Russia is looking to expand its control over the internet and is targeting the written word.
According to the deputy head of the Duma Committee on information politics, parliament will be considering new legislation to protect online media publications from cut-and-paste piracy. Leonid Levin said:
Indeed, there is a conversation with the journalistic community on the topic of additional changes in legislation, including for copy-paste [infringement]
We will analyze this situation and we are certainly going to look at the possibility of changes, including for the protection of media publications.
At this stage it seems likely that Levin is referring to the wholesale online piracy of complete articles and publications but no further details have yet been made public. But whatever the intent, plenty of space will be required to
report news, generate analysis, express opinion and offer criticism.
Russia has just banned Wikipedia over an article about marijuana. Roscomnadzor, the official internet censor, has ordered Russian ISPs to block the site. The ban is due to a specific article about charas, a form of hashish that is handmade in
India. According to Roscomnadzor, the page constitutes instructions on how to make the drug, which makes it illegal under Russian laws.
Wikimedia.ru has declined to avoid the ban by removing the post.
Earlier this month, Russia briefly blocked the entirety of Reddit over a post about hallucinogenic mushrooms after Reddit similarly refused to remove the post. Reddit later accommodated the censors wishes so as to unblock the site.
The use of HTTPS, which encrypts traffic between websites and users, is having an impact on ISP level censorship as it prevents the ISPs blocking specific pages.
Russia cancelled the ban on the Russian-language Wikipedia, which just lasted a few hours and created a stir among Russian online users.
The agency then removed Wikipedia from it's list of banned websites, quoting that the information in the article had been edited, in kind adhering to the court decision. Internet users however, noted that Wikipedia didn't seem to have changed or
edited the page, but only re-titled it
Striking unions could face censorship on their use of social media, the TUC's general secretary has told the BBC. A consultation document linked to the proposed Trade Union Bill suggests unions involved in industrial action should give two weeks
notice if they plan to campaign via social media.
The consultation document suggests unions taking industrial action must give notice of whether it will be using social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter, blogs, setting up websites and what those blogs and websites will set out .
Ministers said social media censorship would not apply to posts by individuals.
Internet censors at the UK's Information Commissioner's Office have ordered Google to censor links to recent news articles that highlight censorship under Europe's 'right to be forgotten'.
The censors have ordered the removal of nine links to current news stories about right to be forgotten censorship that effectively re-connect to information ordered 'forgotten'.
The search engine had previously removed links relating to a 10 year-old criminal offence by an individual after requests made under the right to be forgotten ruling. Removal of those links from Google's search results for the claimant's name
spurred new news posts detailing the removals, which were then indexed by Google's search engine.
Google refused to remove links to these later news posts, which included details of the original criminal offence, despite them forming part of search results for the claimant's name, arguing that they are an essential part of a recent news story
and in the public interest.
Google now has 35 days from the 18 August to censor the links from its search results for the claimant's name. Google has the right to appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber against the notice.
Deputy chief censor David Smith said:
The European court ruling last year was clear that links prompted by searching on an individual's name are subject to data protection rules. That means they shouldn't include personal information that is no longer relevant.
We understand that links being removed as a result of this court ruling is something that newspapers want to write about. And we understand that people need to be able to find these stories through search engines like Google. But that does not
need them to be revealed when searching on the original complainant's name.
According to a report by PC Authority the latest update to the Windows 10 EULA (End User Licence Agreement) says that Microsoft can block you from using pirated software and unauthorised hardware peripherial devices :
Sometimes you'll need software updates to keep using the Services. We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services,
playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices. You may also be required to update the software to continue using the Services.
And it seems that the definition of 'unauthorised' is left to the whims of Microsoft.
Mobile operators and ISPs could have their licences revoked if they fail to comply with new censorship legislation being developed to govern online content in South Africa.
In a statement, the cabinet said it had approved the submission of the Films and Publications Amendment Bill to parliament. The amendments to the Films and Publications Act of 1996 provide for:
Technological advances, especially online and social media platforms, in order to protect children from being exposed to disturbing and harmful media content in all platforms, physical and online.
Of particular concern to ISPs and telecommunications providers will be the cabinet's declaration that the companies must:
Protect the public and children during usage of their services and Icasa will not issue licences or renewals without confirmation from the Film and Publication Board (FPB) of full compliance with its legislation.
The online regulation policy proposed by government will require all individuals and organisations who upload digital content to first register with the FPB, pay a fee prescribed by the minister of communications, and either submit the content to
the board for classification or self-classify in accordance with the board's classification guidelines.
Anyone who does not comply with the policy is liable to pay a fine or face a prison term of up to six months.
Twitter and Reddit users are reporting that state-owned ISPs MTNL and BSNL and privately-owned ISPs ACT, Spectranet, Tikona, Asianet and Hathway are blocking access to major porn websites. Mobile operator Vodafone is also blocking these websites.
While some users are just getting a This site has been blocked as per the instructions of Competent Authority, others are seeing a message that indicates that the sites are being blocked as per directions received from Department of
Telecom, Government of India. Some users are just getting blank pages or Directory doesn't exist, error message.
This move seems to have been somewhat unexpected, with perhaps the notable clue from July, when a Supreme Court bench responded to a request for blocking of porn websites saying:
It is an issue for the government to deal with. Can we pass an interim order directing blocking of all adult websites? And let us keep in mind the possible contention of a person who could ask what crime have I committed by browsing adult
websites in private within the four walls of my house. Could he not argue about his right to freedom to do something within the four walls of his house without violating any law?
The bench asked additional solicitor general Pinky Anand why the MHA had not taken any action on the list of websites and also not filed any response to the petition as sought by the court. Anand assured the court that the needful would be done:
The ministry will soon file a response to the petition and detail the action taken. All necessary steps under the Information and Technology Act will be taken.
Update: Government confirmed to be behind the internet censorship
The Indian government has ordered a large number of porn websites to be blocked, creating an uproar among users and civil rights groups in the country.
The Department of Telecommunications has issued orders for the blocking of 857 websites serving pornography, said two persons familiar with the matter, who declined to be named.
Section 69 (A) of India's Information Technology Act allows the government to order blocking of public access to websites and other information through computer resources, though this section appears to be designed to be invoked when a threat is
perceived to the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order.
Pranesh Prakash, policy director of the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore pointed out the illegality of the censorship:
The government cannot on its own block private access to pornography under current statutes. Parliament has not authorized the government to ban porn on its own.
However, courts have in the past ordered specific websites to be blocked for specific offences such as defamation, though as far as I know not for obscenity.
Viewing pornography privately is not a crime in India, though its sale and distribution is an offence.
Some porn websites were still accessible through certain Internet service providers on Monday, as some ISPs took some time to implement the order. All the 857 websites will be blocked by all ISPs today, said a source in the ISP industry,
who requested anonymity. As licensees we have to follow the orders.
Update: India plans to set up up a government porn censor
The Department of Electronics and Information Technology has asked Internet service providers to take down 857 porn websites, an official said. The official, however, said it was a temporary measure till the final orders are pronounced by the top
Explaining rationale for the decision, a top government official said the government has merely complied with the Supreme Court directive asking for measures to block porn sites. He said that the government would line up for the court to hear an
array of views, mostly anti-porn from NGOs, civil society, parental groups, child councillors, ISPs and government, and after hearing the views of all, let the court come with some guidelines. The official spoke of an official porn censor:
Let there be an ombudsman to take a call, like the TV ombudsman is there.
The censor could be a retired judge or somebody from the civil society. The official said all the stakeholders can give their views regarding the censorship mechanism that should be adopted for the cyber content related issues.
The Indian Government has ordered local ISPs to block access to a list of 857 websites that supposedly link to adult material. The broad blocking order goes further than targeting dedicated porn sites alone though. Torrent sites kickass.to
and h33t.to are listed too, as well as 9Gag, Liveleak and CollegeHumor.
The Government order is quite broad, and not just because of the high number of domain names involved. A leaked copy which list all of the affected domains reveals some unsuspected entries.
For example, the list contains two of the largest torrent sites, Kickass.to and H33t.to. The first is now operating under the new Kat.cr domain name and the latter site is down, so the effects of the blockade are minimal.
blockedcollegeWhile blocking these torrent sites may be justified as both sites do link to pornographic content, the same can't really be said for CollegeHumor and 9Gag, which are also on the blacklist.
The same goes for Liveleak, which has plenty of immoral videos but isn't really known for its vast amounts of porn. Finally, the list also includes nonvegjokes.com , a site specializing in dirty jokes.
India will restore open access to 857 pornographic websites, following widespread outrage over the censorship.
The department of telecoms told ISPs not to block porn URLs. The department tried to save a bit of face by bringing up the subject of child porn but of course none of the major porn websites being blocked have any.
Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad met senior officials on Tuesday to review the ban and decided that internet service providers (ISPs) would be immediately asked not to block those sites which did not contain
any child pornography.
News of the ban caused a furore on Indian social media, with several senior politicians and members of civil society expressing their opposition to the move.
Porn is still effectively banned in India, for the supposed reason that ISPs erroneously claim that there may be child porn on some of the world's best known and loved porn websites.
The government banned porn over the weekend, but after vast amounts of criticism quickly undid the block. But it came with a catch that sites that allow child porn should not be let back online. The Internet Service Providers Association of
India (ISPAI) ludicrously claimed:
ISPs have no way or mechanism to filter out child pornography from URLs, and the further unlimited sub-links.
The ISPs do not have mechanism to check the content, as the same is dynamic in nature. Hence, we request your good self to advise us immediately on the future course of action in this regard. Till your further directive, the ISPs are keeping the
said 857 URLs disabled.
The debate has also sparked concern over what some see as a growing culture of intolerance promoted by a series of actions by the right-wing BJP government, many of whose members are self-professed Hindu nationalists.
India's Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has appeared in court being quizzed about the short lived government censorship of porn websites. He now says:
How can you stop in on the privacy of your phone? The other thing is that if someone wants to watch it in the privacy of their bedroom, how can we stop that? These are now issues of 19(1).
There are many issues and we don't want to do moral policing. There is also difficulty: the websites can change their names and change their website, and it becomes difficult. We will obey court orders, but we don't want to become a moral
Article 19 (1) is about freedom of speech. That's pretty much what the Chief Justice had told the porn ban petitioners in the first place.
Somebody can come to the court and say, 'Look, I am an adult and how can you stop me from watching it within the four walls of my room?' It is a violation of Article 21.
Article 21 is about a right to personal liberty.
So if both were on the same page anyway, why did the government willfully slap egg on its own face and make itself the butt of jokes last week with its 857-site ban which Rohatgi himself admits the department went and blocked without verifying
Twitter has launched a crackdown on people who copy and paste jokes from others. The company has started to remove tweets by people who copy witty one-liners replacing the offending message with a note saying it has been withheld over
It will come as a relief to comedians and writers who have long been frustrated over seeing their jokes shared without attribution on Twitter.
The issue emerged after a joke was posted on Twitter by writer Olga Lexell which said: Saw someone spill their high end juice cleanse all over the sidewalk and now I know god is on my side. The post was a dig at the life-style of
health-conscious hipsters willing to pay large amounts for detox drinks. It was soon seized upon and used by others.
In the days that followed, some of the copycat gags were later removed by Twitter and replaced with the message: This tweet has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.
People who believe their jokes have been passed on are able to submit a claim through an online form .
Reddit, a website that has traditionally pushed the boat out in support of free speech and not censoring even its most strident posters has made a few tweaks to its rules. Redditor Spez announced:
Today we are releasing an update to our Content Policy. Our goal was to consolidate the various rules and policies that have accumulated over the years into a single set of guidelines we can point to.
Thank you to all of you who provided feedback throughout this process. Your thoughts and opinions were invaluable. This is not the last time our policies will change, of course. They will continue to evolve along with Reddit itself.
Our policies are not changing dramatically from what we have had in the past. One new concept is Quarantining a community, which entails applying a set of restrictions to a community so its content will only be viewable to those who explicitly
opt in. We will Quarantine communities whose content would be considered extremely offensive to the average redditor.
Today, in addition to applying Quarantines, we are banning a handful of communities that exist solely to annoy other redditors, prevent us from improving Reddit, and generally make Reddit worse for everyone else. Our most important policy over
the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations.
I believe these policies strike the right balance.
update: I know some of you are upset because we banned anything today, but the fact of the matter is we spend a disproportionate amount of time dealing with a handful of communities, which prevents us from working on things for the other 99.98%
(literally) of Reddit.
Today we removed communities dedicated to animated CP and a handful of other communities that violate the spirit of the policy by making Reddit worse for everyone else: /r/CoonTown, /r/WatchNiggersDie, /r/bestofcoontown, /r/koontown,
China is planning to set up censorship offices in major internet companies and for websites so authorities can move more quickly against internet content that it does not like, the ministry of public security said in a statement. The deputy
minister, Chen Zhimin, told a conference:
Police should take a leading role in online security and work closely with internet regulators. We will set up network security offices inside important website and internet firms, so that we can catch criminal behaviour online at the earliest
The government published a draft cybersecurity law last month consolidating its control over data, with significant potential consequences for internet companies and multinational firms doing business in the country. The law will strengthen user
privacy protection from hackers and data resellers but elevates the government's powers to obtain records on, and block dissemination of, private information deemed illegal.
Google has refused to comply with a French order that would apply the right to be forgotten to all worldwide domains, and not just European ones.
Google had responded to a European Court decision that seems to have made a law that says people can arbitrarily demand that information that they do do not like should be hidden from Google Search.
Google applied this law by blocking searches on country specific URLs like google.fr in France and google.de in Germany, and not google.com.
Now Google has refused a court order demanding that the EU censorship be applied worldwide and appealed, calling the French court ruling a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the Web. Google explained, that
complying with the court risks encouraging other countries to tighten their grip on what users can and cannot view, beginning a race to the bottom in which the Internet would only be as free as the world's least free place.
Another legal argument is about proportionality. Some 97%, of French searches use google.fr, not google.com or other non-EU domains. In other words, forcing Google to apply this rule beyond European domains would accomplish very little, and
potentially risk a great deal.
The Washington Examiner noted:
This is an important development in a critical case. The scrutinizing of Google isn't an isolated phenomenon, and American firms (and politicians) concerned about legal and regulatory challenges abroad would do well to pay attention as Google
navigates the implementation of the right to be forgotten.
A high-speed anonymous way to browse the web has been developed by security researchers. The team, based in Zurich and London, say they have found a way to mask data that does little to slow it down.
Many anonymising systems are slow because data is encrypted many times as it travels. But the new high-speed encryption system, Hornet, could theoretically move data around at speeds up to 93GBps, its creators say.
Hornet is conceptually similar to The Onion Router (Tor) network that many people currently use to disguise from where they are browsing the web. Tor encrypts data as it hops randomly between the servers or relays that make up the network.
However, encrypting and decrypting data many times adds a processing overhead, which means browsing the web via Tor can be slow and frustrating.
Tor's design suffers from performance and scalability issues: as more clients use Tor, more relays must be added to the network , said the researchers in a paper describing their work.
Hornet avoids some of the problems that limit how many users a Tor-like system can handle by changing the way it handles information about where data is going. By removing some of this administrative overhead, it is possible to speed up the
passage of data through the network's anonymising core.
In addition, they wrote, these changes made Hornet less susceptible to some of the attacks that have been used to unmask people who use Tor.