US slumps in press freedom rankings

In this year's Reporters Without Borders international press freedom index, the U.S. slumped to 47th place, a fall of 27 places, largely due to arrests of journalists covering protests. The full report is available in PDF format. [RSF] Read the rest

International human rights community vs SOPA

An enormous, diverse global coalition of press freedom and human rights groups have signed onto a letter (PDF) opposing America's Stop Online Piracy Act, the worst proposed Internet law in the USA's legislative history. Included signatories are as varied as India's Center for Internet and Society, the Church of Sweden, Colombia's Karisma, the UK Open Rights Group, and Reporters Without Borders. The letter itself is a great piece of writing: "This is as unacceptable to the international community as it would be if a foreign country were to impose similar measures on the United States." (Thanks, Alan!) Read the rest

Activists' impromptu press conference at the EG8 conference

After Sarkozy's "EG8" conference last week -- an event that brought together government leaders and Internet execs to legitimize an effort to censor and surveil the net -- a group of civil society people and activists threw an impromptu press-conference to explain what Sarko and company missed by treating the net as simply an engine for big business.

And so, yesterday, in Paris, civil society threw together an impromptu press conference, featuring Harvard's Larry Lessig, La Quadrature du Net's Jérémie Zimmermann, CUNY's Jeff Jarvis, former ICANN board member/former White House advisor Susan Crawford, Reporters Without Borders' Jean-François Julliard, and Harvard's Yochai Benkler. The spirt of the event was captured by Lessig. Business is important, the professor argued. But there are more than the interests of just business at stake when it comes to the future of the global network.

At E-G8, Civil Society Groups Restake Their Claim on the 'Net Read the rest

"The U.S. has the cyber capabilities to prevent WikiLeaks from disseminating those materials"

"The United States has the cyber capabilities to prevent WikiLeaks from disseminating those materials. Will President Obama order the military to deploy those capabilities?"

LOL, as if! Did you backtrace it? That Washington Post op-ed by former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen is best read in Mad Dad Voice. Yes, this is the same nutball columnist who effectively argued for arresting or assassinating Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange a couple weeks ago (Raffi Khatchadourian's response in the New Yorker is a must-read).

There is no "off" switch for the internet in America. But even that reactionary fantasy misses a critical point: the encrypted "insurance" file which was posted earlier this month by Wikileaks pre-emptively negates any draconian, linear response that the state might consider: unlock the file with a key (or keys) that could easily be tweeted, emailed, or otherwise shared by Assange and colleagues, and the next Big Dump would be laid bare for all to read. Read the rest

Reporters Without Borders: Wikileaks set "a bad precedent"

Reporters Sans Frontiers, among the most prominent advocates for a free press, writes that Wikileaks' recent disclosures--which inadvertently exposed the names of Afghan collaborators--offer democratic governments "good grounds for putting the Internet under closer surveillance." Wikileaks, writes secretary-general Jean-François Julliard, should behave more journalistically: "Wikileaks is an information outlet and, as such, is subject to the same rules of publishing responsibility as any other media." Read the rest

Censorship in China targeted by RSF's new ad campaign

A creative new advertising campaign from journalist advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF), aimed at various regimes hostile to press freedom, including China. Click for larger size to see the detail that makes this such a compelling design. (thanks, Oxblood!) Read the rest