WAN-IFRA

Shaping the Future of the Newspaper

Date

Wed - 26.11.2014


censorship

What do a YouTube video satirising Pakistan’s army, an article criticising the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, and a video of a Canadian citizen peeing on his passport have in common? They were all the objects of government requests to remove content from Google sites during the second half of 2011, says Google.

The company has just released its latest round of data, documenting demands made by governments to remove content from its sites or to turn over information about its users. Google, which began publishing this data as part of its Transparency Report in 2010, expressed concern as it noted that, for the fifth six-month period in a row, it has received requests from governments to remove political content. What’s more, the demands didn’t just come from countries with a traditionally poor press freedom record, but from Western democracies too.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different,” wrote Google’s Senior Policy Analyst Dorothy Chou in a blog post about the data. “It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect—Western democracies not typically associated with censorship.”

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2012-06-18 15:22

The Chinese Communist party newspaper People’s Daily has raised 1.4 billion yuan ($219 - $222 million) after filing an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for its website www.people.com.cn. As The Financial Times reported on Friday, this figure is almost three times the paper’s initial target of 527m yuan. The FT writes that people.com.cn now has a market capitalisation of $876m – rivalling that of The New York Times, which is valued at $943m.

The FT suggests that the Chinese authorities are hoping that the IPO will help state media expand their global influence. The financial paper points out that although state Chinese media have been commercially successful, tehy is vastly overshadowed by private Chinese digital companies like Sina and Tecent. Now, however, the Chinese state media seem to be looking to compete more aggressively. The FT quotes People’s Daily, which states, “we need to increase our popularity, expand the range of products and services we offer, reach a wider audience and increase page hits per visitor.” With the apparent aim of expanding its editorial impact, Chinese state television is also constructing a broadcasting centre in Washington, notes The FT.

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2012-04-23 13:25

Legal experts and human rights advocates have raised questions about the state of international laws protecting journalists and their sources in the wake of the News of the World phone hacking scandal and the fallout from WikiLeaks publication of classified documents

Speaking at the UNESCO conference The Media World after WikiLeaks and News of the World, Jane Kirtley, director at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism, stated that she was "very nervous" about a number of cases in the United States, which she saw as laying a ground work for greater limits being placed on freedom.

Among the factors that caused her concern were the lack of a federal shield law to protect journalistic sources in the United States, and the recent seizure of the Mega Uploads domain name, despite the fact that it was outside of US jurisdiction.

Agnès Callamard, executive director of Article 19, likewise criticised the US government's reaction to the embassy cable leaks, calling some of the initial reactions reminiscent of the "McCarthy era".

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2012-02-16 18:11

Twitter announced yesterday that it would begin selectively blocking Tweets in some countries.

"Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country -- while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why."

Twitter writes that it will withhold access to Tweets in certain countries "if we receive a valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity". As an example of illegal material it names pro-Nazi content, which is outlawed in France and Germany.

The micro-blogging platform implies that it will not comply with all government requests to remove content. It states that, in some countries, the ideas about freedom of expression "differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there".

Until now, Twitter had to remove content from its entire network if it received a valid legal order to take it down in one country. This change in policy means that Twitter can block Tweets region by region.

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2012-01-27 17:58

Today Wikipedia has blacked out its English language pages in protest again the proposed anti-piracy legislation in the US, which it says could "fatally damage the free and open Internet."

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills that have caused the controversy are intended to stop the infringement of US copyright material by overseas websites. If passed, SOPA would give the US Justice Department and copyright holders the power to seek court orders to block search engine results or websites linking to pirated material. PIPA, due to come before the Senate on January 24th, proposes similar measures.

Wikipedia objects that the proposed laws will block entire sites unnecessarily and place the onus on site owners to police the material they link to, with damaging consequences:

"Small sites won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn't being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines. And, SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression."

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2012-01-18 15:55

After last year's disputed elections in Iran, social networking sites like Twitter helped protesters organise and also served as a way to send news, videos and photos out to the rest of the world, showing what was really happening in the country. Iranian security forces worked to stop people from using these sites to communicate, just as other countries, such as China, have done in the past and continue to do so.

Government censors are becoming more sophisticated, and this is where encryption software Haystack comes in.

Haystack was custom-made in San Francisco for Iran as the first anti-censorship technology licensed by the U.S. government for export to Iran, the Christian Science Monitor reported last month. First, it "provides high-grade encryption of data, similar to that used when accessing a bank Web site. It then hides that data inside other normal data streams and makes it look like normal Internet traffic itself," which makes the original data difficult to detect and stop."

According to the network, Haystack clients connect to its servers, "which in turn talk to Web sites on behalf of our users." The group's motto is "Good luck finding that needle."

However, if Haystack's methods are compromised, users' communications would be secure.

Author

Leah McBride Mensching

Date

2010-05-10 18:49

Fiji may put in place a new law that states in every media organisation within the country, "all the directors ... must be citizens of Fiji permanently residing in Fiji," Stuff.co.nz reported. The move would force Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd out of the country. News Ltd owns The Fiji Times, the country's largest and oldest daily.

The draft, Media Industry Development Decree 2010, provides for the establishment of a Media Development Authority and a complaints tribunal that would have the power to fine news organisations and imprison journalists for up to five years, according to Pacific.Scoop.co.nz.

Photo: Voreqe Bainimarama

The Times "has long been an irritant for the regime, which has sought to gag this newspaper along with Fiji Television," Pacific.Scoop.co.nz reported.

Author

Leah McBride Mensching

Date

2010-04-08 06:12

Following Google's announcement last week that it may leave China, the Chinese government has fired back, calling Google's action a "corporate maneuver," paidContent reported.

According to a statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu, "there is no exception for Google" in observing China's laws and shouldering its social responsibilities, China Daily, a state-run publication, reported. "Foreign companies in China should respect the laws and regulations, respect the public interest of Chinese people and China's culture and customs and shoulder due social responsibilities."

However, Google calls China's laws "attempts ... to further limit free speech on the web," David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer of Google, stated in a Google blog post last week.

Ma stated that China's Internet is open, and will keep on creating a favourable investment environment for foreign businesses, including Internet companies, and to protect their legitimate rights.

Author

Erina Lin

Date

2010-01-19 21:09

Google announced on Tuesday it is rethinking how it does business in China, following the breach of Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human rights activists. The "highly sophisticated" cyber attacks originated from within China.

"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered - combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web - have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China," David Drummond, senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer of Google stated in a Google blog post.

China has responded to the announcement saying it welcomes Internet companies as long as they obey laws by censoring their content, Bloomberg reported today.

Author

Leah McBride Mensching

Date

2010-01-14 19:59

Nigerian publishers Monday advanced self-regulation of the industry as the preferred means of safeguarding the freedom of and bolstering public confidence in the press, allAfrica.com reported yesterday. The impulse to grapple autonomously with the issues of credibility and censorship through a peer-appointed ombudsman follows legislative efforts to impose tighter controls on the press as a whole.

"What the colonialists tried to do but failed under the Newspaper Ordinance of 1903; what our politicians tried to do in 1964 but failed; and what the Buhari/Idiagbon regime and a succession of military dictatorships tried to do but all failed, is now being put forward again," Newspaper Proprietors' Association of Nigeria President, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, was quoted in today's Guardian as saying at a public hearing on the matter.

"As it was in the past, I am confident that the Press will, once again, outlive the sponsors of the vexatious bill. I urge them to stand aside, reflect a little, bend down a bit and drink from the well of history," Ogunshola said as the House of Representatives took public comment on "A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Repeal of the Nigerian Press Council Act 1992 and Establish the Nigerian Press and Practice of Journalism Council."

Author

Leah McBride Mensching

Date

2009-11-18 18:26

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