The increasing trend of Facebook and Twitter to censor speech based often on political ideology gives government agencies cause to reconsider using these providers for disseminating official information and publications. Moreover, privacy issues inherent with these social media companies could do harm to vulnerable individuals who simply request information from their government.
The increasing regularity of bias and removal of content presents a concerning environment where political views of these companies bring into question their reliability and objectivity for which government and government agencies provide information.
A nefarious, existential threat was recently vanquished by the post-coup censorship offices of Turkish President Erdoğan. No, it was not the PKK, nor ISIS, nor Fethullah Gülen. It was SpongeBob SquarePants and Smurfette, broadcast on a Kurdish Language children’s television network.
The media crackdown in the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey has led to closures of dozens of news services and thousands of firings among journalists. Cartoon networks can now become labeled as seditious.
Free speech rights in Germany took another worrying turn for the worse when German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally approved an investigation of a German citizen accused of insulting Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, a world leader personally responsible for the erosion of free speech in this NATO member state.
The timing and enthusiasm, despite proffers to the contrary, of the German government’s persecution of satirist Jan Böhmermann for his broadcast of a poem critical of President Erdoğan coincides directly with the German Government trying to reach a re-settlement agreement with Turkey to address the refugee crisis besieging many European nations–a situation politically damaging to Merkel’s image.
We featured numerous articles relating to President Erdoğan’s attacks on newspapers, individuals, internationals, and any critics of him who are within reach of this grasp, citing a bizarre form of Lèse majesté laws as justification. Now, Merkel is demonstrating a willingness to use a rather dusty remnant of such a statute in Germany as a tool to preserve the ego of a foreign head of state, to accomplish a domestic political goal.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressed his worry of the waning of free speech rights in American. The suppression of dissenting speech on college campuses and Twitter he believes are prime examples.
“I think th[is] poses a special danger to a country that cherishes First Amendment speech, freedom of expression, even freedom of association. I think it’s dangerous, frankly, that we don’t see more often people espousing the First Amendment view that we should have a robust marketplace of ideas where everybody should be willing and able to participate.
Largely what we’re seeing, especially on college campuses, is that if my view is in the majority and I don’t agree with your view, then I have the right to shout you down, disrupt your events, or otherwise suppress your ability to get your voice heard.”
The text of the First Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, but there are certain cultural values that undergird the amendment that are critical for its protections to have actual meaning.”
Three weeks ago, we featured an article describing the plight of dozens of academics who faced arrest after signing a peace petition. These advocates were declared enemies of the Republic of Turkey. Now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government will put on trial a Turkish professor who placed onto an exam questions referencing PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Ankara University professor Resat Baris Unlu faces charges for spreading “terrorist propaganda” after presenting his students a question comparing two documents written by the founder of the proscribed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who is currently serving a life sentence.
With the increasing frequency of government censorship and take-down orders blocking content hosted on web servers, a consortium of internet stakeholders has proposed to the IETF an RFC Draft (recently published) proposing a standard error response given to clients that the web page or resource sought has been blocked for legal reasons.
The proposal uses the status code 451, a reference to Ray Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451”.
Idaho Liquor Licensees who show movies have been served with notice demanding that they not show the blockbuster Hollywood hit “Fifty Shades of Grey” while serving alcoholic beverages. The agency claims that doing so violates Idaho law prohibiting the display of sexually explicit movies while serving alcohol.
Many are wondering why the ABC singled out Fifty Shades of Grey and not various other R-Rated movies having sexual situations that dominate the movie industry.
We previously wrote HERE and HERE of the arrest, conviction, and sentencing to seven years Al Jazeera reporter Peter Greste for the dubious accusation of aiding the Muslim Brotherhood through their coverage of the “civil war” in Egypt. During sentencing, as we previously reported, the Court insisted that the reporters “took advantage of the noble profession of journalism … and turned it from a profession aimed at looking for the truth to a profession aimed at falsifying the truth.” It then added that “The devil guided them to use journalism and direct it toward activities against this nation.” That “devil” work was reporting on the crackdown on the supporters of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
We recently reported of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan’s effort to silence the social media service Twitter to repress dissent within Turkey. HERE. Now, the courts in Turkey are beginning to reverse some of these efforts. Turkish Twitter users are expected to regain access to the microblogging platform after a local court issued a stay of execution on last week’s decision by a local telecommunications authority to ban the website.
According to some local media reports, the ban will be lifted as soon as the administrative court in Ankara informs Turkey’s Telecommunications Authority of the ruling.
In a first official remark, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç said the Turkish government would implement the court ruling. “We will implement the court’s decision. We might not like the court decision, but we will carry it out,” he told reporters.
The continuing cat and mouse game between the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish users of the social networking site Twitter shows the desire for control of information and the historical drive to circumvent it.
After pledging to “wipe out Twitter,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered Turkish ISPs to block the social networking site, redirecting requests to a government webpage. But that move, which used a change in the Domain Name Service hosted by network providers in Turkey, was quickly circumvented by Twitter users through the use of alternative DNS servers. DNS servers basically match domain names such as example.com with their core Internet Protocol Addresses for which websites are addressed under the surface to most users. By controlling the DNS servers in Turkey by forced banning of the twitter.com name, Turkish DNS servers redirect traffic to an IP address of a government website rather than the official twitter.com website.The social media campaign against Erdoğan has continued to grow despite the government’s best effort, and even more Turks are flocking to Twitter as a result of the federal censorship. Immediately following the ban, Twitter usage in Turkey rose 138 percent. Continue reading “Turkish Government Strengthens Its Effort To Ban Twitter”→
With many reports becoming all to familiar with state sponsored censorship of internet traffic users in these nations are engaged in a cat and mouse game with a government that is showing increasing levels of sophistication and legislative muscle. The tactics often used include filtering objectionable material, firewalling targeted IP addresses, tracing data back to individuals and sanctioning those individuals, and creating a system of fear generally in which the public is dissuaded into engaging in free speech.
The common element in these electronic censorship measures is that the government controls access via the physical structure of the network. They are able to do this through land based infrastructure. But what if these physical vulnerabilities to free speech and press were removed and instead replaced with broadcast satellite systems that are immune from filtering and geo-locating individuals? Continue reading “Satellites As A Free Speech Tool”→
Shezanne Cassim of Woodbury, MN returned home from the United Arab Emirates after spending nine months in prison in Dubai for posting a documentary-style video, titled “Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs,” which is set in the Satwa district of Dubai. It opens with text saying the video is fictional and is not intended to offend. The video pokes fun at Dubai youth who style themselves like “gangstas” and shows fictional “combat” training that includes throwing a sandal and using a mobile phone to call for help. Authorities evidently took great exception to this expression, arrested Cassim and later placed him into a maximum security prison. The arrest took place in April of 2013 and it was months before he and several co-defendants were informed of the charges. A state controlled newspaper stated he was accused of defaming the country’s image abroad. Cassim’s supporters stated he was eventually convicted of violating a 2012 Cybercrimes law prohibiting challenging of authorities. Continue reading “U.S. Citizen Released From U.A.E Prison After Conviction For Posting Satire Online”→
Submitted by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
Sixty-five year old North Carolina family therapist John Rosemond was having a day much like any other day last May, until he opened the certified letter from the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In a Cease and Desist letter, the Kentucky Attorney General advised him the Kentucky psychology licensing board had determined that by publishing an advice column in the Louisville Herald-Leader, he was practicing psychology without a license. The letter warned him that if he did not cease and desist, he faces criminal penalties which includes both fines and jail time. The Attorney General thoughtfully enclosed an affidavit which John was to sign and return, promising that he would forever give up his life of crime.
You read that right. John Rosemond, syndicated columnist, is being threatened by the Commonwealth of Kentucky that he might face stiff fines and jail unless he stopped writing his advice column in Kentucky newspapers. Naturally, John did what any self-respecting reporter or columnist would do. He got a lawyer. He contacted Jeff Rowes of the Institute for Justice who agreed to take the case, and last July 16, Mr. Rowes and local counsel, Richard Brueggeman, Esq., filed a 45-page lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.