The United Nations’ push to apply old telecom regulations to the Internet has been pretty unpopular with several Internet freedom advocates, including Internet co-creator Vint Cerf. And now BBC News reports that at least three nations — the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada — have said they will not sign any treaty that would give “all states to have equal rights to the governance of the Internet.” Cerf and other critics of the U.N.’s efforts have contended that they could potentially add several damaging regulations to the Internet, as several authoritarian governments are likely to propose highly restrictive rules that would be damaging to freedom of speech and expression.
Vint Cerf, the legendary computer scientist who co-created the TCP/IP networking protocols that serve as the Internet’s foundation, is not happy that United Nations wants to apply old telecom regulations to his creation. Cerf, who now serves as Google’s (GOOG) Chief Internet Evangelist, has written a post on Google’s official blog this week urging people to take action to protest the International Telecommunication Union’s plan to amend the International Telecommunications Regulations treaty to regulate the Internet. More →
Google on Sunday published its latest Transparency Report, which included data on government takedown requests made between July and December 2011. The Mountain View-based company reports that it has received more than 1,000 requests from governments around the world to remove items such as YouTube videos and search listings. The Internet giant, which complied with more than half the requests, noted that an increasing number of requests involved the removal of political content. More →
Censorship and the Internet are topics that have gone hand in hand since the birth of the World Wide Web more than 20 years ago. Proponents of various levels of censorship often target online pornography with their efforts, and a new report suggests censors may soon get their way in Egypt. According to local news agency Egypt Independent, Egypt’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology has taken preliminary steps that could lead to a nationwide ban on internet porn. Minister for Telecoms and IT Mohamed Salem last week announced the formation of a committee that will investigate the possibility of banning online pornography, and it will report back to the Ministry on what might be involved with implementing such a wide-stretching ban. “Parliament will be represented in the committee,” Salem told reporters during a briefing. “The issue is becoming persistent and worrying to families.” More →
A new report from Seth Godin of PaidContent claims Apple is rejecting eBooks from its iBooks store that contain links to Amazon. “I just found out that Apple rejecting my new manifesto Stop Stealing Dreams and won’t carry it in their store because inside the manifesto are links to buy the books I mention in the bibliography,” Godin stated. In an email, Apple’s review team told Godin the book was rejected due to “multiple links to Amazon store.” The Cupertino-based company’s move is causing quite a stir, and some argue that if Amazon and Barnes & Noble were to employ the same practices, the world of eBooks would become closed off and censored. “I think that Amazon and Apple and B&N need to take a deep breath and make a decision on principle: what’s inside the book shouldn’t be of concern to a bookstore with a substantial choke on the marketplace,” Godin concluded. “If it’s legal, they ought to let people read it if they choose to.” More →
Twitter announced recently that it now has the ability to, and will begin to, censor content on the social network by country. “As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression,” the company said in a blog post Thursday. “Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there.” Twitter gave France and Germany as examples, two countries that ban pro-Nazi rhetoric from being posted on the Internet. Previously, Twitter would have had to delete specific content worldwide in order to prevent it from being visible, but it can now remove content on a country-by-country basis. Read on for more. More →
Tim Berners-Lee, father of the World Wide Web as long as you’re not asking Al Gore, has come out against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently causing an Internet uprising. ”If you’re in America then you should go and call somebody or send an email to protest against these bills because they have not been put together to respect human rights as is appropriate in a democratic country,” Berners-Lee told the Sydney Morning Herald. SOPA, which is currently being revised before it is again considered by Congress, would give the U.S. government the ability to block access to foreign websites accused of unlawfully hosting or distributing copyrighted content. Big names such as Google, Wikipedia and Reddit recently protested the bill by temporarily blocking access to their websites or urging users to sign a petition. “It affects all the stuff on the Internet working and something which would affect what you want to connect to, where you want to connect to,” Berners-Lee said. Representative Lamar Smith on Friday said that the House Judiciary Committee would “postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.” More →
While a number of high-profile websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit went dark on Wednesday to protest web censorship bills, Google made its opinions known and urged users to do the same. Two bills before congress known as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) have caused outrage among internet users who fear the bills may bring about unwarranted censorship. Google has come out in opposition of the bills, and it wants users to sign a petition to make their voices heard by Congress. “Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business,” Google said on its site. “Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA. The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.” People can sign Google’s petition by following the read link below. More →
BlackBerry maker Research in Motion said in a statement on Monday that it has agreed to filter pornographic content from BlackBerry devices in Indonesia. The news comes following pressure from the Indonesian government, which put strict anti-pornography laws in place in 2008. “Research in Motion is fully committed to working with Indonesia’s carriers to put in place a prompt, compliant filtering solution for BlackBerry subscribers in Indonesia as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement. This is the first time RIM has agreed to filter content from its BlackBerry devices. According to a report from SC Magazine, the Indonesian government is also requesting that RIM establish a server presence in the country so that it can easily access and monitor data sent by its citizens from BlackBerry devices. More →
If you didn’t already think the people behind the RIAA and MPAA were insane, we’re positive that your opinion on them will change as soon as your read what the two associations have proposed in a recent letter to the Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement. Here are but some of the changes the two have asked for:
- The installation of spyware on computers which would seek out and automatically delete illegally obtained media
- Censorship of the internet which would block the transfer of illegal files
- Giving border guards the authority to search one’s tech gear for illegal files
- The lobbying of foreign governments to follow suit
- Having the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security actively and swiftly enforcing copyright laws
Scary as hell, right?
[Via Boing Boing] More →
As its long and drawn out public battle over internet censorship with the Chinese government continues, Google has made the decision to immediately halt the practice of censorship in China. As of today, all traffic to Google.cn will be redirected to the uncensored and Hong Kong-based Google.hk. Google isn’t exactly sure how the Chinese regime is going to react to this action — according to Google this redirect is “entirely legal” – but Google’s David Drummond (SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer) had this to say:
We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.
If you’re reading this in China and are finding Google’s Hong Kong website to be a bit slow or completely unresponsive, Google wants you to know that this is to be expected in the short term as its servers are currently being hammered by a massive influx of traffic while it sorts everything out.
Anyone care to wager how the Chinese government will respond?
This week, you might have heard that Apple removed over 5,000 applications from its mobile App Store. What did most of the apps have in common? Scantily clad women. Apple’s VP of World Wide Marketing, Phil Schiller, was quoted by the New York Times: “It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see.” Whatever the reason, the move did come as a shock to some developers. Fred Clarke, co-president of “On the Go Girls” said, “I’m shocked. We’re showing stuff that’s racier than the Disney Channel, but not by much. It’s very hard to go from making a good living to zero. For developers, how do you know you aren’t going to invest thousands into a business only to find out one day you’ve been cut off?” On the Go Girls had all fifty of their mobile applications removed from the App Store; the company was grossing thousands of dollars a day from downloads. Schiller went onto say, “We obviously care about developers, but in the end have to put the needs of the kids and parents first.” We’ve got the full Times article queued up for your reading enjoyment. More →
4chan, the internet message and image board known for its legion of anonymous users, has been explicitly blocked by Verizon Wireless. 4chan founder Christopher Poole said, “Over the past 72 hours, we’ve been receiving reports from Verizon Wireless customers having difficulty accessing the image boards… After an hour and a half on the phone, we’ve received confirmation from Verizon’s Network Repair Bureau (NRB) that we are ‘explicitly blocked.’” The reported block is not affecting users of Verizon’s home services, such as DSL or FIOS, and is only actively dropping connections from port 80, “no other subdomain/IP/port is affected.” Memo to Verizon Wireless: “Thou shall not agitate 4chan” is one, of very few, unwritten rules of the internet. No official word yet from Verizon Wireless as to why the block was put in place. More →