Tag Archives | free speech

Pussy Riot Found Guilty By Russian Court

Игорь Мухин (CC)

[UPDATE: Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison.]

If there was ever any doubt that the judge would do what Vladimir Putin wanted, it has now been erased. Protests reacting to the verdict are in progress. Report from USA Today:

A Russian judge found three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot guilty of hooliganism on Friday, in one of the most closely watched cases in recent Russian history.

The judge said the three band members committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred and offending religious believers.

The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral calling for the Virgin Mary to protect Russia against Vladimir Putin, who was elected to a new term as Russia’s president a few days later.

They face a maximum seven years in prison. The sentence is to be handed down later Friday.

The case has attracted international attention as an emblem of Russia’s intolerance of dissent.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Increased Criminalization of Dissent

Jason Wilson (CC)

Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

American law enforcement agencies continue to increase their surveillance on an otherwise fairly complacent citizenry, logging an incredible amount of requests for information regarding cell phone and social media use.

Last week, a judge in New York ruled that Twitter must give a court close to three months of information from a user in a pending case involving an Occupy Wall Street protester arrested at a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge in October. In February, a subpoena from the New York City District Attorney’s office demanded the microblogging site, often used by protesters to update their followers on events happening on the street in real time, give up “any and all user information, including email address, as well as any and all tweets posted for the period of 9/15/2011-12/31/2011” from user Malcolm Harris.” Harris (@destructuremal), managing editor for the New Inquiry online magazine was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge with 700 other demonstrators.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Silencing The Trolls: Twitter Considers ‘Hate Speech’ Censorship

Here at disinformation we mostly live with our trolls as a part of online life, but Twitter has decided to try to silence them. Via RT:

Is Twitter allowing too much freedom? What helped move revolutions along in the Middle East, has a flip side of cyberbullying and abuse, especially of those in the spotlight. Now Twitter is taking its first step towards censorship.

The news was broken by Twitter’s Dick Costolo who was speaking to the Financial Times. As the FT put it, the site’s chief executive “became visibly emotional” as he described his frustration in tackling the problem of ‘horrifying’ abuse, while maintaining the company’s mantra that ‘tweets must flow’. Anonymous and unpunished, irresponsible twitter-users find the site ideal for expressing all kinds of extremist, racist and sexistopinions. Celebrities are among those most vulnerable, with curses and bullying clogging up their ‘@connect’ section, offending many and disrupting conversations, often turning them into hate-fights.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Kuwait’s Top Book Censor Discusses Her Job

getimage1-uspostersWondering what it’s like to decide what knowledge is outlawed? The head of book censorship at Kuwait’s Ministry of Information explains how one goes about becoming a censor and defends the practice as a skilled art. The Kuwait Times writes:

The censors who are responsible for censoring books and other publications do an interesting job, which becomes harder during some periods of the year, yet it seems they enjoy it. In Kuwait, freedoms are respected yet within certain limits.

Dalal Al-Mutairi, head of the Foreign Books Department at the Ministry of Information [says]: “Many people consider the censor to be a fanatic and uneducated person, but this isn’t true. We are the most literate people as we have read much, almost every day. We read books for children, religious books, political, philosophical, scientific ones and many others.”

Working as a censor is interesting. “I like this work. It gives us experience, information and we always learn something new.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

SF Transit System Blocks Cell Phone Service To Thwart Protests

0816-bart-protests-Transit-Phone_full_380Mobile technology may be a powerful tool for grassroots organizing, but the flip side of the coin is that authorities can block such technology when they wish to crack down on dissent — case in point, San Francisco’s public transit system. SF Weekly writes:

This might just be a first in the annals of Bay Area transit agencies’ political suppression (such as those annals are). BART has fessed up to jamming cell-phone signals yesterday at downtown stations in San Francisco in order to disrupt protests over the death of Charles Hill, who was shot by BART police on July 3.

Here is what BART had to say in a statement on its tactics that was released today:

Organizers planning to disrupt BART service on August 11, 2011 stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police. A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Rushkoff: Abandon The Corporate Internet

Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data found on opte.org. Source: Matt Britt (CC)

The Internet. Source: Matt Britt (CC)

You can rely on Doug Rushkoff to be ahead of the curve in the world of Cyberia. In his post at Shareable he says we should give up trying to pretend that the Internet can be free of corporate and governmental interference and control, abandon it and start a new, truly free network. Is he being realistic?

The moment the “net neutrality” debate began was the moment the net neutrality debate was lost. For once the fate of a network – its fairness, its rule set, its capacity for social or economic reformation – is in the hands of policymakers and the corporations funding them – that network loses its power to effect change. The mere fact that lawmakers and lobbyists now control the future of the net should be enough to turn us elsewhere.

Of course the Internet was never truly free, bottom-up, decentralized, or chaotic.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Twitter Uproar Over Airport Bomb Joke

spatDo virtual social networks, such as Twitter,  push the law of free speech too far? Or does the digital generation have a bad sense of humor? BBC News reports:

Tweeters have joined forces to support Paul Chambers, the man convicted and fined for a Twitter message threatening to blow up an airport.

The Twitter community is angry that the 27-year-old accountant has failed to overturn his conviction.

A day after his appeal failed, two “hashtags” to highlight his situation remain top topics in the UK.

Free speech advocate Index on Censorship said the UK judiciary was out of step with social networks.

“The verdict demonstrates that the UK’s legal system has little respect for free expression, and has no understanding of how people communicate in the 21st Century,” said the organisation’s news editor Padraig Reidy.

Continues at BBC News

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Why the Web Isn’t Dead – A Few More Points

WWW_logoLast week Wired’s incendiary cover story The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet stirred up quite a bit of debate. Wired ran a debate between its editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, FM Media founder John Battelle, and O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly that was particularly illuminating. I made a few points here, and have a few more to make at Mediapunk:

First it was getting listed by Yahoo!, then it was getting a good ranking in Google, now it’s getting into the Apple App Store. In each case, the platform owner benefited more than the person trying to get listed. This is not new. That certain sites – like Facebook at YouTube – have become large platforms is certainly interesting. That Apple, Facebook and Google have a disproportionate say over what gets seen on the Internet is problematic, definitely. But there was never any golden age when the Net was truly open.

Read the rest
Continue Reading