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

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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

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writes, "Writer who has spent 30+ years in solitary has his own published writing censored from reaching him - and his unpublished manuscript was destroyed in moving him to a different facility.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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

In Madagascar, pineapple jokes are a form of dangerous, soon-to-be-banned dissent

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Madagascar, one of the world's poorest nations, is led by president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, who infuriated his people by insisting that the economy was doing well and that naysayers couldn't "provide evidence that the country was getting poorer." Read the rest

Australian politician investigated for perjury over fake DMCA notices to Twitter

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Kelly O'Dwyer is a politician from the Australian Liberal Party who sent Twitter DMCA notices that shut down an account that compared her to Sophie Mirabella, another Liberal politician who lost her seat in a landslide in the last election. Read the rest

Young Journalist contest: win admission to the HOPE hacker conference

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This summer, NYC's Pennsylvania Hotel will once again fill with joyous hackers as 2600 Magazine celebrates the 11th Hackers on Planet Earth conference (HOPE): I'm giving a keynote, and if you're a student or young journalist, you can win admission to the conference by writing an article about subjects of interest to the event. Read the rest

It's getting harder and harder to use gag clauses to silence laid off workers in America

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In America, it's common practice to make severance pay for laid-off workers contingent on signing a "nondisparagement clause" that prohibits workers from ever speaking ill of their former employers -- some contracts I've seen even prohibit revealing the existence of these clauses, combining silence with secrecy. A winning combination if you're a rapacious corporation engaged in legally questionable labor practices. Read the rest

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