Censorship

Indonesia Moves To Ban Same-Sex Emojis On Messaging Apps (thestack.com) 5

An anonymous reader writes: The Indonesian government has this week demanded that instant messaging apps available in the country remove all same-sex emoticons from their platforms, or face heavy sanctions. While homosexuality is not illegal in the country, it remains a controversial issue in the Muslim-dominated country. Now in the latest effort to crackdown on gay rights, Indonesian authorities want to ban emojis, stickers and emoticons which depict same-sex couples, the rainbow flag, and any symbol that symbolises the lesbian, bay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Apps that have been targeted by the demands include the popular Asian messaging app LINE, Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter. The Indonesian Communication and Information Ministry added that a particular concern was that children would find the bright coloured stickers appealing.
Censorship

As Elections Approach, Iran Uses "Far More Advanced" Internet Censorship (dailydot.com) 40

Patrick O'Neill writes: Election time in Iran means increased censorship for the country's tens of millions of Internet users. But this months parliamentary election, experts say, comes with a new level of aggressive censorship from a government notorious for authoritarianism in cyberspace. "What's happening [right now] is far more advanced than anything we've seen before," said Karl Kathuria, CEO of Psiphon Inc., the company behind the widely popular encryption and circumvention tool Psiphon. "It's a lot more concentrated attempt to stop these services from working."
Encryption

US Encryption Ban Would Only Send the Market Overseas (dailydot.com) 145

Patrick O'Neill writes: As U.S. legislatures posture toward legally mandating backdoored encryption, a new Harvard study suggests that a ban would push the market overseas because most encryption products come from over non-U.S. tech companies. "Cryptography is very much a worldwide academic discipline, as evidenced by the quantity and quality of research papers and academic conferences from countries other than the U.S.," the researchers wrote.
Censorship

Beyond the Liberator: A 3D-Printed Plastic 9mm Semi-Auto Pistol 294

Profiled at Ars Technica is the (mostly) 3D-printed semi-auto pistol design from a West Virginia maker known as Derwood. The PLA-based design, which Derwood calls the Shuty MP-1, isn't quite all-plastic; like others that are roughly similar, it utilizes metal for a few parts that aren't practical in plastic. (Ars says just the barrel and springs, but it looks like metal is used for the guide rod and an internal plate, as well as for the screws that hold the whole thing together.) The core of the gun is a lower that bears a strong resemblance to an AR-15's, but the assembled gun looks to me more like a Skorpion submachine gun. Unlike Cody Wilson's single-shot Liberator pistol (mentioned here a few times before), the design files are not available for download -- at least not yet: "Not long," Derwood writes in a comment on a YouTube video of the pistol's assembly.
It's funny.  Laugh.

John Cleese Warns Campus Political Correctness Leading Towards 1984 (washingtonexaminer.com) 668

An anonymous reader writes: Ashe Schow writes at the Washington Examiner that, "The Monty Python co-founder, in a video for Internet forum Big Think, railed against the current wave of hypersensitivity on college campuses, saying he has been warned against performing on campuses. "[Psychiatrist Robin Skynner] said: 'If people can't control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people's behavior,'" Cleese said. "And when you're around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what's going to upset them next." Cleese said that it's one thing to be "mean" to "people who are not able to look after themselves very well," but it was another to take it to "the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group could be labeled cruel." Cleese added that "comedy is critical," and if society starts telling people "we mustn't criticize or offend them," then humor goes out the window. "With humor goes a sense of proportion," Cleese said. "And then, as far as I'm concerned, you're living in 1984." Cleese is just the latest comedian to lecture college students about being so sensitive.
Facebook

Facebook Expands Online Commerce Role, But Says "No Guns, Please" 190

The New York Times reports that Facebook's newly staked-out role as a site to facilitate local, person-to-person sales (ala Craigslist) has a new wrinkle: the site has announced a site-wide policy restricting firearms sales that applies to personal sales, though not to licensed dealers or gun clubs. According to the story, Although Facebook was not directly involved in gun sales, it has served as a forum for gun sales to be negotiated, without people having to undergo background checks. The social network, with 1.6 billion monthly visitors, had become one of the worldâ(TM)s largest marketplaces for guns and was increasingly evolving into an e-commerce site where it could facilitate transactions of goods. ... Facebook said it would rely on its vast network of users to report any violations of the new rules, and would remove any post that violated the policy. Beyond that, the company said it could ban users or severely limit the ways they post on Facebook, depending on the type and severity of past violations. If the company believed someoneâ(TM)s life was in danger, Facebook would work with law enforcement on the situation. The policy applies as well to private sales that occur using Facebook Messenger, though the company does not scan Messenger exchanges and must rely on user reports.
Government

Canadian Government Lobbies Europe To Pass CETA (freezenet.ca) 69

Dangerous_Minds writes: The Canadian government isn't just siding with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Justin Trudeau is also actively lobbying Europe to try and pass the Comprehensive economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Freezenet points out that the agreement contains many provisions including a three strikes law and website blocking.
Debian

Privacy-Centric Linux Distro Tails Hits 2.0 Release 42

A_Mythago writes: The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) has finalized version 2.0, which has several improvements and updates to continue to meet their mission of preserving privacy, anonymity and circumventing censorship without a trace, using a Debian 8.0 custom live distro. More details about Edward Snowden's use of Tails and the distro itself can be found at a previous Slashdot story from 2014.
Censorship

Filmmaker Forces Censors To Watch 10-Hour Movie of Paint Drying (ibtimes.co.uk) 255

An anonymous reader writes: A British filmmaker has forced the people who decide how to censor films to watch a 10-hour movie of paint drying on a wall following a protest fundraising campaign. Charlie Lyne launched a Kickstarter to help raise the money needed to send his 'documentary' of a single shot of paint drying on a wall for consideration as a protest against the 'stronghold' the organisation has on the British film industry. The BBFC charge an initial fee of $144.88 to view a film and decide what certificate to give it, and then and additional $10.15 for each minute that the film lasts. The idea was the more money Lyne could raise via his fundraiser, the longer his paint-drying film could last. The campaign eventually nearly £8,500, meaning he was able to send in a 607 minute video which the examiners had to watch in its entirety.
Advertising

Online Ad Czar Berates Adblockers As Freedom-Hating 'Mafia' (thestack.com) 539

An anonymous reader writes: Randall Rothenburg, the president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has made a speech branding the creators of Adblock Plus (who were banned from the conference where he made this keynote) as "rich and self-righteous," and accused adblockers of subverting freedom of the press. Speaking at the IAB's annual conference, Rothenburg characterized the Adblock Plus team as "operating a business model predicated on censorship of content."
Youtube

Why I'm a Defender of YouTube (vortex.com) 138

Lauren Weinstein writes: In a time of fascist politicians spouting simplistic slogans about race, religion, terrorism, and censorship, along with whatever other pandering platitudes they believe will win them votes, prestige, power, and control — it's worth remembering how much good the Internet brings us, and how much poorer we'd all be in so many ways for the shackling of Internet services like YouTube, in the name of such self-serving proclamations and damaging false solutions.
The Internet

Google Exec Says Isis Must Be Locked Out of the Open Web (theguardian.com) 208

An anonymous reader writes with this story about Director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen and his talk with the Royal Institute of International Affairs about stopping terrorists online. Cohen contends that the best way to fight them online is to keep them confined to the dark web. The Guardian reports: "Google's head of ideas, tasked with building tools to fight oppression, has said that to stop Isis being able to publicize itself on the internet requires forcing Isis from the open web. During a talk with the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, Jared Cohen said that it will not be possible to stop terrorists such as Isis from using Tor and the dark web. The key to stopping the terrorist group from propagating online is therefore to hound them from the traditional web – that which can be indexed by search engines. Cohen said: 'What is new is that they're operating without being pushed back in the same internet we all enjoy. So success looks like Isis being contained to the dark web.'"
Youtube

Pakistan Lifts 3-Year Ban On YouTube, Allows Local Version (go.com) 36

An anonymous reader writes: Pakistan has allowed access to a localized version of the video sharing website YouTube on company assurances that country-specific filters would be added to remove objectionable content. ABC reports: " Pakistan banned YouTube under a court order in September 2012 for carrying a controversial made-in-America movie trailer that sparked deadly protests across the Muslim world. The movie 'Innocence of Muslims' was considered blasphemous and derogatory to Islam for its portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. Some of the most intense protests erupted in Pakistan, where the role of Islam in society is sacrosanct and anti-American sentiment runs high. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority spokesman Khurram Mehran says all the instructions were given and the website was accessible across the country on Monday."
Twitter

Twitter Sued For Giving Voice To Islamic State (reuters.com) 191

An anonymous reader writes: An American woman named Tamara Fields has sued Twitter in U.S. federal court, saying the social network gave the Islamic State a voice to spread its propaganda. Fields's husband died on November 9, when the terrorist organization attacked a police training center in Amman, Jordan. The complaint alleges, "Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most-feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible." At the end of 2015, Twitter stepped up its efforts (or at least its official policies) to block such content from its site. But the company has been under fire for over a year from citizens and law enforcement officials over the activity of various terrorist groups on its platform. Fields's attorneys hope that her husband's death will give her proper standing to challenge Twitter in court.
The Internet

Cuba's Nationwide Sneakernet: a Model For Developing Nations? 108

lpress writes: Cuba has little Internet infrastructure, but they have a well-organized sneaker net called El Paquete Semanal (the weekly packet). El Paquete distributes a terabyte of digital entertainment nationwide every week using portable drives. The system is reliable and the organization is said to be Cuba's largest private employer, but it is technically illegal and the content is pirated. A legitimatized Paquete would save scarce Internet resources for other applications. El Paquete is also a possible model for other developing nations. Vox has a short documentary about the system.
China

China's Tech Copycats Transformed Into a Hub For Innovation (wired.com) 95

hackingbear writes: Following similar path of the 19th century America, China has advanced from being copycats to innovators. After its middle class has risen from 4% of population to 2/3 in the last decade, a generation both creative and comfortable with risk-taking are born. "We're seeing people in their early twenties starting companies—people just out of school, and there are even some dropouts," says Kai-Fu Lee, a Chinese venture capitalist and veteran of Apple, Microsoft, and Google, who has spent the past decade crisscrossing the nation, helping youths start firms. Major cities, i.e. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, are crowded with ambitious inventors and entrepreneurs, flocking into software accelerators and hackerspaces. They no longer want jobs at Google or Apple; like their counterparts in San Francisco, they want to build the next Google or Apple. Venture capitalists pumped a record $15.5 billion into Chinese startups last year, so entrepreneurs are being showered in funding, as well as crucial advice and mentoring from millionaire angels. Even the Chinese government—which has a wary attitude toward online expression and runs a vast digital censorship apparatus—has launched a $6.5 billion fund for startups.
China

China Passes Law Requiring Tech Firms To Hand Over Encryption Keys (betanews.com) 170

Mark Wilson writes: Apple may have said that it opposes the idea of weakening encryption and providing governments with backdoors into products, but things are rather different in China. The Chinese parliament has just passed a law that requires technology companies to comply with government requests for information, including handing over encryption keys.

Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the controversial law is the Chinese government's attempt to curtail the activities of militants and political activists. China already faces criticism from around the world not only for the infamous Great Firewall of China, but also the blatant online surveillance and censorship that takes place. This latest move is one that will be view very suspiciously by foreign companies operating within China, or looking to do so.

Censorship

North Korea's Operating System Analyzed (theguardian.com) 98

Bruce66423 points out an analysis at The Guardian of North Korea's Red Star Linux-based OS, based on a presentation Sunday to the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin : The features of their Fedora based OS include a watermarking system to enable tracking of files — even if unopened. The operating system is not just the pale copy of western ones that many have assumed, said Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess of the German IT security company ERNW, who downloaded the software from a website outside North Korea and explored the code in detail. ... This latest version, written around 2013, is based on a version of Linux called Fedora and has eschewed the previous version’s Windows XP feel for Apple’s OS X – perhaps a nod to the country’s leader Kim Jong-un who, like his father, has been photographed near Macs. The OS, unsurprisingly, allowed only tightly fettered access to web sites, using a whitelist approach that gives access to government-controlled or approved sites.
The Internet

A Proposal For Dealing With Terrorist Videos On the Internet (vortex.com) 177

Lauren Weinstein writes: Recent claims by some (mostly nontechnical) observers that it would be "simple" for services like YouTube to automatically block "terrorist" videos, in the manner that various major services currently detect child porn images are nonsensical. One major difference is that those still images are detected via data "fingerprinting" techniques that are relatively effective on known still images compared against a known database, but are relatively useless outside the realm of still images, especially for videos of varied origins that are routinely manipulated by uploaders specifically to avoid detection. Two completely different worlds. So are there practical ways to at least help to limit the worst of the violent videos, the ones that most directly portray, promote, and incite terrorism or other violent acts? I believe there are.
Censorship

HTTP Error Code 451 Approved For Censored Web Pages (mnot.net) 141

An anonymous reader writes: The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) has finally approved the new 451 status code for HTTP error messages involving web pages which have been repressed or removed for legal or political reasons. The initiative was proposed in 2013, and gained interest from various groups, such as Lumen (formerly Chilling Effects), who see the potential of the Bradbury-inspired code to help develop comprehensive indexes of censorship on the internet. Mark Nottingham, chair the IETF HTTP Working Group, says, "It'll be an RFC after some work by the RFC Editor and a few more process bits, but effectively you can start using it now."

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