Reporters Without Borders condemns the decision by Burmese magazine distributor Inwa Publications not to sell Time Magazine
' s July issue , which has cover story about the Burmese Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu headlined The Face of Buddhist Terror.
The media freedom organization is also appalled by the government's endorsement of this censorship and calls for the ban to be lifted at once:
By taking this decision, Inwa Publications went far beyond its role as a distributor and abusively assumed politically-motivated censorship powers, going so far as to argue that this was justified by the recent closure of the government office for prior
censorship, the PSRD.
As Time Magazine 's sole distributor in Burma, this privately-owned company is violating media freedom and the Burmese public's right to information. We are also extremely disturbed by the government's subsequent decision to ban Time Magazine 's sale in
any form. At a time when Burma's media law is still being drafted, it reflects an attitude that is completely contrary to the fundamental principles that should govern media law reform.
Deputy information minister Ye Htut, who is also spokesperson for the president's office, announced that Time Magazine was banned from social networks. The president's office objected to the juxtaposition of the words Buddhist and terror, saying it
creates a misunderstanding of Buddhism and undermined efforts to defuse tension after violence in which many civilians have died or have been driven from their homes.
Chinese embassy officials in France and Thailand appear bent on fostering fear and disgust with recent efforts to harass and intimidate
France 24 reporter Cyril Payen.
Payen, who recently returned from Tibet after filming an undercover documentary, Seven days in Tibet , has received a barrage of harassing phone calls, text messages, and thinly veiled threats from Chinese officials, apparently from
embassies in Paris and Bangkok, according to a report by France 24 and the journalist himself.
Following the release of Payen's film on May 30, Chinese embassy officials showed up at the headquarters of France 24 in Paris, demanding that the documentary be removed from the channel's website, France 24 said. The channel refused.
China has censored an image of Winnie the Pooh strolling with Tigger, after it went viral on popular Chinese microblogging site, Sina Weibo.
The image was circulated after bloggers noticed the similarities between a photo snapped this week of President Barack Obama and Chinese premier Xi Jinping and an illustration of the cartoon characters.
Vietnam's latest action movie about gang fights in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown has been officially banned after the censors
disapproved, even after cuts.
Charlie Nguyen, director of Bui doi Cho Lon ( Life on Chinatown Streets ) confirmed that the film has been banned.
The movie was supposed to premier on April 19, but a censorship committee with the National Cinema Department objected that it was too violent, so the movie was resubmitted without 15 minutes of major fight scenes.
But a source from the censorship committee said the film was not changed as comprehensively as requested.
Four of the eight film censors had said that the film should be banned, while others felt it should be cut to better suit Eastern values and be more realistic. They criticized it for promoting violence and depicting a bad image of the
society, with no police intervening in the knife and machete fights between gangs.
Nguyen said the request is impossible to follow, as they would have to film many more scenes and it would cost a lot more money:
We've cut almost all violent and action scenes, and we've added several scenes with police officers, enough to make sure the storyline is not changed.
The Singapore government's plan to register online news sites for state censorship has drawn opposition from online
A group called Free My Internet has organised an online blackout to protest against the Media Development Authority (MDA) requirement for news sites reporting on Singapore at least once a week and with an audience of 50,000, to be licensed .
More than 130 sites consisting of blogs and alternative news outlets are participating in the blackout. Users who access the sites will see nothing but a link to the Free My Internet site and also a message for an actual protest that's set to happen on
June 8 at Singapore's Speakers' Corner .
The Free My Internet group wants the Singapore government to withdraw the Licensing Regime and for the Ministry of Communication and Information (MICA) to undertake a complete review of all media regulation in Singapore, with the aim of
ensuring that the constitutional rights of Singaporeans are not violated .
About 1000 Singaporeans rallied Saturday to protest a new government censorship policy that requires some news websites to obtain licenses. A crowd that gathered at the Speakers' Corner free speech area of a Singapore park listened to bloggers and other
speakers denounce the censorship. One man held a poster that read, Internet censorship: Worst idea ever, while many booed when the names of government officials were spoken.
The rally's chief organizer, Howard Lee, said the demonstrators hope to draw attention to a petition that has more than 4000 signatures demanding the withdrawal of the policy.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the new requirement:
casts a chill over the city-state's robust and free-wheeling online communities, and will clearly limit Singaporeans' access to independent media. Singapore is placing its status as a world-class financial center at clear risk by extending its record of
draconian media censorship to the digital world.
Franck Khalfoun's Maniac (2013) was released in Japan on June 1st. I went to the theater on opening day with much
expectation. Yeah, the film was awesome but this is not what I want to talk about.
In the opening scene, a girl is chased by the killer (Elijah Wood) and killed by him at her apartment. What I saw on screen was... all of a sudden, the girl's head was blurred. I couldn't see what was happening. She must have been scalped brutally.
That's what I imagined. Yes, I imagined - I had to imagine it. There was no other way of seeing what actually happened.
I thought, OMG! Blurred!? Is this really what Franck Khalfoun and Alexandre Aja originally created/intended? No way!
China is reported to be trying to be more subtle in its internet censorship and is trying to hide it a bit.
In the past, a search for keywords in China related to the events of June 4, 1989 at Tiananmen Square, came up with a message saying:
According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, search results for Tiananmen Square can not be displayed.
GreatFire.org said in the lead up to the anniversary of the massacre certain searches, such as June 4 incident , had been intermittently returning a series of carefully selected results , though it was impossible to click through to the
actual webpages. GreatFire.org said searches for Tiananmen incident returned links to an unrelated happening in the square from 1976.
The organisation said this was an example of censorship at its worst , with users duped into believing the keyword they were searching for was not a sensitive topic. It said the changes were not applied consistently, concluding that the
authorities were conducting tests on the new approach.
New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner, Susan Devoy, has been ranting at newspaper cartoons she said were offensive and appalling.
She has questioned the high threshold required for a finding of racism within the commission's inquiries and complaints process. Asked why anyone should make a complaint about the cartoons when the threshold for what was considered racism was so high,
she replied: I ask myself that all the time .
The cartoons, by award-winning cartoonist Al Nisbet, were printed in the Marlborough Express and The Press.
The Marlborough Express cartoon featured a group of adults dressed in school uniforms heading to school with bowls in hands. Among them were a man and woman who looked to be Maori or Pasifika. The man says to the woman, who has a cigarette hanging out of
her mouth, Psst. If we can get away with this, the more cash left for booze, smokes and pokies .
The Press cartoon featured what appeared to be a rotund group of seven, surrounded by Lotto tickets, beer cans and cigarette packets. The man says: Free school food is great. Eases our poverty and puts something in you kids' bellies.
Devoy told reporters that the cartoons were a case of wrongful stereotyping:
It continues to stereotype certain populations, and it continues to stigmatise people who live in poverty, particularly children
Devoy said the editors of the newspapers should apologise for running the cartoons. There was a right to freedom of expression and speech, and people could say and print what they liked even if it was offensive ...BUT... they needed to act
Thousands of Koreans arrested in 2 months under a vague new law covering underage depiction of vaguely drawn sexy anime/manga characters, with the police keen to show how seriously they are taking the new law
The Singapore government is stepping up censorship control of local online news sites which report regularly on the country and have significant reach.
From 1 June, 10 websites will be subjected to an individual licence, just like traditional media platforms.
Once the affected sites come under the individual licensing regime, they will have to fork out a performance bond of S$50,000. They will also have to comply with any take-down notice from authorities within 24 hours. The authorities can ban content
including tha which solicits for prostitution, undermines racial and religious harmony, or goes against good taste.
Communications and Information Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim also hinted that the rule may in future apply to overseas news sites reporting on Singapore. He said the Broadcasting Act will be amended next year, with the view of including overseas news sites
reporting on Singapore. Yaacob said:
Our mainstream media are subjected to rules, you know... Why shouldn't the online media be part of that regulatory framework? I don't see this as a clamping down, if anything, it is regularising what is already happening on the Internet and (making sure)
that they are on par with our mainstream media.
Online news sites which fulfil two specific criteria will be subjected to this latest censorship scheme.
Sites which publish at least eight articles on Singapore over a period of two months.
They must also have been visited by at least 50,000 unique IP addresses from Singapore each month, over the same period.
So far, 10 such sites have been identified. All belong to mainstream media, with the exception of Yahoo news.
Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has a supermajority in the lower chamber of the National Diet has formed an alliance with minority parties the New Komeito Party and the Japanese Restoration Party, and together, they have proposed a law that
would criminalize possession of sexual images of individuals under 18, according to the Japan Daily Press.
The proposed law doesn't distinguish between sexual images of actual children and drawn images that can be found all over Japan in the form of animated short features ( anime ) and sexy comic strips in book and magazine form ( manga ).
If the proposed law passes, and the proposing bloc have enough votes to force it through regardless of opposition, then Japanese citizens possessing sexy anime will face fines of Yen1,000,000 (US$10,437) per offense... and if the person has been found to
possess the material for the purpose of satisfying sexual curiosity, add a sentence of up to one year in prison for that enhancement.
The bill's sponsors hope to have the law in place by the time the current legislative session ends on June 26.
A new law has come into force in Vietnam that effectively bans the broadcast of foreign news services.
The law requires international broadcasters to provide translation into Vietnamese of their contents before airing, with the exception of live sporting events. Pay television groups have said the law is impractical and prohibitively expensive.
A Vietnamese satellite TV provider has now stopped broadcasting foreign channels including BBC and CNN and has warned that the law would leave the country without access to international news and entertainment channels.
For the moment other major providers continued to broadcast as normal and it was unclear whether they would soon follow suit or were waiting to see how rigorously the government would enforce the new law.
China has launched a new drive to silence its boisterous microblogging culture by closing influential accounts belonging to writers and intellectuals who have used them to highlight social injustice.
Attention has turned to the country's opinion formers. A recent commentary in the state-run Global Times newspaper warned that Big Vs -- meaning verified accounts with millions of followers -- had become relay stations for online rumours and accused them of
harming the dignity of the law .
State news agency Xinhua claimed the account of He Bing, a well known professor, was suspended because he had purposely spread rumours . Other intellectuals have seen accounts deleted outright.
Thai censorship minister Anudith Nakornthap of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) should not overstep his authority by threatening to shut down websites that carried insulting remarks about Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra by cartoonist Chai Rachawat on Facebook. The commentator compared Yingluck to a prostitute selling away Thailand. He wrote: Please understand. Prostitutes are not evil. They just sell their bodies. But an evil woman sells her country
National Human Rights commissioner Niran Pitakwatchara said that such threats were a violation of basic rights of Thai citizens and that the right to criticise is a foundation of democracy. The prime minister should instead use criticism as feedback to
reconsider her conduct and improve her work. Niran said:
The government or executive branch should not overstep its authority by forbidding the expression of views by the people in a democracy because this is akin to depriving people of basic rights.
Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he was surprised by MICT's threat because it came from a government that had previously insisted that the Computer Crimes Act is undemocratic. Abhisit said the latest move goes against democratic principles.
The MICT minister insisted that he was doing his duty and that he had the authority to do so. He urged anyone who finds offensive messages on the Internet to report them so they could be immediately removed .
Update: Prime Minister supports prosecution of critical commentator
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry must take action against criticism made online, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said.
People have the right to criticise government policies ...BUT.. .if an accusation goes too far, it is the ICT Ministry's duty to take action, she said.
ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap gave his assurance Tuesday that his ministry will take action to protect not only the prime minister but others from 'unfair' online criticism.
The Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) has appointed a team of officers to investigate Thai Rath cartoonist Somchai Katanyutanan, known by his pen name Chai Ratchawat, who is in legal hot water after allegedly calling the premier an evil woman on
his Facebook page. The MPB said it will soon summon him to give a statement.
Update: Critical commentator's newspaper office attacked by thugs
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called that Thailand's government must fully investigate this weekend's attack on Thai Rath, the country's largest circulation daily newspaper. The newspaper is where the besieged cartoonist, Somchai
According to local reports, four assailants threw firecrackers and two hollow iron balls,the kind used in the French lawn game petanque, at the newspaper's main office in Bangkok early Saturday morning. Glass was shattered in a security booth and
two guards were injured. The perpetrators got away on motorcycles. Police officials said they were checking fingerprints from the crime scene and footage from CCTV surveillance cameras to identify the suspects, reports said.
Saturday's attack comes as Bangkok Metropolitan Police, at the request of Yingluck's government, are investigating Somchai for a Facebook post which referred to Yingluck as an evil woman and likened a speech she made on Thai politics to selling
out national interests, according to reports.
The police complaint, which was filed on May 3, accused him on three counts: insulting an official during an official event, public defamation, and violating the Computer Crime Act, which prohibits the posting of defamatory comments over the Internet.
Thammasat University academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul's Facebook account has been suspended for 30 days, leading to widespread criticism on social media.
In the message via Phakjira Slk, Somsak said his account had been suspended because somebody had reported him as having violated Facebook's terms and conditions, adding that he was afraid he would be framed again if he were to register for a new page.
Meanwhile, the cartoonist has not responded to police summonses after Yingluck sued him for libel, deputy director of the Metropolitan Police Bureau Maj-General Anuchai Lekbamrung said yesterday.
Last year, a law was passed in South Korea to prevent gamers under sixteen from gaming during a six-hour block at night. A year later, the consequences are expanding.
When the law went into effect July 1, 2012, Sony temporarily took down the PSN Store. Sony had hoped to get it back up sometime later in 2012, because it needed to revamp the PSN to comply with the new law. That apparently meant that there were no
new PSN games and no other downloadable content during this blackout.
This week, Sony Computer Entertainment Korea announced that the PSN is finally returning to South Korea starting May 16. However, people under the age of 18 will not be able to use the PlayStation Network at all.
According to Sony's South Korean arm, it was difficult for them to come up with a system that could limit game play time for minors as well as a system to verify parental permission. Thus, the PSN in South Korea will soon be ages 18 and up only as
verified via a credit card.
China's international news propaganda channel is looking to expand into Taiwan. But local authorities have given a strict requirement that CCTV can only be aired in the country if Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) is allowed to air freely in China.
Air freely is a pretty tough sell to Chinese authorities, and CCTV-style censored stories don't exactly resonate with the Taiwanese, as South China Morning Post reports:
If the mainland grants our television channels landing rights, then yes, we have basis for discussion but if the other side does not allow us landing rights, then unfortunately, we have no basis for discussion, Lung [Taiwanese Culture Minister]
said on the sidelines of a Legislative Yuan committee hearing.
Abruptly pulled from cinemas on its original opening day April 11, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is poised to return to Chinese screens with its nudity scenes expunged, according to local newspapers and microblogs.
Local media is now claiming a May 7 release after full-frontal nudity was cut. The film's distributor, Sony, has not confirmed the date though.
A post on the TNABO microblog, one of the more authoritative sources of film industry news and statistics in China, said Django Unchained will be returning to the big screens on May 7 after undergoing another round of censorship.
The Chinese government's two main bodies of censorship, SARFT (State Administration for Radio, Film, and Television) and GAPP (General
Administration for Press and Publications), are to merge and become one super administration.
Apparently the current split of responsibilities proved troublesome, lacking in flexibility for new media, and resulted in a lack of cooperation between GAPP and SARFT.
The title of the new body is unofficially translated as the General Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television. It will be responsible for censoring and overseeing print media, radio, film, television, as well as the internet. It
will also handle rights and contents.
The China Press and Publishing Journal reported that there will be three new rules for internet use under the new body: use of news reports from abroad on websites will be forbidden without permission; editorial staff must not use the Internet for
illegal content; and the microblog accounts of news media must be supervised, and an account holder appointed.
Fahtum pandinsoong (Boundary) is a 2013 Thailand/Cambodia/France documentary by Nontawat Numbenchapol.
Thailand's film censors have banned a documentary about the country's long-running border dispute with neighboring Cambodia.
Boundary tells the story of the Thai-Cambodia conflict through accounts of an ex-soldier who lives near the border, as well as villagers from the two countries. The film also shows scenes from the 2011 political protests in Bangkok that left more
than 90 people dead.
Director Nontawat Numbenchapol said that the Culture Ministry's film screening office informed him that they believe the movie's content is a threat to national security and international relations.
The border dispute is currently being considered in international court at the Hague.
The Thai government film censor has lifted its ban on a documentary film on Thai-Cambodia border conflicts. The reversal marks the first time a ban on a film in Thailand has been lifted.
Directed by Nontawat Numbenchapol, Fah Tam Pan Din Soon , or Boundary , was banned by the sub-committee of the National Film and Video Board on grounds that it was misleading and a threat to national security.
The censor board, however, has asked the filmmaker to cut a portion of background sound from the film. Nontawat agreed to their request to make a slight alteration by muting a few seconds of ambient soundtrack. The scene in question takes place at the
New Year celebration at Ratchaprasong intersection. An announcer on stage can be heard saying: Let's count down to celebrate His Majesty the King's 84th anniversary.
The film has now received an age 18-plus rating.
The chief censor Pradit Posew said the sub-committee, which had previously banned the film, acted beyond its jurisdiction. He explained that only the main committee can decide on an outright ban. He also said that protocol should have permitted the
director to defend his case in advance of a ban ruling by the committee. Nontawat was given no such opportunity.
Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) is to urge ISPs to voluntarily block communications using anonymisation software Tor .
The move follows a case where PCs were remotely hijacked by computers using the Tor system, which allows users to mask their online identities and locations by routing connections through several servers. This case cause much embarrassment to the
Japanese who incompetently arrested, detained and extracted confessions under duress from the innocent victims of the hijacked computers.
A panel ofthe NPA, which was looking into measures to combat crimes using the Tor system, compiled a report on April 18 stating that blocking online communications at the discretion of site administrators will be effective in preventing such crimes.
According to the NPA, while the IP addresses of site visitors are normally known to the visited sites, the Tor system enables users to visit sites or dispatch information without revealing their identities. Over the past several years, the Tor system was
misused in a number of crimes including the posting of online murder threats on Internet bulletin boards, theft of money from accounts via illegal accesses to Internet banking sites, postings on dating sites by those seeking relationships with children,
and leakages of security information from the Metropolitan Police Department.
The police somehow neglected to mention the other side of the coin where the Tor system is utilized by citizens in pro-democracy movements in the Middle East to escape government suppression.
The planned access restrictions are therefore expected to be opposed by the internet industry. Communication privacy is our lifeline. We won't be able to accept such a request, said an industry insider.
Noted Chinese Film Director Feng Xiaogang brought up a taboo subject in a speech when he accepted the honor of director of year from the China Film Directors Guild. A video of the event recorded his speech:
In the past 20 years, every China director faced a great torment and that torment is [beep].
The censored word, as anyone reading Feng's lips can surmise, is censorship. Feng choked up with emotion before he spoke about censorship, and as soon as he did, the attendees in the ball room let out a collective whoa, breaking into
applause. Feng continued:
A lot of times when you receive the order [from the censors], it's so ridiculous that you don't know whether to laugh or cry, especially when you know something is good and you are forced to change it into something bad. Are Hollywood directors tormented
the same way? ... To get approval, I have to cut my films in a way that makes them bad. How did we all persist through it all? I think there is only one reason -- that this bunch of fools like us love filmmaking -- are entranced by filmmaking -- too
The video of Feng's acceptance speech has gone viral on China's social media. One post containing the video was retweeted more than 10,000 times on Twitter-like Sina Weibo.
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the draconian directive that China's news censor, the General Administration of Press, Publication,
Radio, Film and Television, issued yesterday banning the Chinese media from using unauthorized information from foreign media and websites. Reporters Without Borders said:
The censors have had the foreign media in their sights ever since they published embarrassing revelations about China's leaders. The regime is trying to prevent the Chinese media from repeating such revelations.
The international media continue to play a key role both in informing the international community about what is happening in China, and in informing the Chinese public, which is the victim of the government's growing censorship of the local media.
According to the directive:
All kinds of media work units may not use any unauthorized news products provided by the foreign media or foreign websites. They are also forbidden to use information provided by news informants, freelancers, NGOs or commercial organisations without
A Japanese court has ordered Google to delete search terms related to a Japanese man who claimed that searches for his name autocompleted to include
defamatory phrases. Google has also been ordered to pay 300,000 yen ( £ 2,000) in damages for supposed mental anguish .
The ruling comes a year after Google rejected the court's initial demands to censor its autocomplete function in 2012, in part arguing that it wasn't subject to Japanese regulations.
The man has not been named, but his lawyer, Hiroyuki Tomita, said that Google's autocomplete function suggested searches that led to over 10,000 defamatory results suggesting his client had been involved in criminal acts. The man claimed that this
resulted in the loss of his job, and his failure to find further employment.
Google has previously been quoted saying:
These searches are produced by a number of objective factors including popularity of search terms. Google does not determine these terms manually -- all of the queries shown in Autocomplete have been typed previously by other Google users.
Apple have blocked an iPhone bookstore app from the Chinese app store in an apparent attempt at appeasing censors, according to the app's developer.
The freemium app, Jingdian Shucheng , gave access to 10 books banned in China. Hao Peiqiang, the developer, told the Financial Times that he believes that his criticism of the Chinese government's policy on Tibet prompted the ban.
In a letter sent to Hao, Apple said that the app was removed because of content that was illegal in China . Hao suspects that content in question is three books written by Wang Lixiong, the dissident thrown out of Beijing during the National
Apple's App Store Review rules do indeed state that app's must comply with local laws:
Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users. It is the developer's obligation to understand and conform to all local laws.
Jingdian Shucheng remains available outside of the Chinese mainland.
Django Unchained will play in China with the same running time as elsewhere. However Chinese film censors have asked Tarantino to turn
down the blood.
Zhang Miao, the director of Sony Pictures' office in China, has announced that Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained has been approved for release in China by the national rating and censorship board, the State Administration of Radio, Film and
In order to get approval for the Chinese release, Tarantino agreed to modify the film's dramatic violence, muting the color of the blood in some sequences and making the spray of the gore less intense.
Zhang said in an interview:
What we call bloodshed and violence is just a means of serving the purpose of the film, and these slight adjustments will not affect the basic quality of the film -- such as tuning the blood to a darker color, or lowering the height of the splatter of
Django Unchained was abruptly pulled from theaters in China on Thursday, its opening day, a surprising move that underscored the fragility of Hollywood's evolving relationship with the Chinese movie industry. No reason was given for the decision
to suspend the release .
Chinese media and film blogs were filled with speculation that the movie had been withdrawn because state censors somehow missed a brief scene with nudity. That explanation seemed unlikely, however, given the careful vetting the film is said to have
undergone before it was approved for release.
Whatever the reason, the last-minute nature of the decision was surprising. Potential problems with Chinese censors are usually identified and addressed long before the film's opening.
Tarantino's representatives and financial backers in Los Angeles and New York on Thursday were still scrambling to learn what had gone wrong, and looking for a way to reopen their movie. Sony have indicated that Django Unchained may be rescheduled
suggesting that problems could yet be rectified.
Executives at the Hollywood studio, Paramount have been worrying about a minor plot point in the $175 million zombie film, World
War Z , which stars Brad Pitt.
In the 'offending scene', characters debate the geographic origin of an outbreak that caused a zombie apocalypse and point to China, a Paramount executive told TheWrap.
The fast-rising prominence of the Chinese market, state censorship and the tight quotas for U.S. releases, the studio advised the movie producers to drop the reference to China and cite a different country as a possible source of the pandemic, an
executive with knowledge of the film told TheWrap.
The change was made in recent days in the hopes of landing a deal for one of Paramount's biggest summer movies to play in China.
Private daily newspapers are being sold in Burma for the first time in almost 50 years. Sixteen papers have so far been granted
licences, although only four have started on the first day of the new regulatory regime.
This is another important milestone on Burma's journey away from authoritarian rule, the BBC's Jonathan Head reported from the commercial capital, Rangoon.