Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

The Latest in Internet Censorship

Posted by | Censorship | June 03, 2014

Censorship Around the World

China Censors Google

Most Google sites have been shut down or severely restricted across China as the 12th anniversary of Tiananmen Square comes up. By only blocking some services and allowing poor access to others, China is setting up Google for the blame.

NYTimes – China Escalating Attack on Google

YouTube Back in Turkey?

Turkey’s highest court has ordered Prime Minister Erdogan to allow access to YouTube after he shut it down when videos showing corruption in his administration surfaced (remember the Twitter incident?). The decision may not be enough, since the government tends to ignore its courts.

BBC News – Turkish court orders YouTube access to be restored

Serbia Upset Over Claims of Censorship

Serbian PM Vucic demanded an apology from the OSCE after it accused the government of shutting down blogs and arresting three people critical of the government’s response to severe flooding which left 51 people dead. Yes, this is the same Vucic who served as Milosevic’s Information Minister during the late 90’s.

Reuters – Serbian PM demands OSCE apology over allegations of censorship

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Russia’s Bloggers Law

Posted by | Censorship | May 07, 2014

Russia Passes the Bloggers Law Forcing Blogs to Register

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed what it called the “bloggers law.” It requires any website with more than 3,000 daily visitors to be considered a media outlet, like a newspaper, and thus be responsible for the accuracy of any information published. All eligible bloggers will need to register with the state, and can no longer be anonymous. Further, any organization that provides a platform for the blog (search engines, social networks, etc.) must maintain records of everything posted.

Part of a Trend of Internet Censorship in Russia

It is no secret that the bloggers law is part of a conscious effort on the part of the Russian Government to silence online criticism. By actively registering and monitoring popular bloggers, the government is telling them that they are now being targeted. Putin believes that Russia should move towards the Chinese model of internet censorship, and has been very active in making that become a reality.

Earlier this year, a law allowing the government to block websites was immediately implemented against critics of the Putin administration, and news sites that reported on political upheaval and demonstrations. Just last month, Pavel Durov, the founder of Vkontakte (Russia’s version of Facebook) fled the country rather than turn over government requested information about political activists.

Ridiculous Loopholes in the Law

From a legal standpoint, it is no surprise that Putin has been cracking down on dissent, and this is just another step along the way. Recently he announced his belief that the internet was a “special CIA project.” But it is a surprise that he did it so poorly. Both critics and proponents of the law seem to agree that it was poorly written and ridiculously vague. For example, there is no determination about how to count 3,000 visitors. Some sites have already proclaimed that their visible counters will stop below that magic number.

What’s equally unclear is how the law will affect U.S. based companies operating in Russia. Google and Facebook have both said they are reviewing the law, but have not announced any determinations. The problem is that while the fines for noncompliance are relatively low (for Google and Facebook), continued noncompliance could lead to a government shutdown of the service. In other words, it may be an attempt by the Russian government to close foreign sources of information, like Google, YouTube, Facebook, etc.

While Russia does have free speech rights, and this law will surely end up before their Supreme Court, the political climate in Russia is very much in Putin’s favor. This is particularly true after his twin victories of the Olympics and the annexation of Crimea. U.S. companies providing blogging platforms in Russia should be wary of the law and take steps to protect their users. For example, some Russian blog platforms have stopped publishing bloggers’ page views above 2,500, while others have eliminated the customer review options to better hide the number of daily page views.

Have other ideas on how to protect bloggers in Russia after this new law? We’d love to hear from you in our comments below.

NYTimes – Russia Quietly Tightens Reins on Web With ‘Bloggers Law’

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Cool Infographic on the Turkish Twitter Situation

Posted by | Censorship | March 23, 2014

As a follow up to last week’s post about the Turkish backlash to Prime Minister Erdogan’s banning of Twitter, here’s a cool infographic showing off just how popular #TwitterisblockedinTurkey became.


#TwitterisblockedinTurkey has become the most popular tweet in history. Turns out, shutting down Twitter isn't easy, as Prime Minister Erdogan is learning.

#TwitterisblockedinTurkey has become the most popular tweet in history. Turns out, shutting down Twitter isn’t easy, as Prime Minister Erdogan is learning.

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How to Make Twitter Even More Popular

Posted by | Censorship | March 21, 2014

Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan banned Twitter from Turkey. Instead, he made it more popular than ever. Calling it the “worst menace to society,” Erdogan shut it down because people kept posting about alleged corruption in his administration. The result has been a massive backlash under #TwitterisblockedinTurkey. These tweets have been coming from all over the world, including inside Turkey itself. While the website was blocked, people can still send in tweets via text message. This has resulted in new records for tweeting, with one estimate being about 17,000 tweets per minute on the subject.

So much for censorship.

Washington Post – Turkey bans Twitter — and Twitter explodes

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