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Censorship



All Reason.com articles with the "Censorship" tag.



Published: Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Sat, 19 Aug 2017 13:00:39 -0400

 



Protect Internet Companies' Freedom to Refuse to Host Racists, or Anyone Else They Don't Like

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:30:00 -0400

When I edited a small-town newspaper, I eventually ended up rejecting letters to the editor from an elderly gentleman who had many interesting things to say about the issues of the day. He was, in some ways, a boon to the op-ed page—online commenting has completely demolished the number letters sent to many news outlets. But he was also a bigot, and this became obvious and more overt once Barack Obama was elected president. The final straw was a letter explaining how he could tell walking into a house that black people lived there based on the way the house smelled. I would run no more letters from him. I informed my publisher and he agreed. We deprived him from a platform of communication and we didn't regret it one bit. The impact in this case was small—the growth of the Internet means that there are plenty of other ways to get your message out when the local media tell you no. But that didn't used to be the case. Go back 30 years, and the average American's ability to communicate ideas to the larger public was much more limited. Yet newspaper editors regularly censored or refused to run letters to the editor they felt were in bad taste. There was never any question that newspapers had the authority to make those calls. The First Amendment is very clear here. Now that mass communication has moved online, a whole new crop of companies have the power to decide whether to host controversial content. They don't see themselves as "media outlets." They're just hosts and service providers. Traditionally they have not cared what people are saying. But in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, some of these companies are making the same decisions that old-fashioned media outlets have made in the past. They have decided that they do not want to provide their services to neo-Nazi outlets like The Daily Stormer. Earlier in the week GoDaddy and Google booted the white supremacist site as customers. The CEO of CloudFlare, a service that helps protect sites from cyberattacks, subsequently decided abruptly to dump Daily Stormer as a customer. Now the CEO, Matthew Prince, has some regrets. He's concerned about betraying his neutrality as a service provider, about the potential consequences of taking sides in a highly charged political debate, and about his own power, saying at one point: "Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn't be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power." Fortunately, Prince doesn't actually have that power. CloudFlare is a major player, but it does have competition, and it's competition that should resolve this fear. Going back to the newspaper example: When enough people in a community felt like their local newspaper didn't serve them well enough, it created the environment for rival newspapers to pop up and thrive. The entire alternative newsweekly industry exists because traditional dailies were not meeting a younger, more liberal readership's needs. If Prince were to get so drunk on his power that he starts cutting ties with customers willy-nilly, that wouldn't just be bad for the customers. It would be bad for CloudFlare, because it would lose business to its competitors. There's a subtext to Prince's statements, one that suggests that what he really wants is not to be seen as responsible for controversial corporate decisions. The idea that a handful of companies have complete control over whether or not you can communicate your beliefs online creates a significant tension around the issue of censorship. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is worried that careless censorship by companies will bolster the efforts by governments to turn these decisions into demands. It is true that we should be very, very concerned about government censorship. Germany, for example, would be happy to force every online service to reject Daily Stormer as a customer. And if these neo-Nazis had been writing in Germany, cops would have been busting down their doors and arresting them. But a lengthy blog post expressing EFF's concerns hits an odd spot very early on: Prote[...]



Activist Sentenced to Two and a Half Years in Prison for Sharing BBC Article

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:30:00 -0400

(image) Thailand government critic Jatupat Bonnpattaraksa, a.k.a. Pai, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for lese-majeste, or insulting the king.

Pai, a former law student who has been outspoken about the military junta running the country, was arrested just two days after Maha Vajiralongkorn took the throne as the new king last December. Pai's crime: sharing a BBC Thai profile of Vajiralongkorn. The article was fairly objective—you can read the English-language version of it here—and thousands of people shared it on social media. Pai was the only one targeted by authorities.

Pai pled guilty and had a five-year sentence reduced to two and a half. "Pai confessed," his attorney told Reuters. "He knew that if he tried to fight the charges it would not be of any use."

As Reuters notes, the number of arrests for the crime of lese-majeste has increased sharply since the military overthrew the democratically elected government back in 2014. The arrests have often targeted government critics.

"Jatupat's case is only the latest in the Thai government's increasingly repressive and arbitrary attempts to chill expression online and censor content critical of the state, including banning interaction with certain exiled dissidents and making it a crime to simply view lese majeste content," the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Gennie Gebhart writes. "These extremes are not just about stopping the flow of information; they are also about spreading fear among users that the authorities may be watching what they read, share, and say online."

Human Rights Watch condemned the verdict, and in a statement its Asia director, Brad Adam, suggested Pai was "prosecuted for his strong opposition to military rule more than for any harm incurred by the monarchy."

Amnesty International also condemned the verdict. "This verdict shows the extremes to which the authorities are prepared to go in using repressive laws to silence peaceful debate, including on Facebook," Amnesty International's Josef Benedict said in a statement.

This sort of repression should be a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment. As hate-crime laws are coopted to cover classes of people like police officers, it's easy to imagine how hate-speech rules could be similarly deployed. Pai's persecution also highlights the importance of protecting anonymity online. The rise of trolling has led to calls to eliminate anonymity on the internet; Facebook has made it difficult to use the site without revealing your identity, even as it also becomes a tool and traffic hub for activism. Facebook is free to run its own network the way it wants, but opponents of anonymity need to understand that anonymity doesn't just protect trolls; it protects people from troll governments.

Please share your totally appropriate and not-at-all insulting comments about the Thai king in the comment thread below.




GoDaddy Dumps Neo-Nazi Website. Hooray for Freedom of Association! (UPDATE: Google Also Declines to Host)

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 13:15:00 -0400

In the wake of the violent confrontations in Charlottesville, Virginia, that culminated in the slaying of Heather Heyer, the massive web host company GoDaddy is telling neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer to go pound sand. In a tweet over the weekend, subsequently confirmed as accurate, GoDaddy told the site to go find a new host for their white nationalist content. A Daily Stormer post about Heyer's death insulted her and said people are "glad she is dead"; the host company ruled that this violated its terms. A spokesman told The Washington Post that the article, coming right on the heels of the protests, could "incite additional violence." GoDaddy has been under pressure to stop hosting sites that spout "hate speech," but it had resisted the idea, citing the First Amendment as a reason to keep hosting racist content. But since GoDaddy is a private company, it doesn't have to use the First Amendment as a guidepost. The First Amendment restricts government censorship, not media or Internet hosting site censorship. Invoking the First Amendment here is a way for the company to establish that it's going to attempt to take all comers and to serve as many people as it can, as long as they're willing to pay. But if GoDaddy does not want to play host to these hateful messages, it's absolutely the company's right to say no. That's what freedom of association is all about. GoDaddy should not have to play host to content it finds offensive or abhorrent. That's one good reason to keep web hosting in the hands of private companies and not turn the internet into a government-managed utility. If, for example, GoDaddy had to operate as though it were a government agency, it might be required to prove that Daily Stormer's piece insulting Heyer meets a legal threshold for incitement. As a private company, GoDaddy can decide for itself what counts as instigation. And if freedom of association is a right for GoDaddy, then it's a right for everybody. GoDaddy shouldn't have to host Nazis. T-shirt companies shouldn't be required by the government to print gay pride messages if they don't approve. Office Depot shouldn't be required to make photocopies of anti-abortion fliers. It's not a perfect solution. In fact, it's a very messy solution, one where people often use social pressure and public outrage as a way to try to influence company behavior. GoDaddy's decision came after people tweeted at them to ask whether they would do anything about the Daily Stormer's postings. At other times people have tried to get other people fired for expressing opinions they don't like, as we saw with Google. It's nevertheless preferable to solutions that involve the government, because once the government is involved, resolving the conflict becomes a matter of using force, not influence and social pressure. Police in the United Kingdom and Germany have responded to hate speech by raiding people's homes and arresting them. That's not a better solution. Not only does this create the extremely obvious problem that a person's speech limits will be determined by whoever is in control of the government (spoiler: It's not you), but it also increases the likelihood that somebody will be injured or killed by police during these interactions. So regardless of whether any particular person agrees that GoDaddy made the right choice to dump these guys, we should support their right to do so. And we should perhaps keep that in mind when other businesses don't want to play a role in producing or carrying messages with which they do not agree. UPDATE: Daily Stormer attempted to move its hosting to Google, but now Google is also rejecting them on the grounds of the site violating their terms of service.[...]



Brickbat: When in Germany

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) German police have arrested two Chinese tourists for photographing each other outside the Reichstag building giving the "Heil Hitler" salute. The gesture is illegal in Germany, and those found guilty of performing it face up to three years in prison.




Rutgers Orders Freshmen to Add Microaggression to Their Course Lists

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 14:30:00 -0400

As part of a $175 student orientation package, Rutgers University requires all incoming freshmen take a course on the "big impact" of microaggressions, because nothing says welcome to college like a mandatory seminar on safe spaces and offensive phrases. Microaggressions, statements that are subtly offensive to a marginalized group, are nothing new to the social justice scene. Everything from saying "that's crazy" to "you throw like a girl" could be considered a microaggression. The Language Matters Campaign, organized by the university's Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities, teaches students about how to avoid hurting their peers intentionally or accidentally with their words. The course consists of a Prezi presentation and some Youtube videos. It concludes by encouraging students to report an act of bias toward anyone because of their "race, religion, color, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, atypical heredity or cellular blood trait, military service or veteran status." It is a long list for new students to retain as they worry about which classes to take or how to pay for $400 textbooks. The Center for Social Justice Education, however, would prefer microaggressions be a student's top priority. Microaggressions, after all, can be detrimental to a person's health, according to the Prezi. Microaggressions "can have a deep and negative impact on the experiences of your peers" and the Prezi even goes so far as to claim that "victims are affected physically, cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally." Tying words to physical harm is an emerging trend for both sides of the political spectrum. When words are considered violence, preventing them from being spoken sounds reasonable. Censorship, then, is the proper precaution to ensure a student's safety. Reporting an act of bias becomes a civic duty. The problem with microaggressions is they are entirely subjective. One person's microaggression is another's rude joke. While one person might laugh at the joke, another might feel uncomfortable. It can be tricky figuring out where to draw the line. But that isn't an excuse to forbid speech because it may be offensive to someone. Respected researchers have begun to poke holes in the social justice advocate argument that science is on the side of microaggression theory. Althea Nagai, a research fellow at the Center for Equal Opportunity specializing in statistical studies in social policy, cites many technical flaws in critical race theory and, in turn, microaggression theory. "This one-way racial framework accounts for the serious technical shortcomings in critical race theory studies—biased interview questions, reliance on narrative and small numbers of respondents, problems of reliability, issues of replicability, and ignoring alternative explanations," Nagai argued in a National Association of Scholars article. Many universities, Nagai says, have embraced social justice theories of inclusivity and microaggressions in order to avoid any implications of racial bias. Solutions to perceived problems, like diversity programs, may actually exacerbate them. "There is nothing in the current research to show that such programs work. I suspect most fail to create greater feelings of inclusion," Nagai contends. "In other words, 'social justice' and diversity programs may actually backfire, creating less inclusion, more polarization, and more findings of unconscious racism." Rutgers University should consider Nagai's findings and those of her peers before mandating microaggression training for incoming freshmen, or risk the fallout of social justice run amok.[...]



Top U.K. Official: Give Up Your Tech Freedoms or the Terrorists Will Win

Wed, 02 Aug 2017 13:15:00 -0400

The way the United Kingdom's Home Secretary describes the internet and online communications, you'd think privacy and free speech actually cause terrorism. Amber Rudd, like many of her deliberately dense political peers, is making the media rounds calling for weakening encryption and strengthening online censorship, all in the name of preventing future terror attacks. As the U.K.'s home secretary, Rudd oversees the security apparatus in her homeland. Prime Minister Theresa May served in the same role until a change in government brought her to power. Rudd and May appear to be birds of a feather in believing that data privacy and online communications are tools of crime and terror, and that tech companies should follow government orders. That means censoring people when officials tell them to, and that means giving the government private data when officials tell them to, even if they have to compromise data security to do so. This week Rudd took the argument one step further: She doesn't think the average person wants or cares all that much about encryption or data privacy—they just want convenience in communications. Therefore, she argues, there's no reason for companies to focus so much on end-to-end encryption (via Yahoo News, covering Rudd's paywalled commentary): Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Rudd said: "Who uses WhatsApp because it is end-to-end encrypted, rather than because it is an incredibly user-friendly and cheap way of staying in touch with friends and family? "So this is not about asking the companies to break encryption or create so called 'back doors'. "Companies are constantly making trade-offs between security and 'usability', and it is here where our experts believe opportunities may lie. "Real people often prefer ease of use and a multitude of features to perfect, unbreakable security." Er, so she is calling for encryption back doors, right? She is insisting that the U.K. government doesn't want to ban encryption. But she wants government access to private data on demand, which will require companies to compromise their data security and weaken encryption. And her justification for doing so is to point out the average user doesn't care. Besides highlighting her own ignorance about the importance of encryption in general (perhaps she should ask a banker), she stumbles head first into her own counterargument: People who are really determined to do bad things and not be found out by government obviously do care about encryption. So while the government obsesses with making the most popular communication tools compliant to their demands, actual bad guys will turn to other tools instead, tools the government might not even know about. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, points out that these major communications services are willing to provide metadata to law enforcement even if they cannot provide the actual content. Rudd's insistence on access is essentially going to create an encryption black market: Sandberg warned that if encryption was stripped away, users might flee the service, leaving law enforcement officials with even fewer leads. "If people move off those encrypted services to go to encrypted services in countries that won't share the metadata, the government actually has less information, not more," she said. That's not the only awful component on Rudd's agenda. She—like other politicians, not just in the United Kingdom but in Germany and the European Union—want to force social media companies to play a bigger role in censoring content by terrorists or "extremists," and she wants to hammer through legislation to make it happen. These tactics confuse symptoms of radicalization with the causes, treating online terrorist recruiting drives as though the words and images have magic powers that trigger extreme behavior in people who would otherwise be just fine. There are, of course, unintended consequences of trying to force social med[...]



Brickbat: A Civics Lesson

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Lansing, Michigan, City Council President Patricia Spitzley refused to allow Charli Collison, 9, to speak during public comments on construction in a local park, later telling the media children shouldn't be allowed to speak. Following public outcry, Spitzley apologized.




Bassem Youssef Was 'Egypt's Jon Stewart.' Then He Was Forced To Flee.

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 14:04:00 -0400

Bassem Youssef, known as the "Jon Stewart of Egypt," was the host of the most popular television show in the history of the Arab world. A heart surgeon by training, he was inspired by The Daily Show frontman to start a weekly YouTube show in 2011, just as the Egyptian revolution and Arab Spring were getting underway. He taped it from his laundry room. Called Al-Bernameg, which means "The Show," its audience grew to 30 million per episode. "[The] value of satire is that it humanizes people in power," Youssef tells Reason's Justin Monticello, those "considered holy." Youssef's downfall began with a viral segment mocking President Mohamed Morsi's hat in 2013. In March, a warrant was issued for his arrest for insulting the president and Islam. So Youssef offered to turn himself in—wearing his Morsi hat. Though he was released on bail, it was the beginning of the end. Three months later, the military deposed and jailed Morsi, dissolved the constitution, and silenced the critical press. General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became the new ruler of Egypt, and his regime didn't take kindly to mockery. What followed is the subject of Youssef's new memoir, Revolution for Dummies, and the documentary Tickling Giants by The Daily Show Senior Producer Sara Taksler, which is available online. The Show lasted just one airing after Sisi became president. Youssef was slapped with the largest fine in the history of Egyptian media. Sensing that he would soon be arrested and prevented from traveling out of the country, he threw a few personal belongings into a suitcase and rushed to the airport. In a wide-ranging conversation, Youssef discusses the limits of satire, political correctness, comedy on college campuses, Trump, how political leaders use religion, and more. Produced by Justin Monticello. Cameras by Paul Detrick and Alex Manning. Music by Topher Mohr and Alex Elena and Pavel Malkov. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes. This is a rush transcript—check all quotes against the audio for accuracy. Bassem Youssef: The Islamists were reacting in a violent way because they're not used that they're ... They are hiding behind this sacred ideology of religion and they're not used to be criticized, so to break that mold and to just be pointed at them and make fun of them. They couldn't handle it. Justin Monticello: You went in and police officers and court employees, or the prosecutor's employees were asking to take selfies with you and they were big fans of yours. Youssef: It was almost surreal to be in a place where I'm being questioned while the people who are in charge of questioning me were securing ... Questioning me were fans and taking pictures. Monticello: So, after the military coup ... I guess we can call it a coup now. I know you took great pains to talk about how it was a word that was not allowed in Egypt for a time, right? Youssef: Oh yeah, that was the "c" word. Monticello: There was marshal law, and you couldn't broadcast for a couple months. Even your staff, they were fighting with their parents about whether they should continue to do the show now that the military was in power. In moments like that, where you were confronting these new regimes that kept popping up during the revolution, how did you decide when it was too dangerous? How did you find the inspiration to keep going on and making fun of them? Youssef: Well, part of me was scared to come back. I was scared of ... How can we make fun of the new regime because the new regime was very popular. You can say whatever you want about the regime, but Sisi was popular, the regime, their army is popular. It's part of our culture. And I mentioned in the book how people would consider the armies even more sacred than religion. I almost took the decision of stopping the show, but there were all of these people behind m[...]



Brickbat: Red Star Over Budapest

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) The Hungarian government is threatening to ban Heineken's red star logo, saying it is a symbol of totalitarianism. But the move came after the company won a trademark dispute in Romania with a company that produces a beer popular with ethnic Hungarians.




Canada Claims Authority to Censor Your Internet Searches

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 16:15:00 -0400

The Canadian Supreme Court today ruled the country has the authority to demand Google censor and remove links to certain web pages or online content. The idea that governments can force Google to deindex links to pages is unfortunately not new (see the European Union's "right to be forgotten"). What matters internationally in this case is the government is forcing Google to remove links from searches regardless of where the Internet user is. That is to say: Canada is demanding the authority to censor the internet outside of its physical borders and control what people who are not Canadian citizens can find online. Today's court ruling declares that because the Internet doesn't have any borders, when Canada decides Google has to censor content it should be a global order: "The Internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates — globally." The case involves copyright and intellectual property claims. A tech firm was accusing another firm of stealing and duplicating one of its products and selling it online. Google was asked to deindex the links to the firm accused of stealing so that it wouldn't show up in search results. Google complied with court orders, but only for searches from within Canada. Canada's Supreme Court sees geographical limits (even virtual ones) on its ability to censor speech as "facilitating" illegal commerce rather than a speech issue. Here's a paragraph from the ruling that should give folks pause: This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods. Canada has hate speech laws. Does it follow that Canada should require Google to deindex pages containing what it deems "hate speech" in the United States? If Canada does not because it acknowledges limits to its reach as a nation is it "facilitating" something unlawful? The court notes Google removes links due to court orders based on content and still doesn't seem to see an issue in a country's boundary of authority: [Google] acknowledges, fairly, that it can, and often does, exactly what is being asked of it in this case, that is, alter search results. It does so to avoid generating links to child pornography and websites containing "hate speech". It also complies with notices it receives under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Pub. L. No. 105-304, 112 Stat. 2680 (1998) to de-index content from its search results that allegedly infringes copyright, and removes websites that are subject to court orders. The court, in justifying its ruling, is unwittingly bringing up problems with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA is intended as a tool for fight online piracy and intellectual property theft by making it easier to remove copyrighted material through an ownership claim process. It is also prone to abuse. People abuse the DMCA's "take down" process in order to try to censor speech, critiques or commentary, they find objectionable. It can be as minor as trying to censor critical video game reviews, or extend as far as criticizing another country's leaders. Ecuadorian officials once attempted to use the DMCA to censor criticism of government actions. Google itself has stepped in to try to help users fend off abusive DMCA take-down requests. Invoking other forms of legally recognized internet censorship is not, perhaps, the defense Canada's Supreme Court is looking for. A closer examination highlights the potential for abuses. And claiming the authority to censor Google links everywhere in the world is a decision begging[...]



Supporting Laws Banning Hate Speech Means Supporting Police Raids on People’s Homes

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:35:00 -0400

If you hate the way police in the United States abuse, threaten, and sometimes kill citizens during routine law enforcement, and you also oppose hate speech and want the government to ban it, take note of how Germany enforces its hate speech laws: They send police to raid people's homes and arrest them. This week German police, in a coordinated effort, raided the homes of 36 people accused of violating the country's hate speech laws. From The New York Times: Most of the raids concerned politically motivated right-wing incitement, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office, whose officers conducted home searches and interrogations. But the raids also targeted two people accused of left-wing extremist content, as well as one person accused of making threats or harassment based on someone's sexual orientation. "The still high incidence of punishable hate posting shows a need for police action," Holger Münch, president of the Federal Criminal Police Office, said in a statement. "Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threat, criminal violence and violence either on the street or on the internet." Nothing helps prevent a "climate of fear" like police officers busting into dozens of people's homes because they said things the government has outlawed, am I right, folks? Americans who want to create an exception that "hate speech" not be protected by the First Amendment often point to Europe and insist countries with such speech bans are no less free for it. On the theory alone, they're wrong. Prohibiting offensive messages is an imposition on freedom, regardless of whether one favors the laws. You are inherently less free when you face criminal penalties for saying certain things. In practice, we see the obvious truth of hate speech law enforcement: gangs of police officers breaking into people's homes and charging them with crimes. In the context of America's struggles to hold police officers accountable for violent or reckless misconduct, the enforcement of hate speech laws in America would get people killed. And if people think the victims will be those alt-right folks, they're just not paying attention. It's undoubtedly going to be some minority teen who recklessly tweets "Kill Whitey" in response to some news item of the day. Yesterday we noted the government's tendency to unfairly apply speech regulations to benefit the powerful over the disenfranchised is a great reason not to give government power to determine hate speech. We have plenty of other examples showing how hate speech laws would actually play out in the hands of our government. Several years ago the mayor of Peoria arranged for the police to raid the home of a man who made a Twitter account parodying him. After news of the raid went viral, the mayor showed absolutely no remorse for the absurd reason behind it and insisted he was the one who had his freedom of speech trampled. Politicians would like nothing better than to possess the means to punish those who make fun of them. The local college diversity committee wouldn't be meting out punishment. The politicians would. Look at what's happening to hate crime laws. People enacted these laws allegedly to protect minorities from violence based on their identities. Now states have added law enforcement as a protected class, and police are calling for sentencing punishments for those who say mean things about them when they are arrested. It's reckless to think that hate speech laws won't end up in a similar place. Eventually we'll see police raiding people's homes for tweeting mean things about them. The kernel of this is contained in tweets from a police inspector in Sussex, England, who did not like people making fun of a rainbow-colored cop car.[...]



Brickbat: Make Yearbooks Great Again

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Cheryl Dyer, superintendent of Wall Township, New Jersey, schools says the district will reissue this year's yearbook. This time, uncensored. Dyer says a photo of one student was deliberately altered to remove the pro-Trump slogan on his shirt She say it isn't clear why another student's pro-Trump quote was omitted. The yearbook adviser has been suspended.




Brickbat: Lèse-majesté

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) A Thai military court has sentenced a man identified only as Wichai to 35 years in prison for Facebook posts it found to be insulting to the country's royal family.




Brickbat: Blacklisted

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Ron Janicki planned a music festival featuring politically outspoken artists this summer at Los Angeles State Historic Park near Chinatown. But California State Parks says he has to get buy-in from the Chinatown Business Improvement District, among other organizations, before it will permit the festival. And George Yu, president of the CBID doesn't seem to be buying in. He says Janicki's efforts to draw attention to the Chinese government's censorship and harvesting of organs is "anti-China."




Theresa May’s Call for Internet Censorship Isn't Limited to Fighting Terrorism

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 15:25:00 -0400

You'd think Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself was the driver of the van that plowed into pedestrians on London Bridge Saturday, the way U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is talking about the attack. He isn't, but everybody across the world, not just in the United Kingdom, needs to pay close attention to how May wants to respond to the assault. May believes the problem is you and your silly insistence that you be permitted to speak your mind and to look at whatever you want on the internet. And she means to stop you. And her attitude toward government control of internet speech is shared by President Donald Trump (and Hillary Clinton), so what she's trying to sell isn't isolated to her own citizenry. In a speech in the wake of this weekend's attack, May called flat-out for government authority to censor and control what people can see and access on the internet: We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed—yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide. We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning. Note that May appears to be trying to narrowly pitch a regulatory regime that focuses entirely on censoring speech by terrorists. One might argue that even America's First Amendment would not protect such speech, since such communications involve planning violence against others. But May and the Tories really want to propose much broader censorship of the internet, and they know it. May is using fear of terrorism to sell government control over private online speech. The Tories' manifesto for the upcoming election makes it pretty clear they're looking to control communication on the internet in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with fighting terrorism. BuzzFeed took note: The proposals—dotted around the manifesto document—are varied. There are many measures designed to make it easier to do business online but it's a different, more social conservative approach when it comes to social networks. Legislation would be introduced to protect the public from abuse and offensive material online, while everyone would have the right to wipe material that was posted when they were under 18. Internet companies would also be asked to help promote counter-extremism narratives—potentially echoing the government's Prevent programme. There would be new rules requiring companies to make it ever harder for people to access pornography and violent images, with all content creators forced to justify their policies to the government. The manifesto doesn't seem to acknowledge a difference between speech and activity, Buzzfeed adds: "It should be as unacceptable to bully online as it is in the playground, as difficult to groom a young child on the internet as it is in a community, as hard for children to access violent and degrading pornography online as it is in the high street, and as difficult to commit a crime digitally as it is physically." New laws will be introduced to implement these rules, forcing internet companies such as Facebook to abide by the rulings of a regulator or face sanctions: "We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law." The United Kingdom already has some very heavy content-based censorship of pornography that presumes to police what sorts of sexual fantasies are acceptable among its populace. Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown has written repeatedly abo[...]