Internet censorship: New tactics spread around the world in 2011

by Liam Sweeney    /  November 2, 2011  / No comments

As the internet’s role in free speech becomes increasingly prevalent, tactics to control the internet are growing more refined each year. Methods of accessing private data and censoring content vary between countries, but all maintain an element of oppression. This list of 2011′s current transgressors has been compiled from Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and Index on Censorship.

China
On October 25 the search term “Occupy” was banned in China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo. Cyber-dissident Wang Lihong’s appeal was rejected October 20th. She will serve nine months as a prisoner of conscience.

Reports show that in early 2011 Google received attacks that slowed it severely, making Yahoo the most reliable server. Yahoo was criticized in 2005 for having become a “police informant,” providing evidence to the government for a case that imprisoned a journalist for ten years.

Egypt
Since the revolution the military has imprisoned blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad for criticizing the military and deported blogger Imad Bazzi.

On January 27 the Mubarak dictatorship unilaterally shut down the internet.

France
The Government is attempting to block Copwatch, a website dedicated to recording police brutality, from French viewers.

In June France attempted to pass legislation that would increase the government’s online censorship powers.

Iran
A new Google security measure revealed that many Iranian Gmail accounts have been hacked, seemingly by the Iranian government.

Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour, Ali Akrami, Faranak Farid, Ali Dini Torkamani and Hamid Moazeni are some of the online bloggers and editors who have been arrested this fall.

Mexico
Drug cartels have taken up the role of online censorship, brutally murdering social media users who speak out against the cartels through Twitter and blogs.

Veracruz detained Twitter users for one month on terrorism charges.

Russia
The Russian government is holding a censorware contest for independent parties to develop software the government could use to monitor online media outlets for “extremist” content.

In recent years, thugs beat and murdered web editors and bloggers, leading to a state of self-censorship, coupled with the intermittent disabling of independent media websites.

Syria
President Assad publicly promotes the “electronic army,” a pro-Assad hacker organization, that promotes state propaganda and threatens the press.

Syrian online journalist Omar al-Assad was detained July 3rd.

U.S.A
Legislation from 1986 (Electronic Communications Privacy Act) has been revived for a Wikileaks case this year. The act, which was passed before the public internet existed, allows for the release of information from the Twitter and email accounts used by individuals in the case.

In August San Francisco officials shut down mobile and wireless services in the city’s subway system to prevent a protest.

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