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Quick Reads + Freedom of Speech

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Latest stories from Quick Reads + Freedom of Speech

Baidu Censors New Citizens Movement Website

After Chinese court affirms Chinese lawyer and activist Xu Zhiyong’s conviction of four-year sentence in prison for assembling a crowd to disrupt order in public places, New Citizens Movement website, of which Xu was one of the founders, disappeared from Baidu search results. 

This is not the first time that information relating to Xu Zhiyong has disappeared from Baidu and other China-based web sites. 

South Korea: Samsung Sues Newspaper Over Negative Report

South Korean tech giant Samsung has launched a lawsuit against a local IT newspaper for publishing an unfavorable report. Marmot's Hole blog wrote about how things developed and the repercussion of Samsung's response to negative press coverage. Some of the highlights read;

I’d caution Samsung that in terms of PR, lawsuits of this sort often cause more harm than good[...] To make matters worse, a story at AppleInsider compares the Korean electronics giant rather unfavorably to the Cupertino Fruit Company, which—assuming the report is true—almost never sues newspapers/blogs despite the countless groundless rumors that accompany the release of just about every iPhone model.

Censorship Forces Navalny to Abandon LiveJournal

Images remixed by Andrey Tselikov.

Images remixed by Andrey Tselikov.

Russia's most famous blogger (or as he describes himself: “corruption fighter, son, husband, father”) has been forced to move away from LiveJournal, the popular blogging platform that launched him to fame in the first place. As a result of government mandated censorship [Global Voices report], and notwithstanding attempts to counteract such censorship [Global Voices report], Alexey Navalny's team has started a new standalone blog, navalny.com [ru]. Because Navalny is still under house arrest, the blog is technically run by his wife. According to the first post [ru], this blog is an attempt to create a clean slate with Russia's Internet regulators, who claim that Navalny's old blog contains calls for unlawful rallies. At this point, Navalny's LiveJournal account [ru] has stopped updating with original content — it simply links to new posts on navalny.com.

UNESCO Mapping World Press Freedom Day Events

Press Freedom Day events

Screen shot of UNESCO's crowd map of Press Freedom Day events

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day and UNESCO is marking the occasion with an event in Paris, France that is free and open to the public.

There are lots of resources on their site for anyone who wishes to learn more about press freedom or host an event.

Using an online crowdmapping tool UNESCO is logging World Press Freedom Day events around the world and invite you to submit your own.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Creator of Quirky Movement Defends Kremlin Propagandist

A “Monstration” demonstrator in Novosibirsk, in 2011.

Artyom Loskutov, creator of the popular counter-culture art movement “Monstration” [see Global Voices report], made waves on RuNet by signing a letter in support of Dmitry Kiselyov, a journalist who many consider to be Putin's chief propagandist. Loskutov was one of several dozen Russian journalists who signed the letter [ru], which asks pointed questions about recent EU sanctions imposed against Kiselyov, and whether such sanctions constitute an attack on free speech.

Loskutov works for TV Rain, an opposition TV station currently facing financial difficulties because of censorship, and so seems like an odd candidate to voice support for Kiselyov. Popular photo-blogger Rustem Adagamov even tweeted [ru] that he wants to cancel his subscription to TV Rain and get his money back because of Loskutov's position. Loskutov defended himself in a Facebook post [ru], saying that his signature was not in support of Kiselyov, but rather in support of the principle of free speech and the rights of journalists. Many of his readers argued that free speech should not apply to “propagandists” like Kiselyov, launching personal attacks against Loskutov and continuing a long tradition of Russian liberal intelligentsia seeking out fifth columnists in their own ranks.

Brazil's Internet Bill of Rights Ignites Storm of Posts

Activists who support Brazil's bill of rights for Internet users, known as the #MarcoCivil, and who have Facebook or Twitter accounts are invited to participate in a large-scale campaign on social networks to pressure the National Congress to vote on the current version of the bill. An article by Julie Rovono on TechCrunch explains how the lobby of telecom companies is threatening the net neutrality provision.

The mobilization is taking place today, March 25, 2014, under the hashtag #EuQueroMarcoCivil (I want Marco Civil). Voting may take place on the same day, though it has been postponed around 30 times [pt] since 2012. Anyone who wants to take part in the “compartilhaço” (“sharing storm”) can subscribe on the website “Save the Internet” from the social mobilization platform Meu Rio:

Vamos deixar claro para os deputados que a liberdade de expressão, a neutralidade da rede e a privacidade dos usuários não são negociáveis. O texto precisa ser aprovado como está!

Let's make it clear for members of parliament that freedom of expression, network neutrality and users privacy are not negotiable. The bill needs to be approved as it is!

The Perils Of The Dams Coming Up for Mumbai Region

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) blog reports that as many as 12 dams are either being planned or are under construction to satisfy the increasing water demand of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) in India. The Tribals and other affected groups have long been strongly opposing these projects but most people in Mumbai seems to be unaware of their struggles or impacts of these projects.

All of these dams fall in eco-sensitive region of the Western Ghats. They will together submerge more than 22,000 hectares of land, including nearly 7000 hectares of forests, lakhs of trees and more than 750 hectares of Tansa Sanctuary. They will affect a minimum of 100,000 tribals who depend on the forests and their ancestral lands for livelihoods. These dams include Kalu, Shai, Balganga, Susari, Khargihill, Bhugad, Pinjal, Gargai, Middle Vaitarna, Barvi and Poshir, among others. These are in addition to the dams already constructed for MMR water supply.

Tor Users on the Rise in Turkey

Human rights and ethics advocate Frederic Jacobs notes that the number of people using Tor is on the rise in Turkey:

Turkey has just banned Twitter.

Hungarian Far-Right Group Protests Against Fashion Designer

A group of far-right extremists occupied the exhibition opening of a Hungarian fashion designer on Friday, Kettős Mérce blog reported [hu].

The designer in question Koby's new fashion line was first withdrawn [hu] from a Hungarian sports brand shop in January 2014, after nationalist criticism rose against the t-shirt designs featuring some of Hungary's historical figures such as Lajos Kossuth, a leader of the Hungarian revolution of 1848. Photos of Koby's line of t-shirts can be found in a recent Funzine.hu article.

The public debate about Hungary's far-right groups and the far-right party Jobbik has become more tense as the 2014 elections approach, set for April 6. On March 15, the national holiday marking the 1848 revolution, a group of citizens dubbed “Vote against Jobbik” held a protest against-far right extremists in Hungary.

Macedonian Government to Introduce Internet Filtering

Airborne blog commented on the Macedonian government's plan to set up a new company to provide online betting and other gambling to residents of Macedonia:

The plan will involve “disabling of betting/gambling online games on foreign web sites”. This blockade is set to last two years beginning in March 2014.

Citing benefits for “the [Macedonian] state and society”, blocking of the sites will be carried out by the Agency for Electronic Communications and the Ministry for Information Society.

Given the extremely poor record of the Macedonian government on media freedom and previous unsuccessful attempts to legislate liability for Internet access providers for content published via their services, it's not too difficult to imagine a more broad use of the blocking mechanism once it is set up.

At this point, raising concern about the proposed plan for blocking access to site is the least we can do. The communities from the Internet should rally again.

The blocking mechanism is set to take effect sometime in March [mk], following a change in the Law on Games of Chance [mk] adopted on December 28, 2013.

The State Lottery operates under the motto “It's for good” and holds monopoly on most kinds of gambling, while it also administers other government lottery schemes.

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