onproton writes Northern Illinois University recently began restricting student access to web pages that contain "illegal or unethical" content which, according to University policy, includes resources used for "political activities...and the organization or participation in meetings, rallies and demonstrations." A student raised concerns after attempting to access the Wikipedia page for Westboro Baptist Church, and receiving a filter message informing him that his access of this page would likely violate the University's Acceptable Use Policy, along with a warning that "all violations would be reviewed." This has lead to questions about whether some policies that restrict student access to information are in the best interest of the primary goal of education.
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Jason Koebler writes: In order to get inside China's notorious internet filter, Harvard researcher Gary King created his own fake social network to gain access to the programs used to censor content, so he could reverse-engineer the system. "From inside China, we created our own social media website, purchased a URL, rented server space, contracted with one of the most popular software platforms in China used to create these sites, submitted, automatically reviewed, posted, and censored our own submissions," King wrote in a study published in Science. "We had complete access to the software; we were even able to get their recommendations on how to conduct censorship on our own site in compliance with government standards."
An anonymous reader points out that UK authorities have warned that sharing the video of the James Foley murder could lead to prosecution under anti-terror laws. Scotland Yard has warned internet users they could be arrested under terrorism legislation if they viewed or shared the video of James Foley's murder, as Twitter and YouTube attempted to remove all trace of the footage from the web. Twitter suspended dozens of accounts that published the graphic footage while YouTube tried to remove several copies of the video, which was first uploaded on Tuesday night. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tweeted: "We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you." The unprecedented social media clampdown came as the Metropolitan police warned that even viewing the video could constitute a criminal offence in the UK. The force said in a statement: "The MPS counter-terrorism command (SO15) is investigating the contents of the video that was posted online in relation to the alleged murder of James Foley. We would like to remind the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating extremist material within the UK may constitute an offence under terrorism legislation."
Via TorrentFreak comes news that Google is now being asked to remove one million links per day (or an average of one takedown notice every 8ms). In 2008, they received one takedown request approximately every six days. From the article: The massive surge in removal requests is not without controversy. It’s been reported that some notices reference pages that contain no copyrighted material, due to mistakes or abuse, but are deleted nonetheless. Google has a pretty good track record of catching these errors, but since manual review of all links is unachievable, some URLs are removed in error. ... The issue has also piqued the interest of U.S. lawmakers. Earlier this year the House Judiciary Subcommittee had a hearing on the DMCA takedown issue, and both copyright holders, Internet service providers, and other parties are examining what they can do to optimize the process. In the meantime, the number of removal requests is expected to rise and rise, with 10 million links per week being the next milestone.
First time accepted submitter carbon_tet writes I read two articles this week that made me wonder: "Would anyone actually pay for a website without trolls?" The first, was about web trolls and civility on the internet, and the second about the ad-based internet. It seems that public comments unavoidably have trolls, or they degrade very quickly until someone makes a reference to Hitler. So, is it impossible to have a substantive discussion online without trolls? Would you put your money where your mouth is to have a serious online conversation without them? Are there any topics that you would talk about (or prefer to see talked about) on a website where trolls were paywalled out?
First time accepted submitter kavzee writes The popular Australian online discussion forum, Whirlpool, is being sued by a financial services group for refusing to remove a negative review about its services. A similar story occurred a number of years ago when another company by the name of 2Clix attempted to sue Whirlpool for the same reasons but later withdrew their case. "A financial services business licenced through National Australia Bank is suing an online forum for refusing to remove an allegedly fake and negative post about its services, claiming it has damaged its reputation with would-be clients. It is the latest legal action launched against an online forum or review website for publishing negative comments, following several high profile cases in Australia and overseas. Financial advice group WCS Group has initiated action against Whirlpool in the Supreme Court of Victoria, seeking unspecified damages and costs, despite the fact the forum generates no revenue."
New submitter Nocturrne writes: The FOSS project Lantern is having great success in unblocking the internet for many users in oppressive regimes, like China and Iran. Much like Tor and BitTorrent, Lantern is using peer-to-peer networking to overcome firewalls, but with the additional security of a trusted network of friends. "If you download Lantern in an uncensored region, you can connect with someone in a censored region, who can then access whatever content they want through you. What makes the system so unique is that it operates on the basis of trust. ... Through a process called consistent routing, the amount of information any single Lantern user can learn about other users is limited to a small subset, making infiltration significantly more difficult." The network of peers is growing, but we need more friends in uncensored countries to join us.
An anonymous reader writes Reuters reported on Friday that Apple "has begun keeping the personal data of some Chinese users on servers in mainland China." Apple has claimed that the move is meant "to improve the speed and reliability of its iCloud service", but given China's track record with censorship and privacy, the explanation rings hollow for some skeptics. Nevertheless, Apple assures its Chinese users that their personal data on China Telecom is encrypted and that the encryption keys will be stored offshore. Only time will tell if Apple will be able to resist Chinese government requests to access its China-based servers.
An anonymous reader writes Have you heard of personalized postage stamps? You pay the value of the stamps plus a fee and the post office prints official stamps usable for postage which show (almost) anything you can put into a jpeg file. An Austrian Tibet supporter found out what 'almost' means. He submitted a picture of the Dalai Lama with the text 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama,' but the Austrian post office refused to produce these stamps. Stampnews and the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (autotranslation) reported that this had been due to pressure from the Chinese embassy in Vienna. Now there is a video showing how visual cryptography has been used to get around this attempt at censorship [caution: organ music] .
itwbennett writes China is tightening control over mobile messaging services with new rules that limit their role in spreading news. Under the new regulations, only news agencies and other groups with official approval can publish whatever the government considers political news via public accounts. "All other public accounts that have not been approved cannot release or reprint political news," the regulations said. Users of the instant messaging services will also have to register with their official IDs, and agree to follow relevant laws.
Mr_Silver writes TorrentFreak is reporting that the City of London Police (a private police force in government-backed livery with an authority that does not go beyond the corporate-controlled City of London area — so not to be confused with the Metropolitan Police) has seized control of a number of domains including Immunicity, a general proxy server that was set up as a censorship circumvention tool. This appears to be their next step after placing banner adverts on websites.
netbuzz (955038) writes The Wikimedia Foundation this morning reports that 50 links to Wikipedia from Google have been removed under Europe's "right to be forgotten" regulations, including a page about a notorious Irish bank robber and another about an Italian criminal gang. "We only know about these removals because the involved search engine company chose to send notices to the Wikimedia Foundation. Search engines have no legal obligation to send such notices. Indeed, their ability to continue to do so may be in jeopardy. Since search engines are not required to provide affected sites with notice, other search engines may have removed additional links from their results without our knowledge. This lack of transparent policies and procedures is only one of the many flaws in the European decision." Wikimedia now has a page listing all notifications that search listing were removed. itwbennett also wrote in with Wikimedia news this morning: the Wikimedia foundation published its first ever transparency report, detailing requests to remove or alter content (zero granted, ever) and content removed for copyright violations.
The EFF is only today able to release details of an attempt by the government to alter the historical record in the case brought by the EFF against the NSA in Jewel v. NSA. "On June 6, the court held a long hearing in Jewel in a crowded, open courtroom, widely covered by the press. We were even on the local TV news on two stations. At the end, the Judge ordered both sides to request a transcript since he ordered us to do additional briefing. But when it was over, the government secretly, and surprisingly sought permission to "remove" classified information from the transcript, and even indicated that it wanted to do so secretly, so the public could never even know that they had done so." As you'd expect of the EFF, they fought back with vigorous objections, and in the end the government did not get its way, instead deciding that it hadn't given away any classified information after all. "The transcript of a court proceeding is the historical record of that event, what will exist and inform the public long after the persons involved are gone. The government's attempt to change this history was unprecedented. We could find no example of where a court had granted such a remedy or even where such a request had been made. This was another example of the government's attempt to shroud in secrecy both its own actions, as well as the challenges to those actions. We are pleased that the record of this attempt is now public. But should the situation recur, we will fight it as hard as we did this time."
An anonymous reader writes On Friday, Russia implemented a new law that significantly limits its citizens' online free speech. Under this new law, social media sites must "retain user data for at least six months...within the country's boundaries so it can be available for government inspection." Also, "bloggers with at least 3,000 daily readers must register with Roskomnadzor, the regulator that also oversees Russia's main media outlets." This, of course, means that popular bloggers will no longer be able to remain anonymous.
hypnosec writes with news that India's Central Bureau of Investigation has ordered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Google for violating Indian laws by mapping sensitive areas and defence installations in the country. As per the PE, registered on the basis of a complaint made by the Surveyor General of India's office to the Union Home Ministry, Google has been accused of organizing a mapping competition dubbed 'Mapathon' in February-March 2013 without taking prior permission from Survey of India, country's official mapping agency. The mapping competition required citizens to map their neighbourhoods, especially details related to hospitals and restaurants. The Survey of India (SoI), alarmed by the event, asked the company to share its event details. While going through the details the watchdog found that there were several coordinates having details of sensitive defence installations which are out of the public domain."
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."
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."