angry tapir (1463043) writes Australia is moving closer to a regime under which ISPs will be forced to block access to websites whose "dominant purpose" is to facilitate copyright violations. A secret government discussion paper (PDF) has been leaked and proposes a system of website blocking and expanded liability for ISPs when it comes to "reasonable steps that can be taken ... to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement."
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nk497 (1345219) writes "Broadband customers are overwhelmingly choosing not to use parental-control systems foisted on ISPs by the government — with takeup in the single-digits for three of the four major broadband providers. Last year, the government pushed ISPs to roll out network-level filters, forcing new customers to make an "active" decision about whether they want to use them or not. Only 5% of new BT customers signed up, 8% opted in for Sky and 4% for Virgin Media. TalkTalk rolled out a parental-control system two years before the government required it and has a much better takeup, with 36% of customers signing up for it. The report, from regulator Ofcom, didn't bother to judge if the filters actually work, however."
mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that Bing has joined Google in removing search results upon request by EU citizens. From the article: The company has asked European residents, who want Microsoft to block search results that show on Bing in response to searches of their names, to fill out a four-part online form. Besides the name and country of residence of the person and the details of the pages to be blocked, the form also asks if the person is a public figure or has or expects a role that involves trust, leadership or safety. ... The information provided will help the company "consider the balance" between the applicant's individual privacy interest and the public interest in protecting free expression and the free availability of information, in line with European law, Microsoft said. You can always visit a non-EU version of Bing to receive uncensored results.
Bismillah (993337) writes A government inquiry has been launched into whether or not Australian authorities are using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act inappropriately. Last year, the Australian securities watchdog used Section 313 powers to force ISPs to block a quarter of a million web sites — in order to prevent access to just 1,200 sites the authority deemed harmful. From the inquiry page: "How law enforcement agencies use section 313 to request the disruption of such services is an important public policy question. Section 313 is also used for other purposes, but the Committee will inquire solely into and report on government agency use of section 313 for the purpose of disrupting illegal online services. The Committee invites interested persons and organizations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by Friday 22 August 2014."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Hidden From Google, the brainchild of a web programmer in New Jersey, archives each website that Google is required to take down from European Union search listings thanks to the recent court decision that allows people to request that certain pages be scrubbed from Google's search results if they're outdated or irrelevant. That decision has resulted in takedown requests from convicted sex offenders and huge banking companies, among thousands of others."
theodp writes: After Brazil's dramatic World Cup defeat by Germany, writes NPR's Aarti Shahani, Google's experimental newsroom focused on search trends that didn't rub salt in Brazil's wounds, choosing to not publish a single trend on Brazilian search terms. Copywriter Tessa Hewson said they were just too negative. "We might try and wait until we can do a slightly more upbeat trend." It's a decision that puzzles Shahani, but producer Sam Clohesy explained, "a negative story about Brazil won't necessarily get a lot of traction in social." In old-school newsrooms, if it bleeds, it leads. But because this new newsroom is focused on getting content onto everyone's smartphone, marketing expert Rakesh Agrawal says, editors may have another bias: to comb through the big data in search of happy thoughts.
An anonymous reader writes What happens when the Chinese government drastically restricts the type of speech that can be used in their country's most popular public forum? Users start migrating to more private options, naturally. Microblogging service Sina Weibo is bleeding users, while the semiprivate WeChat is growing expansively. It's growing so quickly that the government is stepping up its efforts to monitor and delete conversations that don't meet its exacting standards. The site's posting rules have developed in an interesting way, given the lack of free speech: "WeChat allows the creation of public accounts that anyone can follow, but limits posts to one a day. In addition, access to public accounts is not possible on cellphones, making it more difficult, for instance, to launch an incriminating photo of a public official into the blogosphere. Comments are also deleted after a few days, making long-term discussions challenging and erasing a historical record." Is this the natural result of government meddling in online conversations? What will chat services in China (and other speech-stifling nations) look like in another five or ten years?
An anonymous reader writes in with this article from the BBC about Google's recent removal of a news story from search results. "Google's decision to remove a BBC article from some of its search results was "not a good judgement", a European Commission spokesman has said. A link to an article by Robert Peston was taken down under the European court's "right to be forgotten" ruling. But Ryan Heath, spokesman for the European Commission's vice-president, said he could not see a "reasonable public interest" for the action. He said the ruling should not allow people to "Photoshop their lives". The BBC understands that Google is sifting through more than 250,000 web links people wanted removed."
jones_supa writes: Russia's legislature, often accused of metaphorically turning back the clock, has decided to do it literally – abandoning the policy of keeping the country on daylight-saving time all year. The 2011 move to impose permanent "summer time" in 2011 was one of the most memorable and least popular initiatives of Dmitry Medvedev's presidency. It forced tens of millions to travel to their jobs in pitch darkness during the winter. In the depths of December, the sun doesn't clear the horizon in Moscow until 10am. The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted 442-1 on Tuesday to return to standard time this autumn and stay there all year. The article also discusses a ban on swearing in books, plays, and films that went into effect today in Russia.
VentureBeat reports that the unofficial Google ambassador to the world has made another significant visit to a place where Internet access is either forbidden or impractical for most of the citizenry; hopefully it heralds change on that front. Continuing his tour of countries with authoritarian governments and less-than-favorable Internet access, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made a secret visit to Cuba yesterday. The U.S. government has forbidden its citizens from traveling to Cuba or spending any money within the country since cold war tensions in the 1960s. Even though the cold war is over, the ban remains in effect, which is why Schmidt’s visit is significant. Unofficially (meaning not on behalf of his company), the powerful Googler has also made controversial visits to North Korea and Myanmar to promote Internet freedom, and has previously spoken out against online censorship happening in both China and India. Schmidt, says the article, "was joined by a crew of former Google employees as well as author Jared Cohen."
The Guardian reports that Alaa Abd El Fattah, "one of the activists most associated with the 2011 uprising that briefly ended 60 years of autocratic rule, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for allegedly organising a protest – an act banned under a law implemented last November, and used to jail several revolutionary leaders. ... Abd El Fattah was also jailed under Mubarak, the military junta that succeeded him, and Adly Mansour, the interim president installed after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last summer. Under Morsi, Abd El Fattah escaped prison, but was placed under investigation." The EFF points ou that Abd El Fattah "is one of many caught up in the Egyptian government’s attempt to assert powers. Alaa set an example for how the Internet could be used to organize and exercise free speech: Egypt's leaders should not be permitted to make an example of him to silence others." Update: 06/12 20:02 GMT by T : Reader Mostafa Hussein points out that Abd El Fattah took part in a Slashdot interview more than 10 years ago, too; it gives some insight into the tech scene (and a bit of the politics) of Egypt at that time.
alphadogg (971356) writes China makes headlines every other week for its censorship of the Internet, but few people outside the country know what it's like to live with those access controls, or how to get around them. This IDG News Service writer has lived in China for close to six years and censorship has been a near constant, lurking in the background ready to "harmonize" the Web and throw a wrench in his online viewing. It's been especially evident this month. Google's services, which don't follow the strict censorship rules, are currently blocked. How long that will last is unknown, but it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests earlier this month — an event the Chinese government wants no one to remember.
wired_parrot (768394) writes 'After a leading protester of the recent military coup in Thailand made several critical posts in Facebook criticizing the military takeover, Thailand's Technology Crime Suppression Division tracked his location through his IP address and promptly arrested him.. The arrested was meant to send a message to Thailand's online community. Said the police: "I want to tell any offenders on social media that police will come get you."'
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Cody Wilson, the 26-year-old former law school student who published plans for printing 3D guns online, disputed claims by universities and government agencies that his thermoplastic gun design is unsafe. Wilson claims the agencies that tested the guns did not build them to spec. In a Q&A with Computerworld, he also addressed why he's continuing to press regulatory agencies to allow him to offer the plans again for upload after being ordered to take them down, saying it's less about the Second Amendment and more about the implications of open source and the digital age. "If you want to talk about rights, what does it mean to respect a civil liberty or civil right? Well, it means you understand there are social costs in having that right; that's why it deserves protection in the first place," he said. Wilson is also planning to release other gun-related project, though not necessarily a CAD design."
An anonymous reader writes "Twitter made a public stance in 2011 to remain a platform for free speech, having helped fuel movements such as the Arab Spring. This past week, however, Twitter is shown to have complied with Russian government demands to block a pro-Ukrainian Twitter feed from reaching Russian citizens, with Turkish government demands that it remove content that the Turkish government wants removed, and with a Pakistani bureaucrat's request that content he considers blasphemous and unethical be censored in Pakistan. Given Twitter's role in the democratic uprisings of the past few years, what do these capitulations bode for future movements? Will other platforms take Twitter's place? Or is the importance to democracy of platforms such as Twitter overblown?"
On Monday, The Intercept reported that the NSA is recording the content of every cell phone call in the Bahamas. At the time of publication, The Intercept said there was another country in which the NSA was doing this, but declined to name it because of "specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence." Now, reader Advocatus Diaboli points out that WikiLeaks has spilled the beans: the country being fully monitored by the NSA is Afghanistan. Julian Assange wrote, "Such censorship strips a nation of its right to self-determination on a matter which affects its whole population. An ongoing crime of mass espionage is being committed against the victim state and its population. By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimization, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere. Pre-notification to the perpetrating authorities also permits the erasure of evidence which could be used in a successful criminal prosecution, civil claim, or other investigations. ... We do not believe it is the place of media to 'aid and abet' a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population. Consequently WikiLeaks cannot be complicit in the censorship of victim state X. The country in question is Afghanistan."
bizwriter (1064470) writes "General Motors put together its take on a George Carlin list of words you can't say. Engineering employees were shown 69 words and phrases that were not to be used in emails, presentations, or memos. They include: defect, defective, safety, safety related, dangerous, bad, and critical. You know, words that the average person, in the context of the millions of cars that GM has recalled, might understand as indicative of underlying problems at the company. Oh, terribly sorry, 'problem' was on the list as well."
First time accepted submitter GoddersUK (1262110) writes "Rory Cellan-Jones writes about the recent European Court judgement on the right to be forgotten in terms of US/EU cultural differences (and perhaps a bit of bitterness on the EU side at U.S. influence online): 'He tells me... ..."In the past if you were in Germany you were never worried that some encyclopedia website based in the United States was going to name you as a murderer after you got out of jail because that was inconceivable. Today that can happen, so the cultural gap that was always there about the regulation of speech is becoming more visible."... Europeans who have been told that the Internet is basically ungovernable — and if it does have guiding principles then they come from the land of the free — are expressing some satisfaction that court has refused to believe that.' And, certainly, it seems, here in the UK, that even MEPs keen on the principle don't really know how this ruling will work in practice or what the wider consequences will be. Video here."
An anonymous reader writes "The U.K. government is planning on vetoing the E.U. legislation that enforces net neutrality under the guise of 'won't anyone think of the child pornography blocking?' again. From the article: ' It’s a surprising turn of events. Just last month, the European Parliament voted to place the principles of net neutrality into law. However, before it becomes law throughout Europe, each member country must also pass the legislation. On Thursday, the British government indicated it may veto it instead. At issue is a new provision that critics argue would restrict the British government’s “ability to block illegal material.” The amendment made it so that only a court order would allow for the banning of content, and not a legislative provision, as originally proposed, according to RT. “We do not support any proposals that mean we cannot enforce our laws, including blocking child abuse images,” a government spokesperson told BuzzFeed.'"
randomErr (172078) writes "Russia is tightening its grip on free speech and freedom of the Internet by creating a new 'bloggers law'. This policy follows the pattern set by China, Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran." Any site with more than 3000 daily visitors will be required to register and be held to a number of restrictions, quoting the article: "Besides registering, bloggers can no longer remain anonymous online, and organizations that provide platforms for their work such as search engines, social networks and other forums must maintain computer records on Russian soil of everything posted over the previous six months."