California DMV thinks "INFOS3C" is a dirty word


The California DMV has rejected Opendns founder David Ulevitch's application for an "1NFOS3C" vanity license plate because it includes "a term of lust or depravity." Read the rest

Internet shutdowns cost the world at least $2.4 billion last year


Deji from Access Now writes, "How much does it cost to shut down the internet? A new report by the Brookings Institution assesses costs during a one year period between 2015-2016 and found immense losses. It's just a baseline too -- and doesn't even include things like mobile money or lost tax receipts. The real number is likely much higher." Read the rest

Singapore jails teenager for hurting God's feelings


Amos Yee, a 17-year-old blogger in Singapore, is to spend six weeks in jail for "wounding religious feelings." It is his second such jail term: he spent a month in jail last year for criticizing Christianity.

The teenager's latest trial was closely watched by rights groups, who argue that the case threatens freedom of expression.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said Singapore now needs to review its approach in dealing with cases like Yee's, who is likely to benefit from the publicity.

"Every time the authorities go after him, it just adds to his online audience," said Mr Robertson in an email.

Here's his blog, written in English. It's mostly teenage edgelording about religion and politics, but the boy's evidently got prospects—and adapting to the international audience his government has given him!

Read the rest

Teen boy in Saudi Arabia arrested for “unethical behaviour" after flirty chat with YouTube teen girl star


A teen boy has been arrested in Saudi Arabia for “unethical behaviour,” after he did a cute internet video chat with an American YouTube starlet.

Read the rest

The democratization of censorship: when anyone can kill as site as effectively as a government can


On the eve of the Stuxnet attacks, half a decade ago, I found myself discussing what it all meant with William Gibson (I'd just interviewed him on stage in London), and I said, "I think the most significant thing about any of these sophisticated, government-backed attacks is that they will eventually turn into a cheap and easy weapon that technically unskilled people can deploy for petty grievances." We haven't quite got there yet with Stuxnet, but there's a whole class of "advanced persistent threat" techniques that are now in the hands of fringey criminals who deploy them at the smallest provocation. Read the rest

Writer in 29th year of solitary confinement barred from reading his own book


Pteryxx writes, "Writer who has spent 30+ years in solitary has his own published writing censored from reaching him - and his unpublished manuscript was destroyed in moving him to a different facility. " Read the rest

Not just Yemen: Canadian cyberarms dealer Netsweeper also helped censor the net in Bahrain


Netsweeper is a litigious cyberarms dealer that threatened to sue the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab when its researchers outed the company for its work in helping Yemen's despotic regime censor the internet; later, the company dropped its lawsuit. Read the rest

Sitelock abuses DMCA to censor rival's criticisms


Sitelock is a major player in online security; a rival, White Fir, thinks its products are subpar, and has published extensive articles explaining why White Fir's products are superior -- articles that Sitelock has targeted with fraudulent copyright claims. Read the rest

Web's inventor and MIT prof explain ICANN to Ted Cruz, using small words


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is a corporation that manages one of the critical, centralized pieces of the internet's underlying infrastructure, the domain name system's root. Read the rest

Jigsaw: "wildly ambitious" Google spin-out aimed at tackling "surveillance, extremist indoctrination, censorship"

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Technologists have a dismal pattern: when it comes to engineering challenges ("build a global-scale comms platform") they rub their hands together with excitement; when it comes to the social challenges implied by the engineering ones ("do something about trolls") they throw their hands up and declare the problem to be too hard to solve. Read the rest

Italy on the verge of the stupidest censorship law in European history

After a string of high-profile cyberbullying and revenge-porn incidents, the Italian Chamber of Deputies has put forward a bill that will do nothing to prevent these abuses, and everything to allow for rampant, unaccountable censorship of the Italian internet, without rule of law or penalty for abuse.

Facebook bans famous war photo because the screaming, napalmed child's genitals are offensive


Facebook has banned one of the most famous images of the Vietnam war—then 9-year-old Kim Phuc running naked from a napalm attack on her village—for contravening the site's prohibition on "nudity." It even removed a posting of it by the Norwegian Prime Minister.

The editor of Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten said the entire post, which was about iconic war imagery, was later deleted and the account of the reporter behind it suspended.

Espen Egil Hansen has accused Mark Zuckerberg of "an abuse of power".

Facebook said it has to restrict nudity for cultural reasons.

Mr Hansen said the image of Kim Phuc, then aged nine, was removed less than 24 hours after the newspaper received a request from the firm to either take down the image or pixelate it and before it had responded.

Phuc suffered horrific burns in the attack, which she described as "a blast of heat which felt like someone had opened the door of an oven." Though it was unlikely she'd survive, journalists Nick Ut (who shot the photo) and Christopher Wain took her to hospital and she pulled through. She lives in pain to this day, and the photograph is part of the world's cultural heritage, a powerful warning of the horror of war.

Facebook's won: it doesn't have to pretend to care anymore about being the "public square" it sometimes affects to be. But let's hope it can be convinced to reconsider this one.

It's time for expectations to change, though. Nobly declaring "I shall not comply with your requirement to remove this picture" only highlights to whom publishers have ceded their power, given that Facebook already removed the picture. Read the rest

Trump campaign frisks, then blocks ticketed Washington Post reporter at Pence rally


The Trump Campaign showed its cowardice when it announced that journalists who asked tough questions of the candidate or reported negatively on the campaign would not be given press-credentials for future events, but when campaign security blocked a ticketed Washington Post reporter from attending Mike Pence inaugural vice-presidental rally in Milwaukee, a regular, law-abiding private citizen who bought a ticket and showed up like all the other attendees -- it reached a new low. Read the rest

Censorship company drops bogus lawsuit against researchers who outed them


Netsweeper sells "internet filtering technology" -- a tool that spies on users' internet traffic and censors some of what they see -- that is used by governments to control their populations, including the government of Yemen, which uses it to block its citizens' access to material critical of its policies. Read the rest

Minneapolis police are abusing copyright law to censor their controversial 'shoot-first' recruiting video

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Less than a week after an officer from a nearby force shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop, leaving him to die in front of his child and girlfriend (and the world on livestream) the Minneapolis Police Department has perjured itself in issuing a copyright takedown notice to Youtube in order to suppress a controversial recruiting video that depicted the jobs of MPD officers as being a firearms-heavy shoot-em-up. Read the rest

China bans mentions of newly discovered species of beetle from social media


The Rhyzodiastes (Temoana) xii is a newly classified species of beetle, indigenous to China's Hainan Island, whose name is a tribute to Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Read the rest

Chinese Cyberspace Administration bans news-sourcing from social media


China's top Internet regulator, the "Cyberspace Administration," has banned media outlets from sourcing news reports from social media, and has forced internet companies to delete the social media accounts of reporters who posted "fabricated news" online. Read the rest

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