Personal information of about 20 million people, which amounts to two fifth of the entire South Korean population, has been compromised in the country's worst identity theft. Customers of the affected three major credit card firms gasped at the sheer extensiveness of the breach; it is not just the user's real name, home/work address, cellphone/home/work phone number, social security number, but in many cases, even user's credit limit, credit history, credit card expiration date, and credit records have been stolen. Korean online venues flooded with angry users’ comments and one net user even set up a fake website entitled ‘Trade My Info; the No. 1 Online Personal Info Trading Venue’ [ko]. Its intro sarcastically proclaims that instead of letting the identity thief sell your personal info, users should rather trade their info by themselves and make a a modicum of money out of it. Most of the site's links lead to related news articles on the breach. An extensive post on Korean reactions to the country's worst ID breach will soon be posted on Global Voices.
Latest stories from Quick Reads + Digital Activism
Berlin is welcoming the digital intelligentsia to a conference this weekend (January 25-26) on “self-empowerment in the age of digital control”. Speakers at the event, As Darkness Falls, include Jacob Appelbaum, Bruce Sterling, Micah Sifry, Evgeny Morozov and from Global Voices, Asteris Masouras (@asteris).
catch a fire explains why he got involved in a petition for a referendum on casino gambling in Bermuda, then publishes a follow-up post asking:
What does that say for our democracy when people are afraid to sign a petition that they support because they fear consequences from the Government or its supporters?
“European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information”. The quote, from the Media Initiative website, summarizes the main idea behind a pan-European campaign that aims at urging the European Commission to draft a Directive to protect Media Pluralism and Press Freedom.
The Media Initiative is running a European Citizens’ Initiative - a tool of participatory democracy “which allows civil society coalitions to collect online and offline one million signatures in at least 7 EU member states to present directly to the European Commission a proposal forming the base of an EU Directive, initiating a legislative process”. The petition is available in 15 languages and can be signed online:
Protecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of national rules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest with political office and independence of media supervisory bodies.
A short video presents the campaign:
Diaspora litblogger Geoffrey Philp uses the occasion of Martin Luther King Day to agitate for the exoneration of the late Jamaican Pan-Africanist, Marcus Garvey.
On January 18, thousands of Burkinabe citizens took to the streets of Ouagadougou [fr] to protest against proposed changes of the constitution that would allow current president Campaoré to run for another mandate. The protests were relayed on many Burkinabe twitter feed. Alain Boh Bi posted images of the protest:
— Alain Doh Bi (@AlainDohBi) January 19, 2014
jmc strategies blogs about the issue of Haitian statelessness in the Dominican Republic, specifically addressing anti-Haitian sentiment, questionable labour and living conditions, and forced repatriations, while offering solutions to the impasse.
The question “How Should Middle Eastern Women Dress in Public” posed by the University of Michigan is attracting hilarious spoofs online. The content is so rich that an additional post to our first one was necessary.
When Washington Post Max Fisher shared the original image on Twitter, he wasn't expecting this response by WSJ blogger Tom Gara:
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) January 9, 2014
But the spoof that got the most attention was undoubtedly Karl Sharro's of KarlreMarks:
An Arab university ran this fascinating poll about what is most appropriate for American women to wear in public. pic.twitter.com/uIta80i1f8
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) January 9, 2014
Interviewed on PRI, he explained his motivation:
“It's almost like putting Muslim women on a scale from 1 to 6, from being fully covered to not being covered at all, which I think is pretty absurd.”
Outspoken Egyptian blogger Nawara Negm is taking a break from blogging politics.
On her blog, Tahyyes, she writes a long post explaining her position [ar]:
انا مش لاقية طرف مش متعاص كاكا… حتى اللي عاملين ثوار واصحاب مبادئ… طبعا مش لانهم عملا وجواسيس، بس لانهم متلخبطين، والواحد لما يتلخبط يعتزل… زي ما انا قررت اعتزل كده، لان فعلا المشهد مربك
I don't see a single faction not covered with shit… even those who pretend they are revolutionaries and people with principles … of course not because they are agents and spies but because they are confused and when a person is this confused, he needs to retire, just as I have decided to retire and this scene is really confusing
Negm, daughter of revolutionary poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, is a journalist and activist in her own right and was a spokesperson for the revolutionaries at Tahrir Square. On Twitter, she commands 629,000 followers.
On January 16, 2014, Ukrainian Parliament adopted a series of bills with a severe violation of the voting procedure. Nevertheless, on the eve of the same day the bills were signed into law by President Yanukovych.
Below is an infographic by civic movement CHESNO [uk, en] outlining the major legislative initiatives valid as of January 17, 2014.
Japan was evaluated as “Free”, where the constitution protects all forms of speech and prohibits censorship, and Internet and digital media freedom are generally well established. For key developments during May 2012 to April 2013, Freedom House reported that:
- Political speech was constrained online for 12 days before the December 2012 election under a law banning parties from campaigning online.
- In April 2013, the legislature overturned that law, but kept restrictions on campaign emails.
- 2012 amendments to the Copyright Law criminalized intentionally downloading pirated content, though lawyers called for civil penalties.
- Anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech proliferated online amid real-world territorial disputes.
- A constitutional revision promoted by the newly-elected LDP party threatens to erode freedoms and rights that “violate public order” .
You can read the full report here.
An online petition is circulating to pressure the mayor of Baguio City to close down dog meat restaurants in the city. Baguio is a famous tourist destination located north of the Philippines:
I was recently made aware that there are at least ten dog meat restaurants operating in open violation of the law in Baguio.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the dog meat trade is not only illegal, but also extremely inhumane and implicated in the spread of rabies.
Please revoke the business permits of all restaurants that serve dog meat, thereby making your town safer for people as well as animals, not to mention a more palatable tourist destination.
It is not the first time BBC's ambitious plan to reach out to one of the world's most reclusive countries has been thwarted. Back in June 2013, BBC World Service’ plan to air programmes in North Korea was curbed by government cuts to its budget. This time, BBC has concluded ‘it is not currently possible’ for them ‘to offer a meaningful, effective and cost-effective service.’ North Korea Tech blog went over each possible hurdle North Korean broadcast service would face, including the jamming issue, regulations and more.
Menna Alaa, Egyptian journalist who was assaulted by angry mob earlier in 2013 losing her camera during her reporting, is using Indiegogo calling for help to buy equipment to help her document the ongoing events in Egypt.
The appeal reads:
Menna Alaa is a Cairo based freelance journalist and student who has been covering events in Egypt as they escalated. Menna has made sure that she takes the risks in Egyptian streets in order to make sure that the voices of protesters are heard whether through videos or photos.
Over the escalating events, Menna risked her life in order to show how events unfolded while bearing in mind that the audience need to see truth as it really is. Now the Egyptian political sphere is being reshaped and the need for independent, honest, and objective journalism is now a must.
As an aspiring journalist and journalism student, Menna would appreciate it if you would help her buy new equipment so she reports back on ground as soon as possible.
Vasyl Pawlowsky, an independent consultant and English-language curator of Maidan Monitoring, a website set up and maintained specifically for following events and news from Euromaidan protests in several cities throughout Ukraine, reports in a blog post that the crowdsourced site is not available due to a DDoS attack, allegedly organized by authorities wanting to stop such information flow regarding the protests.
Pawlowsky also tells of a recent two-day meeting in Karkhiv, dubbed the All-Ukrainian Euromaidan Forum, held by Euromaidan organizers to coordinate activities of the several protest locations throughout the country, but mentions the lack of structure in this coordination:
Форум закінчився . Через годину їдемо на Київ-Львів . Коротенько про головне . Жодної , наголошую ЖОДНОЇ !!! надструктури не було створено ( це принципово ) В Харкові зібралися представники Євромайданів для аналізу ситуації в Україні . Розробили питання безпеки ,координації, комунікації Майданів . Працюємо далі . Слава Харкову ! Слава Україні !
The Forum is over. In an hour we are driving form Kyiv-Lviv. Shortly about the most important. No, and I emphasize NO!!! overseeing structure was created (in principle). In Kharkiv the representives of the Euromaidans to analyze the situation in Ukraine. To develop matters of security, coordination and communication of the Maidans. We continue our work. Glory to Kharkiv! Glory to Ukraine!
One of many newly set up blogs following Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, which have entered their second month, has collected several graphic images of injured, bleeding protesters from the past several weeks of protests and speaks of the disturbing violations of basic human rights, such as beatings of citizens and journalists in Ukraine during the peaceful rallies. This blog post in particular calls attention to statements from several human rights watchdogs and the fact that, other than several violent police crackdowns on protesters, some participants of the protests are still being held in custody by police:
In December alone, according to Kharkiv Human Rights Group director Yevhen Zakharov, more than 50 journalists were assaulted – mainly by police – including 40 on Dec. 1 alone, when a large rally erupted in central Kyiv in response to a violent police crackdown on Independence Square the day before. [...]
Despite an amnesty law in force concerning EuroMaidan protesters, four activists remain in custody for taking part in rallies, according to Kharkiv Human Rights group member Halya Coynash. She identifed the four as Yaroslav Prytulenko, Andriy Dzyndzya, Viktor Smaliy and Volodymyr Kadura.
The website Blogueiras Negras (Black Bloggers, in the feminine), has created a list of the 25 most influential Brazilian black women on the Internet [pt].
The list includes human rights advocates, journalists, writers, researchers, feminists, urban artists and more, besides individual and collective blogs and Facebook pages that fight for gender equality and against racism and prejudice in Brazil.
Blogueiras Negras also adds a list of 10 inspiring black women online from around the world.
Kwon Eun-hee, a policewoman and ex-chief investigator at Seoul Suseo Police station, revealed last summer that her team had received pressures and ‘unreasonable orders’ from superiors to reduce the scope of an investigation into the spy agency election manipulation scandal. Although net users lauded Kwon, her bold act seems to have taken its toll; local media reports [ko] that Kwon has failed to get a promotion which was considered ‘a sure thing for someone with Kwon’s resume and qualifications’, adding that if that happens one more time, by law she would be forced to leave her position in four years. Many suspect it is a politically-motivated decision, including prominent citizen journalist Media Mongu who commented it is ‘a scary revenge’ [ko] and embedded a highlight video of Kwon's revelations.
Boubacar Sanso Barry for Guinée Conakry Info wrote an in-depth report on the undercovered issue of violence against women in Guinea. Even though the National Agency on Gender reports that 80% of Guinean women were victims of psychological or physical abuse [fr], the topic seems to be too often ignored by national media. His report underlines one of the factor [fr] for the lack of coverage :
La question de la violence conjugale ne fait pas partie des politiques publiques. Je n’ai jamais entendu un homme ou une femme politique faire de cela un sujet de débat. Plusieurs informations non officielles font état de violences conjugales au sein des familles de ceux qui dirigent ou qui ont dirigé ce pays. En fait, dans le paquet des droits que les femmes de Guinée revendiquent, il n’y a pas la question des violences conjugales. On parle surtout de l’accès à des postes de responsabilité, de la représentativité au niveau des institutions..
The issue of domestic violence is yet to be fully integrated in the public policy discussion. I never heard of any politician make this a topic of debate. Several unofficial reports indicate that domestic violence exists within families of those who lead or have led this country. In fact, in the ensemble of women rights that Guinean women demand, there is no mention of the issue of domestic violence. The topics mentioned are mostly about rights such as access to positions of responsibility, representation in political institutions etc..
Sri Lankan blogger Nandasiri Wanninayaka writes:
Rehan School is a mobile phone based virtual school system that allows anyone who has a mobile phone access the prerecorded video lessons free of charge. With expanding mobile coverage in Pakistan, this will be an exciting way to reach the rural illiterate communities. Since this is a free service, millions of Pakistanis can benefit. [..]
The price of this content is free, but the mobile shop keeper may charge a small fee of 50 rupees to transfer the content in the required format on the mobile phone’s memory card. Later on, this video content can be given by that phone user to anyone else, using Bluetooth for free.
Honor The Treaties, a film by director Eric Becker, documents photographer Aaron Huey‘s mission to portray poverty and the struggles of the Native Lakota people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the United States. Huey's original photographs are collected in the book Mitakuye Okasin, which was described by Mother Jones as “page after page of visual poetry,” and a “work [that] makes you care about the people and the place.”
Honor the Treaties is also the name of an organization – of which Huey is a member – that supports Native Indian art and rights.
As the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) drastically worsens [fr] (935 000 IDPs as of today), Thione Niang, the Senegalese head of the GIVE1Project and Mehdi Bensaid, a Moroccan MP, calls from the African continent to stand up and show support to the victims of the conflict in CAR [fr]:
Nous ne pouvons plus accepter que des frères s'entretuent sur le sol africain [..] Ainsi doit émerger une nouvelle génération de politiques inquiets pour l'avenir du continent et qui comprennent que servir l'intérêt général est l'unique solution pour résoudre les problématiques de développement en Afrique [..] Nous appelons l'ensemble des parlementaires africains à se préoccuper de la situation en Centrafrique, à inviter leurs gouvernements à s'impliquer davantage dans ses problématiques sécuritaires, à la construction d'une Afrique stable, seule solution possible à une croissance globale et sereine.
We can no longer accept that our brothers are killing each others on African soil [..] A new generation of politicians worried about the future of the continent must emerge, politicians who understand that serving the general interest of all is the unique solution to development issues in Africa [..] We call on all African parliamentarians to address the situation in the Central African Republic and we urge their governments to get more involved in its security issues and build a more stable Africa. This is the only solution to foster a sustainable and peaceful growth across the continent.
“I will not forget what happened today, one year ago”
This video was released by Video Volunteers on December 16, 2013 to commemorate Nirbhaya, who died in the 2012 Delhi gang rape incident. The incident was the only conviction of 706 reported cases of rape in Delhi that year. Statistics indicate that in India a woman is still raped every 22 minutes. The conviction rate for rape stands at an abysmal 25%.
This video provokes interesting discussions on the reasons why rape and sexual violence continue.
A ruling party lawmaker, Kim Jin-tae proposed a bill [ko] that either denies or greatly limits the right to counsel for criminals who are accused of committing ‘anti-state activities'. It has already drawn harsh criticism from civil rights lawyers who call it ‘utterly unconstitutional idea’ [ko] and sparked heated debates in major South Korean online venues. Vice chairman of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society's Judicial Committee, Lee Jae-hwa (@jhohmylaw) tweeted [ko] as below.
김진태 의원, “反국가 헌정질서 파괴범, 변호인 접견권제한 발의” http://t.co/Nz2MLIsNfA 김진대, 단단히 미쳤구나. 이 다음엔 고문을 허용하자는 법안 발의하겠구나.
— 이재화(변호사) (@jhohmylaw) January 3, 2014
[After linking to news article [ko] about the bill] Kim Jin-tae is totally delusional. What would be his next step? He may even propose a bill legalizing torture.
As part of our series on innovation made in Africa, we recently showcased the 3D printer made from E-waste in Togo and a spell checker for Bambara language. Today, we present the first low-power PC made in Mali. The PC called Limmorgal (Calculator in Peul language) is the brainchild of two Malian groups, Internet society Mali (ISOC Mali) and Intelec 3. Mamadou Iam Diallo, president of ISOC Mali, explains the needs they want to fulfill with this PC [fr] to Bamako Blog:
Nous avons conçu cette machine pour contribuer à la réduction du fossé numérique, mais également à la vulgarisation de l’outil informatique surtout en milieu scolaire. Limmorgal est aussi un ordinateur adapté à l’alimentation par l’énergie solaire grâce à sa faible consommation d’énergie.
We designed this PC to help reduce the digital divide, but also the expansion of the use of computers in schools. Limmorgal is a computer adapted to be powered by solar energy and requires low energy consumption (24 Watts required).
The basic specifications of the PC are:
- Operating system: Ubuntu (open source)
- 1.4 G Hertz microprocessor
- 1GB RAM
- Unit pricing : 171000 Fcfa (260 euros)
Is South Korea government gearing up toward social media censorship? The latest official remark by President Park (full transcript [ko]) had Korean net users worried. Park, addressing “those rumors spreading via social media”, said “if the government let these things happen, it will bring chaos nationwide” and added “bear in mind that the authorities need to react fast and aggressively, and preemptively against those groups trying to distort the situations”. Many twitter users voiced concerns and pointed out the fact (such as @ppsskr's tweet [ko] which has been retweeted over 500 times) that the government bodies sent out over 24 million tweets to tip the scale in favor of Park in the latest presidential election.
On December 18, 2013, American musician and composer Sean Lennon (son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono) shared a photo on his Facebook wall, depicting a pianist playing John Lennon's famous song “Imagine” to the rows of Ukrainian riot police. In a week, the photo has gathered over 16,900 likes and has been shared over 6,100 times.
The artistic action that took place in Kyiv, Ukraine, during ongoing EuroMaidan rallies. It was conceptualised and implemented by non-partisan activists of the group called Euromaidan's Civic Sector [uk].
Journalist and blogger Hilath Rasheed shares a Maldivian's thoughts in Facebook on “How is it like growing up in Male'/Maldives”:
From Ibrahim Lirar:
The most honest answer I can give now is that “it is scary and constricting”. Information was so tightly control until recently. Very few among us grew up really believing that we can be anything we want in the world and that any dream we dream can be made reality.
No, we where restricted, discouraged and oppressed, our society and family told us how to live our life, how far and dictated what we will achieve in our life. Our childhood dreams and ambitions were all squashed by the time we become adults. We lived in a tight box, all our thoughts and the whole of being was confined within that box.
This is what it is like for kids growing up until my generation in the Maldives.
Update: Read more in-depth coverage of this protest from Global Voices with many more photos here.
Several ten thousands have gathered at Seoul Plaza (as of 3 pm) to protest against the South Korean government's election manipulation scandal and the latest clampdowns on labor groups. The numbers are rapidly growing and the protest will continue throughout the day. Aiming 1 million Koreans to participate in ‘the December 28th General Strike', a detailed schedule [ko] of a series of protests held by different groups in major cities across the country has been widely shared in South Korean online venues in last few days.
— 방랑자 (@quegum) December 28, 2013
The December 28 General Strike (and protest) against the fraudulent election is being held at the City Hall Plaza, now as of 3:22 pm.
서울광장 안 아닙니다. 광장 밖 도로에까지 꽉 찼습니다 pic.twitter.com/LnDUhrMUfy
— 미디어몽구 (@mediamongu) December 28, 2013
Actually it can't be said people are ‘in’ the Seoul Plaza. Even the nearby road s are packed with people.
Opposition against the current administration's election manipulation scandal grows stronger every day, even enough to inspire conservative Protestant Christian groups to join the protest movement [ko] following the trails of Catholic leaders and Buddhist monks. On Christmas, this rare scene took place: in front of a Christmas tree which stood in the Jogye Buddhist temple, leaders from different religious groups held a joint prayer meeting/service lamenting the current political situation and denouncing the government bodies' systemic interference on the latest presidential election. South Korean net users in major online venues shared this running joke; President Park has achieved something that no other previous heads of the state were able to pull off– the ‘grand slam of unifying the three major religions‘ [ko] (of South Korea) for a shared purpose.
부처님이 계신 조계사에 켜진 성탄트리 앞에서 철도노조지지와 노동탄압을 중단하라는 종교계 합동예배가 진행중이랍니다.대통합은 바로 이런것 입니다. pic.twitter.com/M3gafYIHXJ
— 언론이 살아야 나라가 산다.(나친노) (@answer1219) December 25, 2013
In front of a Christmas tree, at the Jogye temple where the Buddha(‘s statues/relics) are kept, held a joint religious service demanding the government to halt clampdowns on railway workers and labor groups. This truly is a scene of ‘grand unification'.