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WeGov

Jack Dorsey Tweets @HassanRouhani About Access to Twitter in Iran

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, October 1 2013

The President of Iran is tweeting with Jack Dorsey. Read More

WeGov

In Vietnam, Activist Group Takes a “SexyBack” Approach to Fighting Censorship

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, October 1 2013

Screenshot from the Facebook Back video parody below

You know all that witty (and not-so-witty) banter about the government shutdown taking place on your Facebook newsfeed right now? In Vietnam that would be illegal.

Since the draconian Decree 72 went into effect on September 1, citizens are banned from discussing news and current events—or really anything that does not pertain to themselves personally—on blogs or social media sites. Activists and bloggers, however, cannot capitulate to the government's restrictions, not when bloggers and citizens journalists have become the “de facto media.” That's why the pro-democracy group Viet Tan offers virtual training in cybersecurity for bloggers and activists.

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WeGov

Chinese Netizens Get Revenge On Official Who Arrested 16-Year-Old Blogger

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 25 2013

This picture of Yang flashing the victory sign is being retweeted by a number of netizens on Weibo (screenshot/Weibo)

The Chinese authorities like to push their boundaries when it comes to policing the Internet. We know they tell media outlets what they can and cannot write, set up an online platform where they could debunk rumors and deny official wrongdoing, and operate possibly the most sophisticated online surveillance and censorship apparatus in the world. Recently the government began a crackdown on online rumormongering that has resulted in hundreds of arrests. It was the arrest of of 16-year-old boy in the Gansu Province that was one step too far for Chinese netizens. The online outrage and activism that followed the arrest eventually led to the boy's release, and to the subsequent suspension of the police chief who oversaw the boy's detention.

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WeGov

Did 15 Of Iran's Cabinet Members Sign Up For Facebook, Or Have We Been Punk'd?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 10 2013

Screenshot of Hasan Rouhani's alleged Facebook page

Did Iran's entire Cabinet—15 ministers in total—just open Facebook pages? It appears so, and analysts are a bit unsure what to make of it, considering the social media site is still technically banned in the country. President Hasan Rouhani also has a page that has been duly liked by all 15 ministers.

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WeGov

Petition to Unblock YouTube in Pakistan Basically Ignored By Minister of IT

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, August 12 2013

The organization challenging Pakistan's YouTube ban in court claimed last month that a meeting with the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), moderated by the Lahore High Court, was biased and unfair in its execution and in its portrayal by the media. Only last week the Minister of IT failed – once again – to appear in the Lahore High Court. The counsel for the petitioner, Bytes for All, asked that the court temporarily lift the ban but the request was denied.

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WeGov

Weibo: A Tool for the People or the Communist Party?

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, July 29 2013

A chengguan police van in Tiananmen Square (image: Keso/flickr)

Before sunrise on July 17, a farmer named Deng Zhengjia and his wife made their way to Linwu County to sell watermelons. Deng was dead by sundown. Local plainclothes policemen, or chengguan, struck him in the head with a weight from his own scale, killing him. Some are wondering if Deng will be China's Mohammed Bouazizi, a man whose death as a consequence of police overreach will spark widespread unrest and maybe even political change. But far more likely is that his death will be laid at the feed of local officials, the broader implications glossed over, and the entire affair buried inside China's Great Firewall. Much has been made of the tools the Chinese state uses for censorship, and if anything, the aftermath of Deng's death is an example of those tools in action. Read More

WeGov

How To Report From Censored Environments

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 24 2013

Iran ranked just below China on the Press Freedom Index this year at spot 174 (of 179), only slightly better than Somalia, Syria and North Korea. Considering the restraints on local journalists and the red tape being put up for foreign reporters covering the presidential election, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) published advice for reporting on censored elections. Turns out the article contains sound advice for any journalist or even traveler venturing into censored environments.

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WeGov

New Russian Law Makes Publication of Information on Gay Rights Illegal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 12 2013

Would this constitute "gay propaganda"? (Wikipedia)

On June 11 the Russian parliament passed a bill against “homosexual propaganda” that effectively outlaws gay rights rallies and bans informational or pro-gay rights material from publication in the media or on the Internet. Violators of the law will risk heavy fines and censorship and, in the case of a media outlet, risk being shut down. It had near unanimous support, passing in a 436-to-0 vote, with only one abstention.

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WeGov

Singapore Expands Government Control Over Internet News

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 3 2013

Yahoo! News Singapore is one of 10 sites that must get an individual license in Singapore

As of June 1st, some online sources for Singapore news need an individual license from the government media regulator, the Media Development Authority (MDA). Online news sites are already subject to the Internet Code of Practice, which includes a description of “Prohibited Material.” However, the new License specifies that news sites must remove prohibited content within 24 hours of notification from the MDA.

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WeGov

Saudi Religious Leader Warns Twitter Users of Consequences in the Afterlife

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 17 2013

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia via Wikipedia

In late March, Saudi Arabia's top religious cleric said Twitter was for clowns and corrupters. Earlier this week, he said anyone using social media, in particular Twitter, “has lost this world and the afterlife.” His comments might be laughable, if they did not come at a time when the Saudi government is looking into monitoring or blocking social media sites and eliminating user anonymity.

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