Netizen Report: Memes and ‘Obscene’ Messages Are Under Fire in Indonesia

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information is seeking to increase controls on “obscene” content online. The country already takes pains to censor online pornography, dating services, websites with information related to sex and sexuality, and online content that is deemed insulting to Islam. Director General Semuel Pangerapan announced that officials would summon representatives from Google, Twitter and WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) to pressure these companies to screen their networks for content that they deem to be sexually obscene. The announcement specifically addressed “lewd” animated GIFs and the prevalence of the typically playful looped animations circulating on WhatsApp. The Ministry threatened to block WhatsApp if the company failed to remove such GIFs within 48 hours. The company, which is owned by Facebook, did not see this as an empty threat
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Memes and ‘Obscene’ Messages Are Under Fire in Indonesia"

Netizen Report: Travel Ban Nearly Keeps Yemeni Blogger From Accepting Free Press Award

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. Yemeni blogger Afrah Nasser was awarded this year’s International Free Press Award for her work covering the conflict in Yemen despite the many obstacles faced by journalists in the country. But Nasser, who also holds Swedish citizenship, was nearly unable to attend the awards ceremony in New York in person, because of the US travel ban on Yemeni nationals. After three applications and many letters in support of her application, Nasser finally obtained her visa from the US Embassy in Stockholm, where she resides. On Twitter, she remarked:
I never really had faith in the power of media & public opinion as I have today. Makes me think of people who don’t enjoy my high media profile. This is why, we need to get the tragedy in Yemen as
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Travel Ban Nearly Keeps Yemeni Blogger From Accepting Free Press Award"

Netizen Report: Will Egypt’s Jailed Bloggers Ever See Justice?

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. On 19 October, Egypt’s highest court of appeal postponed the trial of prominent activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah to 8 November. The 36-year-old father and husband was a leading voice in the 2011 protests that helped to overthrow former president Hosni Mubarak. Abd El Fattah is currently serving a five-year jail term for violating Egypt’s protest law, which prohibits public demonstrations without prior authorization by police. He has already served 3.5 years of his sentence. In Thursday’s hearing, the judge withdrew from Alaa’s case and referred it to another circuit. As the reason, he cited “embarrassment” without providing any further clarifications. Abd El Fattah is being prosecuted for taking part in a protest denouncing military trials of civilians in November 2013. Although several people were arrested
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Will Egypt’s Jailed Bloggers Ever See Justice?"

Netizen Report: New Research Tests Facebook’s Digital ‘On Ramp’ for Developing Countries

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This week Global Voices released an original research report on Free Basics, an app built by Facebook that is intended to serve as an “on ramp” to using the global internet. Now active in 63 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, the app does not get users onto the global internet, but rather gives them access to Facebook and a handful of online services, ranging from ESPN and Disney to BBC and Wikipedia, all free of charge. In their promotional materials for the program, Facebook posits that: “[by] introducing people to the benefits of the internet” they will help justify the cost of mobile data and thereby “bring more people online and help improve their lives.” A group of Global Voices contributors decided to test their theory this
Continue reading "Netizen Report: New Research Tests Facebook’s Digital ‘On Ramp’ for Developing Countries"

Netizen Report: Authorities in China and Indonesia Threaten Whatsapp, Telegram Over Political Content

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology threatened to ban the secure messaging app Telegram on July 15, reasoning that it is being used to “recruit Indonesians into militant groups and to spread hate and methods for carrying out attacks…” As a partial measure, the government has already blocked access to 11 URLs offering the web version of Telegram. In response, Telegram has vowed to double its efforts to remove “terrorist” content from the platform by forming a team of moderators tasked with monitoring networks in Indonesia and removing such content as swiftly as possible.

Flock of birds. Photo by Christoffer A Rasmussen, via Wikimedia. Licensed to public domain.

Although Telegram may prefer this solution to being banned altogether, it may also increase the likelihood of overcompliance by the company, which
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Authorities in China and Indonesia Threaten Whatsapp, Telegram Over Political Content"

Netizen Report: Colombian Court Demands Password to Journalist’s Facebook Account

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

Colombian investigative journalist William Solano is being prosecuted for slander after writing multiple articles for independent news site DCERCA on administrative corruption in his home municipality of Buga. Solano has also received personal threats in response to his work. In the journalist’s ongoing trial, the local district attorney has sought access to Solano’s communications in order to identify key sources in his reporting, who until now have remained anonymous. In late June, a judge Buga authorized the district attorney to search Solano’s Facebook account. The prosecutor is now demanding the journalist’s account password. The Foundation for Press Freedom in Colombia says the order violates constitutional protections for the anonymity of journalists’ sources and has filed an action seeking to protect Solano from the search. Civil liberties advocates at Bogotá’s Fundación Karisma
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Colombian Court Demands Password to Journalist’s Facebook Account"

Netizen Report: Working in the Public Interest Can Get You Arrested in Turkey, Myanmar

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. The risks of working in the public interest — whether you do it as a journalist, an activist, or an advocate for government transparency and accountability — seem to be on the rise worldwide. On July 5, Turkish police raided an information technology training in Istanbul where they arrested two trainers and eight of the country’s best-known human rights defenders and confiscated their electronic equipment including computers and mobile phones. The detainees have not yet been charged and will be held for seven days while their cases are being assessed. Among those arrested is the director of Amnesty International Turkey, Idil Eser. The organization’s chair, Taner Kilic, was remanded in prison less than one month ago. Amnesty International immediately issued a statement on the detainees’ behalf:
(Idil Eser’s) incommunicado
Continue reading "Netizen Report: Working in the Public Interest Can Get You Arrested in Turkey, Myanmar"