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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Web Sheriff's legal scare strategy: throw everything at the wall, hope something sticks

Web Sheriff has been retained by the mysterious celeb(s) at the center of the super injunction over an olive-oil threesome in a paddling pool, and as we learned, merely mentioning that such a thing exists is enough to lure them out of their caves and onto your doorstep, from which vantage they will endlessly pastebomb a series of legal threats, each more bizarre and incoherent than the last. Read the rest

Prestigious Pets of Dallas wants $1M from customers who said they overfed a fish

If you hire Prestigious Pets of Dallas, TX to take care of your pets, you have to sign a sleazy nondisparagement contract through which you promise not to complain in public about the company's service. Read the rest

DDoSers sell attacks for $5 on Fivver

Many years ago, EFF co-founder John Gilmore and I were discussing the prevalence of botnets, which are commonly used to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm websites with floods of traffic; John said that if the botnets were really on the rise at the reported rate, we should expect to see a massive crash in the price of DDoS services, following simple supply/demand logic. Read the rest

Smart-meter vendor says that if we know how their system works, the terrorists will win

Phil Mocek filed a public records request to find out how Seattle's new smart meters -- supplied by Landis and Gyr -- will work. As Mocek writes, these meters are based on "unspecified and unverifiable sensors that monitor activity inside of private property and can communicate collected information in real-time to unspecified machines in remote locations, the workings of which are obscured from ratepayers, with interfaces used by [the city] that require specialized equipment and are thus completely unavailable to ratepayers for personal use or monitoring and verification of information communicated, is already shrouded in secrecy and seemingly proceeding despite repeated voicing of public concern and complete lack of public justification of expense." Read the rest

Nintendo claims ownership over fans' Minecraft/Mario mashups

Nintendo continues its long-running campaign of legal harassment against its biggest fans: this time, they're targeting fan-videos showing gameplay from the official, licensed Mario/Minecraft mashup pack for the Wii U. Read the rest

China's comment army posted 488m things last year

The Chinese government's comment army generates nearly half a billion comments a year on apps and social networks, doing all it can to sway opinion in favor of the party. The vast message-managing operation spans the globe, reports Paul Mozur.

The common belief that they are paid 50 cents per post leads people in China to call them the Fifty Cent Party.

A new study says those people are closer to the government than previously thought.

The study, from researchers at Harvard University, says the legions of online commenters are not all freelancers paid by the post. In fact, it says that most are government employees, preaching the principles of the Chinese Communist Party on social media while carrying out their jobs in the local tax bureau or at a county government office.

The key technique is distraction — don't rebut, change the subject — all driven by a growing belief among authorities that direct censorship is too crude and obvious. Read the rest

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