Tag Archives: censorship

Al-Jazeera, HuffPost Arabi Among 21 News Sites Blocked by Egypt, Plus Possible Legal Action

At least 21 news sites critical of the government in Egypt, including the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera and Huffington Post’s Arabic-language site HuffPost Arabi, have been blocked. Ruth Michaelson reporting in The Guardian: “The state-run news agency Mena announced late on Wednesday night that 21 websites had been blocked because they were ‘spreading lies’ and ‘supporting terrorism’. The full list of banned sites was not provided, but Mena added that legal action against the outlets was forthcoming. … The blocking of the 21 sites followed raids on several news sites in Cairo, even those with little history of critical coverage.”

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Trying to Predict Miguel Diaz-Canel’s Internet Policy

I recently gave a short talk [PowerPoint] that concluded with some speculation on the attitude of Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is expected to replace Raúl Castro next year, toward the Internet. I searched online and came up with three clues — two talks he has given and one act.

In May 2013, Diaz-Canel gave a speech at an educator’s conference in which he anticipated today’s preoccupation with fake news. He acknowledged the futility of trying to control information:

Today, news from all sources — good ones, bad ones, those that are manipulated, and those that are true, and those that are half-truths, all circulate on the web and reach people and those people are aware of them.

Miguel Diaz-Canel speaking at an educator’s conference, May 2013He said the worst response to this would be silence and called upon schools to teach kids to spot fake news. You can watch news coverage of his talk (2:57).

The second talk I found was the closing address to the First National Workshop on Informatization and Cybersecurity in February 2015. The three-day workshop was streamed to over 11,500 professionals in 21 auditoriums throughout the country and Diaz-Canel mentioned online discussion by over 73,000 users. (This “national workshop” sounds like a unique mass-collaboration event and I would like to hear more about the format from those who participated).

Diaz-Canel said the Cuban State would work to make (safe and comprehensive Internet) available, accessible and affordable for everyone and that the Internet should be a tool for the sustainable human development in Cuba and its effective integration into the community of nations. He recognized the Internet as a tool benefiting the economy, science, and the culture.

This positive message was dampened somewhat by his recitation of the threats posed by the US and the responsibility of the citizens to use the Internet legally. Reading between the lines, it may be that he envisions a China-like policy of reaping the benefits of the Internet by expanding it while using it as a political tool by restricting access to controversial content, surveilling users and spreading propaganda. (Freedom House considers the Cuban Internet unfree today and the only nations they consider less free are Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Iran, Syria and China).

This video shows news coverage of Diaz-Canel’s talk (3:26) and you can read the transcript here.

The third and perhaps most encouraging clue I found regarding Diaz-Canel’s view of the Internet was not a speech, but his support of freedom of expression on the Lajovencuba Web site.

Lajovencuba, which refers to itself as a “socialist project of political debate speech on the web” was created at the University of Matanzas in April 2010. It was named after a political and revolutionary organization created by Antonio Guiteras in mid-1934. The original tagline was “A blog of university students that speaks of the Cuban reality” and today it is “Socialism and revolution.”

That’s the bad news. The good news is that it was restored in April 2013. The better news is that Diaz-Canel met with and endorsed the founders of Lajovencuba.

I started this post thinking I would at least come to a tentative conclusion as to the likely Internet policy of Diaz-Canel and the next generation of Cuban leaders, but I am still up in the air.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

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China Steps Up Media Pressure, Extends Restrictions to Blogs, Apps and Other Digital Media

“China’s latest restrictions on online news and commentary will extend to blogs, online forums, mobile apps, instant messaging tools and other forms of digital media under rules published May 2 by the Cyberspace Administration of China.” Mark Melnicoe … Continue reading

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New Chapter Working Groups Open Closed Doors

One thing was clear from a recent presentation by the new leaders of the SF-Bay Internet Society (ISOC) Chapter Working Groups: inclusion and collaboration will be the key to these groups’ success.

As Dr. Brandie Nonnecke, the Internet Governance Working Group (WG) Chair said, “We haven’t yet cracked the code on what ‘multistakeholder’ means.” But that won’t stop her and Dr. Jaclyn Kerr, the Data Protection, Privacy, and Security WG Chair, from trying. At a recent Chapter Event held on April 10th, 2017, these two innovative leaders laid out an ambitious plan to bridge silos and foster open dialogue in order to work towards the Internet Society’s mission that the Internet is for Everyone.

Focus Areas

These newly-launched Working Groups will focus on the interest areas of the SF Bay Area Chapter members, as determined by their responses to a recent survey. There are three in total: Internet Governance; Data Protection, Privacy & Security; and Internet of Things (IoT), Internet Technologies & Access.

Internet Governance

For the Internet Governance Working Group, Chair Brandie Nonnecke laid out a plan that includes supporting interdisciplinary research, publishing position papers and policy briefs, organizing workshops, symposia, and activities, and supporting a fellowship programme. The goal is to educate and engage stakeholders not traditionally involved in Internet governance. Brandie is well-suited to achieve this goal: she is a PhD whose research focuses on multistakeholderism in internet governance and information and communication technology (ICT) policymaking at the Center of Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute, UC Berkeley. The WG group is now accepting members; help drive the agenda by applying to join the WG.

Data, Privacy, Security

For the Data Protection, Privacy, and Security Working Group, Chair Jaclyn Kerr discussed the urgency of this issue: due to government surveillance and data breaches, there are serious threats to our online security and privacy. Even at the top level of government, there have been security breaches. Jaclyn discussed working in collaboration with the other WGs and fostering discussion between those involved in tech, civil society, civil liberties, security and academia. Jaclyn is as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Global Security Research (CGSR), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where her research focuses on cybersecurity and information security strategy, Internet governance, and the Internet policies of non-democratic regimes. Apply to join this WG.

IoT

And last but not least, in the IoT, Internet Technologies & Access Working Group, the focus will be on the IoT ecosystem, issues around access, critical Internet infrastructure, innovation and open standards. As more and more devices connect to the Internet, we need to ensure that security concerns, critical resources like IPv4 and IPv6 address space, and technology standards are addressed. Mischa Spiegelmock, who unfortunately could not attend the Chapter Event due to travel, chairs this WG. Mischa is software engineer who currently leads an engineering team at MVS Technical Group Inc., and specializes in information security, database-driven applications, systems programming, UNIX and C. To get involved, apply to join this working group.

Opening Doors

So many decisions about Internet governance, security, and infrastructure happen behind closed doors. The more technical the topic is, the more difficult it is for everyday citizens to get involved, which is a vulnerability for all of us. These Working Groups, the SF-Bay Area Chapter and the Internet Society exist to change that. “The Internet touches every part of our lives and everyone should be equipped with enough knowledge to enable them to have a say in how it is run,” says SF-Bay Area Chapter President and Chair, Susannah Gray. “The SF-Bay Area Chapter provides a neutral platform for you to advocate, learn, educate, and work on these key issues. It was amazing to see so many people come together on April 10 to express their interest, their own areas of focus and their concerns for the future of the Internet: we look forward to working with you all as we continue to build up our Working Groups.”

Get Involved

Get involved today by joining us and almost 2,000 other members (it’s free!), emailing us with your thoughts, applying for open board seats, volunteering, donating, sponsoring the Chapter, or joining one of these powerful Working Groups. There is a reason Board Treasurer Ken Krechmer, one of the Chapter founders, called ISOC the “Continental congress of the Internet.” This is the basis for an open Internet.

You can find the agenda from the April 10 Chapter Event and recording here.

This blog post was written by Jenna Spagnolo on behalf of the San Francisco-Bay Area Internet Society chapter.

Written by Jenna Spagnolo

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U.S. Expresses Concerns Over China’s Internet Regulatory Regime, In New Report

The Trump administration has criticized China on a number of trade issues in its recent Foreign Trade Barriers report including cloud computing restrictions, Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Domain Name Rules. Under the section titled, Barriers to Digital Trade, the report states: “China’s treatment of foreign companies seeking to participate in the development of cloud computing services, including computer data and storage services provided over the Internet, raises concerns.” Further excerpts:

Cloud Computing Restrictions: “China is seeking to similarly restrict the ability of foreign enterprises to offer cloud computing services into China on a cross-border basis. Late in 2016, China’s regulator issued a draft notice on regulating cloud computing, elements of which also appeared in a recently issued measure entitled ‘On Cleaning up and Regulating Internet Access Services Market’ that prohibits Chinese telecommunication operators from offering consumers leased lines or virtual private network connections reach to overseas data centers. The United States has raised this issue with China and continues to evaluate it in the context of China’s WTO GATS obligation to ensure access to and use of leased lines for cross-border data processing services. The United States will work to ensure that legitimate cross-border services can continue to be offered into China.”

Web Filtering and Blocking: China continues to engage in extensive blocking of legitimate websites, imposing significant costs on both suppliers and users of web-based services and products. According to the latest data, China currently blocks 11 of the top 25 global sites, and U.S. industry research has calculated that up to 3,000 sites in total are blocked, affecting billions of dollars in business, including communications, networking, news and other sites. While becoming more sophisticated over time, the technical means of blocking, dubbed the Great Firewall, still often appears to affect sites that may not be the intended target, but that may share the same Internet Protocol address.”

Domain Name Rules: “U.S. and other foreign stakeholders continue to express concern over rules proposed in 2016 to regulate Internet Domain Names, a critical input into many web-based services offered in China. While China clarified that initial fears that the rules sought to block access to any website not registered in China were based on a misreading of the intent of the proposed rules, concerns remain with respect to how China intends to implement requirements on registering and using domain names and other Internet resources. The United States will continue to closely monitor this rulemaking.”

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