Iran has announced it has completed the first phase of its long running plan to operate a "national internet".
An inauguration ceremony was held on Sunday by the country's communications and censorship minister, Mahmoud Vaezi.
Iran already blocks access to overseas-based social media services - including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - many users still access them via proxy sites and virtual private networks (VPNs). So the government is trying to totally cut off access paths
to the outside world.
The government says the goal is to create an isolated domestic intranet that can be used to promote Islamic content and raise digital awareness among the public. It intends to replace the current system, in which officials seek to limit which parts
of the existing internet people have access to via filters - an effort Vaezi described as being "inefficient".
According to a report by Mehr, a Tehran-based news agency :
the first phase of the rollout involves providing access to e-government services and domestic web pages
a second phase, due in February 2017, will add domestic video content
a third phase, due in March 2017, will introduce further services and provide support for companies involved in international trade
The British human rights campaign group Article 19 has criticised the plan:
Given Iran's record in violating its human rights commitments based on civil and political (including religious and ethnic) grounds, the development of projects such as the national internet are especially concerning.
The National Internet Project could pave the way for further isolation, surveillance and information retention. [It] risks severely isolating the Iranian people from the rest of the online world, limiting access to information and constraining attempts
at collective action and public protest."
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is dropping all lawsuits against those charged with insulting
him. Speaking at an event in Ankara Erdogan said he was withdrawing all the lawsuits for insults against his person:
For one time only, I will be forgiving and withdrawing all cases against the many disrespects and insults that have been levelled against me.
I feel that if we do not make use of this opportunity correctly, then it will give the people the right to hold us by the throat. So I feel that all factions of society, politicians first and foremost, will behave accordingly with this new reality, this
new sensitive situation before us.
Hundreds of people have been charged with insulting the president, including on social media.
Erdogan also lashed out at the west for failing to show solidarity with Ankara over a failed coup and said countries who worried more about the fate of the perpetrators than Turkey's democracy could not be friends. He commented on a European lack of
support against the recent coup:
Not a single person has come to give condolences either from the European Union ... or from the west.
Erdogan's reconciliatory gesture did not receive instant goodwill for the dictatorial president. A German satirical magazine mocked Turkish President's post-coup crackdowns by publishing a cover showing a sausage photoshopped over his groin area. The
front page reads:
Erdogan's stressed: Even his penis is staging a putsch.
On its Facebook page, the magazine has advised fans to buy the August issue before the Chancellor Tayyip Merkel bans Titanic.
Political censorship has also reared its head in the west due to the shear number of Turks living in Europe. Turkey has condemned a German court decision banning president Recep Tayyip Erdogan from addressing his supporters by video link at a rally of
tens of thousands of Cologne.
Tensions have been running high among Germany's three million-strong Turkish population in the wake of last month's failed coup and authorities deployed 2,700 police officers on the streets of the Rhineland city on Sunday to keep the peace. Amid fears
that the crowds could be riled by live screenings of speeches from Turkey by politicians including Erdogan, Germany's constitutional court banned an application for such broadcasts.
A statement from the Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the ban was unacceptable .
More than ever before, Turks all over the world have seen their diaspora communities divided between supporters and critics of Erdogan.
At around half a million people, the Netherlands has one of the largest Turkish communities in Europe. In the days after the coup, thousands of Dutch Turks took to the streets in several cities to show their support for the Turkish president. Turks
critical of the Erdogan government had told media that they're afraid to express their opinions due to rising tensions.
People suspected of being supporters of the opposition Gulen movement, led by Erdogan's US-based opponent and preacher Fethullah Gulen, which has been accused of being behind the coup attempt, have been threatened and physically assaulted in the streets.
The mayor of Rotterdam, a city with a large Turkish community, urged Dutch-Turks to remain calm and ordered increased police protection of Gulen-aligned Turkish institutions.
Offsite Article: President Erdogan's attempts to silence Turkish satirists not working
"The legal assault on cartoonists in Turkey has really been unprecedented over the past few years under Erdogan. One cartoonist, Musa Kart , was sued by Erdogan for a 2004 drawing that portrayed the Turkish president as a kitten and for another
cartoon that portrayed him as a bank robber. "[Kart] told me that's there's no serious journalist or cartoonist who doesn't who doesn't have a case against him or her in the country.
An edict from the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has effectively made it illegal for anyone in the country to use a VPN or secure proxy service.
Those caught could face jail time and fines of between 500,000 and 2,000,000 UAE dirham (US$136,130 and $544,521). The change was announced this week by the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in a proclamation that amended federal laws.
The wording is ambiguous and technologically illiterate. Essentially, it seems, you are not allowed to use systems that hide the fact that you're committing a crime or covering one up. If you're routing your network traffic through a secure VPN or proxy
server, you could be breaking the law and evading the eyes of the state, and that's now a big no-no.
You could claim you were using the VPN or proxy for legit reasons, and that no criminal activity was being committed or concealed, but since your packets were encrypted, you may have a hard time proving your innocence. The updated law now reads:
Whoever uses a fraudulent computer network protocol address (IP address) by using a false address or a third-party address by any other means for the purpose of committing a crime or preventing its discovery, shall be punished by temporary imprisonment
and a fine of no less than Dhs 500,000 and not exceeding Dhs 2,000,000, or either of these two penalties.
The Turkish authorities have announced the closure of dozens of media organisations, as mass censorship continues following the failed coup on 15 July.
Three news agencies, 16 TV channels, 45 papers and 15 magazines will be shut.
Separately, nearly 1,700 members of the armed forces - including 149 generals and admirals - have been discharged. The closure of the media outlets and the dismissal of the members of the armed forces were announced in Turkey's official Resmi Gazete.
The names of the media organisations have not yet been officially released, but local media suggest that while most are relatively small, provincial outlets, several dailies and agencies with a national audience have also been targeted.
Earlier on Wednesday, the authorities ordered the detention of another 47 journalists - just several days after similar warrants were issued for 42 reporters. Those on the new list were mostly members of the now defunct Zaman newspaper, Turkish officials
were quoted as saying by local media.
In times of trouble t is pretty standard procedure for repressive countries to close down the internet or block people communicating through social networks. And Turkey was no exception when its leaders were challenged in an attempted coup.
But now Turkey is suffering an even more urgent need to censor the internet. Turkey has ordered Wikileaks to be blocked in the country after it released 300,000 emails from Erdogan's AK Party HQ.
The internet censors of the Telecommunications Communications Board called the move an administrative measure, which is a term commonly used by the organization when blocking access to websites.
WikiLeaks managed to publish the 294,548 emails on Tuesday, despite its website being subject to a massive cyberattack. WikiLeaks has moved forward its publication schedule in response to the [Turkish] government's post-coup purges, WikiLeaks said in the
We have verified the material and the source, who is not connected, in any way, to the elements behind the attempted coup, or to a rival political party or state.
All emails which were released were attributed to akparti.org.tr , the primary domain of the main political force in the country, and cover a period from 2010 up until July 6, 2016, just a week before the failed military coup
Saudi Emir, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, of the eastern region of Makkah has banned the playing and carrying of musical instruments,
headphones and speakers in public places within all governorates in the region.
The directive included strong instructions to carry it out strictly and to firmly punish violators, and came after reports were issued concerning inappropriate behaviours and activities in the Jeddah Corniche, a Red Sea coastal area
in the city of Jeddah. Makkah is Saudi Arabia's most populous region, whose capital is Mecca.
The ban covers public places, such as public parks, jogging areas, walkways, and sports facilities, and also includes the banning of obscene behaviour, wearing indecent clothes, walking pet animals, the smoking of tobacco and shisha, and the lighting of
firewood or charcoal.
Israeli Government ministers have accused Facebook of failing to tackle inciteful posts against the country.
Public security minister Gilad Erdan said Facebook had set a very high bar for removing inciteful content .
Justice minister Ayelet Shaked wants social media companies to pre-emptively remove content which Israel considers to be a security threat. She said:
We want the companies... to remove posts by terrorist groups and incitement to terrorism without us having to flag each individual post, in just the same manner, for example, that they today do not allow posts and pages with child pornography, she told
Israel's Army Radio.
Facebook said it worked closely with Israel to tackle threatening content.
Turkish President Erdogan's lawyer said that he has filed a complaint in a bid to get Jan Boehmermann's
satirical poem mocking Erdiogan banned in its entirety. Previously a German court banned just the six verses suggesting Erdogan engaged in bestiality and watched child pornography.
Lawyer Michael-Hubertus von Sprenger said he had filed the complaint to a court in Hamburg and wanted to get a full injunction to replace the preliminary one as well as get unbanned sections prohibited.