Last week, a spokesman for the Pakistani Ministry of Information Technology announced that Pakistan was blocking access to Twitter because the site had not removed links to a competition on Facebook to post cartoon images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Why Twitter and not Facebook? The spokesman went on to say that Facebook had agreed to address the Pakistani government’s concerns—Facebook later issued a statement saying they had blocked the content about the contest in Pakistan—but they viewed Twitter as recalcitrant.
“The government is in contact with Twitter and had asked them to remove the material. When they didn't, it was decided that the site would be blocked.”
Imagine going to court and potentially facing prison time over someone else’s comment in your blog. Thai webmaster Chiranuch Premchaiporn, also known by her online handle Jiew, has been facing that reality since her October 2010 arrest for violating the intermediary liability provisions of the 2007 Computer Crime Act and for "Lèse Majesté," or defamation of the Thai royal family. Jiew was not the author of the offending comments—she was the webmaster of the popular news site Prachatai that hosted them. In 2008, Prachatai published an interview with Chotisak Onsoong, a Thai man known for refusing to stand at attention during the Thai Royal Anthem—a dangerous political act in Thailand, but not technically a crime. The interview received huge attention, drawing over 200 comments from Thai citizens.
Update 6/7/2012: Customers who have already purchased Humble Indie Bundle V will automatically have these three new games added to their download pages. Folks who have yet to purchase the bundle will need to pay more than the average price at the time of their visit to get access to the games.
Braid and Super Meat Boy are oft-requested by customers who missed the previous Humble Indie Bundles featuring those games (#2 and #4, respectively), so we're pretty excited to give people another chance to check them out. And Lone Survivor is one of the most stunning titles to come out in the first half of this year—a four-years-in-the-making, side-scrolling, survival horror opus by Jasper Byrne.
We took a stand for Twitter users Wednesday, and in an amicus brief (PDF) urged a New York City judge to reconsider his decision authorizing a broad subpoena to Twitter that seriously threatens the First Amendment and privacy rights of everyone on the Internet.
This morning, the House Judiciary Committee held an important hearing on the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) and the scope of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program. The FAA, which gutted privacy protections governing the interception international phone calls and e-mail to and from the United States, is set to expire at the end of the year, and Attorney General Eric Holder says it is his “top priority” to see it renewed.
President Obama had promised during his campaign to demand civil liberties protections and privacy safeguards when the FAA came up for renewal, yet his administration is now demanding Congress to renew it with no changes, despite the fact that the FAA allows for dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications.
China: Twitter-Clone Weibo Introduces a Points System for Punishing Content Violations
Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo introduced new user conditions on Monday under which users will be deducted “points” for violating its content policy. Users will be suspended from the website once they run out of points. Rules that prohibit advocating protests or “spreading rumors” have always been a part of overall Chinese internet policy, but the points system is an innovation.
The Senate is moving quickly to take up the issue of cybersecurity, with a potential vote looming in early June. This is a particularly dangerous situation because the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) already passed the House, authorizing companies to spy on sensitive user content and pass that data to the government with few restrictions. Under CISPA, the government can use the information it receives for vaguely-defined “national security” purposes or share it with intelligence agencies like the NSA.
There are several bills pending in the Senate. The first one to come up is the Cyber Security Act (Lieberman-Collins). The bill is well over a hundred pages long and includes many components other than sections about sharing data with the government. Here’s a guide to help you understand the information sharing sections of the bill, the civil liberties concerns, and how you can speak out.
Innovation for the win: A federal judge ruled today that Java's APIs are not copyrightable. The federal district judge in the widely reported Oracle v. Google case ruled in favor of innovation and interoperability, allowing software to use Application Programming Interfaces without paying a license fee. Judge Alsup's opinion is important news for software developers and entrepreneurs.
The campaign to use social engineering to install surveillance software that spies on Syrian activists is growing ever more complex as violence in Syria has escalated.