Netizen Report: Chelsea Manning and the Power of Transparency

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. U.S. Army officer Chelsea Manning was released from military prison on May 17 after spending nearly seven years behind bars for sharing with Wikileaks thousands of classified military and government files that exposed human rights violations and corruption committed by the US government and numerous others. The U.S. government pursued 22 charges against Manning, including “aiding the enemy.” Although prosecutors were never able to prove that Manning’s actions had caused the United States material harm, she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in a case rife with political controversy and seen by civil and human rights advocates as an attempt to set a severe precedent for sentencing in cases involving the leaking of classified digital documents. Her sentence was commuted by Barack Obama in the final days
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Chelsea Manning and the Power of Transparency"

Netizen Report: Draft Laws in Egypt Could Lock Down Social Media

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. The Egyptian parliament is reviewing a bill that would require social media users in Egypt to register with a government authority in order to use social media websites including Facebook and Twitter. Within six months of the law’s adoption, users would have to register on the authority’s website with their real names and state ID numbers to be able to use social media networks. Failure to do so could bring punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine. The bill, which has been endorsed by 60 members of parliament, is awaiting discussion by the parliament’s legislative and constitutional committees before it is referred for plenary debate. On May 8, another MP submitted a draft law that would introduce harsher penalties for those convicted of insulting the
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Draft Laws in Egypt Could Lock Down Social Media"

Netizen Report: Vietnam Says Facebook Will Cooperate with Censorship Requests on Offensive, ‘Fake’ Content

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. Vietnamese government officials said on April 26 that Facebook has committed to help local law enforcement prevent and remove from Facebook content that violates the country’s laws against “offensive” and anti-government messages. According to a government statement, Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert and Vietnamese Information and Communication Minister Truong Minh Tuan met in Hanoi and formed an agreement to establish a special channel to coordinate monitoring and removal of content from the platform. The statement also indicated that Facebook had agreed to help remove fake accounts and “fake content”, a designation that could be used to label unflattering news or opinions about government policies or officials. Facebook’s most recent transparency report says that the company did not restrict any content at the behest of the Vietnamese government between
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Vietnam Says Facebook Will Cooperate with Censorship Requests on Offensive, ‘Fake’ Content"

Netizen Report: Censorship Spikes in India, Subsides in Cameroon

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have blocked 22 social media applications, including Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. An official state circular issued on April 26 said the social media services were “being misused by anti-national and anti-social elements” in the Kashmir Valley to disturb “peace and tranquility” and could be blocked for up to 30 days. Other banned sites include QQ, Baidu, WeChat, Google Plus, Skype, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube and Flickr. The move comes in the face of increasing unrest in Kashmir. Student protests, both in person and on social media, have intensified in recent days, in opposition to the heavy-handed tactics deployed under India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which significantly expands military power in regions considered to be “disturbed”. Writing for EZine Dailyo.in, Angshukanta Chakraborty
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Censorship Spikes in India, Subsides in Cameroon"

Netizen Report: Censorship Spikes After Venezuela’s ‘Self-Inflicted Coup’

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. Protesters in Venezuela have been mobilizing almost daily and in large numbers since the Supreme Court of Justice temporarily nullified the National Assembly on March 30, a move that many described as a “self-inflicted” coup. The change sparked international outrage. Although the court reversed course days later and reinstated the National Assembly, public unrest has continued, forcing public officials to confront the economic and political crisis that has been ongoing since 2014. Alongside political turmoil and rising rates of violent crime, the global drop in the price of oil, the country’s main export, has left Venezuela with staggering inflation rates for more than three years. Inflation has not fallen below 50 percent since 2014. It exceeded 100% in 2015, and reached 800% at the end of 2016. President Nicolas
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Censorship Spikes After Venezuela’s ‘Self-Inflicted Coup’"

Netizen Report: Online Battles Break Out Amid Elections in Armenia and Ecuador

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. Elections have become a time when Internet censorship, online harassment, and the deliberate spread of misinformation escalate. Last year, social media networks were blocked in Uganda and Montenegro during national elections. In the Gambia and Gabon, the Internet was shut down altogether. Harassment of political candidates and activists alike was a hallmark of special parliamentary elections in Macedonia, presidential elections in the US, and last week’s chief executive elections in Hong Kong. As elections approach in Iran, hardliners are pressuring the Rouhani administration to block the Telegram messaging app. And the tide of harassment is rising in both Russia and France, as both nations prepare to choose their next leader. Elections in Armenia and Ecuador last week proved to be no exception. The lead-up to
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Online Battles Break Out Amid Elections in Armenia and Ecuador"

Netizen Report: India Had 31 Internet Shutdowns in 2016. How Many Did Your Country Have?

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. Since January 1, 2017, there have been seven regional-level Internet shutdowns in India. In 2016, there were 31 such shutdowns. Alongside a growing number of countries around the world, it appears that Internet blackouts are becoming an increasingly common tactic for local and regional authorities when faced with public consternation around politics and elections, ethnic and religious tensions, and incidents of violence. The Software Freedom Law Centre of New Delhi last month released an online interactive map that shows the location and details of each Internet shutdown in India, along with a short description of public events coinciding with the shutdown. In a recent blog post, Centre director Mishi Chaudhary argued that the Modi government needs to reconcile its reliance on Internet shutdowns as a means of controlling
Continue reading "Netizen Report: India Had 31 Internet Shutdowns in 2016. How Many Did Your Country Have?"