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WeGov

With Both Scalpel and Cudgel, Iran Censors Wikipedia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 13 2013

Screenshot of Emma Watson's Persian Wikipedia page, which is blocked in Iran.

What do the BBC, the Bahá'í faith and Emma Watson have in common? They are among the 963 blocked Persian Wikipedia articles according to a report released earlier this month, “Citation Filtered: Iran's Censorship of Wikipedia.”

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WeGov

Tajikistan Blocks YouTube and News Site On Eve of Election

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 5 2013

Rakhmon with Dmitry Medvedev (Wikipedia)

On the eve of Tajik elections, clients of certain Internet providers were unable to access YouTube or the popular new portal Ozodagon. A source close to the Tajik government told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the blocks were ordered by the State Communications Service.

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WeGov

#NoFilter: Instagrams Provide Rare, Uncensored Look Inside North Korea

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 5 2013

A man biking in Pyongyang, North Korea (Wikipedia)

North Korea relaxed many of their rules and restrictions imposed on visiting foreigners this year. In January the country began allowing foreigners to carry cell phones, and in February it even activated a 3G network, although that was later revoked in March. Now millions of North Koreans use a 3G network, but are banned from using it to access the Internet or to make international phone calls. Foreigners still have easier access to wi-fi connections. One Associated Press photographer named David Guttenfelder regularly uploads uncensored images to his Instagram account, providing a rare look into a country once virtually unknown.

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WeGov

Messages From Behind Bars and Beyond the Grave

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 4 2013

Screenshot of Rodrigo Rosenberg accusing Guatemalan President Colom of murder from beyond the grave

Before flying back to his home country, Vietnam, last week, Nguyen Lan Thang took a few minutes to record a video, just in case he was arrested or detained at the airport. As a pro-democracy blogger in a country that punishes online speech that criticizes the Communist government, Thang had good reason to be worried. Sure enough, upon arriving at the airport after a three month long stint abroad, during which Thang met with human rights groups and international organizations, Thang was picked up by Vietnam's security forces.

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WeGov

Apple Kicks Out Another Anti-Censorship App From Their Chinese Store

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, October 25 2013

Just when it seemed like a small opening for controversial apps had appeared in the Chinese Apple App store, it quickly closed again. Yesterday, GreatFire.org's Free Weibo, a tool that allows you to search and find censored tweets on China’s popular microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, was finally made available in the Apple apps store in China after being previously blocked. When I asked Charlie Smith, who along with Martin Johnson created Great Fire, a website that monitor's censorship in China, "why the sudden reversal?", the answer was clear: it was an oversight. Read More

WeGov

Why The Remarkably Similar Circumvention Tools uProxy and Lantern Are Not Overkill

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, October 24 2013

Night and day: two radically different ways of describing remarkably similar tools

Not all anti-censorship tools were created equal. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Take uProxy, for example, one of several new tools Google Ideas launched at their Summit meeting in New York City this week. UProxy is a browser extension that connects people in censored countries to the Internet through people in uncensored countries. Sound familiar? It should. Although seeded by Google Ideas, it was built by developers at the University of Washington and Brave New Software. That's right, Brave New Software, the same organization behind the anti-censorship tool Lantern, profiled earlier this week by techPresident, which also uses peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to circumvent Internet blocks.

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WeGov

Could State Department Funded Lantern Be Bigger, Better Tor?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, October 22 2013

Lanterns in Singapore (Tallkev/Flickr)

Global Internet freedom is without a doubt declining. Authoritarian states like China and Iran routinely block social media and news websites. Half of the countries surveyed for the 2013 Freedom House report on net freedom have blocked political or social content, and nearly a third blanket block at least one blogging or social media platform. Anti-censorship tools exist, but the most popular and effective buckle under the overwhelming demand for them in repressive countries.

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WeGov

SIM Card Registration Newest Assault on Privacy and Freedom of Expression in Zimbabwe

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 9 2013

Harare, Zimbabwe (Wikipedia)

As of October 1, Zimbabweans have 30 days to register their SIM cards with their service providers, or risk a fine or imprisonment of up to six months. The Zimbabwean government is also establishing a single subscriber database of all the subscribers' personal information. The government justifies these measures as necessary to safeguard national security, but human rights activists in Zimbabwe say that they pose a threat to citizens' privacy and free expression.

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WeGov

Apple Stoops to “Whole New Level” of Self-Censorship in China

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, October 4 2013

Apple silently removed OpenDoor, an app that helped users evade China's Great Firewall, without any explanation and, the app developer says, without any just reason. Chinese netizens are understandably angry and many are criticizing Apple for their willingness to cooperate with Chinese authorities.

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WeGov

As "War Games" Escalate, Russia Blocks Over 26,000 Websites To Get At One Art Blog

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, October 3 2013

This may not surprise you, but Russia's law banning “homosexual propaganda” does not make exceptions for satirical online art projects. The Russian censorship agency Roskomnadzor added the art blog and multimedia platform Looo.ch [NSFW] to its registry of “forbidden websites” on September 19 after they uploaded two racy multimedia “textbooks.” But blocking Looo.ch backfired on Roskomnadzor in a big way. To get at Looo.ch, the agency cut access to the website host SquareSpace and 26,439 other websites went down in Russia. The art blog was thrust into more prominence as a result of the gaffe. Meanwhile, other websites frustrated by the increasing frequency of down-time and inadvertent blocks are trying to train their users to be tech-savvy in these times of “war games.”

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