A campaign organisation that circumvents Chinese website blocks has said it has come under a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) instigated by the Chinese authorities.
Greatfire called the attack an attempt to enforce censorship and noted in a tweet:
China internal docs show military, Ministries of State & Public Security and rogue operators used to wage cyberwar
Greatfire has tracked which sites are blocked in China and recently began offering a mirroring service to try to restore them for Chinese users. Similar to the campaign started by Reporters Without Borders last week, it set up content
distribution networks (CDNs) using the same hosting services as many entities on which China relies. In a statement published on its website, Greatfire said the attacks started on 17 March and added:
We are receiving up to 2.6 billion requests per hour which is about 2,500 times more than normal levels. Likely in response to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) , we've experienced our first ever distributed denial of service
In theory, the method provided protection to Greatfire because, to be sure that the blocked websites remained inaccessible, attackers would have to take down the whole hosting service - including many sites that China wanted to remain live.
However, in practice, the attackers managed to find the individual URLs of the sites the authorities sought to block and bombarded them, in a more targeted attack, said Prof Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey. He added that keeping the
sites online would require the purchase of more bandwidth, adding that he consequently believed the Chinese authorities wanted to put financial pressure on Greatfire.
Thailand's military government threatened women posting photos of the lower half of their breasts, a current social media trend, saying their actions could violate the country's computer crime laws and lead to 5 years in prison.
Thailand's computer crimes act 2007 bans material that causes damage to the country's security or causes public panic or any obscene computer data which is accessible to the public .
The culture ministry said offenders faced up to five years in jail. Ministry spokesman Anandha Chouchoti said:
When people take these 'underboob selfies' no one can see their faces. So it's like, we don't know who these belong to, and it encourages others to do the same.
We can only warn people to not take it up. They are inappropriate actions.
A Burma court has jailed a New Zealand bar manager and two Burmese colleagues for two-and-a-half years for supposedly insulting religion by using a psychedelic image of Buddha wearing headphones to promote their bar.
Victims New Zealander Phil Blackwood, bar manager Htut Ko Ko Lwin and bar owner Tun Thurein had all pleaded not guilty . They were sentenced to jail with labour.
Rights groups condemned the verdict as an assault on freedom of expression and called for the trio's release. Matt Smith, executive director of the Bangkok-based group Fortify Rights said:
The authorities are clearly trying to make an example with this case, but ironically all it has done is hurt the image of Burma and Buddhism.
These men expressed contrition for what they said was a mistake.
At a hearing in December, Blackwood said he had not intended to offend Buddhism when he posted the image on the bar's Facebook page to advertise a cheap drinks night. He said he had removed the image and posted an apology when he realised it was
being shared online and provoking outrage.
In the days leading up to the release in Vietnam, the movie was banned in Indonesia, neighbouring Cambodia and Malaysia -- whose censors declared it to be more pornography than a movie . This stoked even more anticipation in Vietnam.
Newspapers breathlessly speculated about how many minutes of screen time would be devoted to sex scenes, while cinemas created elaborate Red Room displays in their lobbies for people to take risque selfies.
The film was promoted a lot, so it made us excited and curious, says Xuan Thao, who along with thousands of others queued patiently to get a ticket for the film when it opened on Valentine's Day. We wanted to see what all the fuss was
about. She left feeling angry and short changed. In this version of Fifty Shades of Grey there is no sex at all.
In total, around 20 minutes of screen time has been cut by the country's censorship committee, excising any scene deemed potentially sensitive. Only a few kisses remain. The lack of passion has infuriated audiences, who hadn't gone for deft
plotting or complex characterisation. It's totally ridiculous, Thao complains. This version is rated 16+, but it doesn't need an age restriction; a five-year-old could watch it. Even the trailer was sexier. They'd have been better
banning it altogether.
India's home minister has said that the government would act against the BBC after it ignored a court order and aired a documentary about a fatal gang rape in which one of the attackers blames the victim.
India's Daughter by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin was to have been shown on Sunday, International Women's Day, in India as well as in Britain, Denmark, Sweden and several other countries.
Indian police and the government got a court order that attempted to halt the screening. Indian authorities wrote to the BBC calling for the film not to be broadcast or posted online anywhere in the world, but the BBC brought it forward to air on
The BBC said in a statement that it had moved the screening time forward given the intense level of interest and to enable viewers to see this incredibly powerful documentary at the earliest opportunity.
In a letter written by the BBC's director of TV Danny Cohen and obtained by The Independent, the broadcaster said it:
Appreciates [the government's] concern but said that the film represents an important account of an event that galvanised Indian opinion to ensure such tragedies are not repeated.
Indian viewers cannot see it on the BBC's website, but it could be seen on YouTube.
In the film Mukesh Singh, who was among four men convicted and sentenced to death for the 2012 rape and murder, said a girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy . Mukesh Singh is one of the men sentenced to death for the 2012 Delhi
bus rape He added:
A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night. ... Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.
Leslee Udwin, the director of the documentary, said banning the film had brought India into disrepute by obstructing free speech.
The director of a documentary about the gang rape and murder of a woman in Delhi has said India committed international suicide by banning the film and asking for YouTube to remove all links to it.
The film, India's Daughter , was broadcast in Britain last week on BBC4 and many YouTube users have posted a recording of the programme on the site. It is available until Wednesday night in the UK on iPlayer .
Indian police said the ban was imposed as comments in the film by one of those convicted of the crime created an atmosphere of fear and tension.
As previously reported, Malaysia's film censors at the Film Censorship Board (LPF) banned the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, claiming it contained unnatural and sadistic sex scenes, including ones involving a woman
being bound and whipped.
Well it seems that it would have been a bit inconsistent not to also ban the book, so that's exactly what the government has dones
The ministry's order comes 3 years after the book was published in the country.
A federal gazette order issued by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi stated that the books were prohibited because they were likely to be prejudicial to morality .
The three E.L James book, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed , chronicle the bizarre relationship between a female student, Anastasia Steele, and a young billionaire, Christian Grey.
Apart from banning the sale of the books, the government has also prohibited the importation, reproduction and possession of the books.
The ban comes under the Printing Presses and Publications (Control of Undesirable Publications) Order 2015 and is dated Feb 24.
In an escalating campaign of harassment, Malaysian authorities seized copies of a new volume of political cartoons by Zulkiflee Awar Ulhaque, also known as Zunar. In the past three weeks, police have confiscated three separate volumes of Zunar's
cartoons and detained him for four days on accusations of sedition in connection with critical posts he wrote on social media.
Police seized approximately 200 copies of Zunar's new book, ROS in Kangkong Land , while they were in transit to a launch event scheduled to occur in Petaling Jaya city, according to news reports.
The book lampoons Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, and also touches on the trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim who stands accused of sodomy.
Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative explained:
The ongoing harassment and legal threats against cartoonist Zunar make a mockery of Malaysia's democracy. Prime Minister Najib Razak should use his authority to stop the harassment of Zunar and the bogus sedition investigation against him and
instead return his attention to reforming outdated laws like the Sedition Act that are too often abused to threaten and punish journalists.
A Thai court has sentenced a man and a woman to two years and six months in jail each for damaging the monarchy .
Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and Pornthip Munkong, 26, had pleaded guilty to breaking repressive lese majeste laws which protect the royals from criticism and insults.
The charges related to a play they performed at a university in 2013. The play, called Wolf Bride, was set in a fantasy kingdom and featured a fictional king and his advisor. It marked the 40th anniversary of a student pro-democracy protest that
was crushed by a military regime.
The BBC's Jonathan Head, who is at the court in Bangkok, says the two were handcuffed together on arrival, one wearing leg shackles.
However, the full details have not been widely reported because under the laws media coverage which repeat details of the offence is considered the same as the original statement.
The Director of Canterbury Museum in New Zealand has made the news for displaying the iconic Cradle of Fifth t-shirt bearing the slogan: Jesus is a cunt. The front of the t-shirt is titled Vestal Masturbation , which aptly
describes the pictured nun.
The t-shirt is displayed in an adults only area of the T-shirts Unfolding exhibition at the museum.
Director Anthony Wright says they're trying to tell the story of T-shirts within street art culture, without unduly censoring the content.
We've got to balance that up against anyone that might be offended, and we've bent over backwards to make sure that anyone who might be offended won't come into contact with anything offensive. It's a tiny part of the overall exhibition.
Auckland University's senior lecturer Dr Geoff Kemp says though he doesn't like the t-shirt, the way it's presented is acceptable.
Because it's now appearing in an exhibition context, it's trying to tell a story in a more reflective, educational way. It seems a different context to the idea of it just being worn out on the street.
The Anglican Church has inevitably condemned the exhibition. Bishop Victoria Matthews says this should be about common decency. She makes a few leaps of credibility and spouts:
What's the line between art and pornography, and what is the line between communication and inciting violence.
The christian moralist group, Family First said through National director Bob McCoskrie that whether its on display in a museum or worn by a member of the public, it's offensive and shouldn't be allowed.
The public has access to it, and they shouldn't be confronted by this kind of offensive and unnecessary material.
One day after pulling Fifty Shades of Grey from its Thursday premiere, cinema chains in Vietnam finally proceeded with a wide release of the erotic movie, of a cut version of it to be exact.
The new cut, dubbed as the Asian version, is rated 16+ for mature audience but is now advertised as more suitable for the masses.
The last-minute cancelation, which forced theaters to give ticket refunds to many movie fans, has sparked rumor that the movie could not make it pass Vietnam's censorship board.
Meanwhile distributor, Comcast/Universal Pictures, is not pursuing a theatrical release in China. A source with knowledge of the studio's plans explained that sexually explicit films generally do not make it past Chinese government censors.
The distributor in Indonesia said the film would not be shown there as the film did not meet the country's censorship standards.
Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2015 USA romance by Sam Taylor-Johnson.
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan and Jennifer Ehle.
The film adaptation of the erotic romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey will be screened uncut in Singapore. It received an R21 rating from the Board of Film Censors, with an advisory that the film has a mature theme and sexual scenes.
Meanwhile in Thailand the film has been given a rare 20 rating. (20 is the age of maturity, similar to 21 in the UK)
For comparison, countries have rated the film as follows:
Australia: rated MA15+ (15A in UK ratings terminology) for strong sex scenes, sexual themes and nudity
Canada (Quebec) 16+
Canada (Ontario + British Columbia) 18A
China Unavailable as distributors think Chinese film censors would ban it
Czech Republic: 15
New Zealand R18 for sex scenes and offensive language
Philippines R-18 after censorship cuts implemented by blurring
Russia 18+ (banned in Ossetia, Ingushetia and Chechnya)
Singapore R21 uncut for mature theme and sexual scenes
South Korea 18
UK 18 uncut for strong sex
US: R rated (17A in UK ratings terminology) for strong sexual content including dialogue, some unusual behavior and graphic nudity, and for language.
Vietnam 16+ after cuts which were required to make the film suitable for the masses
Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2015 USA romance by Sam Taylor-Johnson.
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan and Jennifer Ehle.
The Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) banned the movie with its chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid saying that the board had found the film to be unfit for the Malaysian audience, calling the flick more like pornography than a movie
. He said:
The board made a decision in view of the film containing scenes that are not of natural sexual content. The content is more sadistic, featuring scenes of a woman being tied to a bed and whipped.
China is blocking VPN services that let users skirt online censorship of popular websites such as Google and Facebook.
The virtual private network provider Golden Frog wrote on its blog that the controls have hit a wide swath of VPN services. The popular provider Astrill informed its users this week that the controls have started hitting iPhone access to services
such as Gmail this year.
China-based entrepreneur Richard Robinson said the controls have particularly hurt small- and medium-sized foreign companies that depend on VPNs. Many larger companies can afford direct connections to servers outside the country, he said.
Over the past weeks, Chinese censors have already blocked what remaining access there is to Gmail and other Google products. Google services have been periodically blocked or limited since 2010 when the company said it would no longer co-operate
with China's censors. Robinson explained:
These smaller businesses, they're dependent on Gmail. And it's all in the Google services that people are really screwed.
Xiao Qiang, a professor with UC Berkeley's School of Information gave a little insight into the stepped up censorship.
We all know that China is in the middle of a very ferocious power struggle or political cleansing under the name of an anti-corruption campaign, Xiao said. That to me is a very clearly related fact with the amount of political rumours and
information related to China's high politics showing up in websites outside of China.
And while the controls hurt businesses that depend on online information and tools, Chinese censors are more worried about restricting political information
Not all hope is lost for Chinese users trying to get around the Great Firewall. In fact, the block has affected only popular, commercial VPNs such as Astrill, StrongVPN and Golden Frog. Other alternative, less widespread tools, such as Psiphon,
Lantern, Tor, and other VPN services, in fact, remain active. Moreover, on Friday, two of the affected VPNs announced that they were able to fight back and restore their services, at least partially.
China has always had the ability to block at least some VPN traffic, according to experts consulted by Mashable, so the reasons behind this latest crackdown might be political. And perhaps it was something to do with the VPNs getting a little
cocky. Astrill, a service that suffered disruptions, seemed to mock China's censorship system just last week.
Perhaps, this was all just a warning to VPNs operating in China, just a way for the Chinese government to assert its power and show that, if they want, they can block some of these services. Tools like Psiphon and Lantern were perhaps spared by
obfuscation techniques, which makes it harder for censors to detect the use of these tools. Other VPNs, if they haven't already, will have to follow suit in a seemingly never-ending cat and mouse game.
In a January 8 letter to Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the North Korean Embassy asks the government to confiscate all copies of The Interview from Cambodia's DVD shops and keep the movie off big and small screens alike.
In the letter, the embassy complains that pirated copies of the film are already being openly sold at malls around Phnom Penh.
This is generated by the plot of the hostile forces manipulating to break the long traditional friendship between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the DPR [Democratic People's Republic of] Korea.
The letter asks the government:
To take appropriate measure to see that the 'Interview,' byproduct of U.S. maneuvers against DPR Korea, would be no longer sold in the sublime Kingdom of Cambodia and also would never be broadcast on any Cambodian TV channel or shown at any
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said the film would not be shown on television.
Even before the letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, my ministry already made request to all TV and Pay TV stations not to broadcast this film.
The traditional practice here isn't to offend nor hurt the country having diplomatic relations with Cambodia.
Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona said the movie would also not be making it to the big screen. However the local DVD trade is harder to control. Eg at City Mall, every DVD shop had the movie for sale Sunday.
Last week, the New York Times reported that shop owners in Rangoon had copies of the movie confiscated by police.
The Thai Ministry of Culture aims to promote propaganda featuring the junta's controversial 12 Thai values by publishing books of fables.
Nuntiya Swangvudthitham, Director-General of the Department of Culture Promotion (DCP), under the Ministry of Culture responsible for preserving and promoting Thai values , revealed that the DCP will publish books of moral fables to
promote the junta's 12 Thai values as new year 'gifts' for the nation's youth.
The junta's controversial 12 Thai values were prompted by Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader, shortly after the coup in May 2014 to promote what he claimed as the intrinsic national values of Thai people. The values include loving the nation,
religions, and monarchy, having discipline and respect for the law and elders, and of course, possessing the 'correct' understanding of democracy with the monarchy as head of the state.
Last year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) came up with a similar plan to promote the junta's values by implementing the so called Merit Passport, a notebook where each student keeps a daily record of their behaviour, attitudes, and
activities, from grade one to grade nine. If implemented, the Merit Passport would become an important criterion in the competitive university admissions procedure nationwide.
The DCP announced that the books of fables will be distributed nationwide through the Culture Council Association of Thailand, the Chalermraja Cultural Centre, and over 7,000 schools nationwide.
According to Thai Netizen Network, the cabinet has given the green light to the proposed Cyber Security bill to establish a National Committee for Cyber Security, under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES), whose former title was
the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT). The Cyber Security Bill was one of eight proposed bills on telecommunications which are aimed at restructuring and tightening control of telecommunications in Thailand.
In the draft, the National Committee for Cyber Security will be operated under the supervision of the Minister of Digital Economy and Society to oversee threats to national cyber security, which is defined as cyber threats related to national
security, military security, stability, economic security, and interference on internet, satellite, and telecommunications networks.
Most importantly, the committee is authorized to access all communication traffic via all communication devices, such as post, telephone, mobile phone, internet, and other electronic devices. The committee will also have the authority
to order all public and private organizations to cooperate against any perceived threats to national cyber security.
The Chinese government is to force authors publishing their work online to register with their real names, as the authorities keep up the pressure on freedom of expression.
According to new regulations from the government's Bureau of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which administers repressive control over media and publications, any authors posting literary works online must be in possession of a
certificate, requiring real-name registration.
The new rules also call for further professional and moral training for authors of online literary works.
Of course things are pretty similar in the west with 'moral training' being renamed as 'cohesion sensitivity training' or 'attending an diversity awareness seminar'.
The use of a pen-name is a time-honored tradition in Chinese literature and journalism, and many writers use pseudonyms to mask their identities if they wish to write something which might be construed as critical of the regime. But pervasive
state surveillance of individuals means that the authorities often know the identities of such authors.
Zhang Yu, secretary for the writers' group Independent Chinese PEN, said the move represents yet another attack on freedom of expression in China. Zhang told RFA:
This shows that they want to take their interference with writers' freedom of expression to the next level This will make it much easier for them to maintain surveillance of authors, using various types of software and other methods. In actual
fact, the authorities are able to find out who an author is using various types of technology, whether they use their real names or a pseudonym.
The whole point of this [real-name] system is to create a sense of threat, so that authors will censor themselves.
There's been a bit of an online backlash in China over censors cutting all cleavage from scenes in a popular TV drama about China's only female emperor.
The drama, The Empress of China , also known as the Saga of Wu Zetian was pulled from the schedules of commercial satellite station Hunan TV for technical reasons late last month, Xinhua reported.
When it returned a few days later, the show, starring the famous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing in the title role of Wu Zetian had been conspicuously edited.
Scenes of female characters, with cleavage showing dressed in period costume, had been cropped out, leaving only close-ups of their heads.
The Global Times insisted that a system of control was necessary. it wrote in a propaganda piece:
The reality is that censorship exists in many countries and it is unlikely to be reversed in China.
Changes to The Empress of China sparked fury among mainland internet users, who argued that censors had gone too far. An online survey released by the Sina Weibo microblogging service on Monday found that nearly 95% of respondents disapproved of
the censorship of The Empress of China.
Some mainland bloggers, who renamed the drama The Saga of Wu's Squeezed Breasts , mocked the decision by censors. They circulated a series of edited pictures on social media, showing people how to highlight the head and hide the breasts
when it comes to other characters.
The Global Times newspaper noted the defiance in an editorial:
While the censorship was largely done out of moral concerns, the resulting public outcry should serve as a warning for the future. While it is powerful, censorship lacks authority. In this sense, when using censorship, more considerations should
be given to public opinion to garner support and avoid similar incidents.
Thailand's telecoms police plan to make it mandatory to register all mobile-phone SIM cards and then to use mobile phone numbers as personal ID for access to public Internet nationwide.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has said it will ask Cabinet to approve a plan to register prepaid mobile phone users as part of the national censorship policy. NBTC secretary general Takorn Tantasith explained:
SIM registration is the first step to force all to have individual numbers, then the next step is the 'Single Sign On' policy.
The policy will require users of mobile phones to register their user name and password to access the Internet on all networks nationwide.
The agency would propose the plan, known as Single Sign On , to Cabinet to enact the registration process within six months.
Years ago, the NBTC tried to impose controls requiring operators to register the details of people who buy new prepaid SIM cards but few consumers cooperated, as they were reluctant to provide copies of their ID cards. But now the NBTC has
suggested to method to make the registration process a little more practical.
Business operators who sell SIM cards will download an app onto their mobile phones. They will use the app to take a picture of the SIM card code and the buyer's ID card. The app will then immediately send data to the NBTC's computer server,
connected with the servers of the five telecom operators. The NBTC server will verify the identity-card information and, if correct, send the verified data back to the telecom operator's server, to activate the SIM card. The data will not be
stored on mobile phones of shop staff. Expats who don't have Thai ID cards can use passports.