on Thursday. 

As per the BBC, reports surfaced about the internet broadcaster blurring out the flags of Albania, Ireland, and the LGBTQ flags during the first semi-final of this year’s contest, as well as editing out the performances by Irish and Albanian contestants. Read more…

More about Entertainment, Tv, China, Censorship, and Lgbtq

Indonesia wanted to block WhatsApp because people are sending ‘obscene GIFs’

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WhatsApp appears to be the latest social media platform to run afoul of Indonesia’s censorship rules.

The populous Southeast Asian nation on Monday vowed to block WhatsApp within 48 hours, if it did not ensure that “obscene” GIFs were removed from the platform.

Indonesia later dropped its threat after Tenor, WhatsApp’s third party GIF provider, appeared to have fixed the issue.

“We see now that they have done what we asked. Therefore we won’t block them,” the director general from Indonesia’s communication and informatics ministry, Semuel Pangerapan told Reuters on Tuesday. Read more…

More about Facebook, Gifs, Asia, Censorship, and Indonesia

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Debullshitifying the free speech debate about CNN and Trump's alt-right wrestling GIF

In the wake of CNN threatening to out a critic if he does not limit his speech in the future, former federal prosecutor and First Amendment champion Ken White has published an eminently sensible post about the incoherence of the present moment’s views on free speech, and on the way that partisanship causes us to apply a double standard that excuses “our bunch” and damns the “other side.”
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Chinese authorities banned the broadcast of a match between top Go player and AlphaGo AI

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A Go match between the world’s top player, Ke Jie, and Google’s AlphaGo that took place this week was censored by authorities, reports Quartz.

The AI beat Ke Jie in yet another match today, securing a win in the three-part match.

Three journalists have reported receiving verbal directives barring their news organisations from broadcasting the match — as well as the Go and AI summit held in Wuzhen, east China. 

One journalist reported being barred from even mentioning Google’s name while reporting on the event, while another said that while they could mention Google, they were barred from writing about Google’s products. Read more…

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People are quitting LiveJournal in droves after Russian owners ban political, LGBTQ talk

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Venerable blog platform LiveJournal is now saying goodbye to some of its biggest users, after announcing it’s taking steps to comply with Russian law.

The platform, which moved its servers to Russia in December last year, updated its terms of service last week, Gizmodo reports.

Under the terms, content deemed as “political solicitation,” or that “contradictory to the laws of the Russian Federation” will be banned.

Russian law gives censors sweeping powers to ban political and pro-LGBTQ content under the guise of national security. But critics say the law has been used as an excuse to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Read more…

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India blocks 'The Danish Girl' from airing on TV

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India’s film censorship board has barred Sony Pictures’ channel from telecasting Oscar-recognized film, The Danish Girl. 

The movie was slated to air on Sunday. However, the film authority objected to its supposedly “sensitive storyline” and dubbed it “unsuitable” for audiences below 18.

In The Danish Girl, Eddie Redmayne plays the main character grappling with his gender identity, and is based on historical events of the world’s first sex reassignment surgery.

The broadcaster tweeted: “We regret to inform you that Sony Le Plex HD is unable to telecast the television premiere of the award-winning film The Danish Girl on March 26 as the necessary certification to enable the telecast of the movie has not been received.” Read more…

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Techdirt is being sued by the “I invented email” guy and needs money to fight the case

Indie news outlet Techdirt is being sued for $15M by Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email in 1978, eight years after Ray Tomlinson sent an email over ARPANET; Ayyadurai is represented by Charles Harder, a key figure in the Gawker-killing legal campaign that Peter Thiel financed, and who is also representing Melania Trump in her $150m lawsuit against The Daily Mail.
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China is censoring social media less now—but it's not freedom

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China appears to be loosening its well-known vice-like grip on what can and cannot be said on Weibo (its version of Twitter), but don’t be fooled — it’s not easing up on censorship.

A team of researchers from Hong Kong, Sweden and the U.S. have found that the Communist Party seems to be deleting far fewer posts that it used to find objectionable.

Weibo is by far China’s most popular microblogging platform, and has some 297 million monthly active users.

The researchers published a paper detailing their analysis of 13.2 billion blog posts on Weibo over a five year period, from 2009 to 2013. Read more…

More about Media, Weibo, Censorship, China, and Social Media

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ProtonMail adds Tor onion site to fight risk of state censorship

ProtonMail onion site Swiss-based PGP end-to-end encrypted email provider, ProtonMail, now has an onion address, allowing users to access its service via a direct connection to the Tor anonymizing network — in what it describes as an active measure aimed at defending against state-sponsored censorship. Read More

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