INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 2 world mAp of CyberCensorsHip....................................3 introduCtion..................................................................................................4 internet enemies...................................................................................11 BURMA............................................................................................................................11 ChinA...............................................................................................................................15 CUBA...............................................................................................................................24 iRAn.............................................................................................................................27 nORTh KOREA....................................................................................................................32 SAUDi ARABiA....................................................................................................................35 SyRiA...............................................................................................................................38 TURKMEniSTAn.................................................................................................................43 UzBEKiSTAn.......................................................................................................................46 ViETnAM............................................................................................................................49 under surveillAnCe........................................................................ 54 AUSTRAliA........................................................................................................................ 54 BAhRAin............................................................................................................................56 BElARUS............................................................................................................................59 EgypT...............................................................................................................................62 ERiTREA..........................................................................................................................65 FRAnCE..............................................................................................................................67 liByA ..................................................................................................................................72 MAlAySiA..........................................................................................................................74 RUSSiA.............................................................................................................................77 SOUTh KOREA....................................................................................................................81 SRi lAnKA........................................................................................................................84 ThAilAnD........................................................................................................................86 TUniSiA..............................................................................................................................89 TURKEy............................................................................................................................92 UniTED ARAB EMiRATES.................................................................................................96 VEnEzUElA......................................................................................................................99
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 3 world mAp of CyberCensorsHip
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 4tHe new mediA:between revolution And repression,net solidArity tAkes on CensorsHipArAb springtime: is tHe web Facebook and Twitter served as sound boxes, amplifying the demonstrators’ frustrations and demands. They alsoreACHing new HeigHts? made it possible for the rest of the world to follow the events as they unfolded, despite censorship. The role ofThe year 2010 firmly established the role of social networks cell phones also proved crucial. citizen journalists kept fi-and the Internet as mobilisation and news transmission le-sharing websites supplied with photos and videos, andtools. In 2010 alone, 250 million Internet users joined Fa- fed images to streaming websites.cebook and by the end of the year, the social network had600 million members. In September that year, 175 million The Tunisian authorities had imposed a media blackout onpeople were Twitter users – 100 million more than in the what was going on in Sidi Bouzid. Since the so-called “tra-previous year. ditional” media had failed to cover the protest movements that were rocking the country, at least at their beginningThe Western media had praised the Internet and its “libe- in December, their role as news sources and vectors wasrator” role during the 2009 Iranian revolution. according to taken over by social networks such as Facebook and Twit-The New York Times, the demonstrators “shot tweets” back ter, and news websites like Nawaat.org. Facebook in par-at bullets. however, Twitter was then used mainly by the ticular acted as a platform on which Internet users posteddiaspora. “The Net Delusion,” a theory advanced by Evge- comments, photos and videos. The Bambuser streamingny morozov, an Internet expert, casts doubt on the Internet’s site also had its moment of glory. Everyone was able torole as a democratisation tool. although the Internet is cer- track the events as they happened. The online calls fortainly used by dissidents, it is also used by the authorities to demonstrations spread to other countries: Egypt, Libya,relay regime propaganda and enforce a police state. Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Syria, Iraq, morocco, and even china and Vietnam, etc.The Internet remains above all a tool used for the better orthe worse. In the most closed countries, it creates a spaceof freedom which would not otherwise exist. Its potential Control 2.0 gAins strengtHto disseminate news irritates dictators and eludes traditio- CEnSORShip AnD REpRESSiOn inTEnSiFynal censorship methods. Some regimes use it – mainly onFacebook and Twitter – to monitor dissidents and infiltrate authoritarian regimes’ latest strategy is no longer to usetheir networks. pure and simple blocking as it is to use, but rather online tampering and propaganda. Naturally countries such asNonetheless, the terms “Twitter revolution” and “Fa- china, Saudi arabia and Iran are still practicing strict filte-cebook revolution” have become watchwords with the ring, which they tend to tighten during periods of unrest,events that rocked the arab world in late 2010 and early notably with regard to micro-blogging sites and social2011. The “online” movements were coupled with “offline” networks. meanwhile, their netizens keep on learning newdemonstrations, hastening the fall of dictators. The Tuni- ways to circumvent censorship. china in particular hassian and Egyptian uprisings turned out to be, first and fo- reinforced its “Electronic Great Wall” and is tackling theremost, human revolutions facilitated by the Internet and anonymity of Internet and cell phone users. Uzbekistan,social networks.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 5Syria, Vietnam – to name but a few – have enhanced their “father of the Iranian blogosphere,” received the most se-censorship to stifle the echoes of the revolutions agitating vere prison sentence: 19.5 years.the arab world. In this “control 2.0” era, several tested methods are usedcurrently, one out of every three Internet users is unable simultaneously by the authorities to prevent dissidentsto access a free Internet. Net censorship is becoming from ruling the web and to maintain better control over thethe norm. around 60 countries are implementing some regime’s disinformation.form of Internet censorship, which entails either contentfiltering or netizen harassment. Others may well join theirranks in the months and years to come. For the first time, broAder reCourse toBangladesh has blocked access to certain sites because propAgAndA And mAnipulAtionof videos deemed offensive to the Prophet. cambodia iscensuring news sites. First, the use of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) cy- berattacks has become commonplace, as has phishing,Blogger and netizen arrests have continued and remained which involves stealing user passwords. One of the epi-at the same level in 2010 as in 2009. as of this writing, 119 sodes which received the most media coverage is un-netizens are behind bars, as compared to 120 in 2009. al- doubtedly the pirating of Google’s website and those ofthough 2010 saw the release of several popular bloggers some 20 other companies in china in late 2009 and earlysuch as Kareem amer in Egypt a few days after serving his 2010. Vietnam also uses cyberattacks to muzzle dissidentsentence, and adnan hadjizade and Emin milli in azerbai- opinions. Independent news websites based abroad anddjan, the authorities are finding new ways to hinder blog- those which discussed bauxite mining were targeted ingers’ and cyberdissidents’ freedom of action. The number 2010. Burma not only attempted to immobilise several in-of false releases – such as that of mongol cause activist dependent online media, but also tried to shift the blamehada, in china – or forced disappearances, is growing, for the bandwidth speed slowdown on hackers actingand so are house arrests. as for self-censorship, which is against the country’s interests. another weapon used byhard to quantify, it appears to have gained ground. dissidents in Iran was the “Green cyber army,” which at- tacked some government websites.The world’s biggest prisons for netizensremain: china (77 netizens), Vietnam As of tHis writing, The “hackivists anonymous” group paralysed the Tunisian president’s and(17) and Iran (11). a new wave of arrests 119 netizens Are parliament’s website in January 2011in Vietnam preceded the January 2011communist Party congress. The chine- beHind bArs as part of its “Operation: Tunisia.”se regime launched a series of arrests In 2010, authoritarian regimes soughtin February 2011 following online calls for demonstrations to control their country’s Internet connection speeds bytriggered by the arab uprisings. The authorities feared that slowing down bandwidth during elections or periods ofthey would spread. For the first time in china, Twitter users social unrest. connection speed became the barometer ofwere arrested for their posts on the social network. a country’s political and social situation. Iran has become an expert in this technique, and used it just before andOne such prisoner is no other than Liu Xiaobo – the win- during every demonstration organised by the opposition.ner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the only Nobel Peace Ben ali’s and mubarak’s divested regimes also resorted toPrize laureate currently in jail. The announcement of this it. Often such disruptions are accompanied by jamming ornews in December 2010 resulted in an unusually violent shutting down cell phone networks in the areas concer-crackdown by the authorities: any reference to this award ned, such as Tahrir Square in cairo.on micro-blogging sites is being censored and they arequestioning or placing under house arrest hundreds of another Iranian strategy which proved successful in Be-supporters and friends of the human rights activist and larus during the demonstrations over the re-election offreedom defender. President Lukashenko was redirecting users of opposition websites (or those critical of the regime) to pseudo-sitesIn Iran, imprisoned netizens were sentenced to death for with similar, yet more pro-government, content.the first time. Blogger hossein Derakshan, known as the
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 6In addition, every government seeking to control the net certain regimes sometimes intentionally maintain infras-has vested itself with a cyberpolice force equal to its am- tructural problems to keep their populations from havingbitions and which, particularly on social networks, closely Internet access. The 2011 commissioning of the fibre opticmonitors dissident activities. It has also deployed groups undersea cable linking cuba to Venezuela, which expan-of “sponsored” bloggers paid to post online pro-regime ded bandwidth potential, therefore will eliminate one of thecomments, thereby eclipsing critical opinions. russian cuban regime’s excuses about access problems.brigade and “50-cent party” bloggers are experts at this.Initially, the authorities had used repression to counteract North Korea, on the other hand, launched its own pagestheir opponents’ use of the Internet, but now they are dis- on the online social networks in 2010, and is said to haveplaying their own content. initiated its first connections to the World Wide Web. The latter are apparently very limited, however, and are beinginTERnET DiSRUpTiOnS: A DRASTiC AnD COSTly MEASURE run by the regime for propaganda purposes.Extreme measures which ultimately failed were taken inEgypt, and then in Libya, to try to put an end to protest tHe new vs. trAditionAl mediA:movements against the incumbent leaders. In the evening is symbiosis An option?of 27 January 2011, Egypt virtually cut off Internet accessfor five days, causing its economy a loss of at least USD There is truly no longer any reason for the long-lasting90 million, according to the Organisation for European gap between the new and the traditional media. In theco-Operation and Development (OEcD), which shows to last few months, they have proven to be increasingly com-what extent the Internet is an integral part of the global plementary. according to BBc Global News Direct Petereconomy and essential to a country’s economy. In Libya, horrocks, it is imperative for journalists to learn how tothe authorities first severed Internet access on 19 Februa- use social networks: “It is not an option.” The new mediary, then maintained strong Internet disruptions after that have become key tools for journalists. at the same time,and cut it off again on by flooding social networks3 march. It was not thefirst time that Internet CertAin regimes sometimes with news and pictures, arab revolutionaries wereaccess was totally sus- intentionAlly mAintAin also seeking to ensure thatpended in a country.This occurred in 2005 infrAstruCturAl problems the international media co- vered news events in orderin Nepal and in 2007 in to keep tHeir populAtions from to put pressure on their go-Burma. however, suchmeasures stir up strong HAving internet ACCess. vernments and on the inter- national community.reactions worldwideand further exacerbate demonstrators’ resentment. It also News staff now use Twitter and Facebook to find ideas forinduces the latter to resort to more creative ways to freely news stories, gather first-hand accounts and visuals, anddistribute information, despite the odds. Netizens have to disseminate their own articles in order to expand theireither resumed using earlier Internet methods (modem, readership. The shelf life of an article no longer ends withfax, etc.) or have adopted the latest generation of techno- the printing of a newspaper; it now has an extended lifelogies (phone-based tweet system set up by Google and online.Twitter). according to a study conducted on print and web journalistsBurma learned its lessons from the 2007 Internet suspen- by the cision research company and George Washingtonsion and undertook a broad revamping of its national plat- University, 56% of the respondents responded that socialform, to make certain that access providers would provide media were “important or somewhat important” for resear-distinctly separate services to the population, the govern- ching and writing the stories they wrote. Blogs were still thement and the military, thereby ensuring that the junta will main source for the respondents (89%). micro-blogging wasbe prepared, in the next crisis, to cut off Internet access to a source for 69% of the web journalists. however, these jour-its citizens without being directly affected itself. nalists remain cautious: 84% of them were aware of reliability problems with information gathered from the social media.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 7The instantaneous nature of social networks and streaming and to remove the names of civilians and local informantstools permit real-time coverage of critical events such as from said documents in order not to put them at risk.natural disasters (earthquake in chili, floods in Pakistan),demonstrations (in Tunisia, Egypt, etc.), but makes media The series of close to 400,000 confidential documents be-professionals’ verification work tougher, yet essential. It is longing to the U.S. army concerning the war in Iraq whichsometimes hard to separate the true from the false, which WikiLeaks released helped to expose the magnitude ofis why it is important to form a network of reliable contacts the crimes which coalition forces and their Iraqi allies hadwho can corroborate the “scoops” made by citizen journa- committed against civilian populations since 2003. repor-lists or ordinary netizens. ters Without Borders denounced the pressure which U.S. and Iraqi authorities have placed on the website and as-any witness of a trivial or historical event becomes a ked these two governments to demonstrate transparencychance informant. Journalists are no longer the only ones and to reconsider their document classification methods.who filter information – their work is also being scrutinised Strong pressures are also being placed on WikiLeaks’ col-by their readers. laborators. Founder Julien assange has been repeatedly threatened. U.S. army Private Bradley manning, suspec-Numerous unknown factors persist in the relations between ted of being one of WikiLeaks’ sources, has been held inthe new and traditional media. certain newspapers such solitary confinement since his arrest in may 2010 and isas the Washington Post prohibit their journalists from offe- facing life imprisonment. after being subjected to cyberat-ring their personal opinion on the Internet, out of fear that tacks and being dropped by several host sites, WikiLeaksit might be interpreted as the newspaper’s editorial po- called upon its worldwide supporters on 5 Decemberlicy. The New York Times and reuters have issued inter- 2010 to create mirror websites. reporters Without Bordersnal guidelines for using social networks. They encourage decided to host one of them on its website. In Decem-their journalists to use them, but also make sure they are ber 2010 a number of media and websites – including Leaware of the inherent risks involved. reuters specifies that monde, El Pais and al-Quds al-arabi in morocco – wereno scoops should be posted on social networks because censored for having relayed the cables. access to thethe former are reserved mainly for press agency clients. website is notably blocked in china and in Thailand. TheJournalists are free to share their articles online, create an site is accessible in Pakistan, but some pages containingonline network, invite comments from readers and post wires about Pakistan are blocked.live tweets on the events they cover. however, they mustobtain their supervisor’s permission to open a professio- reporters Without Borders wrote to the U.S. attorney Ge-nal account and they are required to maintain separate neral to ask him not to prosecute Julian assange and Wiki-personal and professional accounts. Leaks’ collaborators in view of the fact that the publishing by WikiLeaks and its five associated media of informationwikileAks: inevitAble – even classified – in an effort to inform the public is a ac- tivity promoting the right to information guaranteed by thetrAnspArenCy First amendment.This collaboration between the new and traditional mediais exemplified by changes in WikiLeaks’ strategy. Initially internet: tHe “i love you –focused on the massive release of unedited confiden- me neitHer” quAndAry oftial documents, the website gradually developed par-tnerships with several international media leaders ranging demoCrACiesfrom The New York Times to Le monde, and The Guardian In a historic speech on January 2010, U.S. Secretaryto al-Jazeera. This strategy allowed it to combine the new of State hillary clinton referred to online freedom of ex-media’s assets (instantaneousness and a virtually unlimi- pression as the cornerstone of american diplomacy – ated publishing capacity) with those of the traditional me- position that she reasserted in February 2011 in an ad-dia (information checking and contextualisation, thanks to dress in which she reminded her audience that “On thejournalists specialised in the issues covered). more than spectrum of Internet freedom, we place ourselves on the120 journalists of diverse nationalities worked together to side of openness.” Nonetheless, the principles raised bydecipher the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks,
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 8hillary clinton conflict with the treatment reserved for Wi- which may jeopardise the full exercise of journalists’ pro-kiLeaks. Several days prior to WikiLeaks’ publication of fessions and the transmission of information.the documents, the Pentagon had asked the media “not tofacilitate the leak” of classified documents concerning the Italy, on the other hand, attempted to regulate the postingwar in Iraq, claiming that it would endanger national secu- of videos online by means of a march 2010 decree. Everyrity. american officials made some very harsh statements website which regularly disseminates videos must nowabout the site’s founder. Judicial action may still be taken submit a “Statement of activity” to the Italian Telecom-against the website. according to hillary clinton, “the Wi- munications authority (aGcOm). This decree’s scope ofkiLeaks incident began with an act of theft” of government application was ultimately reduced to online television sta-documents. however she stated that “WikiLeaks does not tions and no longer applies to traditional websites, blogs,challenge our commitment to Internet freedom.” search engines, or electronic versions of dailies, magazi- nes and online betting.Security trends tend to affect the web. Blackberry makerrIm is facing growing pressures from the Gulf States, as The principle of Net neutrality seems to be increasinglywell as from Indonesia and India, who are trying to gain at risk. In December 2010 in the United States, the Fe-access to the content of its secured communications on deral communications commission (Fcc) adopted va-the pretext of the fight against terrorism. rious measures concerning net neutrality which centred around two principles: thatapart from national secu- nonetHeless, tHe prinCiples Internet service providersrity and cybersecurity, other must ensure transparencyproblems are persuading rAised by HillAry Clinton regarding their Internet ma-democratic governments torelativise their commitment ConfliCt witH tHe treAtment nagement and the prohibi- tion of any discrimination into a free Internet. reserved for wikileAks the manner “legal” contents are transmitted. however,The Internet will be discussed during the next G20 mee- such measures could leave the door open for the filteringting, not from the vantage point of freedom of expression, of illegal websites and thereby signal the end of the unli-but of protecting intellectual property. mited Internet. Unlike President Obama, the republican opposition opposes these measures and has challengedIn the name of copyright protection, the French govern- the legitimacy of the commission’s authority to rule on thisment adopted a law which makes it possible, after issuing issue. In France, on the pretext of potential traffic satura-warnings, to suspend the Internet connection of an indi- tion, the minister of Industry, Energy and the Digital Eco-vidual suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted fi- nomy is calling for a regulation of Internet traffic and forles online. This “graduated response” scheme, known as abandoning the Net’s absolute neutrality principle.the “three strikes” and introduced by the hadopi law, hasinspired other countries, notably the United Kingdom withits Digital Economy act. Spain’s Sinde Law also provides CorporAte soCiAl responsibility:measures for website blocking subject to a court order. more timely tHAn everIn addition, the French Parliament passed an internal se- Google has kept its promises and has stopped censuringcurity law (“Loppsi 2”) which provides for an administrative its search engine’s results in china. Google.cn users arefiltering of the web – a dangerous principle – in the name now being redirected to their hong Kong-based website.of the fight against child pornography. The australian fil- Despite the boldness of this move and the cold receptiontering system, which has already been tested, has been it received from chinese authorities, the company mana-put on hold, even though the government has not totally ged to get its chinese operating licence renewed in theabandoned this project. summer of 2010.The highly controversial hungarian media law could have microsoft and Yahoo! continue to practice self-censorshipsome bad consequences on online media and bloggers in china. however, microsoft, after realising that the fightbecause it can impose penalties and contains provisions to prevent the pirating of its software in russia was a pre-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 10growing use of self-censorship. Discussion forums are inthe authorities’ line of fire.colonel Kadhafi’s Libya also joins this list. amidst the cha-os, the regime has been trying to implement a nation-wideinformation blackout in an attempt to silence any newsabout the uprising and the way it was quashed.This is by no means an exhaustive list of all attacks ononline freedom of expression. In 2010, the Pakistan regi-me’s attitude has raised much concern. a judge had or-dered Facebook to be fully blocked after it posted videosconsidered disrespectful to the Prophet. The authoritiesreversed their decision, but promised to keep monitoringthe web. Kazakhstan will need to be observed during therun-up to the presidential election.as of this writing, protest movements continue to sweepthrough the arab world and spread to other countries.They may give rise to new online mobilisations and tocrackdowns by certain governments. In 2011, the Internetand new media are still experiencing shock waves fromhaving been caught up in the momentum of all these poli-tical changes. The Internet has entered turbulent times inwhich its impact, power and frailties are likely to be ma-gnified.Lucie Morillon,responsible of the New media DeskJean-François Julliard, General Secretary
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 11 burmAinternet enemyDomain name: .mmPopulation: 53 414 374Internet-users: 300 000Average charge for one hour’s connection at a cybercafé: about 0,55 US$Average monthly salary: about 27,32 US$Number of imprisoned netizens: 2Burma took drastic measures in 2010 to reorganise the country’s Internet and to arm itself with the means, at the next signof a crisis, to cut off its population’s Web access without affecting official connections. Prior to the November 2010 elections– the first in twenty years – censors resorted to massive crackdowns, intimidation and cyberattacks to reduce the risk of anynegative coverage. Tampering is now at its height.widespreAd net CensorsHip ders acquired censorship equipment and hardware from the chinese subsidiary of the Franco-american companyin burmA alcatel-Lucent. On march 24, 2010, reporters Without Borders and the Sherpa association sent a letter to alca-The regime is enforcing harsh and widespread Internet tel-Lucent’s management to ask for explanations, notablycensorship. The Burmese firewall restricts users to an in- about the sale in Burma Lawful Interception Integratedtranet purged of any anti-government content. Blocked hardware. The company denied this claim, insisting thatwebsites include exiled Burmese media, proxies and it merely supplied telecom infrastructures within the fra-other censorship circumvention tools, certain international mework of a chinese-funded project.media, and blogs and sites offering scholarships abroad. Yet in an article appearing in the may 19-25, 2008 issueIn an interview granted to rolling Stone magazine, ame- of the newspaper myanmar Times, a spokesman for therican hacker and WikiLeaks member Jacob applebaum, state-controlled ISP hanthawaddy confirmed that the al-exposed the scope of the censorship by showing that only catel’s chinese subsidiary did indeed provide a website118 of the country’s 12,284 IP addresses are not blocked filtering and surveillance system.by the regime and have access to the World Wide Web.he also showed how vulnerable the network is the eventof attacks. outstAnding bloggers Despite the regime’s iron grip on the Internet, the numbercensors may also be counting on the complicity of Wes- of bloggers keeps rising: there are now 1,500 of them, 500tern companies. Some Burmese Internet service provi- of whom blog regularly. When Burmese bloggers based
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 12abroad are included, this number totals 3,000. Every year, human lives and property caused by hurricane Nargis. hereporters Without Borders and the Burma media asso- is serving a 35-year prison sentence for violating the Elec-ciation reward Burma’s best bloggers. Thousands of Bur- tronics act.mese netizens voted for their favourite blogs, and in lateFebruary 2010 in chiang mai, Thailand, a dozen of them On 10 November 2008, blogger Nay Phone Latt (http://received a prize for the best Burmese blogs. myanmar www.nayphonelatt.net/), who owns three cybercafés inE-Books (http://burmesebooks.wordpress.com) was vo- rangoon, was given a jail sentence of 20 years and sixted the best general category blog. The prize for the best months for having described on his blog how difficult it isnews blog went to The Power of Fraternity: (http://photayo- for young Burmese people to express themselves freely,keking.org). especially since the autumn 2007 demonstrations. accor- ding to reporters Without Borders’ sources, Nay PhoneIn the months prior to the November 2010 elections, some Latt was allowed to see his parents on 7 October 2010.bloggers stepped up to the plate by keeping their compa- The young blogger is said to have been deprived of histriots informed about the elections and the issues at stake. walking privileges for five months, and to have been confi-They occasionally disseminated news about the candida- ned to his cell. he is allegedly being held in a prison inte contenders and the electoral laws – critical information south-eastern Burma, along with 10 other political priso-rarely relayed by the traditional press, which is subject to ners.stringent pre-run censorship. From his prison, Nay Phone Latt – who has been deniedDespite the slow connections and risks incurred, Burmese the care his health problems require – has nonethelessInternet users are still circumventing censorship, reading managed to continue his fight for freedom of expression.the foreign press, networking on Facebook or simply en- Blogger Kaung myat hlaing (“Nat Soe”), who has alreadyjoying themselves online. been given a two-year prison sentence, and is wrongfully accused of having participated in the april 2010 WatertHree netizens Are still Festival bombings, was handed an additional 10-year sentence under the Electronics act. This young man of 22lAnguisHing in prison was interrogated for 10 days and deprived of food, water and sleep. he admitted being a member of the dissidentJournalists who collaborate with the exiled Burmese me- group “Best Fertilizer.” he is charged with having takendia and bloggers are in the authorities’ line of fire, particu- part in poster campaigns calling for the release of Dawlarly since the 2007 Saffron revolution and the internatio- aung San Suu Kyi and of other political prisoners.nal outcry which followed the mass circulation of imagesof the ensuing crackdown. The authorities are makingunabashed use of a particularly repressive law adopted in reConfiguring tHe burmese1996, the Electronics act, to regulate the Internet, TV and internet beHind A smokesCreenradio. This law notably prohibits the import, possession,and use of a modem without official permission, under pe- In October 2010, the Burmese junta-controlled Yatanar-nalty of a 15-year prison sentence for “undermining state pon Teleport company announced the launching of thesecurity, national unity, culture, the national economy and country’s “first national Web portal,” a would-be Siliconlaw and order.” Valley to be called “Yadanabon cyber city.”The Burmese military junta considers netizens enemies of In an exclusive report compiled by local sources entitledthe state. Three of them are in prison for having expressed “National Web portal – Development or repression?” re-themselves freely on the Web. porters Without Borders and the Burma media association express concerns that the new Burmese Internet, billed byZarganar, a blogger and comedian known as the “Bur- the government as a huge step forward, may actually bemese chaplin,” was arrested on 4 June 2008 after having used to bolster the surveillance and repression alreadytestified to foreign media outlets – and notably to the BBc imposed on Burmese netizens, while reserving the bene-World Service – about the Burmese government’s poor fits of faster and improved access for members of the re-management practices and guilty silence over the loss of gime.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 13The deployment of fibre-optic cables will not only allow In-ternet access but also Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) unreliAble internet ConneC-and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services because tions in tHe run up to tHe 7it will increase available bandwidth. november 2010: slowdowns,Burmese Internet users will be allocated to three Internet CyberAttACks And tAmperingservice providers, instead of the two they now have. Onewill be reserved for the Burmese defence ministry, one for The elections initiated by the military junta had no credibi-the government and one for the public. Under this system, lity, mainly because of the Burmese and foreign media’sthe government will be able to totally or partially block the lack of freedom. Despite the constraints, the Burmesepopulation’s access without affecting government or mili- media did their best and managed to offer the public atary connections. During the 2007 Safran revolution, sin- variety of news and analyses unmatched since the lastce all three “categories” were using the same providers, elections in 1990. however, with all the preceding cen-when the authorities disconnected the Internet to prevent sorship, intimidations, detentions and expulsions of forei-civilians from sharing photos of the ensuing crackdown, gn journalists, stricter liberticidal laws and unreliable Inter-members of the military and government were also cut off. net connections, the conditions for a free election were farWhat is more, he new architecture will allow the defence from present.ministry to directly control Internet traffic at the point ofentry into Burma. The military junta made it a requirement for political par- ties wishing to publish information or their programmesThe government and military will be likely to enjoy faster to first have them approved by the Press Scrutiny andand better Internet performance than the average user, registration Board within 90 days after registering withsince ISPs will get an “equal share” of bandwidth in each the Election commission. The regime announced on 17of the three categories, even though the number of users march 2010 that the publishing of pamphlets, newspa-will vary greatly from one ISP to the next. The cost of the pers, books or other election-related printed material, nownew service, which will be passed on to the public, may falls under the 1962 Printers and Publishers registrationalso curb any growth in the Internet penetration rate, cur- act, which provides for sentences of up to seven years inrently at about 2% in a country in which the average salary prison for disseminating information which is critical of theis 27 U.S. dollars and Internet cafés charge 54 cents per government or disturbs public “tranquillity.”connection hour. a drastic slowdown in Internet connections was noted inThis national portal will supposedly offer an email service early October, more than a month after the elections, indi-(Ymail) and a chat service (Ytalk) as alternatives to Gmail cating the authorities’ resolve to tighten their control overand Gtalk, making it even easier for the authorities to mo- information. "I can no longer connect to my Gmail accountnitor users’ online communications. using proxies. access to all websites based abroad has become terribly slow,” a rangoon-based journalist toldLastly, undetectable Internet “sniffers” will be placed on reporters Without Borders. according to Irrawaddy ma-the server reserved for the public to retrieve diverse confi- gazine, the capital’s cybercafés had closed in advance ofdential data. The military junta’s ability to spy on netizens the elections.and dissidents, thereby restricting freedom of speecheven further, will be greatly enhanced. This slowdown began after cyberattacks in the form of dis- tributed denial of service (DDoS) affected several exiledThe Internet access difficulties experienced by local In- Burmese media websites such as Irrawaddy and the De-ternet users during recent key events attest to the new mocratic Voice of Burma (DVB).portal’s timely arrival. Just a few days prior to the legislative elections, the Bur- mese Internet network experienced a massive cyberat- tack. The attacks began around 25 October 2010 and gradually increased in number and severity, causing the country to be regularly disconnected from the Web for se-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 14veral days. They continued to occur until the elections Daw aung San Suu Kyi is aware that her communicationswere over, which made it extremely difficult for journalists will be closely monitored and that the regime may decideand netizens to transmit videos and photos and to do at any time to suspend her Internet access. She has al-their jobs. legedly stated that she has nothing to hide.The government shifted the blame to hackers whom theyclaimed launched the DdoS attacks on the country, butaccording to Burmese sources contacted by reportersWithout Borders, most of the attacks were allegedly laun-ched by government agents to justify cutting off the Inter-net. The DDoSs were aimed at Internet service providermyanmar Post and Telecommunications and constituted –according to the american IT security firm arbor Networks– an onslaught ”several hundred times” more than enoughto overwhelm the country’s terrestrial and satellite network.They reportedly reached 10 to 15 GB of data per second,a magnitude much greater than in the highly publicised2007 attacks against Georgia and Estonia.During the 2007 Safran revolution, Burmese netizens hadcirculated news and videos on the authorities’ bloody crac-kdown on monks and demonstrators. The regime subse-quently cut off Internet access for several days. connec-tions are also slowed on key dates such as 8 august – theanniversary of the 1988 political uprising – and during the2009 trial of dissident Daw aung San Suu Kyi. after beingreleased on 13 November 2010, the latter announced thatshe intends to set up a website to showcase her viewsand those of her political party, the National League forDemocracy (NLD)dAw Aung sAn suu kyi:free And ConneCted?The well-known Burmese dissident and recipient of theNobel Peace Prize, who was cut off from all means of com-munication during her years under house arrest, now hasan Internet connection in her home via the state-run ISP,Yatanarpon Teleport. She has declared that she intendsto make full use of the Internet and social networks, parti-cularly the Twitter micro-blogging site, in order to more ef-fectively reach Burmese youths in the country and abroadand to hold online discussions. This latter initiative mayprove challenging to achieve right now due to the poorquality of the Internet infrastructure. as for the dissident’scollaborators, they remain discreet about their role in de-veloping the NLD’s online network, as they are subject toa severe penalty under the Electronics act.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 15 CHinAinternet enemyDomain name : .cnPopulation : 1 340 000 000Number of Internet users : 457 000 000Average charge for one hour’s connection at a cybercafé : around 2 U.S. dollarsAverage monthly salary : between 220 and 300 U.S. dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens : 77The Chinese government, exasperated that dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and concerned aboutspill-over effects from the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions, has drastically tightened its grip on the Web in order to trans-form it from a protest medium to a tool for political control. Any attempt to challenge the country’s stability has been quashedby harsh repression. The regime is taking aim at social networks, particularly micro-blogging websites and online anonymity.New laws now regulate the Web, while Chinese Internet users continue to discuss banned topics and to mock censors.CensorsHip to ensure known to use the pretext of fighting pornography or the crackdown against the “dissemination of false news” toregime stAbility justify the filtering. The man who designed the Great Firewall, Fang Binxing,ThE “gREAT FiREwAll”: READy TO SpRing inTO ACTiOn who is also President of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, defended his creation in early 2011,china has the world’s most consummate censorship sys- stating to the newspaper Global Times that censorship mettem. The Great Firewall combines UrL filtering with the an “urgent” need. although he had opened a micro-blogcensoring of keywords considered “sensitive,” ranging account on sina.com, the account was closed a few daysfrom “Tiananmen” to the “Dalai Lama” to “democracy” later after thousands of netizens left comments blamingand “human rights.” censorship is institutionalised and him for the control measures he had made possible.managed by several ministries and administrations. In ad-dition to filtering UrLs, the authorities are monitoring the The main news sites, such as the chinese state-controlledlargest blog and micro-blogging platforms, from which media, regularly receive oral and written directives fromthey are removing numerous posts and comments. as- the Department of Propaganda specifying what topicssistance from foreign companies – mainly in the form of can, or cannot, be covered and under what conditions.Yahoo ! and microsoft self-censored search engines – is For example, the Department’s directives of January 2011making their job that much easier. The regime has been imposed an information blackout on social and economic
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 16problems and specifically on price increases, anti-go- censorship does not stop there. On 20 February, thevernment demonstrations and the real estate market, to authorities deployed security forces to Beijing and Shan-“reassure” the chinese people and defend the regime’s ghai following an online call for a “Jasmin revolution” andconcept of “fair growth.” arrested people suspected of organizing it. Since then, the term “Jasmin” has joined the chinese Internet’s longTighTEning CEnSORShip in ThE nAME and ever-growing list of censored words, such as “Tuni-OF nATiOnAl SECURiTy sia,” “Egypt,” and “democracy.”On 29 april 2010, china adopted an amendment to the CEnSORS ATTACK ThE nOBEl pEACE pRizEState Secrets Law which requires Internet and telecomcompanies to cooperate with the authorities on matters The authorities’ indignation over the awarding of the Nobelrelating to national security. Such companies must now Peace Prize to intellectual dissident Liu Xiaobo has trans-block the transmission of vaguely defined state secrets lated into harsher online censorship and acts of intimida-over their networks, keep connection logs and alert the tion against supporters of this human rights activist.competent authorities to any possible violations. Theymay also be forced to suppress certain contents. The government reacted by doing everything it could to censure the topic on the Web in order to prevent chineseThis amendment thus seems to be yet another warning citizens from becoming aware of the historical import ofsent to netizens to induce them to practice more self-cen- this event. chinese media coverage of the awarding ofsorship, and an attempt to give the international commu- the Nobel Peace Prize to the jailed dissident has beennity the illusion of legality, since companies are already dominated by the Beijing authorities’ hostile reaction. Thecooperating with the authorities in matters concerning na- national TV network and most of the newspapers – eventional security. the most liberal – did not even mention it, and for good reason: on 8 October 2010, when the laureate’s name wasCEnSORED REVOlUTiOnS announced, the newsrooms received a clear order from the Department of Propaganda that it was “forbidden toThe Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions and their potential relay information” about the topic (不能跨范围转载). a fewdomino effect are greatly troubling to chinese leaders, chinese foreign-language media, including the English-who took prompt measures to restrict online discussions language version of the nationalist newspaper Global Ti-on such topics, in order to prevent the population from mes, and the French and English editions of the People’sbeing influenced by them. Daily reported the government’s reaction. The Youth Daily ran an article headlined "chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo no-On 28 January 2011, three days after the Egyptian upri- minated: an insult to the Nobel Peace Prize." Foreign TVsing began, china began censoring netizens’ searches programmes are still being jammed whenever they broad-by blocking results linked to the keyword “Egypt” on the cast any news about Liu Xiaobo.micro-blogging Twitter website and its chinese equi-valents, sina.com and sohu.com. In response to this Internet censorship has not abated. On some of the majorkeyword, users receive the following message: "Under news sites, Sina and Sohu in particular, no content canexisting laws, the result of your search cannot be commu- be accessed which directly mentions Liu Xiaobo. On thenicated.” On Twitter as well as on Facebook, both of which Baidu search engine, some results do refer to the awar-are blocked in china, the hashtag #jan25 referring to the ding of the Nobel Peace Prize, but the corresponding me-Egyptian demonstrations of 25 January of 2011 quickly dia pages are usually blocked. The official network ccTVspread around the Web. The chinese communist Party remained silent about Liu Xiaobo and opened its eveningseems to be more fearful than ever of political reforms, news programme of 8 October with a report about torren-democratic demands and “breaches of public order.” On tial rains falling on hainan Island.30 January 2011, news wires about Egypt issued by Xin-hua, the official chinese press agency, were reportedly Some bloggers, such as the writer han han, have protes-also suppressed. ted by posting empty messages to symbolise the impos- sibility of discussing what happened to Liu Xiaobo (http:// www.rue89.com/node/170478). The chat forum 1984bbs,
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 17used by many journalists, was closed by its administrators In the last few months, the authorities launched a new of-after the latter were pressured by police. Twenty-three reti- fensive against the proxy servers used by chinese Inter-red communist Party officials and intellectuals have been net users to bypass the “Great Firewall.” access to Free-urging the country’s highest authorities to carry out poli- gate and Ultrareach, two of the most popular proxies, wastical reforms and to comply with article 35 of the china’s made very difficult for several days as from 27 augustconstitution, which guarantees free speech and media 2010. To counter this new wave of blockings, their develo-freedom. This appeal was systematically removed from pers reacted by making updated versions of their softwarechinese blogs and websites where it had been posted. available to netizens.although within one hour of the announcement of the No-bel Prize award related online messages remained acces-sible for less than five minutes before being deleted. tHe regime’s internet CHArm offensiveIt has also been impossible to send an SmS containingthe characters found in “Liu Xiaobo” or “Nobel Prize.” The inTERnET whiTE pApERmicro-blogging website Weibo has also been censored.Yet on Twitter, which is blocked in china, thousands of en- On 8 June 2010, the chinese council of State’s Informa-thusiastic messages from netizens have been posted sin- tion Bureau published a “white paper” on the Internet,ce the announcement. renowned artist ai Weiwei stated which reasserts the need for online censorship in china inthat it was china’s happiest day in the last sixty years. the name of “respect for local laws” and “maintaining sta- bility.” Far from challenging the authorities’ policy towardsmoreover, a short time before the Nobel Peace Prize was the Internet, or the upsurge in online censorship, it merelyawarded, a bogus invitation to attend the 10 December adds to the Beijing leadership’s usual rhetoric. While the2010 ceremony in Oslo containing a very powerful “Trojan government’s resolve to broaden the chinese people’shorse” computer virus circulated by e-mail. The computer access to the Internet is commendable, it regretfully doessecurity firm F-Secure stated that it was unable to identify not encompass access to the World Wide Web, but so-the origin of these cyberattacks. Two weeks before the lely to the chinese Web, complete with its sophisticatedvirus appeared, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient’s website filtering system that blocks political, social or other newshad been the target of an initial hacker attack. which the authorities deem undesirable.ThE hEighT OF CEnSORShip: CEnSORing iS A “nATiOnAl” SEARCh EnginE BEing DEVElOpED ?ThE DEBATE On inTERnET CEnSORShip In august 2010, the official chinese press agency, Xinhua,While censoring an article on censorship may seem to and state-owned china mobile – the largest chinese tele-be business as usual in china, the Diyi caijing Zhoukan communications operator –signed an agreement to createcase (第一财经周刊- cbnweek.com) proves yet again the a joint venture called the Search Engine New media Interna-extremes to which the chinese propaganda apparatus will tional communications co. Its purpose is to launch a searchgo to ensure that any discussion of Internet censorship in engine directly controlled by the state which would enablechina is nipped in the bud. chinese authorities to expand their control of the Internet by taking advantage of the mobile phone market boom.On 24 November 2010, the authorities banned the reprin- In addition, the regime is encouraging state-owned com-ting or posting of an article by Shanghai business weekly panies such as ccTV or Xinhua to strengthen their onlineDiyi caijing Zhoukan, which was a behind-the-scenes look presence.at Beijing’s Bureau of Website administrators (北京市的网管办), one of the entities responsible for online censorship. In the meantime, the “50-cent party,” named after the NetThe report was quickly withdrawn from the website cb- surfers paid to post pro-government online comments innweek.com. The article provides a detailed description of order to “influence public opinion,” is still in operation.how the Beijing Bureau of Website administrators, a go-vernment agency, controls online information and shutsdown websites in order to stifle any debate about socialand political issues.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 18A winDOw OF OppORTUniTy FOR OnlinE DiAlOgUE system for users of online forums.” Internet users are cur-BETwEEn inTERnET USERS AnD ThE AUThORiTiES? rently required to register before posting comments on these sites, but they can do so using a pseudonym. according toSome local and regional officials are already using the Wang, now that anonymous posting on key news and com-Web to convey their messages and address criticisms. In mercial websites is banned, the next step is to extend theSeptember 2010, the website Zhitong Zhongnanhai, na- system to online forums and chat rooms.med after the government’s headquarters in central Bei-jing, was launched as a way for Internet users to send their cellular telephony is not exempt from this effort. chinesemessages to the national leadership. One week after its authorities are tightening their grip on prepaid cell phonelaunch, over 20,000 comments had already been posted communications. a new regulation which entered into effectfor President hu Jintao alone on subjects such as real es- on 1 September 2010 now requires users of prepaid celltate price increases, corruption, pollution and violations of phones to provide detailed personal information by presen-civil liberties. ting their identity card when buying SIm cards. anyone who already owns one has three years to register.however, this free-speech window has been subject to26 rules ever since. Netizens may not, for example, post The newspaper Global Times claims that 800 million telepho-comments which could jeopardise the state’s honour and ne numbers are already assigned to cell phones now usedinterests, or disrupt social order by advocating for the right in china, of which 320 million were acquired anonymously.of association, demonstration, or assembly. card sellers, mostly in newsstands, will be responsible for collecting photocopies of the buyers’ IDs and for recordingany Internet user who sends a disagreeable comment fa- their contact information in the centralised cell phone userces penalties which can be as harsh as the permanent name data collection system. The ministry of Industry andtermination of his or her IP address. aware that it is pro- Information Technologies (mIIT) justifies this initiative byhibited on this government website to send a message claiming that it is part of the government’s campaign againstfrom an IP address located outside of china, chinese ne- spams and fraud. In actuality, this new rule may potentiallytizens therefore cannot do so anonymously by using proxy compromise the cell phone users’ personal data protection,servers which assign them a foreign IP address. Even in since it enhances the authorities’ ability to monitor calls,cybercafés, every user is systematically asked to present SmSs, and data exchanges, thereby facilitating the identifi-an ID. cation of individuals who criticise or demonstrate against the government.Despite this risk, some critical comments do manage toslip through the Net’s filter. "When will prices go down?The only thing that isn’t going up is salaries!” "comrade tHe AutHorities tAke Aim Athu, don’t you think it interesting that I have left so many miCro-bloggingmessages, yet they all have been harmonised? can’tyou let us tell the truth?” one netizen asked. The govern- In the summer of 2010, the authorities launched a newment’s website address is: http://cpc.people.com.cn/ crackdown on online networking tools, especially micro-GB/191862/191865/index.html blog services. On 15 July 2010, several dozen micro-blogCrusAding AgAinst online accounts were closed, among them those of blogger Yao Yuan and lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. Four of the leading chineseAnd Cell pHone Anonymity micro-blogging platforms, Netease, Sina, Tencent and Sohu, were inaccessible for several hours or days, dis-In February 2010, the chinese ministry of Technology had playing notices that the site was down for maintenance.already announced that anyone wishing to create an Internetwebsite should register with Internet regulators in person and around the same time, censors implemented an additionalpresent an ID. control level. In august 2010, chinese authorities ordered micro-blogging websites to hire a “self-discipline com-In may 2011, Wang chen, the Department of Propaganda’s missioner” to be responsible for censorship. accordingassistant Director, quoted in an article published on 5 may to the official press, the results of the first micro-bloggerby china Daily: “We are exploring an identity authentification self-censorship test conducted in January 2010 in hebei
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 19province were deemed satisfactory enough to convince the Yahoo! e-mail boxes of at least ten foreign journaliststhe authorities to extend its application in Beijing to eight based in china and Taiwan were hacked. Independentmicro-blogging platforms: Sina, Sohu, NetEase, Iphonixe, news sites such as Boxun have been under constant at-hexun, Soufang, 139mobile and Juyou9911. The latter hi- tack.red such commissioners and asked them to monitor andcensor anything which could threaten the country’s secu- In secret documents released by WikiLeaks, a “chineserity or the society’s stability. They are focusing on content source” cited by U.S. diplomatic sources confirmed thedealing with illegal activities, pornography and violence, chinese government’s involvement in the computer hac-as well as unsubstantiated rumours and politically sen- king of Google. These revelations have raised conside-sitive issues. Each commissioner has been assigned a rable concern about spying methods used on journalistswebsite whose content he or she is responsible for. and human rights activists working on china. The diplo- matic cable cited by the New York Times specified: “The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign ofimpACt of tHe google CAse computer sabotage carried out by government operati- ves, private security experts and internet outlaws recrui- ted by the chinese government."STOpping CEnSORShipThe U.S. firm Google announced on 22 march 2010 itsdecision to put an end to censorship via the chinese ver- web CensorsHip:sion of its search engine, google.cn. Now, when usersclick on the home page of google.cn, they are redirected A trAde bArrier?to Google.com.hk, where they have access to uncenso- Internet censorship is not just a human rights issue. It alsored content in simplified chinese characters. This website negatively impacts trade and business through the lack ofwas intermittently censored in late march 2010. Despite access to reliable information. Online censorship has alsotenser relations with the chinese authorities following this become a way to discriminate against foreign – particularlydecision, the company did manage to get its operating american – companies, and to afford chinese companieslicense there renewed in July 2010. It will maintain its re- preferential treatment, which led two experts of the Europeansearch and development activities in china, and keep on centre for International Political Economy to label it, in Theselling advertising spots on Google.com to chinese com- Wall Street Journal, “disguised protectionism.”panies.Google may have set an example for others: the U.S. In- The European Union entered the debate in 2010, as the cen-ternet company GoDaddy announced on 24 march 2010, sorship spread to mobile telephones – a sector in which Eu-during a U.S. congressional hearing, that it would stop of- ropean companies do considerable business. In may 2010,fering its clients new chinese domain names ending in the European commission Vice President and Digital agenda.cn suffix because of the radical controls measures being commissioner Neelie Kroes called this censorship a “tradeimplemented by chinese authorities. barrier” and said it is an issue that should be tackled within the World Trade Organization.ARE ChinESE AUThORiTiES DiRECTly iMpliCATEDin hACKing ACTiViTiES? tibet And XinjiAng: sensitiveGoogle’s decision apparently was reached in the wakeof cyberattacks launched from china against the Gmail provinCes, speCiAl treAtmentaccounts of several dozen human rights activists. Sometwenty media and technology sector companies are said AT lEAST 50 TiBETAnS SEnTEnCED FORto have also been victims of these hacker attacks and of hAVing SEnT nEwS ABROADintellectual property infringement. The repression has never stopped since the march 2008cyberattacks were still going on in early 2010. The Forei- uprising in the Tibetan regions. Since then, at least 50gn correspondents’ club of china (Fccc) reported that Tibetans have been arrested and some sentenced to lengthy prison terms for having sent information, photos
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 20and videos abroad. The latest to be convicted, Dasher, is one of the co-writers of charter 08, which calls for morewas given a 10-year prison sentence on a charge of “se- freedoms and an end to the one-party rule in china. hisparatism” in February 2010. biography is available at: http://en.rsf.org/chine-liu-xiaobo- biography-28-10-2010,38704.html, and charter 08 can beXinjiAng: RECOnnECTED TO ThE nET, found at: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/BUT STill plAgUED By pURgES jan/15/chinas-charter-08/The arrests continue. cut off from the world for nearly 10 The pressures being placed on Liu Xiaobo’s relatives andmonths following the social unrest in July 2009, the Xin- supporters, as well as on all defenders of freedom of ex-jiang autonomous region was then subjected to a dis- pression, have not lessened in china since this announce-criminatory shut-down of Internet access, and was only ment was made. Beijing tried to dissuade diplomats fromreconnected to the chinese Internet on 14 may 2010. attending the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Oslo on 10 December 2010 and prevented several human rights ac-meanwhile, Xinjiang’s Internet users are subject to filtering tivists from leaving the country. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia (刘刘), isby the chinese Firewall, and the websites and blogs dea- under house arrest and her relatives are not permitted toling with the Uyghur issue are still a favourite target for leave china. The Nobel committee awarded the prize tocensors. many of them are still blocked – including the an “empty chair.”sites of the Uyghur american association (Uaa) and theUyghur human rights Project (UhrP) – because they re- am ever-growing number of Liu’s supporters are beingfuse to toe the official Beijing Party line. Banned keywords arrested. Since mid-October 2010, according to the in-include "rebiya Kadeer" (the Uyghur human rights acti- dependent chinese PEN centre, at least 40 human rightsvist), "World Uyghur congress", "Uyghur human rights activists and journalists have been arrested or brought inProject" and "East Turkestan Independence.” for questioning throughout china for attempting to cele- brate the news of Liu’s award. Three of them were detainedSalkin website collaborator Gulmire Imin was sentenced for at least eight days: Wang Lihong, Wu Gan and Zhaoto life behind bars in april 2010 for having “revealed” state changqing. Formerly imprisoned journalist Liu Jingshengsecrets, for “organising a demonstration” and for “sepa- said that two police officers had been posted outside hisratism.” home. Liu Xiaobo supporters without Beijing residence permits have been sent back to their home province.On 21 July 2010, in Urumqi, three Uyghur webmasters,Dilshat Perhat, Nureli and Nijat azat were tried in camerafor having endangered state security and for the content Guo Xianliang, an Internet writer known by his pen name,of their publications, which the chinese government dee- "hermit of Tianshan mountain" has been behind bars sincemed to be politically sensitive. They were sentenced, res- 28 October after being arrested by the Guangzhou autho-pectively, to five, three and ten years in prison. rities for passing out flyers with pictures of Liu Xiaobo in the streets and parks of canton. human rights activist Liu Di, known by her pen name, "Stainless Steel mouse",liu XiAobo (刘哓波): along with about 100 other people, were placed under house arrest and strict police surveillance.tHe world’s only nobel peACeprize reCipient still beHind bArs A few releAses offsetOn October 8, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for by new ConviCtionsthe first time to a chinese citizen residing in china, even The sentences of some “4 June dissidents” who had par-though he has been serving an 11-year jail sentence in ticipated in the June 1989 Tiananmen Square demons-Jinzhou Prison (Liaoning Province). Very moved when he trations were shortened (http://www.duihuanews.org/).learned the news, intellectual and human rights activist Liu cyberdissident Li Zhi, a former government official sen-Xiaobo dedicated this prize to “the lost souls of 4 June” – tenced in December 2003 to an eight-year prison term forthe date of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Liu Xiaobo “subversive” use of the Internet, was released last Novem-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 21ber, nine months early. he is one of the netizens condem- a hospital in Ningbo of complications from a disease forned on the basis of information originating from their e- which he had never been treated during his three yearsmail accounts, which Yahoo! had provided to chinese behind bars. Li hong was the chief editor of aiqinhai, aauthorities. literary online magazine (http://www.aiqinhai.org/) closed by the authorities in 2006 for disseminating “content cri-Dissident Qin Yongmin was freed after serving his full 12- tical of the chinese government.” he also contributed toyear prison sentence, but is still kept under close watch. news websites Boxun and Epoch Times.Writer Guo Xianliang, who had been arrested in canton forhaving passed out flyers supportive of Liu Xiaobo, was The lives of several other netizens are hanging in the ba-released on 26 November. his friends and family report lance. The chinese authorities should have learned theirthat he was able to safely return to Kunming. lesson from this tragedy and immediately released all other netizens with health problems, particularly huang Qi, Fanhowever, on 9 June 2010, the Sichuan Provincial high Yanqiong, cheng Jianping, hu Jia and Yang Tianshui.People’s court upheld the decision made against activistand environmentalist Tan Zuoren, who had been senten- huang Qi, arrested in 2008, was sentenced to three yearsced to a five-year prison term for "inciting subversion of behind bars for having posted articles online about thestate power" and to a three-year deprivation of his political consequences of the Sichuan Province earthquake. herights. he had been arrested in march 2008, after urging is said to have stomach and chest tumours which are notchinese netizens to travel to Sichuan Province to look into being treated properly, and to have been tortured and de-the situation of the earthquake victims’ families. prived of sleep.For the first time, an ironic tweet earned a netizen one cheng Jianping was sentenced on 15 November 2010 toyear of forced labour. On 15 November 2010, cybernaut a year of “re-education through work” in a labour campcheng Jianping was sentenced to serve a year in the Shi- for having relayed a comment on Twitter about tensionsbali river “re-education through work” labour camp for between china and Japan. She is suffering from tubercu-women in Zhengzhou, henan Province, for “disturbing lous pleurisy, a chronic lung condition.social order.” her lawyer, Lan Zhixue, appealed this ad-ministrative order, issued without any form of trial. cheng Netizen Fan Yanqiong, arrested in 2009, was given a two-Jianping was arrested on 28 October – on what would year prison sentence in april 2010 for having reported on-have been her wedding day – and charged with having line the case of a raped and murdered woman in Fujianretweeted, on 17 October 2010, a satirical message about Province. at the time of her trial, she had to use a wheel-anti-Japanese demonstrations taking place in china, chair and an oxygen mask because she was sufferingusing her pen name “Wang Yi” (@wangyi09) on the Twit- from high blood pressure, muscular atrophy and severeter website. She has more than 5,000 netizen followers on pains in all her limbs.this social network. The message suggested that youngchinese protesters should attack the Japanese pavilion Blogger and human rights activist hu Jia got a three-yearat the Shanghai World Expo and mocked the excessive prison sentence in 2008 for “inciting subversion of statetension between the two countries. power” after posting articles online and granting inter- views to the foreign media. he has cirrhosis of the liver,endAngered netizens: CriminAl but is not receiving the medications he needs.detentions And moCk releAses FORCED DiSAppEARAnCES?CyBERDiSSiDEnTS DETAinED DESpiTE BEing gRAVEly ill Geng he, the wife of chinese human rights activist and lawyer Gao Zhisheng, has never stopped demanding anThe incarceration of certain netizens can sometimes have explanation for the disappearance of her husband, one ofa tragic outcome. Shortly after having finally been gran- the first “barefoot lawyers” who has been missing againted the medically motivated release he had repeatedly re- since april 2010 .quested, cyberdissident Zhang Jianhong – better knownby his pen name Li hong – died on 31 December 2010 in
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 22human rights activist and cyberdissident Govruud huu- For several years, Web surfers have been making censorschinhuu, a member of the Southern mongolia Democratic the butt of humorous and creative puns and word games.alliance (SmDa), has been reported missing since 27 Ja- The fight against censorship is represented by a mythicalnuary 2011, when she was released from the hospital in creature called the caonima a grass-mud horse), a homo-Tongliao, a city in the Inner mongolia autonomous region nym for a stinging personal insult. Internet users ridiculeof northern china, where she had received cancer treat- chinese communist Party (ccP) censorship by inventingments. huuchinhuu had been under house arrest since false reports and songs about animal characters on theNovember 2010 for using a website to call for a rally of caonima: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKx1aenJKmongol dissidents to celebrate the anticipated release of 08&feature=player_embeddedhada, a human rights activist and the SmDa’s chairman. more recently, the lizard Yake (yakexi in chinese) appea-FAlSE RElEASES? red following a TV show on the chinese New Year cere- monies in which Uyghur singers were supposed to praisehada, a journalist and activist for the mongal cause, is the government, but they kept on repeating that the ccPstill being held by the chinese authorities, even though central committee’s policy was “good” (yakexi in Uyghur).he should have been freed on 10 December 2010 after Shocked by this propaganda in light of the utter instabilityserving his full sentence. When he was finally permitted to in Xinjiang, some netizens invented a lizard character (xi inmeet with his uncle, haschuluu, in late January 2011, he mandarin) called Yake, who patrols the Internet. accordinglooked undernourished and had had no news of his wife to its authors, the lizard representing the central com-Xinna and his son Uiles. On 14 December, a chinese offi- mittee’s policies had a glorious past in the Soviet Union,cial referred to only as “Jin,” told people close to hada that where its race is now dying out but is still thriving in coun-his wife and son were safe and enjoying the family’s reu- tries like cuba, North Korea and china. The lizard Yakexi,nion in a “five-star luxury hotel.” a testimony which hada with his forked tongue, feeds on “river crabs” (hexie) adictated to his wife from prison can be found at: www. homonym of “to harmonise,” President hu Jintao’s politicalsmhric.org/Latest_a.htm. leitmotif, and a government euphemism for censorship). Ironically it has been put to a new use by netizens.Similarly, activist and netizen Zhao Lianhai allegedly hasbeen released but still cannot be contacted. he was ar- The chinese Internet’s latest “harmonised” animals arerested in November 2009 and sentenced one year later featured in an animated video produced by Wang Bo,to two and one-half years in prison for having set up an which shows an innocent rabbit population oppressed byInternet news and mobilisation website ("Kidney Stone Ba- a government of aggressive tigers. The year 2010 was thebies") devoted to the scandal involving the milk powder “Year of the Tiger,” while 2011 is that of the rabbit, ac-contaminated by the Sanlu company in china. he had first cording to the chinese calendar. In this film, baby rabbitsannounced that he wanted to protest the court’s decision are dying and in atrocious pain after drinking some Sanluand had started a hunger strike, but he later said that he milk, a reference to the 2008 melamine scandal which hadno longer wished to see his lawyers or to appeal. caused the death of several infants and poisoned several hundred thousand others. The Li Gang case is also fea- tured.online mobilisAtion In all, chinese bloggers and netizens have created a do-stronger tHAn ever zen creatures representing Internet censors.wORD gAMES AnD CARiCATURES: A nECESSARy BATTlE whiCh iS nOT wiThOUT RiSKnEw AnTi-CEnSORShip wEApOnS While there have been many examples of successful on-The chinese are ardent word game players. The chinese line mobilisations, tragic cases of tortured bloggers andlanguage is full of homophones and lends itself very easily journalists are still far too frequent.to this exercise. "You will be punished in kind," as member of the Guobao (public security squad) told Liu Shasha, a young Beijing
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 23blogger who was in jail in July 2010. While being inter-viewed by a French journalist, she described the condi-tions of her detention and the barbaric tortures that shehad to endure. What was this young woman’s crime? Shehad urged people on the Twitter network to place funeralwreaths in front of the building which houses the chineseresearch engine firm Sohu, after it reportedly eliminatedhundreds of free speech activist blogs.DEnOUnCing CORRUpTiOn: nETizEnS’ TROjAn hORSEThe Li Gang case has caused a massive outcry in thechinese blogosphere, where the impunity enjoyed bychinese officials is extremely unpopular. In October 2010,one young man, Li Qiming, caused a mortal road acci-dent on the Baoding campus of hebei University (in he-bei Province, near Beijing) while driving intoxicated. rightafter hitting two young women head on, one of whom laterdied, the young man allegedly said, while leaving the sce-ne, “Go ahead and try to sue me, my father is Li Gang.”The story spread like wildfire on the Internet, as did thestatement, “my father is Li Gang,” which has become acatchphrase for shirking responsibility while breaking thelaw. By using a “human flesh research engine,” some cy-bernauts managed to identify Li Gang as the deputy po-lice chief of Baoding’s Beishi district. his son, Li Qiming,was arrested on 24 October 2010. The case was referredto the country’s highest courts, which were troubled by theintense public indignation aroused by this case. a video ofLi Gang was broadcast on the national TV station in whichhe tearfully asked to be forgiven for his son’s behaviour."hE whO hAS nOT CliMBED ThE gREAT wAlliS nOT A TRUE MAn” – ChinESE pROVERBThe Great Wall of censorship continues to rise higher andhigher around the middle Kingdom’s readers, listeners, TVviewers and cybernauts. Yet defenders of free expressionare managing to circumvent it, or scale it. as these “truemen” join forces in pursuing this effort, they will win. It is upto governments, corporations and Internet users in demo-cratic countries to give them their unwavering support, forthe chinese government seems disinclined to change itspositions on the issue. In his 19 February 2011 speech toleaders of chinese provinces, hu Jintao spoke of intensi-fying the regime’s management and control of the Internet inhis country. he notably specified the need to “increase thegovernment’s level of control over the virtual society and toperfect mechanisms for channelling online public opinion.”
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 24 CubAinternet enemyDomain name: .cuPopulation: 11,451,652Internet users: about 1,604,000Average cost of a one-hour cybercafé connection: about 1.5 U.S.dollars for the national network – 5 to 7 U.S. dollars for the international network.Average monthly salary: 20 U.S. dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens: 0The Cuban regime, more wary of bloggers than traditional dissidents, decided to expand its online presence to combatthem. Now that Venezuelan fibre optic cable is available on the island, the authorities have what they need to improveconnection speeds and lower costs. There are fewer and fewer excuses for maintaining censorship or keeping the popula-tion away from the Web. Are we witnessing signs of a Web Springtime, now that the journalists persecuted during the BlackSpringtime of March 2003 have all been released from prison?fibre optiC CAble in CubA: websites, but has been relaxed to some extent since early February 2011.unpreCedented potentiAlfor growtH? The regime does not have the means to set up a syste- matic filtering system, but it counts on several factors to restrict Internet access: the exorbitant cost of connec-according to the authorities, nearly 10% of cuba’s popula- tions – about 1.50 U.S. dollars per hour from the pointstion is connected to the Internet. That does not necessarily of access to the state-controlled intranet, 7 U.S. dollarsmean that they have access to the World Wide Web. Two per hour from a hotel to access the international networkparallel networks co-exist on the island: the international (even though the average monthly salary is 20 U.S. dol-network and a closely monitored cuban intranet consis- lars), and lastly infrastructural problems, particularly slowting only of an encyclopaedia, e-mail addresses ending connections. These obstacles explain why the number ofin “.cu” used by universities and government officials – a Internet users and the time spent online remain limited.sort of “cuban Wikipedia” – and a few government news most cybernauts try to just read their e-mails and answerwebsites such as Granma. them. They do not have the time to navigate the Internet or surf websites.Outside of hotels, only a few privileged individuals havea special permit to access the international network. Yet For years, the regime has been blaming the americaneven the latter does not escape censorship, which is embargo for the lack of a good Web connection on themainly directed against dissident publications on foreign island, claiming that it prevents the country from acces-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 25sing international networks. That problem is about to be Freelance bloggers do not have direct access to their web-solved, thanks to the aLBa-1 fibre optic undersea cable sites, which are not hosted on the island. They are have towhich has been linking cuba to Venezuela since February rely on friends abroad to publish their articles and posts.2011, thereby increasing 3000-fold cuba’s capacity to They do that by following a well-tested procedure: theyconnect to the rest of the world. It is scheduled to be put prepare their content in advance, copy it onto a USB flashinto service in July 2011. drive, and send it by e-mail from a hotel or other location, because dissidents are more and more frequently deniedUntil then, international network connections will continue entry into tourist hotels. USB flash drives, which are alsoto be made via satellite, at immoderate costs. Theoretical- being passed from hand-to-hand, are the new vectors forly, fibre optic cable should lead to lower Internet access freedom of speech in cuba – the local “samzidats.”prices and improve connection speeds.It is unlikely, however, that Internet access will be demo- demonising bloggers Andcratised and made available to the general population. soCiAl networks:The authorities are cautious when commenting on this A digitAl Cold wAr?new development. In February 2011, cuba’s Vice-ministerof Information and communications, José Luis Perdomo, In 2009, the regime became wary of the growing popula-pointed out that cable “is not a ‘magic wand,’” and that rity of certain bloggers, notably Yoani Sanchez. The lattergranting cubans access to the Internet will require a subs- has been repeatedly assaulted, interrogated and targetedtantial investment in its infrastructures. he also said that by genuine slander campaigns, while other bloggers, suchthere is “no political obstacle” to offering such access. For as Luis Felipe rojas, have been arrested several times.the time being, this access to the Web will remain reser-ved for “social use” by institutions, universities and certain cuban dissident and cyberjournalist Guillermo Fariñascategories such as doctors and journalists. he stated: hernández (“El coco”), winner of the 2010 Sakharov“Our priority is to continue the creation of collective ac- Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by the Europeancess centres in addition to strengthening the connections Parliament, was arrested three times in less than 48 hoursin scientific, university and medical research centres.” in January 2011. his only wrongdoing is that he has been militating in favour of the right to inform and to circulate news freely.resourCefulness The legal arsenal used against online opposition to thea genuine black market has been prospering in cuba in regime remains particularly harsh and dissuasive. cubanwhich offers are made to buy or “rent” passwords and co- netizens risk punishment of up to twenty years in prison fordes used by the few individuals and companies whom the posting an article deemed “counter-revolutionary” on anincumbent party has cleared for Internet access. Naviga- Internet website hosted abroad, and five years for illegallyting the Net costs 50 U.S. dollars per month and receiving/ connecting to the international network.sending one e-mail message costs 1 U.S. dollar in some“hacker centres.” Illegal users find it safer to connect only The problem is becoming increasingly urgent as the autho-at night. rities fear the social networks’ mobilisation power even more after witnessing Tunisian and Egyptian examples ofSome international network connections can be accessed it. Some U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks infrom foreign or private residences. December 2010 revealed that the cuban regime is more afraid of bloggers than of “traditional” dissidents.certain dissidents tweet by sending SmS via foreign-based accounts, while others insert foreign SIm cards into In a 15 april 2009 telegramme, dissidents were described astheir cell phones to access the Net. While netizens will forming “a movement as old and out of touch from the livesstop at nothing to pass on information, it can come at a of ordinary cubans as the regime itself.” a cable dated 20high cost. December 2009 stressed, to the contrary, that bloggers are “a much more serious threat” to the cuban government.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 26The United States views the reporting by cuban netizens Since 9 February, forty-some opposition blogs and Internetof their arrests and mistreatment as an invaluable political pages, among them Yoani Sanchez’s Generación Y, are ac-tool, because the latter represent “a group which frustra- cessible again from the island for those who can connect totes and scares the cuban government like no other.” “The the international network. according to this blogger’s state-bloggers’ mushrooming international popularity and their ments to the foreign press, cuba may owe this breath of freshability to stay one tech-step ahead of the authorities are air to the 14th Informática - International convention and Fair,causing serious headaches for the regime.” The U.S. di- held in havana from 7 to 11 February. What remains to beplomat concluded: “We believe that it is the younger ge- seen is whether this deblocking will last.neration of ‘non-traditional dissidents’ that is likely to havea greater long-term impact on post-castro cuba.” The authorities’ negative track record with regard to cen- sorship accounts for dissidents’ doubts that the Internetanother telegramme noted that “Younger individuals, in- will ever be accessible throughout the island. according tocluding bloggers (…) are much better than traditional dis- Yoani Sanchez, “the cable optic fibres are already engravedsidents at taking ‘rebellious’ stands with greater popular with the name of their owner and its ideology. This underseaappeal” – an assessment that cuban leaders seem to connection seems destined more to control us than to link usshare. Since February 2011, a one-hour or so video has to the world.”been circulating on the Internet (vimeo.com/19402730) inwhich an unidentified cuban expert explains in detail how however, with this cable, “it will be more difficult to convin-the american enemy is funding cuban cyberdissidence. ce us that we cannot have YouTube, Facebook or Gmail,” she pointed out, specifying that “no one will prevent us fromUsing as an example blogger Yoani Sanchez (www.des- using this cable to do something very different from the plansdecuba.com/generaciony), he asserts that “she is organi- of those who bought it.”sing a virtual network of mercenaries who are not traditio-nal counter-revolutionaries.” The expert urges that these For the middle or long-term, some people are banking onnew forces be neutralised, stressing that “being a blogger chinese-type progress: Web growth for economic reasons,is not bad. They have their bloggers and we have ours. with more access for the population, while maintaining po-We’re going to fight to see which of the two turns out to litical control. a glimmer of hope remains: cuba has an-be stronger.” nounced that it wishes to switch from a Windows to a Linux operating system. This initiative may enhance the technical expertise of cuban IT specialists, who will then be in a bettergovernment reprisAl: position to circumvent censorship.oCCupy tHe fieldThe authorities are now striving to expand their presence onthe Web: an official cuban bloggers association was formedin 2009. The number of “pro-government” bloggers is saidto be constantly rising, and may be as high as several hun-dred. In February 2011, the reuters press agency reportedthat cuba had some 1,000 “official bloggers.”any possible links between the havana government and hac-kers who target cuban websites and blogs hosted abroad,among others, are under heavy scrutiny.Since the regime’s strategy is to “drown” dissident bloggersin a flood of pro-government bloggers, the government nolonger needs to keep such a tight rein on the former, and canafford to make some concessions.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 27 irAninternet enemyDomain name: .irPopulation: 76,923,300Number of Internet users: 28, 200,000Average cost of a one-hour cybercafé connection: USD 3 to 4Average monthly salary: about 560 dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens: 11Iran has intensified online crackdowns and surveillance again this year, particularly in periods of unrest and demonstrations,during which the authorities have resorted to causing Internet slowdowns and disconnections, or jamming telephone lines.The regime has also continued to demonise the new media, accusing them of serving foreign interests. Several netizenshave been sentenced to death.tougHening And broAdening Filtering software developed in Iran is used in these blocking efforts. censorship criteria are formulated byinternet CensorsHip the committee in charge of Determining Unauthorised Websites (ccDUW). In January 2010, the authorities hadIn January 2011, the authorities finished setting up the issued a “list of Internet offences” drawn up by a “com-first Iranian cyberpolice to strengthen their control of the mittee of experts” which was already implementing aInternet. On 20 may 2010, Ebrahim Jabari, an Islamic re- genuine Net filtering system. This “list” is an inventory ofvolutionary Guard corps (IrGc) commander, officially banned websites. Targeted are contents “contrary to theconfirmed the creation of an Iranian “cyber army” which morals of society,” “to religious values” and “to securityhas already cracked down on online networks deemed and social peace,” “hostile towards government officials“destructive,” and arrested hundreds of netizens. and institutions” or which “facilitate the commission of a crime,” including circumventing censorship or bypassingInternet service providers were already leasing bandwidth to filtering systems. It is forbidden “to sell filter circumven-the Telecommunications company of Iran (TcI), controlled tion software” in the country. This list supplements the lawby the revolutionary Guards, who are responsible for orde- enacted by the Iranian Parliament over a year ago whichring the blocking of websites. although the authorities boast imposes sanctions of up to several years in prison. at leastthat they have blocked hundreds of thousands of websites, it two netizens have been arrested for using censorship-cir-is certain that thousands of them and millions of associated cumventing software.pages are now inaccessible in Iran. Under ahmadinejad’sadministration, the censorship of news sites covering politics The “committee of experts” includes members from seve-and human rights has been considerably tightened. ral government branches and the judicial wing, represen-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 28tatives of the ministry of communications and Information lutionary Guards announced their plan to create 10,000Technology, the ministry of culture and Islamic Guidance, blogs to support Iran’s paramilitary militia, the basij, andthe ministry of National Security and Teheran’s Public Pro- to promote the regime’s ideology. Several websites andsecutor. blogs were created to disseminate propaganda and in- filtrate social networks, which they used mainly to spreadIran’s censors combine UrL blocking with keyword filte- messages to incite hatred.ring to ensure optimal censorship and act promptly in theevent of breaking news. The reuters press agency and Through the agency of its cyber army, the governmentYahoo ! websites have allegedly been censored since itself repeatedly initiated politically motivated cyberattacksthe Tunisia and Egypt uprisings. Google is also said to on various opposition or news sites such as Jaras, Kala-be partially blocked and some links to foreign news sites meh, Balatarin.com, etc. In the morning of 14 Februarysupposedly have been replaced by official sources. 2010, a day of demonstrations, Fararu.com and the site sahamnews.org, which have close ties to opposition lea-a system for censoring conservative sites has been set up der mehdi Karoubi, were hacked, as was the supposedlywhich reveals internal divisions in the leadership. In Octo- secure Voice of america (VOa) website. hackers claimingber 2010, several news portals were blocked, including to be members of the cyber army managed to post mes-those of the three influential Grand ayatollahs – ayatollahs sages on the page in Farsi, calling for an end “to U.S.Saanei (http://saanei.org/), Bayat Zanjani (http://bayatzan- meddling in the muslim world” and labelling the media asjani.net/) and Dastgheib (http://www.dastgheib.ir/) – inac- a “spying tool for the United States.”cessible since 3 October 2010. The regime is also spying on cyberdissidents and attemp-In February 2010, the Gmail messaging service was sus- ting to infiltrate social networks, blocking various profilespended. according to the authorities, a national messa- on Facebook. On 18 December 2009, the Iranian cyberging service will soon be launched. Several websites such army succeeded in hacking Twitter. The website displayedas radio Zamaneh and Twitter have been the target of the following message: “This site has been hacked by thecyberattacks. Blog platforms like www.blogfa.com are not Iranian cyber army”: email@example.com”. Intotally blocked, but those run by individuals are. Participa- January 2010, the chinese search engine Baidu was alsotive photo- or video-exchange websites are among those the target of cyberattacks, probably to counter the chinesetargeted by censors: Flickr.com, Photobucket.com and netizens’ support of the Iranian people. Lastly, the regimeYouTube.com are blocked. launched a call for online collaboration and denunciation with the website Gerdab (“vortex”), spearheaded by the Organised crime Surveillance centre.tHe regime’s propAgAndA And Ever since its creation in march 2009, the Organised cri-tAmpering AgAinst internet me Surveillance centre, established by the revolutionary Guards, has played an active role in tracking down andAnd soCiAl networks arresting netizens. In march 2009, the centre officially an- nounced the dismantling of a “malevolent” online networkIran’s government seems to be launching a real war and the arrests of several moderators of incriminated web-against social networks which has been intensifying since sites. a few days later, “confessions” of those arrested,the latter’s presumed role in the disputed re-election of together with their photos, were posted online, notably bymahmoud ahmadinejad. The authorities are shamelessly the Gerdab website. The accused were allegedly forcedadvancing the theory that it was a plot. to admit to the existence of websites which were critical of Islam and Iran’s incumbent government, and to theirIn September 2010, a state-owned Iranian TV station de- intention of “corrupting” Iranian youth by publicising por-clared that Facebook and Twitter were the country’s hid- nographic sites. They also had to confess to participatingden enemies used by Western secret services to recruit in a plot supported by the americans and the Israelis.new members and collect information. Facebook andTwitter are accused of being implicated in a “psychologi- Some of the regime’s opponents have created their owncal and propaganda war.” at the end of 2008, the revo- “Green cyber army,” which sometimes adopts the regi-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 29me’s methods. For example, some activists have attacked leader mehdi Karoubi), were made inaccessible for severalthe Basij militia’s website, moghavemat.ir, as well as sites hours after being attacked by hackers. access to Gmail,created by individuals or Iranian agencies close to the go- Google reader and Yahoo ! was made more difficult in se-vernment, such as Farsnews. In 2010, this Green cyber veral regions of the country. The term Bahman, which cor-army also posted photos of people suspected of being responds to the 11th month of the Iranian calendar, wasgovernment agents. added to the blacklist of filtered keywords. Bloggers were ordered to withdraw any photos of the demonstrations from their websites. cell phones and SmS’s were also jammed.slowing down tHe network The same scenario reoccurred during the demonstrations on 20 February.And Censuring smsUnder normal circumstances, bandwidth speed is slow. By Anti-netizen repression isorder of the ministry of communications and Internet Tech- esCAlAting: reCord penAlties,nology, households and cybercafés are prohibited fromhaving high-speed access, which is limited to speeds of tHe world’s youngest520 kb/s. Individual connection speed is slow in Iran and imprisoned bloggerlimited to 128 kb/s. This technical obstacle limits Internetusers’ ability to upload and download photos and videos. And deAtH sentenCesaccording to the International Telecommunication Union(ITU), Iran’s Internet penetration rate is the sixth highest in authorities rely on Iran’s Press Law, Penal code and thethe region. however, its slow connections place the country cyber crime act of 2009 to prosecute Internet users. ar-15th in a regional ranking of countries with Internet access. ticle 18 of the latter provides for prison terms of up to twoWorse still, according to Speedtest.net, Iran placed 176th years and a fine for anyone found guilty of “disseminating(in terms of connection speed) in a 185-country survey. false information likely to agitate public opinion.” By vir- tue of articles 500 and 514 of the Penal code, “anyoneIn periods of social unrest, speed is intentionally made who somehow insults the founder of the Islamic republiceven slower. Following mahmoud ahmadinejad’s disputed of Iran, Khomeini, or the Supreme Leader of the countryre-election, the regime intentionally jammed all means of should be sentenced to imprisonment from six months tocommunication. Two days prior to the presidential polls, the two years” (art. 514) and “anyone who undertakes anyauthorities had already cut the SmS network and slowed form of propaganda against the state will be sentenced todown Internet speed. In June and July 2010, they systema- between three months and one year in prison” (art. 500).tically shut down mobile telephone networks in the centreof Iran’s major cities during the demonstrations, and de- again this year, netizens – and especially the regime’s op-creased Internet network even more. ponents and advocates for women’s rights – have been the target of countless arrests, summons and threats onas of 10 February, after several calls had been posted on the part of the authorities. The government has createdthe Internet for a demonstration to coincide with the Islamic numerous VPNs (virtual private networks) in order to ga-revolution’s anniversary on 14 February, bandwidth speed ther information on dissidents. Seven netizens are stillwas slowed down sharply in several of the country’s ma- behind bars in the country.jor cities. as they have done with the approach of everyopposition event or potential demonstration, the authorities On 16 February 2011, in response to recent demonstra-intensified censorship of all media likely to relay the call for tions, mohammad hussein Khoshvaght, webmaster ofdemonstrations on monday 14 February 2011. Indepen- www.fararu.com, and Gholam ali Dehgan, webmaster ofdent news websites, or those deemed to have close ties www.aftabnews.ir, were arrested by officials of the ministryto the opposition, such as Jaras, Kalameh, or Balatarin – of Intelligence and National Security, and later released.one of the opposition movement’s online bastions – andGooya.com, one of the most popular news portals, have On 22 September 2010, Noushin ahmadi Khorasani, Edi-been blocked. Two news websites, www.fararu.com and tor-in-chief of the Feminist School website, (http://www.fe-sahamnews.org (the latter having close ties to opposition ministschool.com/), was summoned and interrogated by
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 30the Fifth chamber of the Tehran revolutionary court loca- without his knowledge to post pornographic images. Va-ted inside Evin prison, before being released on bail. On 8 hid asghari has also been held since 2008. Like manyJune 2010, blogger, journalist and women’s rights activist prisoners, he was kept in solitary for seven months andJila Bani Yaghoob was sentenced by the 26th chamber of tortured to make him admit that he had organised a por-the Tehran revolutionary court to one year in prison and nographic network which blasphemed Islam. The two ne-a 30-year ban on working as a journalist because of her tizens were actually managing several news and opposi-opinions. Various “feminist” websites have been blocked, tion websites.including www.we-change.org, www.roozmaregiha2.blo-gfa.com and www.pargas1.blogfa.com. This year, Iranian authorities have unfortunately outdone themselves by incarcerating Navid mohebbi, who was 18hossein Derakhshan, an Irano-canadian blogger, was gi- at the time – the world’s youngest blogger behind bars.ven the harshest prison term ever meted out to a netizen This netizen, editor of the blog called "The writings of Na-in Iran: 19 and one-half years in prison, a five-year ban on vid mohebbi" (http://navidmohebbi3.blogfa.com/) and wo-engaging in political and media-related activities, and a men’s rights activist in Iran, was arrested in his home on 18fine of about 42,280 U.S. dollars. The netizen appealed September 2010 by eight ministry of Intelligence agents.his sentence, but is still waiting for a new trial. This ex- Beaten at the time of his arrest, he has been held in a cellcessive sentence was followed, in January 2010, by the with regular inmates ever since. The authorities accusedconviction of blogger Navid Khanjani, a young student, the blogger of "activities contrary to national security” andwho received a 12-year prison term. The revolutionary “insulting the Islam republic’s founder and current leader”Guards arrested netizen and human rights activist hos- by means of "foreign media." he was also charged withsien ronaghi maleki on 13 December 2010 during an being a member of the “One million Signatures movement“operation to dismantle a counter-revolutionary network.” to petition for changes in laws that discriminate againsthe was charged with developing and using anti-filtering women.” The revolutionary court in the city of amoi (insoftware, and of assisting and hosting websites and blogs northern Iran) had sentenced him to three years in prison,actively involved in defending human rights. This netizen, but he was freed on parole on 25 December 2010.now gravely ill and deprived of medical care, was senten-ced to 15 years behind bars. reACtions of tHeThe Iranian regime is now using the pornography pretext internAtionAl Communityto definitively muzzle dissident voices and tighten its irongrip on information in the country. Second only to china The European Union recently recalled that the sanctionsin the number of people it has executed, Iran sentenced against Iran cannot be limited to penalising nuclear pro-to death two Internet website administrators in December liferation, but must also target against human rights vio-2010, Saeed malekpour and Vahid asghari, for “agitating lations. Scottish conservative Struan Stevenson recentlyagainst the regime” and “insulting the sanctity of Islam.” called for the EU “to impose tougher sanctions on the cle-The verdicts were sent to the Supreme court for confirma- rical regime for its flagrant human rights violations.”tion. close to 70 people have already been executed inIran since early 2011. U.S. Secretary of State hillary clinton recently praised “the courage of the Iranian people,” who refuse to aban-It has intensified repression by sentencing to death – for don their right to free speech.the first time this year – individuals with dual nationalities,while the international community is forced to stand by, Despite all the risks, the Iranian blogosphere remains onebeing unable to intervene. of the most active in the world. It can count on the atten- tion and support of bloggers around the globe, who, evenSaeed malekpour, a 35-year-old web designer, is a ca- in the middle of the 2009 protests, were relaying photosnadian national. he has lived in canada since 2004. In of the repression and launching support groups on Twitter2008, he was arrested in Iran while visiting his dying father via hashtag #cN4Iran. Iranian cybernauts do not fear cen-and sentenced to death for having created pornographic sorship and have learned to use such circumvention toolswebsites. The cybernaut allegedly created a programme as the Farsi versions of Ultrareach, FreeGate and Nas-enabling the user to upload photos, but which was used sim – software developed by the Global Internet Freedom
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 31consortium in the United States and originally intended forchinese netizens.The recent events in Egypt and Tunisia have revitalisedInternet mobilisation in Iran, but also to closer scrutiny onthe part of censors. The Iranian Internet is once again na-vigating a turbulent period.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 32 nortHkoreAinternet enemyDomain name: .kpPopulation: 22,665,345Internet users: data not availableAverage cost of a one-hour cybercafé connection: about 8 U.S. dollarsAverage monthly salary: 17 dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens: 0While Kim Jong Il has been diligently keeping his people away from the rest of the world, Internet access has been reservedfor a small circle of the elite. Recently, the country made its entry into the social networks, bringing its virulent propagandawar onto the Web. North Korea’s alleged first direct connections to the World Wide Web were first observed when the “DearLeader” was preparing his succession.internet: An illusionAry tained from the World Wide Web was made available on the intranet. Some universities now use open-source softwareHunting ground for derived from the Web.tHe Country’s elite The capital’s rare cybercafés are considered mainly as enter- tainment venues offering access to computers and games.North Korea is literally cut off from the world, and the Inter-net is no exception. The World Wide Web is only accessible On the other hand, when foreigners are invited to North Ko-to a small minority: a few of the regime’s senior officials and rea, the regime pulls out all the stops. On the occasion ofsome foreign diplomats, assured only (at least until the end the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party ofof 2010) via a satellite link to foreign-based servers. Korea in October 2010, some 80 foreign journalists invited to cover the military parade were granted full Internet accessThe great majority of the population is kept away from the from hotel Koryo, where they were staying. This parade mar-Web and is restricted to using an intranet which provides ked the official introduction of Kim Jong II’s son, Kim Jongan e-mail inbox, a few news sites relaying the regime’s pro- Un, as the country’s designated successor and his ascen-paganda and a browser which gives users access to web sion to the Party’s central committee and to the central mi-pages with links to the databases of the country’s three lar- litary commission.gest libraries: the Grand People’s Study house, Kim II-SungUniversity and Kim chaek University of Technology. This in- During these celebrations, in October 2010, North Korea istranet system is accessible only to academics, businessmen said to have made its first full connection to the Worldwideand high-ranking officials who have received special clea- Web from its own territory, as explained by martyn Williamsrance. In the last few months, hand-picked information ob- of IDG News Services.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 33first direCt ConneCtions to tHe The regime decided to take advantage of social networks by creating accounts on Twitter (11,662 subscribers toworld wide web from nortH date) and YouTube (for which the total views for all videoskoreA? combined is currently 816,334) under the user name ”Uriminzokkiri,” which means “our nation” in Korean. an account by that name had been deleted by Facebook inTraditionally, North Korea has been connecting its websi- august 2010, but a new and similar group emerged short-tes to the rest of the world via its foreign-based servers, ly thereafter with close to 500 members. The Internet web-but that is now changing. site www.uriminzokkiri.com is run by the committee for the Peaceful reunification of Korea, a propaganda agencySome sites using the domain name “.kp” are said to be based in Pyongyang. It is the closest thing to North Ko-gradually entering into service. The servers managing rea’s official website. These sites and accounts have beenthese domain names will now operate within the Star JV the target of cyberattacks in the last few months.Network, a joint venture between the North Korean go-vernment and the Thai company Loxley Pacific. Six new In 2010, North Korea “took its propaganda war againstsecond-level domains have apparently been recorded in South Korea and the United States to a new frontier: You-addition to com.kp and edu.kp. These are: net.kp, gov.kp, Tube and Twitter,” to repeat choe Sang-hun’s statementorg.kp, rep.kp, tra.kp and co.kp. in The New York Times.These include: The propaganda circulating on these sites is meant to be Naenara: www.naenara.com.kp, a multilingual platform particularly virulent against South Korea and the Unitedrun by the Pyongyang-based Korean computer centre States. In one video clip posted on the YouTube account (lien), U.S. Secretary of State hillary clinton is called a “mi- The cultural relations committee, in collaboration nister in a skirt,” Secretary of Defense robert Gates a “warwith foreign countries: www.friend.com.kp maniac” and former South Korean minister of defence Kim Tae-young a “servile dog” that likes to be patted by itsIn addition, over 1,000 IP addresses assigned to North Ko- “american master”.rea in 2007 by the Internet corporation for assigned Namesand Numbers (IcaNN), but not previously used, are now in South Korean authorities are equally guilty of preventingservice, which suggests that servers have been set up in their citizens from gaining access to the North’s websites.the country, making it possible to access the international (read the chapter on South Korea)network from North Korea: a first for the country.The reasons for this turnabout are still not clear. could it smuggling newsbe an attempt to regain direct control, for ideological andpractical reasons, over websites previously hosted abroad? The cell telephone service provided by Egyptian companyat any rate, just as the country is supposedly making its Orascom, which mainly serves Pyongyang and a few ci-direct entry on the World Wide Web, the regime is making ties in the South, has been extended to some other cities,an entrance on the social networks and simultaneously most of them along the border. It does not permit Internetlaunching a particularly aggressive propaganda war. access or international calls and remains too expensive for most North Koreans, even though the number of celltHe propAgAndA wAr phones in circulation within the country has supposedly increased. Foreigners and Koreans are assigned two dif-is Also being wAged online ferent types of numbers and it is impossible to make calls between them. The authorities can monitor these calls andThe strained relations between the two Koreas have found are doing so. Security police are tracking anyone who at-a soundboard in the media and on the Web. South Korea tempts to use telecommunications as a means to defeatresumed its radio propaganda broadcasts after one of its the government’s control.ships was torpedoed – an incident for which it blamed NorthKorea. The latter decided to retaliate, mainly on the Internet.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 34News smuggling is practiced in border areas. The limi-ted information entering the country passes through thechinese border in the form of clandestine cDs and DVDs.There is a thriving black market in those areas. Telephonesfrom china can be used to make calls by capturing signalson the border. The recent introduction of 3G telephones inchina may also improve Internet access in these borderregions.among other alternative news websites is Dailynk, run byNorth Korean refugees based in South Korea. Indepen-dent radio stations broadcasting from South Korea to NorthKorea, Free North Korea radio, radio Free chosun, Openradio for North Korea and North Korea reform radio,mainly gather their news by calling upon stringers basedalong the chinese border.Nonetheless, the authorities announced in early 2010 thatthey intended to intensify their crackdown on “defectors”while tightening their control over border-based means ofcommunication, focusing on the chinese cell phones usedin North Korea. The regime boasted that it has the means“to crush reactionary forces” and that it has already provi-ded an example in January 2010, by executing a workeraccused of having used an “illegal” chinese cell phone. Itis allegedly now using signal triangulation to localise andarrest offenders. Koreans who use such telephones arebeing careful to limit their calls to avoid being caught.In this context, the first tentative connections from thecountry to the World Wide Web should not be viewed as arevolution or the first step towards generalised access byNorth Koreans to this open window on the outside world.This would be too dangerous for the regime.Do these connections signal a new trend initiated by theregime’s heir apparent, who is said to be very familiar withthe latest computer technologies? Or a desire, consistentwith the country’s recent industrial modernisation, to par-tially open the Web to North Korean business?In any case, the authorities remain resolved to maintainstrict control over the population at all costs. This meanscontrolling the Net and, above all, keeping most of the po-pulation away from the Web. The aim of North Korea’s newpresence on the Web thus seems to be more to dissemi-nate official news from the country than to allow any newsunauthorised by the regime from entering it.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 35 sAudiArAbiAinternet enemyDomain name .saPopulation: plus de 25 millions…Internet users: 11.2 million (according to correspondent, as of Sept. 2010) - 41%Average monthly salary: $ 1233Number of imprisoned netizens: 2Unrelenting censorship still plagues the Net – the only space in the country where some form of freedom of expression hasmanaged to thrive in the last few years. Some still-mobilised cyberdissidents, who were caught by the authorities exercisingtheir right to voice critical opinions, paid a stiff price.striCt filtering And while all are silent.” The article discussed the turmoil in political circles after WikiLeaks published cables revea-denunCiAtions ling that Saudi diplomats had urged the United States to attack Iranian nuclear reactors.an strictly enforced filtering system targets any contentwhich authorities deem to be pornographic or “morally Two websites were blocked in early 2011 in reaction toreprehensible.” Websites which discuss religious or hu- the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Both sites, dawlaty.man rights issues or the opposition viewpoints are also info and www.saudireform.com, were calling for politicalblocked. Far from concealing their actions, the authorities change in the country.openly attest to their censorship practices and claim tohave blocked some 400,000 sites. Participating websites are subject to particularly harsh censorship. The site newarabia.org, a political discussionProhibited websites now include the arab Network for hu- forum, is blocked in Saudi arabia. The blogger.com plat-man rights Information (aNhrI), (www.anhri.net/saudi/ form, totally blocked at first, is now the subject of a targe-spdhr) and the sites www.gulfissues.net,www.saudiins- ted censorship of its content – proof that authorities aretitute.org, www.arabianews.org, www.aljazeara.org and no longer able to prevent blogger input. censors took aimwww.saudiaffairs.net. at the micro-blogging website Twitter for the first time in august 2009, blocking the pages of two human rights ac-The latest censorship targets are the pages about Saudi tivists, Khaled al-Nasser and Walid abdelkhair. Facebookarabia on the arabic-language version of Wikileaks and pages on human rights were also rendered inaccessible.the Elaph website (www.elaph.com), an online political The government-controlled Internet Services Unit hasnews magazine. The latter had recently published an ar- even ventured to explain the principles behind its filte-ticle entitled “Gulf after WikiLeaks storm: riyadh speaks ring policy on its website, www.isu.net.sa/saudi-internet/
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 36contenet-filtring/filtring.htm. It provides a form which ci-tizens can use to request that a website be blocked or Anti-freedom legislAtionunblocked. according to Saudi authorities, this procedure intensifieshas been rather successful. The Telecommunications andInformation Technologies agency claims that the blocking New regulations on Internet publications aimed atrequests target from 700 to 1,000 sites daily, averaging strengthening Net censorship and discouraging Internetsome 300,000 “citizen-denounced” sites per year. a re- users from creating a website or blog were announced onpresentative of that same agency estimates that 93% of 1 January 2011 by the minister of culture and Information,the filtered sites are pornographic in nature. The rest: web- abdul aziz Khoja.sites which disseminate information “contrary to kingdomvalues.” One of the agency’s officials acknowledges, according to article 7 of this text, online media, the In-however, that 55% of users are concerned about the bloc- ternet websites of the so-called “traditional” media, andkings and that three-quarters of them feel that the current platforms circulating audio or video material and offeringfiltering policy is too harsh. online ads must, in order to operate, obtain an Internet licence, valid for three years, from the ministry of cultureblACkberrys under pressure and Information. In order to get it, the applicant must be at least 20 years of age, be a Saudi national and hold a diploma equivalent to the baccalaureate. he or she alsoBlackBerry phones are popular in the Gulf and in Sau- must produce “certificates of good conduct.”di arabia, where they enable users to circumvent cen-sorship. however, as a result of pressures from authorities The media must also indicate the name of their hostingthreatening to block the BlackBerrys’ instant messaging service, which gives the government the option of forcingservice, rIm, the BlackBerry manufacturing company, al- the service to eliminate the site or its content. all forms,legedly agreed, in august 2010, to install a server in Saudi blogs or personal Internet sites, distribution lists, electro-arabia. Supposedly, the aim was not to share the keys nic archives or “chat rooms” will henceforth have to beto its encryption with Saudi authorities, which would ena- registered. Bloggers may identify themselves “if they wishble them to set up real-time surveillance, but to give them to.” The obvious intent is to chip away at their anonymity.the opportunity of having court-ordered access to certain The ministry was supposed to first approve the editor ap-messages after the fact. In view of the Saudi court sys- pointed for all electronic newspapers. however, in viewtem’s independent status, the country’s smartphone users of the wave of protests triggered by this provision, the mi-have reasons to be worried. nister of Information promised, on 6 January, to drop it. all that is required now is for a “simple declaration” of theCyberCAfés under editor’s identity to be filed with the ministry.surveillAnCe Under article 17, any violation of these provisions is pu- nishable by fines and a partial or total, temporary or per-Draconian restrictions were imposed on cybercafés as of manent, blocking of the website. Fines may be as high asapril 2009. They are now required to install hidden ca- 100,000 Saudi riyals (20,000 euros), which constitutes anmeras, provide a list of customers and websites consul- indirect form of economic censorship, given that many si-ted, prohibit the use of prepaid cards or non-authorised tes cannot afford to pay such a sum. The ministry reservesInternet satellite links, to close at midnight and to refuse to the right to expand the scope of these measures.admit minors.Their owners risk prison terms if their premises are used inCArCerAted Cyberdissidentsto disseminate information contrary to “kingdom values”as set out in the 2008 law on the use of technology. This any bloggers who dare to discuss sensitive subjects arelaw also provides ten-year prison sentences for Internet subject to censor reprisals. Two of them were arrested inwebsite managers who promote terrorism, and five years 2010. Sheikh mekhlef bin Dahham al-Shammari, a writer,for those who disseminate pornographic information or social reformer and human rights activist known for hisviolate the country’s religious and social values. outspoken defence of women’s rights and his efforts to
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 37reconcile Shiites and Sunnis, has been behind bars since express themselves. There, they can discuss topics which15 June 2010 and is said to be in poor health. he stands they are forbidden to mention in public, such as health.accused, quite fancifully, of “annoying others.” his arrest Saudi arabia’s tight control over these new technologieswas linked to his criticisms of political and religious lea- also indicates the depth of their resolve to maintain theders, posted primarily on the new sites www.saudiyoon. social order.com and www.rasid.com. Online mobilisations are also being launched in support ofmohammed abdallah al-abdulkarim, a law professor and human rights activists. News about mohammed abdallahactivist known for his efforts to defend political and civic al-abdulkarim’s arrest was initially circulated on his Face-rights, was arrested on 5 December 2010 in riyadh. Fol- book page before being reposted on a large number oflowing King abdullah bin abdulaziz al Saud’s medically Internet websites. Numerous Saudi human rights organi-motivated trip to the United States, mohammed al-ab- sations publicly denounced it. Several Facebook pages,dulkarim posted, on 23 November 2010, on the website including “We are all mohammed abdulkarim” and "Freehttp://royaah.net/, an article mentioning differences within Dr. abdulkarim" http://www.facebook.com/FreeDralab-the royal family – specifically disputes over King abdul- dullkarim), as well as a hashtag (#FreeDrabdulkarim) onlah’s succession and their consequences for Saudi ara- Twitter, were created to demand his immediate release.bia’s political future. In this post, he mentioned not only the his case aroused heated discussions between netizensKing’s state of health, but also the power struggle between siding with him and those who sided with the regime. athe 86-year-old sovereign’s potential successors. memorable debate broke out on Twitter between abdulra- hman alenad, a member of the consultative assembly ofThere is still no news of Syrian blogger raafat al-Ghanim, Saudi arabia (Shura) and Dr. abdulkarim’s lawyer, Wa-a resident of Saudi arabia who was arrested in July 2009. leed abulkhair, when the former ordered the latter to keephe openly criticised the Syrian and Saudi social and poli- quiet.tical situations on both countries’ online forums.fACebook: A tool formobilisAtion or soCiAlisAtion?In November 2010, Facebook was blocked for severalhours for having violated Saudi arabia’s moral values,which raised caused a stir on the Web. Was this an iso-lated incident or a test paving the way for even harshercensorship? The authorities have little tolerance for onlinemobilisations, especially since the Tunisian revolution.Not only are Saudi netizens resisting censorship by lear-ning how to circumvent it, but they are also capable ofconducting online mobilisation campaigns, notably on Fa-cebook.In 2010, a woman launched a Facebook group to protestagainst the ban prohibiting women from working in linge-rie shops. She succeeded in winning 10,000 supporters:http://www.facebook.com/pages/hmlt-kfayt-ahraj-dd-by-alrjal-llmlabs-aldakhlyt-alnsayyt/119561098100718.The Net has been providing Saudi women – who now re-present more than half of the country’s bloggers and in-ternet users – with an unprecedented space in which to
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 38 syriAennemis d’internetDomain name: .syPopulation: 22,198,110Internet users: 3,935,000Average cost for a one-hour cybercafé connection: from 1 to 2 U.S. dollarsAverage monthly salary: 200dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens: 3Syria’s lack of infrastructure is still impeding Web growth. The new online media law has tightened censorship which, fromlate 2010 until now, has sought to discourage messages concerning the regime’s fall in Tunisia. As a symbol of netizen re-pression, the case of Tal al-Mallouhi – the youngest blogger in the world behind bars – is mobilising the blogosphere beyondSyria’s borders.Controlled growtH by the authorities has been slow to materialise. Some inter- pret this as a deliberate plan to keep the population off theof tHe internet Web.although internet access has expanded considerably Internet control is carried out by two government agencies,in the last decade, the infrastructure has shown little im- the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) andprovement, resulting in bottleneck problems, connection the Syrian Information Organisation (SIO), which controlslowdowns and frequent outages. The very slow connec- bandwidth. The STE and SIO use Thundercache softwaretion speed remains a key obstacle to Internet use. most to maintain a centralised control over the Web. The pro-cybernauts are restricted to a speed of 56Kb, which seve- gramme provides online website monitoring and filtering byrely limits downloads and makes it arduous to navigate the spotting key “banned” words.Web. In peak periods the speed is even slower. aDSL and3G connections are still expensive. Nonetheless, the 3G The Syrian government, which had long been minimisingnetwork controlled by the Syriatel mobile telephone com- its Web presence, has completely reversed course, mainlypany – owned by rami makhlouf, a cousin of the president due to Bachar al-assad’s influence. Websites promoting– is experiencing strong growth. propaganda or official positions are proliferating, such as those of the Syrian News agency (SaNa), Syria News,Syrian Telecom has announced a plan to expand aDSL al-Gamal, Sada Suria and Sham Press, not to mentionaccess within the country. a new 10-Gb broadband portal Presidentassad.net – all praising the head of State. Theis said to have replaced the former international backbone President and the First Lady, asma al-assad, already hadportal. Yet in actuality, the technical improvement promised pages on Facebook even before the social network was
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 39unblocked again in the country, in February 2011. however,the President and First Lady asma al-assad, already had tunisiAn revolution intheir own Facebook pages. In January 2011, the Presiden- tHe Censors’ line of sigHttial Palace’s press service, finding it necessary to clarify thesituation, explained that these were neither official pages In an interview granted to the The Wall Street Journal onnor official communication channels, but merely the result 31 January 2010, Bachar al-assad declared that “real re-of individual initiatives by the president and the First Lady. form is about knowing how to open up the society and how to start dialogue,” explaining that decades of political and economic stagnation, leaders with no ideology, fo-speCifiC Content filtering reign interventions and wars have generated the agitation in the streets of Tunisia and Egypt.In December 2010, Syrian minister of Telecommunicationsand Technology, Imad Sabouni, stated during a seminar at the same time, while the traditional Syrian media scar-held by Latakia University that censorship was not a solu- cely mentioned the fall of President Ben ali’s regime intion and that it was more important to raise Internet users’ compliance with orders from the authorities, the latterawareness, while stressing the need for caution on social have tightened Web censorship, fearing that the Internetnetworks which can harm private lives. he also pointed and social networks might promote social unrest.out that Internet-blocking systems exist in all countries. For example, on 26 January 2011, the authorities bloc-Nonetheless, censorship never abated in 2010. To date, ked access to Nimbuzz and eBuddy – programmes which240 websites are blocked. The contents affected involved enable surfers to use chat functions, like those on Face-political criticism, religious matters, sites deemed “obsce- book, from a mobile telephone.ne,” sites discussing the Kurd minority, and those basedin Israel. Other sites targeted are those of the opposition Several Syrian websites have also been preventing neti-parties, certain Lebanese newspapers and independent zens from leaving comments on the popular uprising innews sites. The website www.onemideast.org, launched Tunisia, such as Syria News, a pro-government website,in may 2010, was rendered inaccessible in the country. It while others have left a few very moderate or vague com-provides Syrians and Israelis with a public forum on which ments, removing the more explicit comments.they can discuss obstacles to peace between their twocountries. contributors from both countries have posted a In February 2011, there was a wave of blogger arrests inlist of the top twenty impediments. connection with the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. In the morning of 20 February 2011, blogger ahmad hadifa,The Syrian government justifies its actions by claiming known by the blog name of ahmad abu al-Kheir, wasthat its aim is to prevent “denominational unrest” and any arrested in Baniyas by military security officials and re-attempt at infiltration on the part of Israel. leased four days later. hadifa, 28, a journalism student at the Falsam al-Islam institute in Damascus, had used hisTraditionally, censors have been particularly wary of social blog, ahmadblogs.net, to request support for the bloggersnetworks and blog platforms. Potential dissidents must be recently arrested in Syria and for the political prisonersprevented, at any cost, from forming groups and recruiting incarcerated in Golan (a region occupied by Israel sinceadditional members through the net media. Blogspot and 1967 and annexed since 1961). he had also posted de-maktoob are blocked. YouTube has been inaccessible mands for Syrian authorities and updates on the last fewsince august 2007, after videos were circulated which de- weeks of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and provided ad-nounced the crackdown on the Kurd minority. Wikipedia’s vice on how to circumvent Internet censorship.arabic version was blocked from may 2008 to February2009. amazon and Skype are also censored. In addition, a cybernaut was arrested for posting on You- Tube a video of the 17 February 2011 demonstration in the harika district of Damascus. During that protest, a young man was beaten by police. The video shows several hun- dred people shouting anti-police slogans, and Said Sam- mour, the ministry of the Interior, addressing the crowd.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 40 ming the state” (article 286 of the Syrian Penal code) andhowever, the authorities reversed their tactics in Februa- "intending to harm Syria’s relations with a another state”ry 2011, when they began to realise how ineffective their (article 276 of the Penal code). These new charges fol-censorship system was. While popular revolts were at lowed the publication on the Internet, on 23 august 2008their height in the arab world – undoubtedly having been – while he was in prison – of an article in which the journa-stirred up by social networks – in February 2011, Syrian list criticised Iran’s Wilayat al-Faqih doctrine (which givesauthorities decided to unblock access to Facebook and the country’s clerics absolute power over political affairs).Twitter. This was a way for them to make concessions wi- The Syrian Third military court in Damascus issued newthout jeopardising their position. Facebook was already counts of indictment against him which the court of ap-very popular in the country, and netizens were using cen- peals upheld on 1 December 2010. ali al-abdallah nowsorship circumvention tools to gain access to it. faces a possible new prison term. This new development is all the more troubling in that it shows how dangerous it is for journalists to criticise not only the regime, but alsojAiled for eXpressing tHemsel- its allies.ves freely on tHe internet The Tal al-mallouhi case has caused great concern not only in Syria, but around the globe. This 19 year-oldSyria continues to incarcerate netizens so as to make student – the youngest female blogger to be in custodyexamples of them and to persuade others to practice self- anywhere in the world – was arrested by Syrian intelligen-censorship. To date, at least three cyberdissidents are ce officers in late December 2009. her computer and herbehind bars. personal effects were also seized. The fate of Palestinians was the main topic she discussed on her blog. after beingOn 6 may 2008, Syrian government security agents arres- detained in an unknown location for eleven months, sheted writer and cyberdissident habib Saleh. he was sen- appeared before the Supreme State Security court on 10tenced to three years in prison on 15 march 2009, by vir- November 2010 and 17 January 2011. She was sentencedtue of article 285 of the Syrian Penal code for “weakening on 14 February 2010 to five years in prison for “divulgingnational sentiment” after disseminating on the Internet of information to a foreign state,” namely the United States.political articles calling for governmental reform, demo- her sentence, typical of the brutality of the Syrian regime’scracy and freedom of opinion. This is the third time that he repression, is designed to intimidate Syrian bloggers byhas been tried under Bachar al-assad’s regime. making Tal al-mallouhi a scapegoat.Kamal cheikhou ben hussein a Kurd blogger and student Lastly, there has been no news of three other bloggersat Damascus University’s Faculty of Literature and human since their arrest: Firaz akram mahmoud, arbitrarily arres-Sciences, was arrested on 23 June 2010 while attemp- ted in a cybercafé in homs on 5 February 2011, ahmedting to enter Lebanon with his brother’s passport. There Ben Farhan al-alawi, arrested by security agents on 26has been no news of him since then. Syrian authorities October 2010 and ahmed Ben abdelhalim aboush, heldhave forbidden this author of numerous publications on since 20 July 2010. The latter had been incarcerated forthe all4syria website to leave the country. On 16 Februa- six years until he was released under a presidential par-ry 2011, he began a hunger strike to protest against his don on 2 November 2005.detention conditions in adra prison. held since 23 June2010 under charges of “publishing information that couldcompromise the nation’s honour,” his trial is scheduled tobegin on 7 march. internet users Are being wAtCHedJournalist and writer ali al-abdallah is still behind bars. In-carcerated since 17 December 2007 for having signed the Since 2007, the authorities have been requiring websiteDamascus Declaration, he was expected to be released owners to retain personal data of the authors of articleson 16 June 2010, after serving a two-and-one-half year and comments posted online.prison term, but the Syrian authorities decided to chargehim with "spreading false information with the aim of har- Police raids on cybercafés are commonplace. Officers
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 41suggest to netizens caught doing “excessive surfing” thatthey “have a cup of coffee with them” – their expression emergenCe of onlinefor taking them in “for questioning.” Website managers pressure groupsmust keep visitors’ personal data and a list of visited sites,and alert the authorities if they notice any illegal activities. many Internet users have mastered censorship circumven-cybernauts even have to provide the name of their mo- tion tools. When the authorities start blocking the proxiesthers and fathers. most often used, others are created.activist Suhair atassi, leader of the “Jamal atassi Forum” Facebook was blocked when the Syrians began makingon Facebook, who has been calling for political reforms, friends with Israelis, yet the social network, which is verycivil rights guarantees and an end to the State of Emer- popular in the country, hosts hundreds of groups with hun-gency Law, has been subjected to multiple pressures and dreds – if not thousands – of members devoted to tourism,threats on the part of the authorities. Nonetheless, she has business, sports, technology and entertainment.refused to dissolve her group. Online pressure groups have formed to express their eco- nomic or social demands. One online campaign oppo-new lAw tArgets online sing a bill on amending the existing personal statute lawfreedom of eXpression seems to have played a crucial role in the government’s decision to abandon it, especially since privately ownedan Internet communications bill formulated by Syrian Pri- radio stations had broadcasted online posts objecting tome minister mohammad Naji Otri, was approved by the the legalisation of marriage for girls as young as 13.cabinet in November 2010. Parliament is expected to voteon this bill soon. Netizens from around the world mobilised on behalf of Tal al-mallouhi. Egyptian bloggers massively rallied aroundThe aim of this bill is clearly to further restrict the circula- her case. International attention was probably also ation of information on the Internet. Two provisions are contributing factor to her appearance before a court inparticularly disturbing. The first would allow the authorities November 2010, after she had been held in an unknownto try journalists before criminal courts and impose harsh location for nearly eleven months.jail sentences. The second would allow any “judicial auxi-liary” – an intentionally broad term – to conduct investiga- In September 2010, a video showing teachers hitting theirtions on journalists suspected of committing “crimes” as young students circulated around the Web after havingdefined by law, and to decide whether or not they should been posted on Facebook. The Syrian cybernauts’ angerbe arrested. spread to the rest of the population, forcing the Syrian mi- nister of Education to ask the teachers involved to resignayman abdel-Nourm, head of the all4syria.org website, and to reassign them to office jobs.which is blocked in Syria, told aFP that he thought thisbill was “very harsh,” as it would notably allow “police to a Facebook group was launched at the end of Januarybe dispatched to editorial offices to arrest journalists and 2011 to call for a peaceful Damascus sit-in “in front of theseize their computers.” Egyptian embassy to express our condolences for Egyp- tian victims.” Syrian police dispersed a group of some fiftyThe new bill is a reaction to the growth of new media in young people who had gathered on 29 January, carryingSyria over the last few years, which is deemed to be a candles. many Syrians left comments on Facebook suchthreat to the regime. a dozen radio stations, as well as pri- as “One day, I will have the courage to become Tuni-vately owned newspapers and magazines, have recently sian.”been created, headed by a new generation of journalists.One of them, Forward magazine, also has a digital versionfeaturing blogs and tweets on political and social topics.Some online journalists feel that they can express them-selves more freely on the Web than on a paper version.This bill may convince them otherwise.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 42will internet freedomfoster innovAtion?In June 2010, a delegation of representatives of U.S. high-tech companies – among them microsoft, Dell and ciscoSystems – led by the State Department, met the Syrian Pre-sident, officially to open a new market for U.S. technologyexports and to promote freedom of expression online. ame-rican leaders seem to be banking on a more open formof the Internet in Syria and are dangling the prospect ofmillions of dollars of investments, insisting that U.S. compa-nies cannot do business in such a closed environment andthat a free Internet fosters innovation.although a few hopes had flourished with the growth ofonline media and their effort to push back the limits ofcensorship, the adoption of the law clearly shows thatthe authorities are continuing to do everything possible toblock the Internet in order to prevent any discontent on-line from spreading offline. These early 2011 uprisings byarab civil societies are bound to convince the regimes thatthey should maintain their current Internet strategy. Despitethe fact that the Syrian government acts as though it wereready to give the international community guarantees that itwill end its diplomatic isolation and attract foreign investors,it is ultimately unwilling to give up its control of the Web.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 43 turkmenistAninternet enemyDomain name: .tmPopulation: 5,342,342Number of Internet users: 127,000Average cost of a one-hour cybercafé connection: about 1 U.S. dollarAverage monthly salary: about 200 U.S. dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens: 0The Turkmen government has curbed the very recent Internet growth and continues to practice widespread censorship.Its monopolistic takeover of the cell telephone market has allowed it to enhance its control over communications. Theinternational community seems more determined to make concessions than to exert any real pressure on this country, inview of its vast energy and strategic potential.proHibitive Costs however, Turkmen can view most generalist NGO web- sites. The same applies to russian and Turkmen mediaof internet ACCess websites that contain no articles critical of Turkmenistan, because of the significant commercial ties between thealthough President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow finally two countries.allowed Turkmen to access the Web in 2008, many tech-nical and financial barriers still remain. Internet access is In view of the climate of terror prevailing in the country,possible, but its generalised use is not encouraged. Turkmen netizens do not discuss political or societal sub- jects online. They consult their e-mail boxes and exchangeapart from the few businesses and foreign embassies messages with their friends via Skype or cell phone ins-which can access the Worldwide Web, the few other In- tant messaging services. a few Turkmen social networksternet users can only access an ultra-censored version of were created about two years ago. The Teswirlar.com fo-the Internet nicknamed “the Turkmenet.” Very strict filtering rum and the blog platform Talyplar.com are highly popu-is focusing on opposition Turkmen-language publications, lar among the country’s netizens and the diaspora. Theytargeting primarily local users and potential dissidents, receive hundreds of visitors every day.mainly for linguistic reasons. Opposition websites such asXpoho.tm and Gundogar, and regional news sites covering One notable improvement is the fact that Turkmen citi-central asia such as ferghana.ru and eurasianet, are bloc- zens are now allowed to have personal computers, even ifked. YouTube and LiveJournal were rendered inaccessible the latter’s purchase price automatically puts them out oflate in 2009 to prevent Turkmen from blogging or sending reach for all but the elite. The setting up of WiFi connec-videos abroad. Facebook and Twitter are also blocked. tions affords users more flexibility and allows them to
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 44avoid having to communicate their personal information, cials, calling on them to fight against those who “defameas they need to do when ordering a subscription or in a our secular and democratic law-based state and try tocybercafé. The authorities keep these establishments un- destroy the unity and solidarity of our society.”der very close surveillance. On the other hand, netizensno longer have to tell the manager which websites they The website of the Turkmen Initiative for human rightswant to consult, as was previously the case... (TIhr) was hacked in early October 2010 and had to change its host site. These attacks followed an interviewmost Turkmen connect from cybercafés, since the regime which the NGO’s director, Farid Tukhbatullin, granted onimposes prohibitive rates for Internet access. an unlimited 28 September 2010 to the satellite TV station K+. Broa-monthly Internet subscription at a speed of 64 Kbit/sec dcast in central asia, it was therefore accessible to thecosts $213.16. The cost for aDSL is almost $7,000, even Turkmen population. Farid Tukhbatullin, who is exiled inthough the average monthly salary is about $200! For Vienna, addressed the human rights situation in Turkme-those who choose unlimited access, the cost will be $25 nistan. The authorities were apparently displeased withfor 1 mB. his comments.Bandwidth speed is often very slow. Some users who In the last few months, several dissidents have been for-have private connections complain that they can only bidden to leave the country, including human rights activistuse the Internet a short time during the day. at night, the Umida Dzhumabaeva, one of the most recent examples,speed is somewhat faster. Some of them go to the offices in July 2010. The authorities reproach her for her activitiesof international organisations to get access to the World and relations with other dissidents. She was accused, to-Wide Web. tally without proof, of having delivered information to op- position websites.Cell pHones under pressure is tHe internAtionAlIn December 2010, a shortage of cell phone SIm cardsonce again caused long waiting lines in ashgabat, accor- Community prepAredding to the chronicles of Turkmenistan website, published to offer Any ConCessions?by the NGO Turkmen Initiative of human rights. Longlines also formed in front of the altyn asyr brand shops. Turkmenistan’s capital, ashgabat, plays a key role in sup- porting NaTO within the framework of the war in afghanis-This “shortage” coincided with the departure from Turkme- tan, mainly by authorising it to access Turkmen air space,nistan of the russian telecommunications company mTS, which the U.S. views as a strategic asset. Despite this,leaving some two million mobile TeleSystem subscribers U.S. assistant Secretary of State robert Blake, while visi-without access. The licence granted to mTS-Turkmenistan ting the country in February 2011, conveyed a warning towas suspended, effective on 21 December 2010, by the central asian countries which practice harsh censorship:ministry of communications. The only competitor of the “It is important for leaders of countries where the compa-state-owned company and market leader altyn asyr was nies are controlled to listen to the lessons of Tunisia andthus eliminated. altyn asyr, which until then only had a few Egypt.”hundred thousand subscribers, now enjoys a monopoly This position contrasts with that of French diplomacy. ac-status, which assures the government an even stronger cording to a cable leaded by WikiLeaks and published incontrol of cell phones in terms of censorship and sur- the newspaper Le monde, "The French Embassy refrainsveillance. Unlike mTS, altyn asyr blocks access to inde- from speaking out on the issues of religious freedom orpendent and opposition websites. human rights so as not to compromise (contracts with the Group) Bouygues,” which enjoys a privileged status in the country.A return to repression? as for the European Union, it is about to enter into a Par- tnership and cooperation agreement (Pca) with Turkme-On 30 September, President Berdimuhamedow gave a nistan, which would include a monitoring clause concer-belligerent speech before National Security ministry offi-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 45ning the human rights situation and calls for the country’sdemocratisation, under penalty of suspension. The Euro-pean Parliament’s Foreign affairs committee took a posi-tion in January 2011 in favour of signing this political andeconomic agreement.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 46 uzbekistAninternet enemyDomain name: .uzPopulation: 27.8 millionsInternet users: 6.626 millionAverage cost for a one-hour cybercafé connection: 800 soums per hour ($0.35)Average monthly salary: $289Number of imprisoned netizens: 0Despite the European Union’s decision in late 2009 to lift the sanctions against Uzbekistan, the regime has not loosened itsgrasp on the Net – quite to the contrary. This police state is still routinely preventing the dissemination of information onlineand all efforts to initiate a civil society – virtual or any other kind.better ACCess to tHe internet? audiovisual media. reporting to the Uzbek agency for communications and Information (UzaScI), it is respon- sible for blocking the IP addresses of the sites or articlesInternet access costs are gradually decreasing, thereby which it deems undesirable.providing more opportunities for the population to surf theWeb. consequently the number of Internet users is rising among the blocked sites are the Ferghana.ru news agen-by 2 to 3% every three months. There is still a long way cy website and that of Nezavissimaya Gazeta (www.ng.ru).to go before the Internet will be accessible to everyone, The regional news site centrasia.ru is partially blocked,but at least access costs are no longer an insurmountable but most of the pages can still be read. When attemptingbarrier. to access prohibited articles, Internet users are redirected to the home page. The central asian News Service site,Netizens primarily visit entertainment sites. The most po- www.ca-news.org, is also partially blocked. The Uzbek-pular news website is Gazeta.uz. Uzbek netizens seem language BBc is constantly blocked, as is the russianto prefer russian-language social networks to blogs. Od- version intermittently. Social networks such as LiveJour-noklassniki.ru (“classmates”) and my World (my.mail.ru) nal, mySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Flickr and thehave higher traffic rates than Facebook and Twitter. most popular blog platform in Uzbekistan, kloop.kg, are made inaccessible from time to time.big brotHer is Aboutto fine-tune its CensorsHip Sensitive subjects include criticisms of the government, information on the actual state of the economy, human rights and the social situation. It is not advisable to dis-The centre for monitoring mass communications (cmmc) cuss the private business of the Karimov family or theirclosely monitors the content of Internet websites and daughters’ personal lives, the forced labour of children in
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 47cotton fields, or emergency situations. It is much too risky the dissemination of information and as a test for the futureto mention petrol supply problems, inflation, the popula- implementation of even more drastic restrictions on socialtion’s impoverishment, and social unrest. any reference networks.to the andijan massacre is simply removed. The popu-lation has long since stopped bringing up the subject inpublic – and even sometimes in private. Self-censorship online journAlist firstis widespread. sentenCed, tHen pArdonedcensorship is enforced inconsistently and varies in accor- Vladimir Berezovsky, russian editor of the Tashkent-baseddance with what is happening in the country. During Pre- news website vesti.uz, was convicted on defamation char-sident Karimov’s visit to russia from 19 to 20 april 2010, ges on October 13, 2010 and released on the occasionsome articles on the ria Novosti website were blocked of the 19th anniversary of the countrys independence.in Uzbekistan. Internet service providers sometimes block charges were brought against Berezovsky the day afterarticles on Uzbekistan published on news agency websi- Vesti published an article criticising the authorities’ deci-tes such as lenta.ru or newsru.com. sion to rename a street in the capital which originally bore the name of a russian-born Uzbek citizen.Officially, however, the government denies that it censuresthe Net. In march 2010, when asked by the NGO Forum18 why such sites as Ferghana.ru or rferl.org were being tougHer lAws for onlineblocked, Elbek Dalimov, head of the Press Service of Uz- publiCAtionsbekistan’s State agency of communications and Informa-tion, claimed that his agency did not block websites. he Internet access is governed by article 29 of Uzbekistan’smerely acknowledged that access to some “terrorist” or constitution, which prohibits anyone from seeking, obtai-“pornographic” websites was banned in licensing agree- ning and disseminating any information directed againstments with Internet service providers. the existing constitutional system or divulging any state secret or confidential corporate information.fACebook bloCked The 2002 Law on Principles and Guarantees of FreedomseverAl Hours of Information authorises the government to restrict this freedom of information when necessary to protect anyOne piece of news which caused quite a stir was that ac- individual from “the psychological impact of negative in-cess to Facebook was blocked in the country for several formation.” Order no. 216 of 2004 prohibits Internet ser-hours on 21 October 2010, but not uniformly. according vice providers and operators from disseminating certainto Neweurasia.net, a source with the main Internet service types of information. a broad interpretation of the targetedprovider, TshTT, confirmed that an order had been given content is made by the national operator Uzbek Telecom.to block Facebook for just a few days . Some access pro- The 2007 media Law renders editors and journalists lia-viders did as instructed, others did not. Users protests ble for the “objectivity” of their publications and applies todemanding that Facebook contact local Internet access online media. The January 2010 amendments to this lawproviders to find out what was going on allegedly resulted now obligate Internet websites, as well as all other media,in the block being lifted. to register and to provide information on their employees and copies of their articles to the government.certain users welcome the addition on Facebook pages ofads for some of the blocked sites – ferghana.ru, Uznews. The Uzbek National Security Service (NSS) is responsiblenet and neweurasia.net – which allow them to access said for Internet surveillance and for ensuring that these ruleswebsites. Nonetheless, the social network is said to be are being enforced by ISPs and cybercafés.accessible via mobile phones. mobile phone operators,such as mTS-Uzbekistan, are not state-owned.attempts to block social networks have been viewed byUzbek netizens as a way for the government to prevent
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 48netizens under surveillAnCe wHAt is tHe internAtionAlThe one thousand or so cybercafés operating in the country Community doing?are not evenly monitored. There is a widespread use ofspyware. Tests conducted by reporters Without Borders In September 2010, Dunja mijatovic, the representativehave shown that certain café managers reacted when anti- on Freedom of the media for the Organization for Securityspyware software was installed on one of their computers, and co-Operation in Europe (OScE) publicly shared herwhile in other cybercafés, such tampering went unnoticed. concern about the judicial pressures which are still beingSome censorship circumvention tools may have been used brought to bear on independent journalists in Uzbekistan.in certain cafés, but not in others. Several OpenNet Initia-tive researchers were questioned in 2007 while they were In addition, U.S. Secretary of State hillary clinton, duringtesting website filtering systems. her visit to Tachkent in early December 2010, asked Presi- dent Karimov to “demonstrate his commitment through aE-mails are also under surveillance, as are chat rooms, series of steps to ensure that human rights and fundamen-particular those of IcQ and mail.ru agent. Several people tal freedoms are truly protected.”were supposedly arrested in January 2010 for their allegedmembership in extremist religious organisations after they These few examples of encouraging interventions remainwere spotted based on the content of their chats on mail. the exception. In October 2009, the European Union lif-ru agent. ted its remaining sanctions against Uzbekistan in order to encourage “Uzbek authorities to take further substantivea new law in effect since 18 may 2010 is aimed at “impro- steps to improve the rule of law and the human rights si-ving young people’s conduct” to prevent them from “en- tuation.” Democracy and human rights have thus been sa-gaging in criminal activities.” accordingly, the government crificed on the altar of energy and military co-operation.decreed that young people under the age of 18 could notgo into bars, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs or even cy- The government knows he is in a position of strength whilebercafés unless accompanied by a legal guardian. One he is trying to emerge from its isolation and attract foreignway of controlling the information available to young people investors. Uzbekistan is an important transit hub for get-is to deprive them of Web access. This law has obviously ting supplies to Western troops deployed in afghanistan.been ignored by those most concerned. many minors can The country also has substantial energy resources.be seen alone in these places at night.In may 2010, mPs and government representatives consi-dered restricting young people’s use of their mobile phonesin schools and universities, among other options.tHe government positionsitself on uznetThe main websites used by the government to relay itsonline propaganda are Press-uz.info, GT.uz and Gorizont.uz. In addition, some sites registered in Kazakhstan or inKyrgyzstan are used to compromise human rights acti-vists, members of the opposition, or journalists. They alsoprovide a means to justify certain decisions made by thegovernment and the president.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 49 vietnAminternet enemyPopulation: 86 millionPenetration rate: 27.3 million Internet users - 31% of the population,according to the General Statistics Office of VietnamAverage monthly salary: 126 U.S. dollarsNumber of jailed netizens: 17The 11th Vietnamese Communist Party Congress of January 2011 marked the start of a more hard-line approach on thepart of the regime to its critics, and was preceded by a new, particularly harsh wave of repression aimed at those who dareto exercise their freedom of expression. A lead weight is bearing down on the country’s dissidents. There has been massiveuse of cyberattacks to silence dissenting opinion. Blogging has become dangerous.tHe “internet tHreAt” valent to a sort of independent private press and are ha- ving a growing impact on public opinion. Websites such as Vietnam Net and Vietnam News cover such topics asInternet use continues to spread among the population: corruption, social issues and the political situation. Blog-31% of Vietnamese are now connected. Young people are gers are carrying out actual field surveys whose resultsparticularly keen about spending time online. Facebook could not be published in the traditional media. Thanks tousers now number two million and 70% of them are 14 to the Internet and to the debate and opinion-sharing spaces24 years old. which it offers, a virtual civil society has emerged. Pro- democratic activists and critics of the government haveThe blocking of Facebook, intermittent in 2009, accele- found refuge there, which worries the authorities.rated in December 2010, to its users’ great dismay. Thelatter “gathered” on the social network, forming several The most widely discussed topics are territorial disputesgroups. One of them, known as “a million signatures to with china, corruption, disagreements over land ownershipprotest Vietnamese ISPs blocking FB,” has attracted, to and freedom of expression – subjects which are rarely, ifdate, over 46,000 Internet supporters since February ever, mentioned in the traditional media. china’s bauxite2011. mining activities and the related environmental risks are taboo, particularly because they are causing rifts withinOnline media and blogs, mainly those hosted on Word- the party itself.press, multiply or Blogspot, thanks to contributions fromcitizen journalists, have acquired a de facto status equi-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 50The filtering of Internet websites seems to have neither in- the california-based Vietnamese Professionals Society’screased nor declined in the last few months. The majority website and replaced a Vietnamese-language keyboardof bloggers practice self-censorship for fear of becoming programme with a malware programme, which then infec-a target for the authorities. certain bloggers have indica- ted the computers of anyone who downloaded it. accor-ted that when they write on “sensitive” subjects, their posts ding to a mcafee study conducted in October 2010, do-are deleted by “third parties.” main names ending in “.com” are the most at risk and at a country level, Vietnam is now the most at risk.authorities close down websites or blogs in the open. On5 may 2010, Gen. Vu hai Trieu, Deputy Director of the Pu- american Internet giant Google has also been accusingblic Security ministry, announced: “Our technical depart- Vietnam of carrying out cyberattacks and online sur-ments have destroyed 300 Internet web pages and blogs veillance to muzzle critical opinions. It claims that tens ofposting unsuitable contents.” , thousands of people may have been affected. The sites targeted are said to be those which discuss the highlyFiltering is no longer the main method used to curtail In- controversial issue of the bauxite mining being done byternet freedom. The Vietnamese regime prefers to deploy chinese companies, despite activists exposing them ascyberattacks and spyware, and to steal users’ IDs and having a harmful impact on the environment and china’spasswords from opposition website administrators. growing influence in this strategic region. Nart Villeneuve, of Toronto University’s citizen Lab, stated to associatedtHe AutHorities: instigAtors Press on 1 april 2010 that these attacks and malware pro- grammes had made it possible to infiltrate and place un-of Anti-freedom CyberAttACks der surveillance human rights activists’ websites.cyberattacks have become commonplace, most often inthe form of a "Distributed Denial-of-Service" (DDoS). This unmotivAted AssAults Andis a type of cyberattack aimed at putting a site out-of-ser- pressure of All kinds:vice, by submerging it with unnecessary traffic. althoughover one thousand sites were affected in 2009 – twice as rogue metHodsmany as in 2008 – according to the official Vietnamese The pressures exerted on the writers and editors of thepress, that figure is said to have increased ten-fold in online magazine To Quoc tightened in 2010. after being2010. threatened, army officer Dang Van Viet asked for his name to be withdrawn from the editorial board. In early Februaryamong the sites targeted is the “anhbasam” blog, well- 2010, assistant Editor Nguyen Thuong Long and journa-known for its insightful content and political analyses, list Nguyen Phuong anh were interrogated by the police.created by former police officer Nguyen huu Vinh. Other In early march, security agents told the wife and childrentargeted websites are DcV Online, bauxitevietnam.info of retired colonel Pham Que Duong, To Quoc’s formerand Doi Thoai, as well as danluan.org, danchimviet.info publisher, that they would have serious problems findingand danfambao.com. In late august 2010, many oppo- work if they did not get him to stop collaborating with thesition sites and blogs were simultaneously attacked for magazine.several days, coinciding with the national holiday of 2September. The main focus of these attacks were anti- To Quoc’s founder, geologist Nguyen Thanh Giang, wasgovernment websites, implying that the attacks may have recently summoned, threatened and interrogated severalbeen orchestrated. times in a police station. On 23 march 2010, some hoo- dlums broke into the home of physician Pham hong Son,The government involvement argument is shared by tech- who had written articles posted on To Quoc, and threate-nology sector professionals. The computer security com- ned to splash urine and excrement in his house if he didpany mcafee stated in april 2020: “We believe that the not stop writing articles for the magazine.perpetrators may have political motivations and may havesome allegiance to the government of the Socialist repu- Now gravely ill, Father Nguyen Van Ly, a roman catholicblic of Vietnam.” according to the company, a malware priest who had been arrested in 2007 and later sentencedbegan circulating in December 2009. a hacker broke into
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 51to eight years in prison for his writings, was granted an against the chinese policy in the archipelagos of Paracelsearly release in march 2010 and is currently under house and Spratley.arrest. his case will be reexamined mid-march. he hascome to symbolize pro-democracy and non-violent pro- Phan Thanh hai, also known as anh Ba Saigon, was arres-test against Vietnam’s single-party regime. In January ted in October 2010. The police allegedly questioned him2011, public security agents prevented american diplo- in his home and seized three of his computers. accordingmat christian marchant and australian mP Luke Simpkins to the blogger’s wife, the police stated that her husbandfrom visiting him. christian marchant was roughly treated – later charged with promoting “propaganda against theand taken to a police station, which raised an official pro- State” – had been arrested for spreading false informationtest from the U.S. Department of State. on his blog, where he had discussed topics such as ma- ritime disputes with china and bauxite mining operations,The government is not satisfied with mere pressure tac- and had actively supported Vietnamese dissidents.tics. It arrests dissidents, journalists and netizens all thetime. Franco-Vietnamese blogger Pham minh hoang, arrested on 13 august 2010, was officially charged, on 20 Septem-litAny of Arrests ber 2010, with “carrying out activities with the intent of overthrowing the government" by virtue of article 79 of the Penal code. and for having joined Viet Tan, the banned op-arrests are part of a cycle which began in 2007, intensified position party. The government accuses him of publishingin 2009, and has been accelerating in the last few months. on his blog (www.pkquoc.multiply.com) thirty oppositionThey have revealed the authorities’ increased sensitivity to articles under the pen name Phan Kien Quoc. he alsodissidence during the run-up to the January 2011 com- stands accused of organising an extra-curricular group ofmunist Party congress. Dissidents have been paying a some forty students whom police claim he had intendedstiff price for the party internal disputes on topics such to train to be future Viet Tan members. according to hisas the bauxite mining issue and corruption cases, topics wife, Le Thi Kieu Oanh, Pham minh hoang was arresteddisseminated on the Web. because of his opposition to a chinese company’s plans to mine bauxite in central Vietnam’s high plateau region.Vietnam is currently the world’s second biggest prisonfor netizens, with seventeen detainees: Nguyen Van Tinh, Netizen Nguyen Tien Trung, a pro-democracy activist,Nguyen manh Son, Nguyen Van Tuc, Ngo Quynh, Nguyen was arrested in his parents’ home on 7 July 2009 for vio-Kim Nhan, Phan Thanh hai, Pham Van Troi, Vu Van hung, lating article 88 of the Penal code. he was sentencedTran Quoc hien, Tran Duc Thach, Truong Quoc huy, Dieu to a seven-year prison term in January 2010 for havingcay, Nguyen Tien Trung, Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Vi Duc hoi, “attempted to overthrow the government.Le cong Dinh and Pham minh hoang. In addition, threejournalists – Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, Truong minh Duc and Tried together on 20 January 2010, Le Thang Long, LeNguyen Van Ly – are still behind bars. cong Dinh and Tran huynh Duy Thuc: the first two de- fendants were sentenced to five, and the latter to sixteenBlogger Dieu cay, who should have been released in years in prison – a judgement which was upheld on ap-October 2010 after having served his two and one-half peal on 11 may 2010. Le cong Dinh, a well-known humanyear prison sentence, is in detention, now charged with rights activist who had penned numerous pro-democracypropaganda against the State and the Party by virtue of articles and defended several bloggers and freedom-of-article 88 of the Vietnamese Penal code. arrested in april expression activists, was arrested on 13 June 2009. he2008, he had been sentenced in September 2008 to two was also sentenced to three years of house arrest. Leand one-half years for “tax fraud” by a ho chi minh city cong Dinh and Tran huynh Duy were both charged withcourt. The Vietnamese authorities were actually seeking “attempting to overthrow the people’s government” andto silence this dissident, who had publicly called for peo- with “subversion” under article 79 of the Vietnamese Pe-ple to boycott the ho chi minh city leg of the Olympic nal code. In January 2010 human rights activist Thangtorch relay on the occasion of Beijing’s 2008 Olympic Long was given a seven-year prison sentence and placedGames. The blogger also had been placed under close under a three-year house arrest.watch since taking part, in early 2008, in demonstrations
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 52cyberdissident Vi Duc hoi, a former Party official, wassentenced on 26 January 2011 to an eight-year prison new legAl And teCHniCAlterm and a five-year house arrest for spreading anti-go- restriCtionsvernment propaganda and violating the laws on nationalsecurity based upon/by virtue of article 88 of the 1999 Pe- SpywARE?nal code. his lawyer, Tran Lam, announced that he wouldappeal. In 2007, he had been expelled from the Party after In april 2010, the Vietnamese authorities issued “Deci-calling for democratic reforms and posting online com- sion 15,” ordering over 4,000 cybercafés and Internet ser-ments about topics which the government deemed sen- vice providers in hanoi to install a government-suppliedsitive, such as expropriations, corruption and multi-party software programme which might – like its temporarilysystems. his house had been searched on 7 October suspended chinese equivalent Green Dam – block ac-2010. arrested officially twenty days later, he was facing cess to some websites and set up surveillance of netizenup to twenty years in prison. Vi Duc hoi is a member of activities.Bloc 8406, a pro-democratic network. nEw CyBERCAFé RESTRiCTiOnSNguyen Dan Que, an independent journalist, was arres-ted in ho chi minh city, in the south of the country, on 28 In august 2010, the Vietnamese authorities decided toFebruary for urging the population to “be inspired by the close, by the end of 2010, all cybercafés located within apro-democracy movements in africa and the middle East” 200-metre radius of schools, in an attempt to curb onlineand to “get rid of the communist dictatorship and to build a game addiction and access to “inappropriate content.”new, free, democratic, human and progressive Vietnam.” This measure allegedly concerns over 800 establish-he was released 48 hours later on condition that he would ments, primarily in Saigon and hanoi, but its enforcementcooperate closely with the authorities. has been sketchy, primarily due to economic reasons. moreover, technical measures are expected to be imple-Le Nguyen huong Tra, 33, better known under her blog mented in order to suspend Internet links in all of the ca-name “co Gai Do Long,” was released on bail in January pital’s cafés from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., and all violators2011. however, the blogger remains charged with “de- will be fined.faming a senior communist Party official” and his family.She is facing a possible seven-year prison term. She had a spokesman for the Vietnam ministry of Foreign affairsbeen arrested on 22 October 2010, for having called the has indicated that the authorities were trying to ensureson of a political leader a “womaniser.” Deputy national “security and a healthy/sound use” of the Internet in publiccriminal police chief maj. Gen. cao minh Nhan stated that places, and rejects any accusation that this constitutes athe blogger had been released because her “crime had violation of freedom of expression. The ministry had re-been clarified.” The blogger allegedly admitted to having cently denounced the growing use of the Internet and ofposted defamatory statements. allegedly, some restric- “violent and pornographic” content.tions have been placed on her movements. A nEw DECREE TO “REgUlATE”Blogger Vu Quoc Tu and his wife, blogger Trang Dem, jOURnAliSTS AnD BlOggERSwere arrested on 1 may 2010 and prevented from leavingthe country for their honeymoon. They had both participa- In the midst of the communist Party congress, the hanoited in the January 2008 demonstration organised by blog- government demonstrated its determination to tighten itsger Dieu cay in Saigon to oppose the ho chi minh city grip on information by adopting, in January 2011, a newleg of the Olympic torch relay. Blogger Ta Phong Tan, who decree regulating journalists’ and bloggers’ activities.was arrested in april 2010, has finally been released. This decree, which was added to one of the world’s most repressive legislative arsenals, notably provides for finesThe goal of these arrests is to prevent certain dissidents of up to 40 million dong (2,000 U.S. dollars), in a countryfrom pursuing their activities, and to persuade others to where the average salary consists of about 126 U.S. dol-practice self-censorship. Since such measures do not lars.seem to suffice, the regime adopted a new legal fra-mework to control information. The text, signed by Prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, en-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 53tered into effect in February 2011. The primary targets for as a means to compensate for the lack of freedom of ex-sanctions are authors who post information which is either pression in Vietnamese society. In growing numbers, they“unauthorised” or “not the interests of the people.” By in- are demanding the right to express their opinions withoutterpreting these vague definitions broadly, the Vietnamese being harassed by public security officers. Out of a sen-government will have leeway to increase the number of se of solidarity, Vietnamese bloggers chose the day whenarrests of bloggers and journalists. The decree also provi- Dieu cay was expected to be released from prison, 19des for fines of up to 3 million dong (155 U.S. dollars) for October 2010, to set up a non-official “Blogger Day”. Theypublishing documents or letters online without revealing circulated an open letter so that everyone could pressuretheir sources or their own identity, and fines of 20 million authorities to demand the release of all jailed bloggersdong (1,000 U.S. dollars) for publishing any documents and the end of Internet surveillance and censorship.connected with an official inquiry.This decree attempts to apply to blogs the censorshipalready in force with the traditional media. It also seriouslythreatens the protection and confidentiality of informationsources. The government is targeting online anonymity bytrying to prevent bloggers from using pseudonyms, whichcould make it easier for the authorities to harass them, aswell as to arrest and jail them.HumAn rigHts: non-essentiAl?crackdowns tend to intensify before each congress andthen relax somewhat. This time, repression was particu-larly harsh and the latest legal measures taken by thegovernment bode ill for the future. The communist Partyseems to be pursuing a policy of economic opennesswhile maintaining an iron grip on the country’s politicaland social life.Last year, Vietnam concluded its term as rotating chairof the association of Southeast asian Nations (aSEaN).Under its presidency, the human rights committee wasnever called into action.Even though, in July 2010, U.S. Secretary of State hillaryclinton said that she was “concerned” by the human rightssituation in Vietnam, the human rights dialogue betweenthe United States and Vietnam provided an opportunityto denounce multiple violations of freedom of expressionand despite international criticism, hanoi’s attitude hasnot softened. Priority is being given to the domestic po-litical situation and to maintaining control. Stability is thekey focusThe control measures taken by the authorities translatethe regime’s concern over growing number of cybernautswho openly express their views online and use the Net
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 54 AustrAliAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .auPopulation: 22,551,660Internet-users: 17,033,826Average annual salary: $28,290Netizens in prison: 0The government has not abandoned its dangerous plan to filter online traffic, even though this will be hard to get parliamen-tary approval.A HArsH filtering system related medical information. The government says filtering would be 100% effective – a claim disputed by experts – but Wikileaks has revealed that the blacklist includes harmlessafter a year of tests in cooperation with australian Internet sites such as YouTube links, poker games, gay networks, Wi-service providers, telecommunications minister Stephen kipedia pages and christian sites.conroy said in December 2009 the government would seekparliamentary approval for mandatory filtering of “inappro- Several examples of censorship have appeared. Pages ofpriate” websites. Blocking access to a website would BE Wikileaks content on the SBS (Special Broadcasting Service)authorised not by a court but by a government agency, the news site were reportedly blocked, leading to a demonstra-australian communications and media authority (acma). tion in Sydney by supporters of the Pirate Party (http://www. sbs.com.au/news/article/1227392/%27Pirates%27-protest-The acma is already empowered to issue “take down” no- Internet-blacklist)tices to Internet Service Providers under the BroadcastingServices act of 1992. It maintains a “blacklist” of banned all the country’s main ISPs (Telstra, Optus and Primus) aresites without transparent processes or criteria for the bans. thought to have formally agreed to instal voluntary filters from(See http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/03/19/12370549 July 2011. The government still hopes to introduce mandato-61100.html). ry filtering, with the support of independent and Green mem- bers of parliament, but it does not yet have such backing.The filtering would target websites with “refused classifica-tion” (rc) content, a category already applied to mainstreammedia, and would therefore apply to content unrelated to go- An unpopulAr billvernment efforts to combat child pornography, defamationor copyright, so creating a risk of overblocking. Topics such Journalist Ben Grubb, of The age newspaper, said in Julyas aborigines, abortion, anorexia, or laws about the sale of 2010 the government censored 90% of an official accountmarijuana might all be filtered, along with media reports or of a meeting about censorship with ISPs and business
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 55figures in march that year before releasing it to the media.australian law allows full access to all government docu-ments. claudia hernandez, of the attorney-general’s of-fice, said releasing an uncensored version could have setoff “premature unnecessary debate.” Deputy senate op-position leader George Brandis said the episode showedhow “truly Orwellian” the government had become.minister conroy has made debate very difficult by callinghis critics child pornography advocates. a Fairfax mediapoll of 20,000 australians in December 2009 showed 96%strongly opposed to the bill. Internet firms, including Goo-gle and Yahoo, are against the measure and the U.S. go-vernment said in march 2010 it was concerned about theproposal, noting the importance of freedom of expression.hundreds of australian websites protested against the billin a national “Internet Blackout” day in January 2010.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 56 bAHrAinunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .bhPopulation: 738,004Number of Internet users: 49,300 Internet users as of JuneAverage monthly salary: Women: USD 10,496; Men: USD 29,796Average cost of a one-hour cybercafé connection:Number of imprisoned netizens: 0In the last two years, Bahrain authorities had resolved to set up a targeted filtering system and to arrest netizens on the pre-text of fighting terrorism and maintaining national stability. Since early 2011, while democratic demands and popular protestmovements have been rocking the Arab world, their strategy has been vacillating between intensifying censorship of thepolitical opposition and concessions in the form of released prisoners.An ingrAined tArgeted of them had nothing to do with the subject. The blocking of the arabic Network for human rights Information (aN-filtering system hrI) and of the Bahrain centre for human rights betrays the government’s intention of attacking sites critical of theThe authorities’ efforts to pursue technological innova- regime, the royal family or the Parliament. Some YouTube,tions has gone hand-in-hand with a tightening of Internet Wikipedia and Facebook pages have been adversely af-control. a strict filtering policy governs Internet use, fo- fected by this campaign.cused on contents related to political or religious issues, orwhich are deemed to be obscene or capable of tarnishing This selective filtering policy also applies to socialthe royal family’s reputation. among the sites blocked are networks, particularly when they discuss topics deemedopposition websites and those considered “anti-Islamic,” controversial. On 9 October 2010, for example, the Fa-discussion forums on taboo subjects and certain news cebook page of opposition leader abdul Wahab husseinwebsites. Online news websites such as www.ezaonline. was blocked. Facebook currently has 253,000 memberscom, and various forums such as Sitra www.sitraisland. in Bahrain.net and Bharainonline.org have been made inaccessible. however, the use of proxy servers such as hotspot ShieldIn early 2009, Sheikha mai Bent mohammed al-Khalifa, and Your Freedom, is increasingly common in the kin-Bahrain’s minister of culture and a member of the royal gdom.family, launched a “anti-pornography campaign” whichled to the closing of 1,040 websites, even though some
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 57A news-reACtive been approved by the authorities. he expressed concern about the impact on the public that such news might haveinternet CensorsHip and the “chaos and confusion” it could cause among rea- ders.The government reacts swiftly to breaking news. Followingthe pro-democratic demonstrations which began on 14 These chat groups are very popular in Bahrain. They allowFebruary 2011 in manama, the country’s capital, filtering users to exchange various types of information such aswas intensified thanks to software supplied by the U.S. traffic updates, the presence of police speed traps (ra-company SmartFilter. dar), cultural exhibits, religious information, etc. Eleven thousand people were receiving “Urgent News” alerts.The authorities resorted to blocking the accounts of Bam-buser, a streaming platform which allows users to directlyshare online videos made with cell phones. YouTube pa- eXCessive lAws And deCreesges containing videos of the protests were rendered inac- Numerous cybercafés are under tightened surveillancecessible. One Facebook group of 6,000 members which and are prohibited from having a separate closed roomhad called for a demonstration against the regime on 14 that could allow Internet users to privately consult websi-February was censored by the authorities two days after tes. In fact, each screen must be visible to all in order tothe page was opened. The Twitter account @Nabeelrajab, make surveillance easier. This control is coordinated by awhich belongs to the President of the Bahrain human ri- commission comprised of four ministries, which monitorsghts centre, was among those censored. compliance with the rules governing the non-admittance of minors and computer station visibility.Furthermore, high-speed Internet connections have beenslowed down since 14 February, undoubtedly to hinder the The Internet is governed by the Telecommunicationsuploading and downloading of videos and the dissemina- regulatory authority (Tra), established by Legislativetion of live photos of the demonstrations. according to the Decreee No 48 of 2002 promulgating the Telecommuni-company arbor Networks, Internet traffic to and from Ba- cationsLaw. Its scope of application was extended to on-hrain in mid-February fell 20%, as compared to the three line media. although a 2008 amendment eliminated priorpreceding weeks. censorship and prison sentences for reporters, journalists and netizens can still be prosecuted by virtue of the anti-On 14 February 2011, King hamad ben Issa al-Khalifa terrorism law or the Bahrain Penal code.made a televised speech to express his condolences tothe families of the two demonstrators killed while crowds Two decrees that specifically concern the Internet werewere being dispersed, and ordered an commission of in- adopted in 2009. The first allows websites to be closedquiry to be set up. according to the Bahrain Youth Society without a court order, merely at the request of the ministerfor human rights, some anonymous SmS messages were of culture. The second requires the growing number ofsent which called for pro-government demonstrations. Internet service providers – currently about 20 – to block pornographic websites or those likely to incite violence orCell pHones under pressure racial hatred.In 2010, the repression spread to cell phones. On 7 april2010, the ministry of culture and Information banned a netizens under pressureBlackberry cell phone chat group and threatened the of- committed to a security-based approach in reaction tofenders with legal action. mohamed Suleiman, a journalist the Shiite minority protests in the summer of 2010, the re-who was relaying via his “Urgent News” application free gime detained two bloggers under inhuman and degra-daily news briefs from six of the country’s leading dailies, ding conditions and openly flouted their rights, in violationwas forced to stop transmitting these news alerts. The as- of international agreements signed and ratified by the Kin-sistant Underscretary of Press and Publications, abdul- gdom.lah Yateem, justified this ban by pointing out that certainnewspapers and telephone messaging services had not
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 58Judged alongside some 20 other human rights activists, mohammad al-rashid was also victimised as a result ofbloggers ali abdulemam and abduljalil al-Singace, who the government’s repressive policy. The netizen was ar-had been arrested on 4 September 2010, were harshly rested in October 2010 for “spreading false informationtreated while in jail. according to the Bahrain centre for with the aim of undermining public security.” On 4 Januaryhuman rights, blogger ali abduleman allegedly stated 2011, he was released after posting bail in the amount ofduring the trial: “I ws tortured, beaten and insulted. They USD 530. he is now restricted in his displacements andthreatened to get my wife and other members of my family his trial is still underway. according to the Bahrain centrefired from their jobs. I was questioned without a lawyer for human rights, this cyberdissident was known for de-present and the officer there with me looked as though nouncing – mainly on online forums and websites such ashe were a security agent. he ignored my denial of the Bahrain Online and alJazeera Talk – human rights viola-accusations made against me. he never let me answer tions in the country and the lack of professionalism of jour-his questions and answered them himself.” When he ap- nalists with close ties to the regime. he acted as a relayerpeared before the court, abdeljalil al-Singace protested of opposition views often omitted in the traditional media.against the “moral and physical torture” to which he hadbeen subjected and the threats of rape made against his Defenders of netizens and human rights activists haverelatives. he suffered four heart attacks while in custody. not been spared. Nabeel rajab was denied entry into theallegedly, he also pointed out that he was deprived of me- courtroom when the bloggers’ third hearing began. Ondical care by the guards and that, despite his rapidly dete- 2 December 2010, already the victim of obvious haras-riorating health, he was never given any medication. sment, the human rights activist was questioned for over an hour by national security agents in the manama airportOn 22 February 2011, as a gesture to appease the opposi- as he was preparing to board a flight to Greece. Prior totion and demonstrators, the authorities suddenly released his release, he had been threatened. his personal com-th two bloggers as well as 21 other opposition and human puter and cell phone were allegedly confiscated and allrights activists who had been on trial at the same time, the personal files and information stored on these devicesafter multiple hearings and a trial parody marked by the were copied without a warrant. In the fall of 2010, he hadcollective resignation of the initial defence lawyers. The also been the target of a smear campaign in the state-latter had demanded that the trial be suspended and an controlled media. he had discovered after reading theinvestigation started into the torture allegations, as provi- newspapers on 5 September 2010 (specifically the Gulfded by law. Nabeel rajab, Director of the Bahrain centre Daily News) that he was considered to be a member of afor human rights, stated on U.S. TV channel cNN that so-called “sophisticated terrorist network.”some 400 prisoners were still behind bars. Journalist Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, whoabdeljalil al-Singace, spokesperson and head of the hu- did an outstanding job of covering these events, was theman rights office of the haq movement of civil Liberties target of an online smear campaign most likely spearhea-and Democracy, had already been arrested in 2009 for ded by the authorities. The regime, which has been bran-allegedly launching a government-targeted estabilisa- dishing national security as a reason to muzzle dissidenttion campaign. On his blog, http://alsingace.katib.org, opinion in the last few months, has so far shown itself to behe denounced the anti-Shiite discriminations, as well as pragmatic. The future of the Internet and freedom of ex-the deplorable status of public freedoms in his country. pression in Bahrain therefore depends on how the politicalali abdulemam, a very active blogger considered by Ba- situation will evolve and what latitude the regime believeshraini netizens as an Internet pioneer, had been arrested it can afford.in 2005 for posting criticisms of the regime on his blog.as a contributor to the blogger worldwide network GlobalVoices, he has spoken in numerous international confer-ences to denounce human rights abuses in Bahrain.The two netizens were charged with defaming the kin-gdom’s authorities and publishing “false information aboutBahrain’s internal affairs" with the aim of destabilising thecountry.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 59 belArusunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .byPopulation: 9,648,533Number of Internet users: 4,439,800Average monthly salary: USD 500Number of imprisoned netizens: 0Until now Belarus’ sole space for freedom, the Internet, has just been put under a regulatory microscope by the governmentin the wake of a repressive order which entered into effect in July 2010. The suspicious death of an online journalist has trau-matised the profession. In the run-up to the elections, and during the demonstrations following the disputed re-election ofAlexander Lukashenko, “Europe’s last dictator,” civil society has witnessed crackdowns both offline, against demonstratorsand journalists, and online, via blockings, cyberattacks and tampering.setting up An internet kept for one year. The aim of this measure is to dissuadefiltering system citizens from continuing to inform themselves on indepen- dent and opposition websites.Decree No. 60 issued in February 2010, entitled “On The decree also provides for the creation of a centre ofmeasures for improving use of the national Internet Operations and analysis (cOa) attached to the presi-network,” entered into effect on 1 July 2010. It establishes dent’s office, whose task it will be to monitor all contentextensive control over Internet content and provides a fra- before it is put online. This measure clearly institutes cen-mework for network access. It requires Internet Service sorship at the highest level of government. any request byProviders (ISPs) to register with the ministry of commu- this centre for a website closure will have to be carried outnications and Information and to provide it with technical by the ISP concerned within 24 hours. any protest againstdetails on the country’s online networks, systems and in- a website’s closing will need to be referred to a court.formation resources. The ministry of communications and Information has for-This decree also obliges ISPs to identify all the devices mulated a new regulation, effective as of 1 July, setting(including computers and mobile phones) which are being up a filtering system for controlling access to websitesused to connect to the Internet. Similarly, all users going considered dangerous, including “extremist” sites, thoseonline in a cybercafé or using a shared connection (for linked with trafficking in arms, drugs, or human beings,example, in a condominium) now have to identify them- and those which are pornographic or incite violence. Sitesselves, and a record of all online connections must be deemed as such will be banned by order of the ministry of
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 60communications and Information, the committee for Sta- net Freedom.” They were arrested and found guiltyte control, or the cOa and will be rendered inaccessible of “violating procedure for holding demonstrations."from government organisations, state-owned companies Their leader, Yawhen Kontush, was fined 875,000 Be-and cybercafés. They could also be blocked from other larus roubles (about USD 324). The other participantsInternet users by ISPs, which had until 1 September to were each sentenced to pay a fine of 175,000 roublesprocure the equipment needed to carry out the regula- (about USD 65).tions. jOURnAliSTS’ pERSOnAl DATA in jEOpARDyinCreAsed pressure on tHe In april 2010, a senior police officer authorised policemediA during tHe run-up to computer experts to access the e-mail accounts and Sky- pe instant messages of several independent journaliststHe presidentiAl eleCtion whose computers had been seized during raids of their media offices and homes on 16 march. This happened asIntimidation campaigns against journalists and dissidents in- a result of defamation suits which a former KGB official,tensified during the run-up to the 2010 presidential election. Ivan Korzh, brought against relatives of police officers ar- rested in connection with a case involving allegedly illegalwEBSiTE BlOCKingS AnD hARASSMEnT FOllOw ThE EnTRy hunting practices.inTO FORCE OF DECREE nO. 60 Natalia radzina, Svyatlana Kalinkina and maryna KoktyshOn 6 July 2010, the Vitebsky Kuryer newspaper’s web- of the opposition newspaper Narodnaya Volya, as well assite (www.kurier.vitebsk.by) was blocked by the Bel- Iryna Khalip of the independent russian daily Novaïa Ga-telecom national telecommunications operator, which zeta are also concerned.controls bandwidth. The website, not registered withthe authorities for ideological reasons, has now been The authorities’ decision to access journalists’ e-mails andblocked under Decree No. 60, and has had to migrate instant messaging constitutes a serious violation of bothto another platform with the UrL http://vitebsk-kurier. these media professionals’ communication methods andinfo/. their privacy. Such practices place the reporters’ sources in jeopardy. Belarus authorities are particularly interesteda news website based in the town of Vileika, vilejka.org, in identifying and monitoring contributors to charter 97’swas blocked for several days as the result of a police website. Police investigator alyaksandr Puseu told Natal-investigation into comments posted by cybernauts. On lya radzina that they had discovered no documents re-1 July, the police questioned one of the site’s users, lated to the defamation suit in the seized computers, butmikalai Susla, and confiscated his computer because had found over 3,000 articles containing the keywordthey suspected him to be the site’s director. The latter diktatura (dictatorship). The journalist was questioned insaid that the site had been blocked because of unfa- detail about how the website operates.vourable comments about local and national policies,and that the crackdown was related to the fact that In 2009, Ivan Korzh had lodged a complaint in the aim ofDecree No. 60 had just come into effect. having an article posted on charter97.org removed, en- titled: “relatives of arrested policemen complain aboutNatalia radzina, chief editor of the opposition web- dictatorship.”site charter97.org was again interrogated by police inminsk on 1 July 2010 in connection with litigation overa comment made on her website. This was her fourth impunity promotesinterrogation in four months. self-CensorsHipOn 23 June 2010, nine activist members of the Naz- On 3 September 2010, Oleg Bebenine, a charter 97 jour-bol (National Bolshevik Party) staged an unauthorised nalist known for his criticisms of Belarus’ leadership, wasdemonstration on Freedom Square in minsk, waving found hanged in his country house near minsk, the capital.placards and wearing T-shirts with the words “Inter- The official finding of suicide is denied by his close rela-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 61tives and associates, who believe that it was a politically arrest and is being prosecuted for “participation in massmotivated crime. Journalists covering this case have recei- riots.” She may face a prison term of up to 15 years.ved death threats.The Belarusian association of Journalists (BaJ) – a re-porters Without Borders’ partner organisation and a 2004 Continued reprisAls AndSakharov Prize recipient – sent letters to the minister of internAtionAl solidArity forInterior and to the public prosecutor calling for an objec-tive and transparent investigation. To date, impunity reigns voiCes CritiCAl of tHe regimeover this matter, adding to the oppressive climate of intimi-dation against media professionals and motivating them to repression continued to plague Belarus’ society in theresort to self-censorship. weeks following the election protests. Several unprecedented cases of house arrests, coupleddemonstrAtions AgAinst with the posting of security officers at opposition mem-lukAsHenko’s re-eleCtion: bers’ homes and strict isolation measures, have been ob- served. Some of the latter have been barred from InternetAttempts to bloCk access and from watching TV news.informAtion In view of the extent of the protests, the well-known Po- lish dissident and politician Lech Walesa predicted thatThe president of Belarus, who has been in power for 16 Belarusians would use new technologies to follow in theyears, was officially re-elected as a result of the Decem- footsteps of Tunisia and relieve President alexander Lu-ber 2010 elections, which international observers have la- kashenko of his duties.belled “undemocratic.” In the meantime, the international community has been ex-On 19 December 2010, protest demonstrations were held pressing increased solidarity with Belarusian civil society.in minsk after the announcement of the outgoing Presi-dent’s victory with nearly 80% of the votes. Large gathe- Since 2011, the European Union and the United Statesrings were violently dispersed and over 600 people were have imposed new sanctions against minsk which includearrested, including some 30 journalists. asset freezes and refusals to grant visas to the Belarus president and 150 of his close associates.Pressures also intensified online and on communicationsvia cell phone. calls made on 19 December around 8:00 Estonia, a Balta state renowned for its expertise in thep.m. could not get through anywhere in Belarus. a num- technology sector, stated in January 2011 that it wasber of opposition and independent news sites were the ready to put its cyber-expertise to work on behalf of thevictims of DdoS attacks which either made them inacces- Belarusian opposition to teach them “how to manage theirsible or caused them to display pseudo or “counterfeit” Internet websites and protect them against cyberattacks.”websites disseminating false information to which visitors The NaTO cyber Security centre is based in Estonia. Thewere redirected. Thus, some sites with similar names, but United States is said to have offered to join Estonians inregistered with the suffix “.in,” appeared in place of char- their efforts to aid Belarus.ter97.org, as well as Belaruspartisan and Gazetaby, andeven the newspaper Nasha Niva. human rights activists, who have already demonstrated how innovative they are by their successful online mobili-Blog platforms such as the highly popular LiveJournal sation efforts, are often skilled users of certain techniquesexperienced operating problems as of 19 December. In for circumventing censorship and protecting personalthe early morning of 20 December, security agents ente- data. however, in confronting a regime resolved not tored the offices of the website charter97.org and several of loosen its grip, international assistance may prove to be atheir members were arrested by the KGB. Editor Natalia valuable asset to Belarusian netizens.radzina was struck in the head by police on 19 Decem-ber. released in late January 2011, she is still under house
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 62 egyptunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .egPopulation: 83,082,869Internet-users: 17,060,000Average charge for one hour’s connection at a cybercafé: about $0.20Average monthly salary: $50Netizens in prison: 1The Internet was not censored under President Hosni Mubarak, but his regime kept a sharp eye on the most critical blog-gers and regularly arrested them. At the height of the uprising against the dictatorship, in late January 2011, the authoritiesfirst filtered pictures of the repression and then cut off Internet access entirely in a bid to stop the revolt spreading. Journa-lists were also beaten. Mubarak’s fall is a chance to entrench greater freedom of expression, especially online.lAndmArk releAse, awarded him its cyber-freedom Prize in December 2007. Prosecution of bloggers and human rights activistsproseCutions And Arrestsunder mubArAk’s rule Bloggers and human rights campaigners have been houn- ded and prosecuted in recent months but the cases were dropped. They included Gamal Eid, head of the arabicRElEASE OF KAREEM AMER Network for human rights Information (aNhrI), ahmed Seif El Islam hamad, founder of the hisham mubarak LawBlogger Kareem amer was freed on 15 November 2010, centre (hmLc), and bloggers amr Gharbeia and Waelten days after expiry of his three-year term after more than abbas.four years in prison. he had been sentenced on 22 Fe-bruary 2007 for supposedly inciting hatred of Islam and in- A nETizEn TOO inqUiSiTiVE ABOUT MiliTARy MATTERSsulting President mubarak. On his blog (www.karam903.blogspot.com) he criticised the government’s religious Netizen ahmed hassan Basiouny was sentenced to sixand authoritarian abuses and he was arrested a first time months in prison by a military court on 29 Novemberin 2005. he also often wrote about discrimination against 2010 for putting secret defence documents and informa-women and criticised the Sunni al-azhar University where tion about the army online. he had created a Facebookhe had studied law. many support groups were set up page in 2009 called “Enrolment and recruitment in Egyptaround the world, encouraged by the Free Kareem coa- and answers to questions from young candidates,” whichlition, to demand his release. reporters Without Borders
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 63provided information and advice about how to join thearmy. Basiouny was not involved in any subversive or bloggers figHt CensorsHipharmful activity and in fact encouraged people to join up. over eleCtorAl frAudhis conviction showed how far the army was an off-limitstopic, whether comment was favourable or critical. censorship was increased during the December 2010 parliamentary elections in a bid to conceal the fraud in-A nETizEn TOO inqUiSiTiVE ABOUT MiliTARy MATTERS volved. Some websites were blocked for hours at a time, including that of the muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan Online)Netizen ahmed hassan Basiouny was sentenced to six and its online forum al-moltaqa (http://www.ikhwan.net/fo-months in prison by a military court on 29 November rum/). Seven other sites were intermittently disrupted over2010 for putting secret defence documents and informa- 24 hours: www.shahid2010.com/, shababelikhwan.net/ib/tion about the army online. he had created a Facebook index.php, www.sharkiaonline.com/, www.amlalommah.page in 2009 called “Enrolment and recruitment in Egypt net/, www.nowabikhwan.com/, www.egyptwindow.net/and answers to questions from young candidates,” which and www.ikhwanweb.com/.provided information and advice about how to join thearmy. Basiouny was not involved in any subversive or The authorities, mainly the Information and Decision Sup-harmful activity and in fact encouraged people to join up. port center (IDSc), which reports to the cabinet, was inhis conviction showed how far the army was an off-limits charge of this censorship, working with Internet servicetopic, whether comment was favourable or critical. providers TEDaTa, ETISaLaT and LINK DSL.KhAlED SAiD, ViCTiM AnD SyMBOl OF iMpUniTy Bloggers were very active during the election, organising networks to gather and put out news. They went to pollingKhaled mohammed Said, a 28-year-old human rights ac- stations to watch the voting and take photos and videos.tivist, was murdered in alexandria on 6 June 2010. he Some who saw fraud were pestered by police and some-was beaten to death in the street after being arrested in times briefly detained.a cybercafé by two plainclothes policemen, according tothe café’s owner. Local human rights organisations saidhe has posted online a video about police corruption. Theauthorities claimed he died of a drug overdose. Two poli- tHe internet And bloggers incemen, mahmud Salah amin and awad Ismail Suleiman, tHe revolutionAry fervourwere arrested and put on trial for killing him, but they es-caped from prison in January 2011. The trial was due to ThREATS, FilTERing, AnD CUTTing OFF ThE inTERnETresume on 6 march. When Egyptians took to the streets on 25 and 26 JanuarySaid became a symbol and several thousand people de- 2011, inspired by the Tunisian revolution, the authoritiesmonstrated for police to be punished for all brutality and did their best to keep the media away to prevent themviolence. The protest was very strong online because of taking and distributing pictures. They disrupted mobilethe problems of demonstrating in the street. Wael Ghonim, phone networks at demonstration sites in cairo on the firstGoogle’s marketing director for the middle East and North day.africa, who was prominent in anti-government protests inFebruary, admitted he ran a Facebook group called "We Twitter was blocked at the same day, along with the vi-are all Khaled Said,” which has nearly 100,000 members deo-streaming site bambuser.com. The hashtag #jan25(http://www.facebook.com/elshaheeed.co.uk?v=wall). (named after the protests) was very active. Facebook has for several years been widely used by Egyptian dissidentsSome saw the protests about Said as precursors of the and civil society to put out news and mobilise people, es-Egyptian uprising. pecially around the 6 april protest movement. access to Facebook was blocked intermittently on 26 January, ac- cording to ISPs. Slower connections were also reported, especially to on-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 64line newspaper sites al-Badil, al-Dustour, al-masry al-Youm, al-Badil and al-Dustour, which were later blocked. After tHe revolution,The al-masry al-Youm site was seriously disrupted and freedom of eXpression?was down all of the afternoon of 25 January. These onlinemedia outlets played a key part in reporting the events in Egypt is preparing for constitutional reforms but the futureTahrir Square. of the revolution seems uncertain, with tension between the army and the protesters who forced mubarak out. NewThe bloggers and the demonstrators who became citizen- clashes occurred in Tahrir Square on 25 February. Thejournalists were very important in covering the protests. army apologised afterwards to the demonstrators, callingThey tweeted from Tahrir Square, posted videos on You- them “sons of the revolution” on its Facebook page, pe-Tube, and linked up to the Bambuser.com site to report on rhaps a sign that times have changed.the situation, including the brutalities of regime supporterswho came to the square. The heavy filtering at the height of the revolution has re- portedly ended.The government, feeling overwhelmed, cut off all Internetaccess and mobile phone service late on 27 January, with The Internet in Egypt is in full expansion and people whoonly the small ISP Nour able to continue for a while longer. had never taken part in politics are joining online discus- sions about the country’s future and various causes. TheyBut netizens found many ways round the blockage to get are no longer afraid to speak up.the news out. Foreign ISPs offered them modem connec-tions, since fixed phone lines were still working. French But some bloggers are still worried about continued actionISP French Data Networks gave out a phone number (+33 by state security police against former regime opponents1 7289-0150) available through a user-name and the pas- and dissidents.sword “toto.” Sweden’s Telecomix offered another num-ber (+46 85 000 999 0) and the password “telecomix.” The government and the army must improve online free- dom of expression and openly dismantle the mubarak re-Google and Twitter joined the battle against censorship gime’s online spying apparatus and surveillance system.by setting up a system of voice tweets. Netizens could call The Egyptian revolution has just begun and bloggers, theforeign numbers +1 650 419-4196 or +39 0662-207294 or standard-bearers of free expression, remain alert.+97 316 199-855 and leave messages that were instantlyposted on Twitter followed by the hashtag #egypt.Internet access was restored on 2 February after beingdown for five days. The OEcD put the country’s econo-mic losses resulting from the cut-off at $90m.at least 75 journalists have been physically attacked and81 imprisoned since 2 February, according to reportersWithout Borders.Blogger asma mahfouz, who urged Egyptians to take tothe streets on 25 January, told BBc TV on 5 February thatshe got many phone calls from mubarak supporters threa-tening to kill her and her family. Blogger Kareem amerwas arrested on 7 February on his way home from a de-monstration and was not released until three days later.New disruptions of mobile phone networks and Internetaccess from Tahrir Square occurred on 7 February 2011.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 65 eritreAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .erPopulation: 5,792,984Number of Internet users: 250,000Average cost of a one-hour cybercafé connection: about 1 U.S. dollarAverage monthly salary: 92 U.S. dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens: N/AAt a time when many Arab-world dictators are losing their power, Asmara’s brutal and repressive regime is eager to preventany attempt to destabilise the government. It continues to use a variety of tactics – including technical barriers and netizenintimidation – to keep the population from gaining access to the Web and its potential as a protest vehicle.teCHniCAl bArriers The government has chosen not to increase bandwidth speed – a major technical barrier to connection – which explains why, more than sending e-mails (which can takeTo date, the Internet is the only space in which Eritreans are a very long time) – chat has become the most popularfree to voice their opinions in a country which President Issaias way to communicate. Yahoo messenger and Facebook’safeworki rules with an iron hand. The independent press was “chat” function are constantly being used in cybercafés,wiped off the map in 2001. The state-controlled media merely where connection speeds are particularly slow.relay the regime’s ultra-nationalist ideology. In fact, most of the Eritreans who connect to the Web doThe government has proven reluctant to accept Internet so from cybercafés, since they cannot access the Internetgrowth, fearing the Web’s potential for disseminating indepen- from their cell phones. To enjoy private access, netizensdent information. In this last african country to connect to the need to obtain a high-cost special authorisation from theNet, in 2000, the penetration rate now hovers around 3.5%, regime.which means that virtually all of the population has been ex-cluded from the digital era.Telecom operator EriTel, which owns the network’s infrastruc-ture, is directly controlled by the government. The Eritrean mi-nistry of Information granted a licence to the country’s four In-ternet service providers from whom EriTel rents its bandwidth.Since EriTel is under the authorities’ orders, network surveillan-ce and slowing down bandwidth speed are easy tasks.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 66intimidAtion of netizens: however, the regime also uses the Internet as a tool to disseminate its propaganda. The two official websites,Arrests, bloCking tACtiCs, Shabait.com and Shaebia.com, respectively owned byAnd surveillAnCe the ministry of Information and the country’s sole party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), dis- seminate only government propaganda. Online chat ses-although the government has not set up any widespread sions are held to defend the authorities’ views. Some sitesautomatic Internet filtering system, it has not hesitated to hosted in Europe or the United States relay the same po-order the blocking of several diaspora websites critical of sitions, including www.meadna.com, www.eastafro.com,the regime. access to these sites is blocked by two of the www.ertra.com, www.alenalki.com, and www.biddho.Internet service providers, Erson and Ewan, as are por- com. The topics are often belligerent, nationalist, anti-Westnographic websites and even YouTube. The latter would and extremely aggressive towards the regime’s critics.require too much bandwidth. cyberattacks are regularly launched on sites basedSometimes surveillance and self-censorship are enough. abroad and managed by dissidents, such as www.as-The two other Internet access providers, Eritel and Tifa- marino.com, www.assenna.com and www.awate.com.nus, do not block opposition websites, since they know It is thought that the government and its supporters arethat the great majority of Eritrean surfers would never dare behind these attacks.to openly consult them for fear of being arrested and im-prisoned. response to uprisingsThe few netizens and webmasters courageous enough to in tHe ArAb regioncreate an independent website, or collaborate in its deve-lopment, are being threatened and closely monitored. It iscommonplace for the authorities to intercept e-mails from The regime is wary of the popular uprisings which haveindividuals whom they consider “suspect.” recently shaken the arab region, particularly in Tunisia and Egypt in late 2010 and in 2011. News about theseThe forty-odd Internet cafés, most of which mainly operate events has been muzzled by the state-controlled media –in asmara, the capital, and in two or three other Eritrean the only legal means to circulate updates, while Eritreanscities, are constantly closely watched, particularly during have turned to satellite television and international radioperiods of social unrest, or when compromising news broadcasts to keep informed.about the regime is circulating abroad. at least two cy-bercafés are said to have been closed in 2010 and their The Eritrean National Security Office (NSO) is allegedlyowners arrested. The official excuse was that they were examining the option of restricting the population’s ac-used for showing pornography to young netizens. cess to satellite TV channels, which are very popular in the country. In this context, the launching of the terrestrialIn January 2011, several Internet users and bloggers were channel 2 TV sports and entertainment network, couldallegedly arrested in cybercafés, most of them in asmara. be seen as a first step towards a gradual ban on satelliteQuestioning such people has had a dissuasive effect on dishes, on the pretext that sports and entertainment cove-other Internet users. rage no longer requires satellite access.propAgAndA And CyberAttACks at the first sign of unrests, the regime is prepared to cut off the country from the Internet, as was done in Egypt. In a country as repressive and sealed off from the worldIn the last few years, the government has been waging as Eritrea, Internet users are not as organised as in Egyptan anti-Internet smear campaign in the traditional media or Tunisia, where netizens are the civil society’s vital for-– over which it has total control – accusing it of being de- ce. meanwhile, most online mobilisation efforts are beingvoted to pornography and media wars and of challenging launched from abroad.the country’s cultural values and creating security pro-blems.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 67 frAnCeunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .frPopulation: 64,768,389Number of Internet users: 44,625,300Average monthly salary: USD 1,8245Number of imprisoned netizens: 0With the implementation in France of the “three-strikes” legislation and of a law providing for the administrative filtering ofthe web and the defense of a “civilised” Internet, the impact of recent legislation and government-issued statements aboutthe free flow of online information are raising serious concerns. The year 2010 was difficult for several online media and theirjournalists targeted for office break-ins and court summons and pressured to identify their sources. For the first time, Francehas been added to the “Countries Under Surveillance” list.2010: A CHAllenging yeAr for ponsible for the undercover surveillance of its journalists. a few weeks earlier, several majority members had verballyonline journAlists And tHeir harshly criticised Edwy Plenel’s website. Then health mi- nister Xavier Bertrand labelled the newspapers’ methodssourCes as “fascist.” Nadine morano, minister for apprenticeship and Professional Formation, accused mediapart of beingIn October 2010, break-ins occurred in the offices of seve- a “gossip website.”ral journalists investigating the Woerth-Bettancourt case.The mediapart news website reported the “disappearan- In November 2010, news website rue89’s offices werece” of computers and hard disks containing information burgled and more than 20 computers stolen. The officesabout the heiress to the L’Oréal empire. These thefts, as of news site myEurop info, located in the same building,well as the phone-tapping and undercover methods used were also “visited.” Lastly, in June 2010, augustin Scal-by French intelligence agents to track the site’s journa- bert, a rue89 journalist, was indicted for “receiving stolenlists inquiring into the Karachi and Bettancourt cases, are goods” for having published an article accompanying anplacing the protection of sources principle in serious jeo- “off-air” video clip of Nicolas Sarkozy on the France 3 TVpardy. network. The video showed the French head of State re- primanding a studio technician for not responding to hisIn November 2010, claude Guéant, who was at that time greeting prior to an interview.the Elysée General Secretary, lodged a “defamation” suitagainst mediapart, which had accused him of being res- The website Bakchich.info is said to have obtained a copy
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 68of a message from a private detective agency addressedto the Elysée about the latter’s own spy services. accor- troubling lAws fording to Nicolas Beau, the website’s director, it supposedly internet freedomcontains “tips on how to most effectively promote the site,”for “making it more middle-class and institutionalised,” hADOpi: ThE FighT AgAinST illEgAl FilE DOwnlOADingand for turning it into “a source with a pro-government (inTERnET piRACy)viewpoint.” haDOPI, the “creation and Internet” law, is a “law pro- moting the distribution and protection of creative workswikileAks: tHe frenCH debAte on the Internet” and its aim is to facilitate the fight against illegal downloading by expanding the availability of legallyThe debate over the WikiLeaks website, which released downloadable material and by setting up a “graduatedU.S. diplomatic cables to the public via such media as Le response” system against Internet users who downloadmonde and The New York Times, aroused sharp criticism files containing copyrighted material. Such users receivefrom officials in the French government. In December a first e-mail warning. If they recommit the offence within a2010, Eric Besson, minister of Industry, Energy and the six-month period, a registered letter and a second e-mailDigital Economy, tried to prohibit WikiLeaks from being warning are sent. If the Internet user continues the piratinghosted France. The minister asked the General council of practices, after the matter is referred to the Public Prose-Industry, Energy and Technology (cGIET) to study what cutor’s office by hadopi’s copyright Protection commis-actions could be taken “to ensure that this Internet website sion and a judge’s decision is rendered, the user may bewill no longer be hosted in France.” In a letter addressed penalised by a suspension of his or her connection for ato the council, he justifies himself as follows: France can- one-month period.not host Internet sites that violate the confidentiality of di-plomatic relations and put in danger persons protected by reporters Without Borders believes that Internet access isdiplomatic secrecy,” to which he added, "One cannot host a fundamental right and that the recourse of suspending aInternet sites described as criminal and rejected by other connection is a violation of the public’s freedom to accessstates because of attacks on their fundamental rights.” information. moreover the law known more precisely by the acronym hadopi 2, is a complement to the French lawOn 3 December 2010, in response to these statements, concerning the Penal Protection of Literary and artisticFrench host server OVh applied for a summary judgement Property on the Internet (“hadopi 1”), which had been par-against the ruling, affirming that a minister is not entitled to tially censored by the French constitutional council. In itsdecide the legality of a website nor its host “location.” The 10 June 2009 decision on hadopi 1, the council assertedcourt has declared itself incompetent to rule on the matter that restricting Internet access is an abuse of freedom ofand has asserted the need for an “open debate.” expression: “Taking into account the terms of article 11 of the Declaration of the rights of man and citizens of 1789:The French Foreign ministry stated: “We firmly condemn ‘The free communication of ideas and opinions is one ofthe deliberate and irresponsible disclosure by the Wiki- the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may,Leaks site of U.S. diplomatic correspondence.” The go- accordingly, speak, write, print freely, except that he mustvernment denounced this “threat to state sovereignty.” answer for abuse of this freedom as determined by law’”Former minister of the Interior Brice hortefefeux had label- [and that] nowadays, in light of the generalised develop-led the site’s action as “totalitarian.” ment of the Internet and its importance for participation in democratic life and the expression of ideas and opinions, [such right implies] the online public’s freedom to access these communication services.” They also stipulated that only a judge can restrict Internet access. In order to bypass the council’s decision, the French go- vernment promulgated the non-censored articles of ha- dopi 1, and introduced a complementary text (hadopi 2) providing for a simplified procedure which enables a
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 69single judge to render a decision without the accused this amendment, which they called a “legislative knight”being present and by court order. If the judge should then to the constitutional council for a validity ruling. The op-decide to cut off Internet access, such procedure does position has denounced the perverse effects of the law,not guarantee the rights of the defence: the judge renders asserting that “the news services of the United Stateshis verdict without open debate, upon examining the case and the United Kingdom have complained to their Frenchand without having to explain the basis of his decision. counterparts, that the law had contributed to the soaring use of encryption among Internet users, making the fightThe main hadopi provisions raising concern are the fol- against terrorism more complicated.” The French Lawlowing: commission and certain majority deputies also oppose the adoption of this text. The judge’s intervention does not provide sufficient ju-dicial guarantees nET FREEDOM: A ViCTiM OF ThE DEBATE On SECURiTy iSSUES? The Internet user will be presumed guilty and must pro-ve his innocence, reversing the burden of proof The French Parliament enacted the “law on guidelines and he shall have no possible recourse against sanctions programming for the performance of internal security” (Lo- ppsi 2) on Tuesday 8 February 2011, by 171 to 151 votes. If his Internet connection is hacked and used by a Under the pretext of fighting child pornography, article 4 ofthird party to download files, the user will be penalised the law institutionalises an administrative filtering of the Web,by having his connection suspended for one month for without a court order. article 2 is likely to criminalise the use“characterised negligence in the surveillance of Internet of pseudonyms on the Internet, and article 23 permits cy-access,” and could end up having to pay a fine of about bersearches.USD 1,900. This provision, which imposes on users theobligation to secure their own networks, does not take into Loppsi 2 poses a critical threat to freedom of expression,account the diverse levels of the French population’s com- because it provides the option of censuring content dee-puter knowledge med suspect by implementing an administrative filtering of the web. Yet filtering often results in over-blocking, which If one member of a household engages in illegal down- can drag into its net websites or pages whose content hasloading activities, the entire household’s Internet access nothing to do with that which is covered by the law, as wellwill be cut off as slow down bandwidth speed. The law is already obsolete: the streaming of file content article 4 provides for the blocking of websites containingis not considered. “pornographic photos or representations of minors” by In- ternet service providers. a “black list” drawn up by the cen-Quadrature du Net, an advocacy group promoting online tral Office for the Fight against criminality connected withfreedom, calls hadopi a would-be “punishing machine” Information Technology and communication, reporting to(…) “without any consequence” on culture or its dissemi- the ministry of the Interior, will be delivered to Internet ser-nation on the Internet. vice providers in France so that they can censor the sites concerned. The fight against child pornography is totally le-In an effort to make the provision more effective, in the ni- gitimate. however, the arbitrary and non-transparent natureght of 1 to 2 February 2011, the French National assembly of the chosen procedure, which excludes any control by anadopted an amendment that would allow hadopi to grant independent judge, is raising genuine concern.subsidies to the private sector to help hadopi carry outits mission “of monitoring the licit and illicit use of copy- In addition, there is a real danger that the implementation ofright-protected works online” (art. L331-13 of the French a filtering system may be extended to matters totally unre-Intellectual Property code). This amendment now makes lated to child pornography. Once the “psychological thres-it possible to pay private-sector companies to conduct hold” has been exceeded, the filtering could be extendedonline surveillance and filtering. Sixty Socialist and com- to include other offences such as piracy, defamation andmunist Party deputies and as many senators have referred insulting the president. The French association for Internet
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 70Names and cooperation (aFNI) shares this fear that the fil-tering might be extended to other domains than the fight good resolutions for 2011?against child pornography. A “FREnCh nATiOnAl COUnCil OF DigiTAl TEChnOlOgy” AnD hADOpi 3: A SEDUCTiVE AppROAChThe effectiveness of filtering technology has already beenquestioned in numerous reports. a 3 July 2009 “Study on The government has clearly indicated its desire to “sprucethe impact of blocking child pornography websites” com- up” the image of an unpopular law. During a meeting atmissioned by the French Federation of Telecoms and Elec- the Elysée on 16 December 2010 organised by the Pre-tronic communications claims that such devices do not sident of the French republic to which Internet persona-prevent Internet users who exchange child pornography lities, entrepreneurs and influential bloggers were invited,content from circumventing the filtering system. reporters Nicolas Sarkozy is thought to have suggested creating aWithout Borders believes that withdrawal of content at the “hadopi 3” in order to make the law “more appealing.”source by website hosts is a much more targeted and betterway to tackle online child pornography. The head of State also allegedly expressed his wish to create a French National council of Digital Technologyaccording to the “ange Bleu” association, , which combats (cNN), which would have only an advisory status andpaedophilia, Loppsi is an “ineffective,” counter-productive” would be consulted with regard to any legislation relatedand “dangerous” law that uses the pretext of protecting chil- to digital technology or the Internet. Its apparent objectivedren “as a Trojan horse for generalised online filtering.” would be to improve the dialogue between politicians, the Internet sector, and the new technologies. In a report ob-Filtering-related precedents, particularly in australia, have tained by agence France-Presse on 25 February 2011,confirmed fears that this practice might become wides- Pierre Kosciusko-morizet, whom the French governmentpread. In February 2011, the United States Department of appointed to spearhead consultations in the aim of settinghomeland Security blocked more than 80,000 websites, up the council, explained that the cNN must “addressincluding blogs and vendor sites, in an attempt to seize ten one of the criticisms issued by the digital sector: the im-domain names suspected of sheltering paedophilia websi- pression of a lack of recognition of the sector’s influence,”tes. It took three days to straighten out the error. Some coun- that it “must have a forward-looking role in helping to de-tries, including Germany, reversed course and decided to fine the digital policy” of France and advise the authoritiesabandon similar projects. “as far upstream as possible” about “any proposed legis- lation.” The Loppsi and hadopi laws are given as “exam-article 23 of that law, which contains no guarantee of sour- ples in which digital economy actors were opposed, oftence confidentiality, authorises the police to install remotely- vigorously so, to a public policy initiated by the govern-introduced spyware in the suspects’ computers under an ment or parliament.” The report’s author recommendsinvestigating judge’s supervision. In the course of their in- that members of the cNN be elected and that the councilvestigation, should the authorities discover an offence totally be funded by the state and attached to the Office of theunrelated to the purpose of the spyware installation, the sus- Prime minister.pects could still be prosecuted for that offence.article 2 of the proposed law would make identify theft pu- nET nEUTRAliTy in jEOpARDynishable by a fine of up to about USD 20,800 and a prisonsentence, and would criminalise the online use of pseudo- On Tuesday 8 February 2011, in a speech on the digitalnyms or the creation of satirical profiles of known people. economy given during parliamentary meetings, Eric Bes- son cast doubt on the future of Net neutrality. Under theOn 15 February 2011, Social and communist groups in the pretext of a likely increase in Internet traffic, the ministerNational assembly and Senate challenged the constitu- called for that traffic to be regulated and for abandoningtionality of the Loppsi 2 domestic security law before the the Net’s absolute neutrality principle. he stated that heconstitutional court. The deputies and senators mainly took wanted content providers to pay for access, arguing thatissue with article 4. They argue that the text “does not pro- “absolute neutrality would impede the growth of servicesvide sufficient guarantees against the possibility of arbitrary and undermine the objective that it seeks to pursue.” heviolations of freedom of expression.” added that this “neutrality absolutism would mean the end
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 71of certain types of services, such as IP telephony or IP sion to promote balanced regulation initiatives taken bytelevision. These statements are inconsistent with the re- France during the past three years, especially the hadopiport submitted by deputies Laure de La raudière (UmP) law in the field of copyright.”.and corinne Erhel (PS), whose initiative Eric Besson “hadwelcomed.” In a 2007 speech, Nicolas Sarkozy had already asser- ted that “France (should) reclaim its position as a leadingIn april 2008, Eric Besson, then Secretary of State for the country in the campaign to civilise the new networks.”Digital Economy, nonetheless had declared: “clearly, I willnot be the minister of Internet castration.” In December 2010, President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that he was planning to assemble the main Internet actors wi-The bill introduced by Socialist deputy christian Paul, thin the framework of the G8 meeting in Deauville, sche-which called for “making Net neutrality a principle and not duled for may 2011. rather than directly tackle the onlinethe exception” and "prohibiting discriminations associated freedom of expression issue, the debates of the upcomingwith content, or with those who send or receive digital data G8 and G20 meetings will focus on the challenges posedexchanges," was defeated by one vote in the French Na- by issues relating to copyrights.tional assembly on 1 march 2011. The government hadissued an unfavourable opinion on the full text. The French government apparently favours a security- oriented approach as it relates to copyright protection, toreporters Without Borders regrets that this proposed law the detriment of freedom of expression and informationguaranteeing Net neutrality and providing a framework for access. The time when hillary clinton’s speech called forthe filtering system introduced by Loppsi, was apparently Net freedom to be the cornerstone of U.S. diplomacy stillnot adopted. inspired emulation in the French Foreign Office already seems to have been forgotten. France has missed an op-christian Paul’s bill also proposed to reinstate court com- portunity to take a position of leadership in a debate thatpetency on the Net filtering issue, institutionalised without has become even more crucial since the arab world’s re-judicial approval under article 4 of Loppsi 2. cent uprisings in which the Internet and social networks played a major role. Tunisian and Egyptian netizens,FRAnCE’S ROlE in pROMOTing OnlinE however, have successfully shown how truly essential on-FREEDOM OF EXpRESSiOn line freedom of expression has become.an international conference on online freedom of expres-sion initiated by Bernard Kouchner, then French ministerof Foreign affairs, in partnership with his Dutch counter-part, has suspended his meetings, which have not resu-med since the ministerial reshuffling in France and theNetherlands. The latest meeting, initially scheduled for15 October 2010, was postponed until an undetermineddate. This postponement followed arduous negotiationsbetween the various States involved about the content ofthis conference’s final statement and the very definition ofonline freedom of expression. Some countries apparentlyhad reservations about the “hadopising” nature of this sta-tement.In addition, a few days before the conference, the Qua-drature du Net had published a letter to the head of Stateaddressed to Bernard Kouchner and containing somerecommendations on the conference content. NicolasSarkozy asked his minister to ensure the promotion of a“civilised Internet” and to make this conference “an occa-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 72 libyAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .lyPopulation: 6,324,357Internet-users: 323,000Average monthly salary: $200Netizens in prison: undeterminedCol Muammar Gaddafi has launched a fierce attack on the Internet as the country teeters on the brink of civil war. Themainstream media have long been under his control and now the regime is trying to completely stifle the news in a bid tocrush the revolt and the reporting of its repression.progress begun in 2007 journalist mohamed Suraiti was questioned by the Ben- ghazi prosecutor for posting on al-Jazeera Online and el-reversed sinCe 2010 sewhere news of sexual harassment at a clinic in the city.The regime began to increase civil liberties in 2007 butthey are now shrinking. Oea and Quryana, the first priva- stifling dissent At All Costtely-owned newspapers founded then by Gaddafi’s son From the start of the uprisings in Tunisia and then Egypt,Seif al-Islam’s firm al-Ghad, have been closed. col Gaddafi understood the dangers of them spreading to Libya. calls for demonstrations in Libya were made on Fa-Foreign-based independent news websites such as Li- cebook as the overthrow of the Tunisian and Egyptian dic-bya al-Youm, al-manara, Jeel Libya, akhbar Libya, Libya tators became known there and access to social networkal-mustakbal and Libya Watanna were blocked inside Li- sites has been very erratic since mid-February.bya on 24 January. access to YouTube has been blockedsince videos were posted there of protests in Benghazi by Writer and political commentator Jamal al-hajji, who cal-families of inmates killed in abu Salim prison in 1996, as led online for peaceful protests for freedom in Libya, waswell as pictures of Gaddafi’s family at parties, according arrested on 1 February by plainclothes state security po-to human rights Watch. lice, according to amnesty International.The authorities have hounded journalists critical of the When the Libyan uprising began on 16 February, stateregime, especially when the criticism was posted online. security police picked up the director of local news siteTwo of them, news website contributors atef al-atrash and Irasa, Taqi al-Din al-chalawi, and its editor, abdel Fat-Khalid mohair, were arrested in July last year for reporting tah Bourwaq, according to the daily paper Libya al-Youm.administrative and financial corruption. The same day, The same day, blogger mohammed al-ashim masmari
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 73was arrested and his computer seized after he reportedon the demonstrations for several arabic-language satel- netizens respondlite TV stations, including the BBc and al-Jazeera. Libyan Internet-users have tweeted their revolution and tried their best to get out news of the regime’s abuses andal-Jazeera has been officially excluded from the cable TV its use of mercenaries.network but can still be received by satellite. To combatthe unrest, regime media launched a campaign against at the beginning, when the flow of refugees was notthose who it said were “cheapening the blood of martyrs,” very big, some netizens crossed into Egypt to post on-according to the arabic-language news site Shaffaf. The line videos and photos taken with mobile phones. Othersauthorities also prevented journalists moving freely around tweeted news about the supply convoys arriving in thethe country. country.The international media were virtually absent from the The activist hacker group anonymous provided Libyancountry and at the start the new media played a key netizens with tools to get round the censorship and somepart in the protests as the only ones able to report what of its members reportedly managed to set up illegal pa-happened and the regime’s brutal reaction. For several rallel networks. The group also helped people to passdays, amateur videos posted online were the only pictures on photos and videos. “We want to tell the world aboutavailable before foreign journalists managed to get into the horror in Libya,” one member told the French weeklythe country. Nouvel Observateur. “We’re passing on pictures of bur- ned and mutilated bodies. It’s a bloodbath. Tripoli is aThe regime seriously disrupted the Internet, slowing it slaughterhouse."down or cutting it off completely, to restrict the posting ofcompromising photos and videos and prevent protesters The outcome of the Libyan crisis is increasingly uncertain,organising online. It has been cut off completely several with the regime apparently ready to use unlimited violencetimes since 18 February, according to the Internet security against the rebels. The United Nations has denouncedfirms arbor Networks and renesys. Traffic has resumed its actions as “crimes against humanity.” The attempts toafterwards but Internet has been disconnected again sin- stifle news and disrupt the Internet may give the regime ace the evening of 3 march. The leading Internet Service chance to crush the uprising ferociously and in secret.Provider, whose owner is none other than mohamed Gad-dafi, one of muammar Gaddafi’s sons, cooperated to theregime’s demands. all fixed and mobile phone lines werecut off on 21 February and remain very unreliable.The regime is meanwhile trying to use new technology toget its voice heard and to rally support. It sent out text-messages urging people not to demonstrate, though so-metimes with contradictions. British teacher William Bau-er, who was repatriated from Benghazi, told the Frenchnews site rue89 that the telecoms operator al-madar senta text-message on 21 February saying that nothing washappening in Libya, but that protesters were drugged.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 74 mAlAysiAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .myPopulation: 28 250 000Number of Internet users: 16 902 600Average monthly salary: between $850 and $900Number of imprisoned netizens: 0While the role of the Internet and of the new media is expanding, the opposition press is being subjected to censorship, andthe government is attempting to prepare the media landscape for the approaching elections. In view of the proposed cybersedition law, and the fact that bloggers and critics are still under pressure, social networks seem to be the most effectivecure for any impulse to practice self-censorship and the best stage for much-needed debates which the traditional mediacannot cover.new mediA, The regime’s persecution of political caricaturist Zunar seems to confirm the theory that the authorities have ta-new politiCAl sCene ken over the country’s political communications. The lat- ter has been charged with "sedition" for having publishedNews sites and blogs have flourished as an alternative to drawings critical of malaysia’s political and social situation.the state-controlled traditional media. The new media have an obsolete publishing law (the Printing and Publicationearned genuine credibility. high-quality online journalism act) promotes censorship and bans the circulation of hishas emerged which is tackling crucial topics on websites books, notably his “cartoon-o-phobia” collection.” Thesesuch as NutGraph, malaysian Insider and malaysiakini, caricatures, which are in no way seditious, illustrate withand on blogs like articulations, Zorro Unmasked, People’s finesse the evils of malaysian politics and mock the rulingParliament and malaysia Today. coalition, the Barisan Nasional (BN).at the same time, the government decided, in June and Given the context, the new media have a crucial role toJuly 2010, to limit distribution of the daily harakah and play. The Internet – a relatively free space compared toto suspend the publication of Suara Keadilan, Kabar Era the traditional media – is an unequalled discussion andPakatan and rocket – four opposition newspapers – by debate platform for dissidents and an effective remedymeans of the annual publishing permit renewal system. against self-censorship, which dominated the nation aThe authorities seem to be paving the way for media co- few years ago. The blogosphere is particularly buoyant.verage of the upcoming general elections, which may be In view of the upcoming elections, the social media are anheld in 2011. invaluable tool which the political parties need to exploit in order to better reach their constituents, appear more sensitive to their concerns and hear what they have to say.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 75The opposition was very quick to use these new media, of these draconian laws, organised the peace rally on theand the government and incumbent party followed suit. occasion of the law’s 50th anniversary.By enabling them to reach a heterogeneous audience, the although violating the malaysian constitution and theInternet challenges the barriers of traditional censorship. country’s international commitments, the Internal SecurityViewpoints never aired in the press are discussed on the act, nicknamed the “white terror,” is an effective politicalsocial networks. a ministerial order can event be criticised strategy for suppressing any form of opposition. Underthere, especially when sources within the government leak Section 8, the police can detain anyone without trial forbreaking news. In august 2010, Premesh chandran, foun- up to two years based on a ministerial order which cander of the news website malaysiakini, told agence Fran- be renewed indefinitely. It was enacted in 1960 to com-ce-Presse that the new media have “changed the way bat a communist insurrection. This law flouts internationaljournalists work” and that this “new immediacy hampers human rights standards such as the ban on arbitrary de-government attempts to control the way journalists report tention and the right to due process and an impartial trial.a story,” since the latter now have access to live reactions The authorities abuse the ISa to serve their political endsfrom experts and members of the opposition. Often deba- by pursuing and locking up journalists, bloggers and op-tes started in the assembly continue in the “Twitterverse.” position leaders.For example, Khairy Jamaluddin, leader of the ruling par-ty’s youth wing, swiftly responded to the government’s The crackdown on these protests was excessive. Despitedecision to maintain the ban on students joining political their peaceful intentions, demonstrators were chased, bea-parties, labelling it as “gutless and indicative of outda- ten and arrested. The police questioned blogger Badrulted thinking.” an example of successful online mobilisa- hisham Shaharin (chegubard.blogspot.com/); the editortion was the protest launched on Facebook against the of the civil society organisation SaBm’s website, ambroseconstruction of a 100-story tower, which recently had a Poh (http://www.sayaanakbangsamalaysia.net/); Enalinipositive outcome. from the association co-organising the protest, SUaram; Syed from the other co-organiser, GmI; and S. arutchel-In 1996, within the framework of a campaign promoting van, Secretary-General of the PSm (malaysia’s Socialistits IT sector, the authorities had promised not to censor Party) and editor of its publication (http://www.parti-sosia-the Internet. They were launching the multimedia Super lis.org/). They were all released within twelve hours of theircorridor, a special economic and technological zone – a initial interrogation.promise they had repeatedly made to reporters WithoutBorders in 2009. a cyber sedition bill is said to be under review. Introduced in the council of ministers in December 2010, it poses yethowever, rumour has it that the government may have another danger to online freedom of expression in ma-created a group of several hundred bloggers to inject laysia. The minister of the Interior supposedly announcedpositive pro-regime content online and entice opposition that the text would dictate what can be deemed illegal onbloggers to commit violations or give out false news. Their the Internet and would be based on the extremely repres-aim is supposedly to neutralise netizens critical of the go- sive 1948 Sedition act.vernment. The Sedition act is already very harsh: it punishes incite- ment to hatred, criticism of the government, promotion of hostility between “races” or social classes, and challen-protest AgAinst ges to the established order or the ruler’s sovereign rights and privileges. anyone found guilty faces up to five yearstHe "wHite terror" in prison and a fine of 5000 ringgits (1,640 U.S. dollars). Some thirty other laws may also be used to control theOn 1 august 2010, two associations held peaceful vigils in media and the Internet, including the ISa, the 1984 Pressseveral of the country’s cities in order to press the autho- and Publications Law, the 1998 communications andrities to abolish the ISa (Internal Security act). Suaram, multimedia act, and the Sedition act.a human rights organisation (www.suaram.net/) and Ge-rakan mansuhkan ISa (himpunanmansuhisa.wordpress.com/), a movement specially created to urge the repeal
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 76bloggers And netizens ted on his blog, adukataruna.blogspot.com, comments critical of Sultan Iskandar Ismail of the State of Johor, whounder pressure died in January 2010. he is facing up to one year in prison and a fine; even though he has apologised and withdrawnThe case receiving the broadest media coverage is un- the incriminating article from his blog.doubtedly that of blogger raja Petra Kamarudin, knownby the anagramme rPK, host of the malaysia Today web- malaysian bloggers are still under strong pressure, andsite. he was detained for 56 days under ISa charges, their positions are finding substantial support among ma-starting on 12 September 2008, but was freed by court laysian citizens, who are no longer content with the officialorder in November that year after his lawyer petitioned version of “the facts.” For now, it is the blogs, news websi-for a writ of habeas corpus with a malsysian high court. tes and social networks which are reporting events in theThe authorities appealed. hated by the regime for his re- arab world, while the traditional media provide minimalpeated allegations of corruption and abuse of authority, coverage. In view of the approaching elections, the armhe is still facing sedition and defamation charges for sug- wrestling between bloggers and the authorities is likely togesting that the Prime minister and his wife were invol- get tougher.ved in a murder linked to alleged kickbacks surroundingthe purchase of French submarines. Forced then to fleethe country, he has been living in exile ever since and isnow being sought by malaysian authorities. In November2010, the latter announced that rPK was free to returnto his homeland, since the two-year charges against himhad expired. For now, the blogger is opting to remain inexile until he receives firm government guarantees that hewill not be retried, because the authorities could possiblymake new accusations against him.Irwan abdul raman, better known as hassan Skodeng,was charged on 2 September 2010 with having publishedon 25 march 2010 a satirical article about Tenaga, a sta-te-owned energy firm, on his blog (http://nose4news.wor-dpress.com/). he is being sued by the malaysian com-munications and multimedia commission (mcmc) for hispost entitled ”TNB to sue WWF over Earth hour,” underarticle 233 (1)(a) of the 1998 communications and mul-timedia act for “improper use of the network by making,creating, soliciting and initiating the transmission of obs-cene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in characterwith malicious intent.” he faces up to a one-year prisonterm and a fine of 50,000 ringgits (16,400 U.S. dollars). Inthis post, he allegedly announced the false news piecethat the national public utility company, Tenaga NasionalBerhad (TNB), malaysia’s main energy provider, allege-dly planned to file a lawsuit against the WWF for its Earthhour demonstration against global warming. The bloggerdeleted the post but pleaded not guilty. The malaysianopposition has called the trial “ridiculous.”In 2010, several bloggers were prosecuted, includingKhairul Nizam abd Ghani, who was charged with “insul-ting royalty.” This freelance computer technician had pos-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 77 russiAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .ruPopulation: 141,927,297Number of Internet users: 59,700,000Average monthly salary: about 740 dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens: 02010 was the year when the Internet galvanised Russian society, exerting its influence on the country’s politics and currentevents despite government efforts to make the Russian Web suit its own purposes. Enhanced collaboration between blog-gers, online media and certain traditional media outlets may have a positive impact on the right to information, bucking thetrend towards a large-scale erosion of freedoms in Russia.is russiA beComing tHe blogospHere’smore “ConneCted”? Contribution to tHeaccording to a study by the Berkman center for Internet rigHt to informAtionand Society, most Internet users in russia are members of Last year also brought the recognition of bloggers as ac-an urban and educated population found to be very active tive actors in the dissemination of information.online, particularly via social networks and blogs. The stillsomewhat low penetration rate, estimated at about 37% russian blogs are said to number 30 million. The Public.of the total population, reveals obvious gaps between the ru media observatory claims that the traditional mediacities – which offer abundant opportunities for Internet ac- cited information originating from the blogosphere 6,000cess – and the country. authorities have promised new times in 2010: 30 times more than it did five years ago.initiatives to bridge the digital divide. among the key issues which bloggers have tackled – suc-Political leaders, foremost among them President medve- cessfully compensating for the absence of coverage bydev, are expanding their presence on the Web. russia’s the traditional media – is the fight to preserve the KhimkiPresident, who is already well-known as a blogger, began Forest, on the outskirts of moscow. Several journalists andtweeting in June 2010. bloggers were assaulted and arrested for having presen- ted a version of the facts different from the official one.according to rumetrica, the ruNet space – includingrussian-speaking countries and the diaspora – now rea- The help map project, which relies on the Ushahidi col-ches a total audience of 38 million people, or 40% more laborative platform, has enabled russian netizens to warnthan it did last year.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 78firefighters about the spread of forest fires and to grant or The opposition website, 20marta.ru, which focused on theoffer help to those most affected by this disaster. To date, “Day of Wrath” protests, was also shut down for incitingthe website has had more than 200,000 visitors. anti-government sentiment.regionAl filtering Attempts more subtle forms of Control:russia is not enforcing a website filtering policy like that ofchina, for example, but its leaders are using more subtle subContrACted surveillAnCecontrol methods designed not to prevent the transmission And Content removAlof information but to shape it, often by resorting to genuinepropaganda and by placing pressure on Internet access The Internet in russia is regulated by the Federal Serviceproviders. for monitoring communications, Information Technology and mass communications, whose director is appointedregional-level attempts to filter the Internet were observed by the Prime minister. With the installation of such softwarein 2010, when local access providers tried to block certain as SOrm-2, the government has acquired the necessaryIP addresses – initiatives less likely to raise a public outcry tools to carry out, if it so wishes, a form of Internet sur-and which directly affect the target population. While such veillance. Yet it does not intend to initiate a global sur-attempts failed, they may be the first signs of delocalised veillance of ruNet. Its “K department” is focusing its sur-censorship. veillance efforts on a few known dissidents and bloggers who are already being watched offline.On 16 July, 2010, Judge anna Eisenberg, presiding overthe court of Komsomolsk-on-amur (russian Far East), or- controlling ruNet begins with a notification to remove thedered the local access provider ra rTS rosnet to block content. In order to tighten their grip on cyberspace, rus-access, as of 3 august 2010, to three online libraries: Lib. sian authorities increasingly depend upon Internet accessrus.ec, Thelib.ru and Zhurnal.ru, as well as to YouTube and providers and the various blog and social network plat-to Web.archives.org. The latter website keeps copies of old forms, thus to some extent privatising their surveillanceor removed Web pages. YouTube was accused of hosting and control. This is all the easier to implement in that po-a nationalist video entitled “russia for the russians,” which pular social networks such as Vkontakte and the LiveJour-is on the list of extremist content banned by the russian nal blogs platform were bought out by oligarchs with closeministry of Justice. The four other websites were allegedly ties to the russian leadership.hosting copies of hitler’s mein Kampf. The blocking of You-Tube – a first in russia – was ultimately not enforced. Following the December 2010 nationalist riots in moscow triggered by the death of a soccer fan, the Vkontakte.rua similar case occurred in the republic of Ingushetia in social network instructed its 600 moderators to monitorJuly 2010. a regional court forced a local access provi- news circulating online and to remove all content likely toder to block LiveJournal. In august, the Tula region’s local “incite hatred.” The most popular blog platform, LiveJour-telecom operator temporarily blocked access to the inde- nal, responded to users’ denunciations of abuse, then in-pendent Internet news website Tulksiye Priyanki. troduced stricter rules providing for the automatic suspen- sion of blogs discussing the difficult situation of minorities.The list of “extremist” content held by the ministry of Jus- The blogs of at least three popular political bloggers: pil-tice includes close to 500 terms and is constantly growing grim 67, rakhat aliev and sadalskij were removed.under the watchful eye of the “E departments” responsiblefor quashing extremist activities. article 282 of the rus- Internet specialist Evgeny morozov revealed that thesian criminal code defines extremism as “xenophobia” Kremlin asked Yuri milner, Silicon Valley-based cEO of Di-and “incitement of enmity” by relying on a social group, gital Sky Technologies and an investor in russian socialamong others. This was the reason invoked by the autho- networks and in Facebook, to bring together Internet ac-rities in closing down the website ingushetiya.ru, the only cess providers with a view to harmonising their position onnews portal in the Ingush language reporting on acts of ways to manage “illegal” material on the Internet.violence in Ingushetia.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 79In addition, a decision rendered on 15 June 2010 by rus-sia’s Supreme court made it mandatory for online media bloggers under pressure?to eliminate or edit on their websites comments deemed No russian blogger has been imprisoned these past“inappropriate” within 24 hours of notification, under penal- months.ty of losing their media accreditation. Outlawed subjectsinclude inciting hatred, terrorism, pornography, and divul- however, Vladimir Liyurov, commenter on the online me-ging state secrets. an initial e-mail warning was sent to the dia forum Komi republic, was given a six-month suspen-agency for Political News (aPN) for posting comments ded prison sentence for making anti-Semitic statementsallegedly calling for violence against certain judges. – accusations which he denied.This new regulation induced these sites’ webmasters to alexander Sorokin has been the subject of criminal pro-come up with creative solutions. They removed spaces re- ceedings since august 2010 on charges of f libel againstserved for posting comments underneath accompanying Kemerovo governor arnan Tuleev. On his blog, Sorokinarticles and replaced them with links to forums hosted on had compared russian regional governors to Latin ame-other websites which they control. Netizens can continue rican dictators.to express themselves freely on these other forums. alexeï Navalny, a young lawyer who has been denoncingpropAgAndA And mAnipulAtion: on his blog officials’ corruption for years, has just created a website rospil that has been labeled the “russian Wi-A nAtionAl runet AlternAtive? kiLeaks”. he exposed a state company’s illegal activities while building a pipeline in Siberia. he is now sued by theafter being blacklisted by their peers, the pro-Kremlin authorities for financial embezzlements.blogger group apparently has been losing some of its in-fluence. more importantly, the well-known blogger Oleg Kachine, read by thousands of Internet users every day, and a jour-Some bloggers also revealed that certain unscrupulous nalist with the daily Kommersant, was brutally attackednetizens were accepting money to post comments or infor- near his home in moscow in the night of Friday to Saturday,mation promoting a particular cause. Some Kremlin blog- 5 and 6 November 2010. he had devoted many blogs togers were caught in the act of trying to corrupt their peers opposition movements such as Oborona and NBP and thein order to convince them to post links to their websites. pro-Kremlin youth movements. he had recently coveredPolice officers were also caught trying to launch a pro-po- the dispute over the Khimki Forest and the iron deadlocklice campaign. Netizens have been mobilising more and between the officials supporting the freeway constructionmore frequently to resist such manipulation attempts and project and the environmentalists opposing it.to achieve Internet transparency. The attack on Kachine had an enormous psychologicalcyber attacks have continued, yet it is still difficult to trace effect on russian bloggers and sent an unmistakeablethem back to the perpetrators. The website of the inde- message to the blogosphere: everyone shall be held res-pendent daily Novaya Gazeta was paralysed for a week in ponsible for what he or she writes and may get into se-late January 2010 after several denial-of-service (DdoS) rious trouble for it: a sure way of inducing people to prac-attacks. tice self-censorship.according to the rBc Daily, authorities are in the pro- This situation is all the more certain since impunity stillcess of setting up a national search engine which would prevails. magomed Yevloyev, one of the developers, andexclude certain research topics such as pornography or the owner, of the Ingush news website http://ingushetiyaru.extremism, and whose task would be to focus on govern- org, was killed in august 2008 while being held by agentsment information. a 110 million-dollar budget is thought of the autonomous republic’s ministry of the Interior: a cri-to have been earmarked for this project – information de- me which so far has gone unpunished.nied by the russian ministry of Telecommunications. Thegovernment already owns a share in Yandex, the country’smost popular search engine.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 80online ACtivism: A mirAge or Atrue suCCess?The Internet is also used in russia as an online mobilisa-tion tool. While anyone can speak out against the abusesperpetrated by those in power, that does not necessarilymean justice will be served. For example, anatoly Barkov,Vice-President of the Lukoil company, caused a car acci-dent which killed two people. he managed to circumventthe wheels of justice, despite information provided bybloggers and a massive protest on the Web.however, Global Voices highlighted a few examples ofsuccessful online mobilisations: The murder of a young woman, anna Buzilo, was solvedthanks to the collaboration of netizens on the drom.ru fo-rum and her murderer was arrested. The “Live Barrier” case: a police officer was given aone-year prison term in November 2010 for having stop-ped some vehicles and forced them to form a barricadeduring a car chase in pursuit of an alleged criminal.Denouncing corruption remains one of the bloggers’ fa-vourite pastimes. They have drawn citizens’ attention togovernment IT project tenders which have attained astro-nomical amounts. Some of them were cancelled as a re-sult, thereby avoiding illegal dealings and the waste of pu-blic funds, in sums estimated at over one million dollars.Local elections have shown the capacity of bloggers todenounce instances of fraud and to document them. Therussian blogosphere and online media will probably betested during the upcoming 2012 presidential elections,despite President medvedev’s statement in may 2010 thatrussia is entering an era that will mark a return “from re-presentative democracy to direct democracy to a certainextent with the help of the Internet.”
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 81 soutHkoreAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .krPopulation: 49,232,844Number of Internet users: 39,440,000Average annual salary: USD 1500Number of imprisoned netizens: 0South Korea, the world’s “most wired” nation, has intensified its censorship of pro-North Korean websites. Determined tomaintain public order in a period of political tensions and social unrest, President Lee Myung-bak’s government sometimesresorts to excessive methods and a liberticidal legislative arsenal to compel netizens to practice self-censorship.CensorsHip strengtHened in censorship is thought to have greatly increased in 2010. according to the Korea Times, based on figures dissemi-reACtion to nortHern nated by ahn hyoung-hwan, a spokesman of the rulingpropAgAndA Grand National Party, the police forced Internet website administrators to delete 42,784 pro-North Korean posts in the first six months of 2010, which is one hundred timesFor several years, South Korea has been practicing se- more than five years ago.lective blocking: it has rendered inaccessible some fortywebsites which extol the Pyongyang regime, as well as Lastly, in retaliation against North Korea’s new online pro-websites which deal in pornography and online betting, or paganda offensive (see the section on North Korea), thepromote suicide. By virtue of the country’s National Secu- government has blocked a dozen accounts with probablerity Law, any individual who publicly supports North Korea ties to the Pyonygang regime on social networks such ascan be charged with “anti-statist” activity and can face up Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, most often under the userto seven years behind bars. This law also applies to both name “Uriminzokkiri, which means “our nation” in Korean.traditional and online media. This North-linked reinforcement of censorship is not very popular with Internet users, and is only partially effective,Website blocking is carried out via access providers by since netizens can use circumvention tools. North Koreanorder of an administrative authority, the Korean communi- accounts remain accessible to those who use Twitter viacations commission, which is also responsible for Internet iPhone.surveillance.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 82internet CrACkdown in reACtion tronic information that compromises national security or is deemed to be defamatory, even if such content turns outto soCiAl AgitAtion And to be true.CritiCism of tHe AutHorities Anonymity in dAnger ?South Korea has resumed disseminating propagandamessages by radio following the march 2010 torpedoing Yet another regulation calls into question netizen anony-of one of its warships, which it blamed on North Korea. Its mity. article 44-5 of the above-mentioned act requirescensorship decisions are motivated by a resolve to prevent that Internet users register under their real names and thatits citizens from having access to Northern propaganda. they provide their national ID card number when visiting portals with over 100,000 members. On the other hand,moreover, the 2008 demonstrations linked to the scan- only the users’ pseudonyms appear online. YouTube hasdal over beef imported from the United States were very refused to apply this measure. consequently, since aprilunsettling for the incumbent leadership. according to the 2008, YouTube users who identify themselves as basedregime, these demonstrations were caused by netizens’ in Korea cannot upload or download their videos on thecalls for action via the famous discussion forum agora, website. Since February 2009, one of the country’s mainwhich has become the authorities’ favourite target. In June portals, Nate, has been requiring surfers to display their2008, President Lee myung-bak had clearly expressed his real name in order to leave comments online.distrust of the Internet: “The Internet needs to be a placeof trust. The strength of the Internet can be poison insteadof medicine if people cannot have faith in it.” Abuse of power? South Korean authorities sometimes seem to abuse theireXCessively HArsH lAws powers. On 9 July 2010, prosecutors ordered Prime minis- ter chung Un-chan’s offices to be searched. Two yearsarticle 7 of the National Security Law prohibits promoting earlier, his agents in charge of ethical matters had investi-or encouraging anti-statist groups, including North Korea. gated and illegally maintained surveillance on a busines-In paragraph 5 of this article, any publication in support sman, the director of a small finance company, who hadof the enemy or the mere reprinting of a document on posted online a video criticising the president. The pro-the subject is also prohibited. article 8 also prohibits any secutors seized the computers and other documents ofcontact or communication with anti-statist groups. re- four of the minister’s staff members. The agents in chargecently the police began to investigate a cybercafé from of ethical issues regularly investigate government officialswhich pro-North Korean messages had allegedly been suspected of corruption or malevolent acts, but they areposted. The owner was charged with violating the Natio- not authorised to investigate ordinary citizens.nal Security Law. The authorities use criminalisation of defamation againstarticle 47 of the Telecommunications code states that it is their critics and do not hesitate to make examples of them.illegal to “disseminate false news intended to damage the Since June 2008, a dozen Internet users have been brieflypublic interest.” The penalty for any violation can mean up arrested and interrogated for having posted online nega-to five years in prison. The electoral law was amended in tive comments related to demonstrations against the im-2004 to prohibit the dissemination via the Internet of de- porting of beef from the United States.famatory statements about politicians running for office inan election campaign. The Penal code, notably the provi-sions against insult and defamation – even when the sta- netizens tArgetedtements turn out to be true – is also used against Internet The well-known blogger minerva, whose real name is Dae-users (article 307). Sung Park, learned at his own expense that the government considers protecting the financial markets more importantarticle 44-7 of the act on the Promotion of Information and than defending freedom of speech. arrested in Januarycommunications Network Utilization and Information Pro- 2009 for having criticised the regime’s economic policy, hetection (the Network act) prohibits the exchange of elec-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 83could have faced up to five years behind bars and a fine of50 million Won (USD 44,500). he was acquitted on 20 april2009, the Public Prosecutor having dropped his appeal fol-lowing a constitutional court decision.The blogger had asked for an inquiry into the constitutiona-lity of the Telecommunications code, and more specificallyarticle 47, paragraph 1, which prohibits the disseminationof false news. The constitutional court ruled on 28 Decem-ber 2010 that the article was in fact illegal, since it relies on“obscure” terms and stipulates excessive penalties. Over47 people accused of defamation should therefore be clea-red of the charges against them.minerva may face other problems, however. he is still beingthreatened and was even assaulted once in November2010 while giving testimony as a witness in another case.In June 2010, minerva filed a complaint against four peoplewhom he accused of harassing him.Despite constant pressure from the authorities, South Ko-rean netizens are among the most active online. as a resultof its persistent attacks on websites spreading North Ko-rean propaganda and its draconian surveillance policy, thegovernment is running the risk of alienating the part of thepopulation which desires more openness and views cen-sorship as a sign of the regime’s lack of trust in its own ci-tizens, who are scarcely likely to let themselves be influen-ced by Northern propaganda.One blogger cited by Daily NK summarises this mindset:“No offence, North Korea, but except for a very small mi-nority, no one believes in its propaganda (…). North Koreaneeds to realise that propaganda only works in a restrictedenvironment and that this already limited space is graduallyshrinking.”
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 84 sri lAnkAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .lkPopulation: 20,238,000Number of Internet users: 1,776,200Average monthly salary: USD 310Number of imprisoned netizens: 0Online journalists and media continue to be targeted for violence. Impunity persists, and the regime does not hesitate touse censorship when its efforts to induce self-censorship no longer suffice.tHe CensorsHip refleX sites must, however, defend themselves against regular attempts on the part of the government to control them.Some independent news websites – LankaeNews, Lan-kaNewsWeb, InfoLanka and Sri Lanka Guardian – were Arson At lAnkAenewsblocked in January 2010 a few hours before the presiden-tial election results were announced. Since then, they have website’s offiCesall been unblocked with the exception of LankaNewsWeb,which the country’s main access provider, Sri Lanka Tele- an arson destroyed offices of the online news websitecom, has rendered inaccessible since 11 July 2009. Ta- LankaeNews in the night of 30 to 31 January 2011 in ma-milNet is still blocked, even after the government’s military labe, a colombo suburb. The main building which housedvictory over the Tamil Tiger rebels. the online newspaper’s library and computers was gutted, putting the website out of business. The site is known forIn an interview for reporters Without Borders, Lanka- being critical of the authorities. The arson method indi-NewsWeb editor-in-exile chandima Withanaarachchi ex- cates that it had been prepared well in advance. The fireplained that his website focuses on “human rights abuses, erupted a few days after the publication of an article chal-corruption and malpractices of political leaders.” Despite lenging the testimony given by Gotabaya rajapakse, theits having been banned in Sri Lanka one and one-half Secretary of Defence and President’s brother, during theyears ago, the site gets between 3 and 4 million hits per trial of the former Sri Lankan army commander, Sarathmonth in Sri Lanka, and 30 to 40 million hits worldwide. Fonseka.In his opinion, “the only glimmer of hope for press free-dom in Sri Lanka is preserved through websites.” These
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 85a suspect was apprehended in the evening of 31 January. nunciation of that project by the World Bank, which fundsThe police reported that he is a member of a gang which the country’s Telecommunications Development Pro-works on contract. a second suspect managed to escape gramme via the Institutional Development Fund (IDF), thewhile being arrested. Dozens of Sri Lankan journalists pa- authorities had backed down – but for how long?raded through colombo’s streets in support of Lankae-News, and to protest the latest attacks on press freedom, Net censorship will not contribute to national unification.which occur far too often in the country. after receiving The latter can only be achieved by eliminating impunity,threats, the website’s editor, Sandaruwan Senadheera, particularly for crimes against media professionals whoand his family were forced to seek asylum in the United are doing their best to keep their fellow citizens informed.Kingdom last year.In July 2010, a similar attack was perpetrated by a dozenarmed men on the Voice of asia group’s offices. Thesefrequent aggressions, which can range from murder to for-ced disappearance, have made the country’s journalistsfeel threatened, which is causing them to avoid a certainnumber of topics and resort to self-censorship.more tHAn A yeAr After HisdisAppeArAnCe, still nonews of CArtoonistprAgeetH eknAligodAOn 24 January 2010, a Sri Lankan political analyst andcartoonist, Prageeth Eknaligoda, who worked for the newssite LankaeNews, went missing in colombo. One year la-ter, no progress has been made with his case. The inves-tigation has been hampered by a severe lack of resourcesdespite the authorities’ initial promises – a situation criti-cised by his wife, Sandya Ekneligoda – who wrote a letterto both the former and the still-acting ministers of Informa-tion on 13 December 2010.To mark the solemn one-year anniversary of the journa-list’s disappearance, cartooning for Peace and reportersWithout Borders launched an international support cam-paign on his behalf, collecting cartoons created by a do-zen world-renowned cartoonists from around the world.An impending filtering system:vigilAnCe requiredIn February 2010, the Sunday Times weekly and the newswebsite LankaNewsWeb exposed the authorities’ plan toset up – after the elections – an Internet filtering systemwith the help of chinese experts, and to make Internetwebsite registration a requirement. Since the public de-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 86 tHAilAndunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .thPopulation: 65 493 298Internet users: 17 486 400Average cost of a one-hour cybercafé connection: entre 0,5 et 1 dollarAverage monthly salary: 620 dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens: 0The spring 2010 crisis had a negative impact on online freedom of expression. The state of emergency was marked by anescalation of censorship, while the various factions continue to use the lèse majesté crime against their political opponents,allegedly to protect the King and to ensure the country’s stability.stAte of emergenCy though it is to be the public prosecutor’s office is entitled to prosecute media outlets which circulted calls for violen-And CensorsHip ce, any sentence brought against a media outlet should have been issued by judicial authorities, which was nota state of emergency was imposed on 7 april and lifted the case at the height of the crisis.on 22 December 2010, but it was replaced by the InternalSecurity act (ISa) which provides Thailand’s leaders and Even though the Internet websites of the leading Thai me-the army with the means to censor without having to resort dia outlets were not affected by the were not censored,to judicial procedures. alternative sources suspected of backing the red Shirts’ movement were sometimes rendered inaccessible. TheWhile the state of emergency was being imposed, in many situation differed from one Internet service provider to theThai provinces and notably in Bangkok, control was consi- next. Official sites such as www.uddthailand.com or www.derably intensified over the media affiliated with, or with norporchorusa.com and news sources such as www.close ties to, the “red Shirt” movement – led by partisans http://thaienews.blogspot.com or http://www.thaifree-of former Prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. a TV network news2.com were blocked. The website www.nocoup.org,and some radio stations, Internet websites and publica- moderated by the red Shirt activist Sombat Boonngama-tions were censored, banned and forcibly shut down or nong, was closed on the day the state of emergency wasare involved in legal proceedings. most of these media declared. Spaces conveying statements by charismaticsupported the « red Shirts » demonstrations and even opposition leaders were specifically targeted, for exampleoccasionally called for insurrection, but they also relayed the Facebook page of former union leader Somyos Pruk-the legitimate demands of a part of the Thai society. al- sakasemsuk.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 87The independent news website Prachatai, which supplied REViVAl OF CRiME OF lèSE MAjESTéfirst-rate coverage of the events as they unfolded, wasalso censored and had to change its UrL address several King Bhumibol adulyadej is revered by the population. hetimes in order to keep its online website active. www.pra- is considered as the guarantor of the unity of a countrychatai.com became www.prachatai.net, then www.pra- accustomed to changes in government. There are seriouschatai.info and most recently www.prachatai2.info. From concerns about his state of health. During his last publicthe moment the crisis began in mid-march 2010, the news appearance – the first in months – he offered his New Yearsite, as well as its page on the social networks Facebook greetings seated in a wheelchair. The subject is virtuallyand Twitter, were blocked countless times by the center never mentioned in the press: it is practicing self-cen-for resolution of Emergency Situation (crES). sorship from fear of being charged with lèse majesté.From then on, online censorship reached new heights. an It is dangerous, even under normal circumstances, toexact figure is difficult to determine, but it is estimated that discuss the King or his family in Thailand. In a period offrom 80,000 to 400,000 UrLs were blocked in January crisis, the risks are monumental. his image is even more2011. according to the iLaw Project report (http://ilaw.or.th/ protected than usual. anyone who dares to malign his re-node/632), 74,686 UrLs were blocked by court order putation will be charged with lèse majesté. article 112 ofbetween July 2007 and July 2010. This number excludes the Thailand Penal code provides for a sentence of fromthe sites which the Thai police and army blocked without a three to fourteen years against “whoever defames, insultscourt order (which is permitted under a state of emergen- or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or thecy or the State of Security act). The situation has scarcely regent.” The most dissuasive aspect is the conviction rate,changed since the state of emergency was lifted. which is approximately 95%. most of the time, the defen- dants prefer to plead guilty, which reduces their sentence,surveillAnCe is and then request the royal pardon.beComing tHe norm On 15 June 2010, the Thai government approved the crea- tion of an agency specialised in cracking down attemptsUnder normal circumstances, the Internet is controlled and to malign the monarchy’s image on the Internet, the Bu-monitored by the Thai ministry of Information and com- reau of Prevention and Eradication of computer crime.munication Technology, which blocks those sites which it The authorities justified its creation by explaining that “thedeems offensive, mainly those charged with violating the monarchy is crucial for Thai national security because it islèse majesté law. however, since the authorities view this an institution that unifies the entire nation.”crime as an offence against national security, the armyand police force are also implicated. This agency has strengthened an already dissuasive le- gislative arsenal, including the lèse majesté (criminal) lawInforming is also encouraged. Internet users can de- and the 2007 computer crimes act. Internet users willnounce any site which commits a lèse majesté crime pay a high price because of it.by telephone, simply by calling 1111, the number of thePrime minister’s cabinet, or by accessing these websites:http://220.127.116.11/main.php?filename=index_com- A dozen netizens CAugHtplaint or http://www.mict.go.th/re_complaint.php. in A viCious legAl CirCleThe ministry of Justice also created a “cyber Scouts” according to the December 2010 iLaw Project reportunit consisting of volunteers who monitor the Internet and (http://ilaw.or.th/node/632), 31 cases of lèse majesté havedenounce activities which, according to the authorities, been recorded, eleven of which violated an article of theshould not occur there. The authorities plan to train seve- computer crimes act. a judgement was rendered in fourral hundred cyber Scouts. See the official Thai-langua- such cases, court proceedings are underway in threege website: www.justice-cyberscout.org/General/home. others, and twenty-four of them are still in the investigativeaspx. stage. Sixteen of these cases were instigated by the mi- nistry of Information and communication Technology. In these cases, a dozen Internet users were being pro-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 88secuted for violating the lèse majesté laws or the cyber having disseminated on the Web photos which the royalcrimes act. among them were Jonathan head, a British Family deemed “offensive.”BBc correspondent in Southeast asia who has since leftThailand, Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a political science professor Thanthawuthi Thaweewarodom, webmaster of a “ red”who has sought asylum in Great Britain and Nat Sattaya- website, was arrested on lèse majesté charges on 1 aprilpornpisut, a blogger. another case is Praya Pichai, who 2010 by virtue of the computer crime act. his verdictwas prosecuted for offending a foreign head of State, na- should be known on march 16, 2011.mely Kim Jong-Il, North Korea’s leader. he pleaded guil-ty and was given a suspended prison sentence. On the Warawout Tanangkorn (Suchart Nakbangsai), a “red shirt”other hand, Tasaparn rattawongsa, a doctor at Thon Buri activist, pled guilty and was sentenced to three years inhospital; Theeranan Wipuchan, a former UBS Securities prison on 24 November 2010. he will ask for a royal par-executive; Katha Pajajiriyapong, an employee at the KTZ- don.mIcO brokerage house; and Somchets Ittiworakul are allcharged under section 14 of the 2007 computer crime These multiple prosecutions are also intended to intimi-act with posting “false information endangering national date other Internet users likely to criticise the King andsecurity.” The netizens had explained the steep fall in the to force them to practice self-censorship. Other netizensBangkok stock market last October by the poor health have been briefly arrested or interrogated, but their exactof King Bhumibol adulyadej, who had been hospitalised number is difficult to determine, because many of thosesince September 2009. charged are avoiding any publicity for fear of reprisals and the authorities are obliged to open an inquiry whenever aThe most widely covered lawsuit to date concerns chira- lèse majesté complaint is filed.nuch Premchaiporn (nicknamed Jiew), director of the on-line news website Prachatai, who has been the target of Despite the fact that the country is emerging from a seriousa genuine judicial harassment campaign. Twice charged crisis, the authorities response in the form of an upsurge inin two different cases, she risks being given a prison sen- the use of censorship, is not a solution likely to favour na-tence of up to 70 years. First of all, Jiew stands accused tional reconciliation. an urgent reform of the archaic lèseof violating the computer crimes act and of having taken majesté law and computer crimes act is needed. Onlytoo long to remove ten comments about the crime of lèse then will journalists and netizens be able to fulfill their rolemajesté posted on the website between april and august of informing the public, denouncing the authorities’ abu-2008. By virtue of this law, Internet website owners will ses, and discussing the country’s future without having ahenceforth be liable for statements made by visitors to “sword of Damocles” suspended over their heads.their sites. They must assume the legal consequences incourt. chiranuch Premchaiporn is facing a 20-year prisonterm. her trial has been postponed to September 2011.a second complaint against her was filed on 28 april2008 by Syunimit chirasuk, a Khon Kaen province resi-dent, because of comments associated with an interview– published by Prachatai – of chotisak Onsoong. The lat-ter was charged with lèse majesté for failing to stand whenthe national anthem was played before the showing of afilm in a movie theatre. as the website’s director, chira-nuch Premchaipoen is charged with “defaming, insultingand threatening the King and the royal family” (lèse ma-jesté), and of having “ made public statements inciting di-sorder” (article 112 of the Thai Penal code).Internet user Suwicha Thakor, sentenced on 3 april 2009to 10 years in prison for a "lèse-majesté crime," was par-doned by the King on 28 June 2010. he was accused of
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 89 tunisiAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .tnPopulation: 10,486,339Internet-users: 3,500,000Average monthly salary: €310Average charge for one hour’s connection at a cybercafé: between €0.50 and €1Number of netizens in prison: 0The country is awakening to Internet freedom after being one of the world’s most harshly censored under the rule of Presi-dent Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was overthrown in January. But the national censorship body, nicknamed Ammar 404,has not been completely dismantled.tHe role of tHe soCiAl networks very popular among users in Tunisia, and then the region and the rest of the world, as international solidarity grew.in Covering “#sidibouzid” Facebook especially was a platform for comments, pho-The popular uprising sparked by what happened in Sidi tos and videos, allowing people to keep up with expan-Bouzid exploded at a time when news was totally control- ding protest movements in Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine andled by the regime. Thala and see for themselves the police repression and violence. For nearly three weeks, amateurs posting pho-The government imposed a blackout on all news of pro- tos and camera-phone images provided the only picturestests there that followed the 17 December 2010 self-immo- of what was happening in Tunisia.lation of unemployed fruit and vegetable seller mohamedBouazizi. Police physically attacked journalists who tried The regime realised the importance of Facebook in earlyto reach the town or spoke to foreign media outlets. For January 2011 and stepped up online censorship, tryingseveral days, no news of the revolt came out of the depri- to curb distribution of photos of the protests and repres-ved region of the country away from the coastal tourism sion, to hide them from an increasingly interested foreigncentres and other economic development. media.The silence of the mainstream media was broken by so- The head of the agence Tunisienne d’Internet (aTI) saidcial network sites such as Facebook and Twitter and news the number of websites blocked by the authorities doubledsites such as Nawaat.org, which were the sources and in just a few weeks. more than 100 Facebook pages aboutconveyors of news. The Twitter hashtag #sidibouzid was the Sidi Bouzid events were blocked, along with online
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 90articles about the unrest in foreign media, including Fran- gressiste (PDPinfo.org) and the al-Nahda (renaissance)ce24, al-Jazeera, the BBc and Deutsche Welle. Photos movement, Tunisonline, assabilonline, reporters Withoutand videos could no longer be downloaded on Facebook Borders and al-Jazeera in arabic. Searches for bannedinside Tunisia. The best-known video and photo sharing sites produced an “Error 404 - page not found” message,sites such as Flickr, YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo, had which led to the nickname “ammar 404” for the state cen-already been blocked for months. Police also hacked into sorship operation.Facebook accounts to steal activists’ passwords and in-filtrate networks of citizen-journalists that had grown up hacking into dissidents’ Facebook pages was frequent,around the Sidi Bouzid events. many e-mailboxes were as well as blocking the sites of specific groups. Otherbroken into. Four bloggers were arrested on 6 January. steps against dissidents included cutting off their Internet connection, port blockage, sending viruses and malwarea trial of strength developed between ammar 404 and to them and infiltrating discussion forums.the country’s netizens, who had worldwide support. Theactivist hacker group anonymous made cyber-attacks censorship was ended by the new government on 14 Ja-(Operation Tunisia) in January on government websites, nuary, but the Nawaat site told its visitors on 25 Januaryincluding those of the president and prime minister, to that some sites were still blocked. The ministry of tech-protest against online censorship. Egyptian Internet-users nology and communication had said on 21 January thatprovided technical ways to get round the censorship and all sites were freely accessible but partial censorship waspassed on news and demands from inside Tunisia. being maintained of sites that “offended public decency, through violence or incitement to hatred.” It gave an e-President Ben ali was forced to flee the country on 14 mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, for “the public andJanuary after 23 years in power, The revolution was a hu- civil society groups” to raise matters of online freedom.man one but the online social networks helped make it happen. The situation has since improved and reporters WithoutThe information ministry was abolished under the new Borders has learned that no sites are now blocked andprovisional national unity government announced on 17 bloggers and Internet-users are no longer being hounded.January. Well-known blogger Slim amamou, freed four The interior ministry has even set up a public relations offi-days earlier, was named secretary of state for youth and ce and started a Facebook page for Internet-users: www.sports. The government proclaimed immediate and total facebook.com/ministere.interieur.tunisie?ref=ts&v=wallfreedom of news and expression. But questions remain about the future of the censorshipend of CensorsHip machinery.And surveillAnCe ? need to dismAntleThe Internet was seen as a threat to the country’s stability CensorsHip AppArAtusand image abroad by the Ben ali regime, which maintai-ned very strict monitoring and filtering of traffic and houn- While censorship has disappeared, many Internet-usersded opponents. Website addresses and keywords were and bloggers have shown concern that the machinery toblocked and filtering was done with Smartfilter and Web- censor material still exists. The government must openlysense programmes, that also enabled monitoring and dismantle it.interception of e-mail, which was permitted by the 1998postal law if messages “endangered public order.” Those who were involved in censorship have been spea- king freely. aTI chief Kamel Saadaoui told Wired magazineThe authorities claimed they only blocked terrorist and  he regretted his agency had been seen as an oppres-pornographic sites, but those of political opponents, hu- sive censor when it had just been following the regime’sman rights organisations and independent news agen- orders. Under the new government, the aTI was helpingcies were also censored. They included Tunisnews and to open up the Internet, he said, and just sticks to main-Nawaat, as well as the sites of the Parti démocrate pro- taining the network. “We have filtering engines but we
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 91give access to them to other institutions mandated by thegovernment to choose which sites should be blocked. Wedon’t even know what sites they are banning because thelist is encrypted.”Whatever the past role of the aTI, which many suspec-ted was infiltrated by the secret police, the governmentstill has the means to block websites. Saadaoui promisesit will be used only to block sites involving pornography,child pornography, nudity and “hate.” But it would nowhave to be done with a court order. he said the currentfilters were necessary but “the limits are symbolic.” Buthe admitted that “it’s really useless to block. Whatever wedo, there are ways to get round it.”Slim amamou, the blogger now in the government, toldreporters Without Borders on 23 February that the aTIwas “drafting suggestions about its future.” he talkedabout making “an inventory of the online structure” andsaid he also discussed opening up the Internet serviceprovider market with the technology minister, who agreedwith the idea. currently all telecom operators still have touse aTI as their online gateway.The government reportedly has plans to set up an onlinecensorship committee, but its composition and attitudesare not yet known. Would it just block very specific sites ifthe source of objectionable content could not be removedand would a court order be required for each blockage?If not, a drift back towards old censorship habits is pos-sible.Freedom of expression is a major victory of Tunisia’s “Jas-min revolution” but new “red lines” seems to be appearing(http://en.rsf.org/tunisie-reporters-without-borders-in-10-02-2011,39519.html). Violence by police and troops, cor-ruption by powerful old regime figures still in the countryand the transition government’s problems are still coveredvery little by the media. Such red lines must not give riseto new Internet filters.Tunisia has given an example to everyone who dreams offreedom, by overthrowing a dictator with the help of socialnetwork websites. Including Internet access as a basicright in the new national constitution would be greatly wel-comed by Tunisians. Other key moves would be to openup the ISP market and dismantle the censorship machi-nery. Tunisians have won their freedom partly thanks tothe Internet and it should now underpin that freedom.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 92 turkeyunder surveillAnCeDomain name : .trPopulation : 77 804 122Internet users : 35 000 000Average monthly salary : 560 dollarsNumber of imprisoned netizens : 0The year 2010 was marked by the widely covered deblocking of the video-sharing website YouTube which, unfortunately,did not equate to a lifting of online censorship in Turkey. In a country where taboo topics abound, several thousand websitesare still inaccessible and legal proceedings against online journalists persist.tHe youtube sAgA In statements reported by several Turkish media, Presi- dent abdullah Gul nonetheless said that he was opposed to censorship and called for the law to be changed. "I domuch was written throughout Turkey in 2010 about the not want Turkey to be included among the countries thatfate of the Google-owned video-sharing website YouTu- ban YouTube and prevent access to Google. If there arebe. Blocked in Turkey since may 2008 because of videos problems due to our legislation, there should be ways towhich ataturk, the founder of the republic and the nation, overcome that.”deemed “offensive,” it was rendered accessible again inOctober 2010 after a series of unexpected developments. On 30 October 2010, an ankara court lifted the ban on YouTube, a decision which the international communityIn June 2010, the Turkish Supreme council for Telecom- welcomed as an encouraging first step.munications and IT (TIB) asked Internet service providersto block new YouTube-linked IP addresses. certain Goo- Yet the saga does not end there. On 2 November 2010,gle services, such as Google analytics, Google adWords an ankara court placed a new ban on YouTube as theand Google Docs were also frozen. result of a complaint filed by Deniz Baykal, former head of republican People’s Party (chP), the country’s mainOn 5 July, the Turkish media pointed out certain contra- opposition party. he had been forced to resign after a vi-dictions in the authorities’ statements about this blocking. deo was circulated on the Internet showing an individualJudge hayri Keskin affirmed that the site was being cen- resembling him, implicated in an adulterous relationship.sored for violating the Internet law, while Transport minis- The court then referred the matter to the TIB, which orde-ter Binali Yildirim implied that the government was seeking red the website’s administrators to remove the compromi-to tax YouTube’s ad revenue.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 93sing videos under penalty of being blocked – a request abuses committed by senior officials is becoming anwith which YouTube complied. increasingly risky undertaking. access to the website of Çine U刘ur, the local newspaper in the southwestern pro-There is no certainty that YouTube will not be blocked again vince of aydin in western Turkey, was banned by a Sep-should a new complaint be made. The Turkish courts or tember 2010 court decision because of a critical articlethe TIB may also have social networks such as Facebook about Çine’s District Governor, celalettin cantürk. Thein their line of sight. It would not be a first: myspace.com newspaper’s publication director Yilmaz Saglik, who iswas blocked in September 2009 for “copyright infringe- now being sued, was forced to remove the incriminatedments,” then unblocked the following month. The Vimeo article. any strong language in a discussion forum is likelyvideo-sharing website was banned for several days in to trigger the blocking of the website hosting the latter, asSeptember 2010 on personal “offence” charges following was the case for gazetevatan.com and egitimsen.com.tr.a “preventive” decision by the ankara public prosecutor’soffice at the request of chP Deputy chairman mehmetakif hamzaçebi. A legislAtion-bACked CensorsHip?In march 2011, Google-owned Blogger plateform was ren-dered inaccessible in Turkey. a local court banned the Turkish Law 5651 on the Internet provides for the wides-entire service, used by some 600 000 Turkish bloggers, pread mass blocking of websites. The OScE thereforein response to a complaint by satellite TV firm Digitürk that called for Turkey to implement reforms promoting freedomstreaming media feeds from local soccer games were of expression. article 8 of this Law authorises blocking ac-appearing on multiple Blogger websites, violating copy- cess to certain websites if there is even an “adequate sus-rights. picion” that any of the following eight offences are being committed: encouraging suicide, sexual exploitation ortHousAnds of sites bloCked abuse of children, facilitating the use of narcotics, sup- ply of unhealthy substances, obscenity, online betting; or anti-ataturk crimes. It is this latter provision which causesYouTube’s fortunate outcome should not be a pretext to difficulties. In its name, websites hosted in Turkey are of-ignore the extent of online blocking and censorship in ten shut down, and those hosted abroad are filtered andthe country, or the arrests and legal proceedings against blocked by Internet service providers. Denunciations arebloggers and netizens. encouraged: Internet users can call a hotline to report pro- hibited online content and illegal activities. Over 80,000according to engelliweb.com, some 8,170 Internet web- calls were recorded in may 2009, as compared to 25,000sites are currently inaccessible either as the result of a in October 2008.court decision or at the initiative of the TIB. In June 2010,the Organization for Security and co-operation in Europe Site-blocking is carried out by court orders or by adminis-(OScE) estimated that “over 5,000 sites” had been bloc- trative orders of the Supreme council for Telecommunica-ked in the last two years. In 2009, it had estimated 3,700, tions and IT. Such administrative decisions are arbitrarysome for “arbitrary and political reasons.” Notwithstan- and preclude the possibility of a fair trial. This entity, whichding, if the figures have increased, it does not necessarily was created in 2005 in the aim of centralising surveillancemean that the number of news websites concerned has and the interception of communications (including on therisen. most blocked sites are erotic or pornographic, or Internet), has not issued its blacklist of blocked websitesdevoted to games of chance, or soccer match covera- since may 2009 – indicating a troubling lack of transpa-ge. Others focus on the gay community or dissemination rency. In may 2010, Yaman akdeniz, professor of Internetnews, for example about the Kurd issue, criticise high-ran- law at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, filed a complaint againstking officials, or discuss what are deemed to be terrorist the TIB for having neglected, for one year, to meet its obli-organisations. gations to provide statistics of censured websites.ataturk, the Turkish army, the nation, the issue of minori- according to the OScE, over 80% of the blockings obser-ties – notably the Kurd – and the so-called “terrorist” orga- ved in may 2009 were the result of administrative orders.nisations are still highly controversial topics. Denouncing The majority of them were made on grounds of “obscenity”
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 94and “the sexual exploitation of children.” however, in addi- Birgen, chair of the Institute for Forensic medicine’s Thirdtion to these site blockings, 158 “illegal” contents dealing Specialisation Board, who filed a complaint against himwith ataturk were allegedly removed at the request of the for “personally offending” her by referring in an article toTIB. By virtue of article 9 of Law 5651, individuals who feel allegations of human rights violations which several NGOsthat their rights have been violated may request that the had made against her.site or its host remove the incriminated content. ali Baris Kurt and mehmet Nuri Kokcuoglu, the owner andmore troubling is the fact that nearly 200 court decisions director of the pro-Kurd website www.gunesincocuklari.were recorded in 2009 ordering website blockings for com (“Günesin cocuklari,” or “children of the Sun”), werereasons beyond the scope of Law 5651, thereby rendering acquitted in July 2010. They had been charged with “alie-the blockings unjustified. For example, the independent nating the public from military service,” “inciting hatrednews site www.istanbul.indymedia.org was suspended for and racial hostility,” and “praising a crime,” for having pos-“insulting Turkish identity” – a crime which falls within the ted a news article in 2006 entitled “The military servicejurisdiction of the Turkish Penal code and not Law 5651. means murder," for which they faced a possible ten-yearThe other counts of indictment used were “dissemination prison term.of terrorist propaganda” (by virtue of the anti-Terrorist Law)and “incitement to hatred” (by virtue of the Turkish Penal after ten months of detention pending trial, aylin Duruo-code). Some Internet sites were also rendered inaccessi- glu, Director of the Vatan website (www.gazetevatan.ble as the result of libel suits. com) and mehmet Yesiltepe, an employee of the maga- zine Devrimci hareket (“revolutionary movement”) weremoreover, Turkish law does not oblige the authorities to granted a conditional release. They remain charged withinform defendants of the rulings rendered and the sites being members of the armed military group, “ Devrimcioften find out for themselves that they have been bloc- Karargah” (“revolutionary headquarters”), an accusationked. rather than to legally contest the blocking decisions, which aylin Duruoglu firmly denies. The trial is still in pro-which has rarely occurred, some sites change their do- gress.main names to circumvent the censorship. For example,the website of the daily Gündem has been blocked since cem Buyukcakir, the general publications director of themarch 2008, but their new site www.gundem-online.net Turkish haberin Yeri (“news site”), was given a suspendedremains accessible. eleven-month prison sentence for having “insulted Presi- dent Gul” for having published following a comment pos-most importantly, censorship can be circumvented via ted by a reader in 2008. he appealed the decision, butproxy servers or VPNs, and blocked websites are often the appeals court will not hear his case for one year.accessible on Blackberrys and iPhones. In may 2010, Erdem Büyük, a student, was given an ele-netizens “HArAssed” for ven-month suspended jail sentence on a five-year pro- bation period for “attacking personal rights” after postingeXpressing tHeir opinions a caricature of Yilmaz Büyüker刘en, the city of Eskisehir’s mayor, on his Facebook page, even though he had onlyas of this date, no online journalist or blogger is behind transferred this caricature, not created it.bars in Turkey. Some have even been acquitted while ontrial, but many court proceedings are underway. The trials of hali Sebnem, Korur Fincanci and adnam Demir are still in progress. Savda is scheduled to appreaBaris Yarkadas, an online journalist working for the news- before the Third chamber of the Beyodu criminal court inpaper Gercek Gündem (“real agenda”), was acquitted Istanbul on the 24 march 2011on 9 June 2010 of the charge of having "insulted the Presi-dent of the republic." he was facing a sentence of 5 years Lastly, Soner Yalçin, the owner of the Oda TV news web-and 4 months in prison by virtue of article 299, paragraph site, Baris Pehlivan, the site’s editor, and Baris Terkoglu,2, of the Turkish Penal code for having failed to withdraw one of its reporters, were arrested on February 14 whenfrom his newspaper’s website a critical article posted by counter-terrorism police raided the website’s Istanbulan Internet user. Yet the journalist is still being sued by Nur headquarters. They stand accused of “inciting hatred and
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 95hostility through the media,” membership of a “terrorist 5651 on Internet-related offences. The blocking of You-organization” and obtaining and publishing confidential Tube was highlighted as a source of embarrassment forstate documents. They are facing possible sentences of Turkey.more than 20 years in jail. The “terrorist organization” re-ferred to in the charges is Ergenekon, an alleged secret Some time has passed since then and the deblocking ofnetwork of senior army officers, academics, businessmen YouTube – which could be called into question at any timeand others who have been on trial since October 2008 on – must not be allowed to mask the extent of Web cen-charges of plotting to use terrorist methods to overthrow sorship in the country, or the archaic nature of the Internetrecep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. reporters Without laws. Vigilance is needed after a year as sombre for free-Borders has urged the judicial authorities handling this dom of expression in Turkey as 2010 proved to be.sensitive case to adhere strictly to the law. Four otherjournalists from odatv.com were also arrested on 6 march2011 : müyesser Yildiz, Dogan Yurdakul, coskun musluket Sait cakir.revenge of tHe netizens?In order to protest against censorship, in mid-June 2010,hackers blocked for ten hours the websites of the TIB(www.tib.gov.tr), the Turkish Telecommunications authority(www.tk.gov.tr), the Information and communication Tech-nologies authority (IcTa) - http://www.btk.gov.tr) and TheScientific and Technological research council of Turkey(www.tubitak.gov.tr). Several hours later, the blocking waslifted and the following message appeared on the sitesconcerned: “This is being done to show our good will.”In fact, online censorship is widely criticised in Turkish so-ciety, as attested to by the online mobilisations and pro-tests demanding that it stop.The anti-Net censorship campaigns launched in 2010 metwith various degrees of success, such as the one initia-ted by http://yeter.neonebu.com/InternetteSansurehayir.aspx* (“Stop Internet censorship in Turkey!”), or the web-site http://sansuresansur.blogspot.com/2010/10/jet-hzn-da-site-kapatan-kampanya.html (“censor censorship”),or the one entitled “Internet sansür degil, hiz Ister” (“TheInternet needs speed, not censorship”). These campai-gns, among others, were well-covered online.Online protests have been backed by several real-life de-monstrations. In July 2010, for the first time, over 2,000people paraded down Istanbul’s Istiklal avenue, answe-ring a call by sites campaigning for freedom of expressionon the Net, for example the “common Platform againstInternet censorship” (www.sansursuzinternet.org.tr). Theycalled for the end of Web censorship and denounced theauthorities’ lack of response to calls for amending Law
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 96 united ArAbemirAtesunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .aePopulation: 4,975,593Internet users: 3,777,900Number of subscribers: 1.4 millionAverage monthly salary: 25,000 U.S. dollarsAverage cost of a one-hour cybercafé connection:Number of imprisoned netizens: 0The Internet and the new media relayed information about a wide range of sensitive topics in 2010 such as corruption andcriticism of the government, causing online repression and censorship to intensify. The attempts to access Blackberrysdatas contrast starkly with the image of modernity that the United Arab Emirates is trying to cultivate.A teCHnologiCAl leAder cisms of society – particularly the royal family – or of reli- gion or human rights, are also rendered inacessible. TheThe United arab Emirates is a technological leader in the sites localnewsuae.com, arabtimes.com, uaepriosn.com,arab world, thanks primarily to Dubai media city and Du- uaetorture.com and uaehewar.net, not to mention the Fa-bai Internet city, free economic zones where key IT and cebook page and Twitter group of the latter, are regularlymedia sector companies have set up offices. In march blocked or banned. The economy is another highly sensi-2009, the authorities decided to display the UaE’s domain tive subject: mujarad Ensan’s blog (www.mujarad-ensan.name in arabic in order to expand the use of this language maktooblog.com) was blocked after it referred to the re-on the Internet. They plan to invest several billion dollars percussions of the economic crisis on the Kingdom. Sitesinto developing Internet infrastructures and access, par- providing access to content deemed “obscene,” or to cen-ticularly in government offices and schools. a very large sorship circumvention tools, are no longer accessible.portion of the UaE’s population (75 %) has Internet ac-cess. The now-blocked UaEhewar website offered the only fo- rum which allowed the Emiratis to freely discuss subjects considered taboo in their country, and notably to postA tArgeted And up-to-dAte comments critical of their leaders. It also formerly pu-filtering system blished interviews of prominent opposition figures such as Dr. christopher Davidson, who has written several books on Dubai, activist mohammed al mansoori and politicala very strict filtering system targets any pornographic science professor Dr. Ebtisam al Ketib. The authoritiescontent. Websites discussing topics such as dissenting therefore decided that the website had gone too far.political opinions, or non-orthodox views of Islam, or criti-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 97although websites such as Flickr, myspace.com and an agreement on access to the smartphones’ encryptedhttp://www.ahewar.org are still accessible, Twitter, Face- data. The Emirati government has stated that Blackberrysbook and YouTube are paritally censored by the regime. are now in compliance with the law, without specifying theFacebook has 1.2 million users in the UaE. The forums are scope of the concessions which rIm may have had tofiltered according to what news and topics are broached make.by the netizens. The U.S. company apple also had to accept certain go-authorities are said to have blocked five hundred key vernment stipulations and was notably obliged to sell thewords. Decisions to block websites are made jointly by Iphone 4 to the Emirates without its flagship “FaceTime”the Telecommunication regulation authority (Tra) and application, which allows users to enjoy live video chats.the ministry of communications, and enforced by thecountry’s two Internet service providers, Etisalat and Du.The latter use SmartFilter, a software program produced CybersurveillAnCeby Secure computing, which the american firm mcafee cyberpolice have been monitoring the Web since Decem-acquired in 2008. ber 2008 to keep a close watch on netizens. It processed over 200 cases in 2009, most of them linked to cyber-eXtending surveillAnCe crime and hacking, according to the authorities.to mobile telepHones although the country now has several hundred cyberca- fés, they are not the populations’ main access point, sincemobile telephones are also being filtered. The latest victim Internet users surf the Web in their homes and workpla-is the Blackberry, whose Internet access has been filte- ces. Some new rules – apparently not enforced – requirered since December 2009. In July 2009, the authorities that users show an ID and record their personal data.made an unsuccessful attempt to install spyware on thesesmartphones . They made another attempt in 2010. In In addition to the intensifying surveillance, a new freedom-the Emirates, some 500,000 people are now using Blac- restricting legal arsenal is now being implemented. ac-kberrys and their popularity is constantly growing. Their cording to certain articles of the 2006 law on cybercrime,potential for mobilising dissatisfied citizens worries the re- an Internet user can be imprisoned for “opposing Islam,”gime, which, in 2010, took some dissuasive steps to crack “insulting any religion recognised by the state” or “contra-down on Blackberry users. vening family values and principles.”Badr ali Saiwad al Dhohori, an 18-year-old youth residing Despite the fact that, according to a survey published byin the emirate of ras al Khaimah, was arrested on 15 July the newspaper Khaleej Times, 95.5% of respondents are2010 for allegedly using his Blackberry to try to organise a opposed to the present filtering system, it has been made(peaceful and ultimately cancelled) protest against a ga- even more restrictive. Dubai Internet city and Dubai me-soline price increase . although he was released on 28 dia city, which had been spared to date, are now targetsaugust 2010, Badr ali Saiwad al Dhohori had lost his job. of the filtering, despite promises made to investors.Pressures on users have been coupled with those exertedon the Blackberry’s canadian manufacturer, research Inmotion (rIm). The Emirates had given rIm an ultimatumto comply by 11 October 2010, under threat of cuttingoff netizens demonstrAtecertain Blackberry services, such as instant messaging,which the regime deemed “non-compliant with official and inCreAsing ACtivismsocial norms,” citing the pretext of “national security”. a highly committed netizen community has emerged. Bloggers tackle public interest concerns, though they of-a great deal of conflicting information has been circulating ten feel compelled to practice self-censorship. Not all neti-as to the substance of the negotiations due to a lack of zens have given up: an ever-greater number of them knowtransparency on the part of both parties. Yet, according how to bypass censors and express their views. Someto information received by reporters Without Borders, discuss highly sensitive subjects and are willing to bearthe Emirati authorities and rIm have allegedly reached
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 98the consequences.On 13 January 2010, the abu Dhabi court of appealsupheld the fine of 20,000 dirhams (3,755 euros) and dama-ges of 10,000 dirhams (1,877 euros) that a lower court hadimposed on ahmed Bin Gharib, editor of the news websitehetta.com in a defamation suit brought by the abu Dhabimedia company over comments posted by netizens in res-ponse to an article about the company published on thewebsite. The latter found the comments defamatory andoffensive. The court also ordered that the site be closed forone month.Thanks to online forums, social networks and even Black-berrys – not to mention the popular Blackberry messenger– netizens have been able to share opinions on controver-sial topics banned in the traditional media, such as humanrights, the harassment and jailing of activists, freedom of ex-pression, political reforms, corruption and even WikiLeaks.certain online campaigns like those launched by Ua-Zhewar.net and lawyer abdul hameed al Kumaiti haveled to mass mobilisation on such matters as torture, Black-berrys and corruption. abdul hameed al Kumaiti is notablydefending freelance journalist mark Townsend, whose trialwill take place on 16 march, 2011. This netizen was chargedwith defamation last august.Despite the censorship, the website uaetorture.com hadmanaged to post a nearly one-hour-long video of SheikhIssa bin Zayed al-Nahyan – brother of Sheikh Khalifa binZayed al-Nahyan, abu Dhabis ruler and President of theUnited arab Emirates – torturing a young afghani, moham-med Shah Poor. This video was massively circulated online,causing a huge public outcry.In 2010, the new media managed to spearhead and hostdebates on core issues within the UaE’s society. Despitethe authorities’ repressive response, those discussionswere able to take place both online and offline.
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 99 venezuelAunder surveillAnCeDomain name: .vePopulation: 28,686,633Internet users: 8,846,535Average cost for a one-hour cybercafé connection: 1 U.S. dollarAverage monthly salary: environ 550 $Number of imprisoned netizens: 0President Hugo Chávez, who is systematically covered by all traditional media, could not resist the temptation to increasehis exposure on the Internet and to try to regulate this space over which he had previously eluded his grasp. He succeededin 2010, amidst increasing tension between leaders and the opposition media. Although there is still free Internet access inthe country, tools for controlling access are in place and self-censorship is on the rise. Discussion forums are being closelymonitored by the authorities.Almost one-tHird of marked the first stage of the government’s efforts to tighten its control of the Internet.tHe populAtion Are ConneCtedalmost one third of the population is connected in Venezue- 2010: CHávez’ muCH-toutedla, making it the Latin american country with the fourth hi- entry into web 2.0ghest number of Internet users after argentina, colombiaand chili. Social networks are popular there. as of march Not satisfied with his coverage in the traditional media,2010, Facebook had 5.3 million registered users, compa- President hugo chávez threw himself wholeheartedlyred to Twitter’s 500,000 in that same period. into Web 2.0 in 2010. Last april he created his own blog, www.chavez.org.ve, “a page for communicating with theThe government facilitated the population’s access to the world.” In this blog, he reports on his interviews with fo-Internet by setting up state-sponsored access centres. In reign leaders and the latest government statistics confir-2009, the canaima Project was launched with the aim of ming a drop in the homicide rate, or presents commentaryproviding every primary school student with his or her own on sports events. The site also features speeches by thecomputer. To date, more than 60% of the 8.8 million Inter- head of State, videos, photos and a form which visitorsnet users originate from the working classes. can use to contact the president’s staff.Venezuela’s leading telecom operator and Internet service In april 2010, he also created his own Twitter account @provider, canTV, which is state-owned, has a monopoly chavezcandanga, which had over 1,150,000 subscriberson the provision of aDSL services. Its 2007 nationalisation as of January 2011. chávez even publicly urged cuban
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////101slurs, incitements to violence or anything else which viola- messages on the bank issue, as provided for in articletes applicable laws. 256 of Venezuela’s criminal code, under penalty of an eleven-year prison sentence.In addition, from 26 to 27 September 2010, the leading On 30 June 2010, Luis acosta Oxford (@leaoxford) postedInternet access provider, canTV, blocked without notice the following message on his Twitter account: “Ladies andsome blogs hosted on the Wordpress platform. The blog- Gentlemen, so you may not say no one warned you …gers @alfrediux [http://zuplemento.wordpress.com], @ leave today. I assure you that there are very few days left.”conIdayVuelta [http://conidayvuelta.wordpress.com] and [Señores para que no digan que no se les dijo retiren hoy@elena_victoria [http://elenaenvacaciones.blogspot.com] de... quedan pocos días, se les dijo.]then stated on lapatilla.com that their blogs were nonethe-less accessible from Spain or Venezuela via proxy ser- Since November 2009, more than a dozen banks havevers. been closed or placed under government control. Inqui- ries into the spreading of rumours and false news aboutDuring the same period, the National System of Telema- the banking system began in march 2010, when the po-tic Incident management (VencErT) allegedly carried out lice detected the presence of a number of postings war-a special surveillance operation involving 1500 Internet ning the public about a so-called “financial crash.”websites in order to supervise the publication of electoral-related contents. according to VencErT, 48% of the sites Until 12 July 2010, Luis Enrique acosta had 225 subscri-reviewed did post illegal electoral content. The blocking bers and had posted 201 messages, while only six peopleof certain media and blog Web pages therefore was done were following carmen cecilia Nares, who had not pos-“to protect the integrity and availability of public informa- ted a single tweet. Their obviously limited influence on thetion on the official pages of the national authorities’ and Web belies the government’s theory that these two indivi-ministries’ media.” VencErT did not indicate which websi- duals could have been engaged in efforts to underminetes are concerned, nor what they are being charged with. the national banking system. Instead, they seem to have been assigned the role of scapegoats, while the authori-some twitter users tArgeted ties were publicly railing against their detractors’ use of the social network.to set An eXAmple The various accusations which the government has beenJesús majano, an engineer with corpoelec, Venezuela’s making against certain Internet users, the proceedingsNational Electricity corporation, was arrested on 8 Sep- brought against Twitter users and the non-stop harass-tember 2010 for having circulated some tweets “instiga- ment targeting Noticiero Digital are so many phases ofting a murder” and “inciting the commission of a criminal what appears to be an impending government strategy tooffence” against President hugo chávez. after being re- take control of the Net: a prelude to imposing presidentialleased on parole, he now must continue to appear before rules.the court every fifteen days.Two other Twitter users, Luis acosta Oxford (@leaoxford)and carmen cecilia Nares (@carmennares), who reside A gAg lAw for tHe internetin the State of Bolivar (in southeastern Venezuela), over On 11 July 2010, former vice-president José Vicente ran-500 km from caracas, were arrested on 8 July 2010 and gel stated that certain Twitter users in Venezuela were de-charged with “spreading false news” with the intent of voting themselves full-time to spreading rumours. hugodestabilising the banking system and damaging the chávez had announced during a televised speech on Sa-country’s economy, by virtue of article 448 of the 2001 turday 13 march: “The Internet cannot be something openBanking Law. where anything can be done and said. No, every country has to impose its rules and regulations.”Following a hearing on monday 12 July 2010, the two in-dividuals were granted parole in anticipation of a future It was in this frame of mind that, under pressure from thetrial. They must continue to appear before the court every government, the National assembly delivered a new blowfifteen days. They are also prohibited from circulating any
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////102to freedom of expression and information on 20 December tation of the law, thereby extending to the Net the extre-2010, by approving two bills amending the Organic Law mely polarised opinion already evident among the tradi-on Telecommunications (Lotel) and the Social responsibi- tional media.lity in radio, TV and Electronic media Law (resortemec).The latter’s aim is to facilitate Web control and surveillan- considering his experience with the so-called “traditional”ce, notably by setting up an Internet filtering system. media, President chávez’ latest enthusiasm for the elec- tronic media while he is endowed with full powers mayThe resortemec Law provides for stiffer fines and the sus- well cause concern about the future of online freedom ofpension – which could mean definitive closure for repeat expression.offenders – for media which circulate messages (includingInternet user postings) that: incite or promote hate and intolerance for religious orpolitical reasons, on the basis of a gender difference orbecause of racism or xenophobia; incite or promote criminal activity; engage in war propaganda; cause panic or disturb public order; discredit legitimately constituted authorities; incite murder; incite or promote non-respect for the laws in force.although points 1 and 6 are admissible and valid in anylegislation, point 3 – which is also admissible – will presu-mably not be applied to the government’s often bellicosepropaganda. Points 2, 4 and 5 represent a major threatto freedom of expression and information because theyare too broadly and vaguely defined. It appears that web-site moderators will inevitably have to close their discus-sion forums. Point 5 regarding the “legitimately constitu-ted authority” also concerns the next National assembly,which was elected on 26 September 2010. One positiveaspect of the new resortemec Law is that it no longercontains the controversial provision for a single Internetaccess point.Still pertaining to article 28 of the Law, Internet accessproviders will have “to establish mechanisms for restrai-ning the circulation of messages” concerned by suchprohibitions without specifying the technicalities involved.This provision is an open door for introducing a Net filte-ring system.The application of this law, as well as the self-censorshipmomentum which could result from it, must be kept un-der close watch in the months ahead. Some are rightlyconcerned about sanctions being tailored in such a waythat the electronic media and websites with close ties tothe government will receive special treatment, while thoseof the opposition will experience a much harsher interpre-
INTERNET ENEMIES / 12tH mArCH 2011/ WORLD DAY AGAINST CENSORSHIP /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////103 International Secretariat RepoRteRs Without BoRdeRs47 rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France - Tel: 33 1 4483-8484 - Fax: 33 1 4523-1151 - Website: www.rsf.org - E-mail: email@example.com - Ambroise Pierre - Africa desk:firstname.lastname@example.org - Benoît Hervieu - Americas desk: email@example.com - Vincent Brossel - Asia desk: firstname.lastname@example.org - Johann Bihr - Europe desk: email@example.comSoazig Dollet - Middle East desk: firstname.lastname@example.org - Lucie Morillon - Internet desk: email@example.com - Press contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgRepoRteRs Without BoRdeRs is an international press freedom organisation. It monitors and reports violations of media freedom throughout the world.Reporters Without Borders analyses the information it obtains and uses press releases, letters, investigative reports and recommendations to alert publicopinion to abuses against journalists and violations of free expression, and to put pressure on politicians and government officials. General secretary : Jean-Francois Julliard l Chief Editor : Gilles Lordet