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Is Sina Weibo a Means of Free Speech or a Means of Social Control?

BY David Eaves | Friday, August 17 2012

Photo: Francisco Diaz / Flickr

Over noodles in Beijing, David Eaves and Michael Anti discussed how Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging platform in China, actually creates a new means of social control for the central Chinese government. While it allows dissent, Anti argues, Weibo serves as a central platform for citizen speech — operated by a company over which the Chinese central government can exert significant influence. Read More

Why Julian Assange is Wikileaks' Single Point of Failure

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, August 16 2012

Is this Wikileaks' future home? Photo by David Torres Costales / @DavoTC

Julian Assange is back in the news today because, after nearly two months of holding out in Ecuador's London embassy, he has been granted "political asylum" by the Ecuadorian government. The decision has set off a diplomatic stand-off, with the U.K. government threatening to revoke the embassy's diplomatic status, and Ecuador responding with anger. In this article, I argue that the cause of transparency is far, far bigger than the legal troubles of one brilliant, courageous but ultimately flawed individual. Unfortunately, he has turned into Wikileaks' single point of failure. Britain ought to let Assange to Ecuador, because there's little chance he can get a fair trial in either Sweden or the United States, but then let's be done with him. Those of us who want freedom of information to thrive should learn a key lesson from Assange's case. For information to flow freely, there can't be any single point of control. Read More

Is Internet Freedom Going to Be a Campaign Issue?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, August 15 2012

Democrats and Republicans may be considering incorporating positions related to Internet freedom in their platforms in response to the advocacy of groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Demand Progress, US News reports. Read More

Iranian Government Plans to Disconnect Government Agencies from the Internet

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, August 8 2012

Iran plans to move several of its ministries and state agencies offline as a way of protecting them behind a secure computer wall from what it sees as online threats, the Telegraph reported. An Iranian official also said the measure is the first step in the launch of a long-rumored domestic intranet system set to start in 18 months, per the Telegraph. Read More

Vietnamese Blogger's Mother Sets Herself On Fire Ahead of Daughter's Trial, Reports Say

BY Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya | Monday, August 6 2012

Three political bloggers will be brought to trial tomorrow in Ho Chi Minh City on charges of "distorting the truth" and "denigrating the part and state," AFP reports. If convicted the bloggers could serve up to 20 years in jail. Read More

How Autocorrect is Creating New Chinese Slang

BY Nick Judd | Monday, July 16 2012

Public Radio International's The World has a fascinating look at how it looks like the autocomplete functionality on mobile phones is changing the way some Chinese people are using their language. PRI reports that as users of phones with English-language keyboards begin typing Chinese in pinyin, the system for transliterating between Chinese characters and the English alphabet, they are presented with the vast array of homophones each word may have. So each time someone starts typing a text message, they're assisted in wordplay by the autocomplete or autocorrect functionality of their phones. In Chinese, many words sound very similar to words that mean nowhere near the same thing. This is helping people to develop new slang and is giving people the opportunity to resurrect old words, PRI reports. Read More

Copyright, the Internet, and Congressional Palace Intrigue

BY Nick Judd | Friday, July 13 2012

TechPresident escapee former associate editor Nancy Scola drills in to the Intellectual Property Attaché Act, a bill Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) seemed poised to include in a Tuesday markup session at his House Judiciary Committee before tech blogs and Internet people freaked out. The bill has not made it to markup. She writes that the bill seemed like a post-SOPA trial balloon from Smith, a hard-liner when it comes to copyright and the chairman of one of the most powerful committees in the House. And he was floating it into an uncertain atmosphere — air that longstanding supporters of the old-guard content industry might not find as breathable as they have in the past. Read More

India and the Internet: World's Largest Democracy Limits Online Freedom 

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, July 10 2012

India, often described as the world's largest democracy, is embroiled in an internal dispute over Internet freedom. Activists are lined up against the government, with no clear winner yet. Read More

What the UNHRC's "Internet Freedom" Resolution Might Mean

BY Nick Judd | Friday, July 6 2012

The utility of a free and open Internet, even to people who don't have direct access to it, certainly gives support of Internet freedom more universal interest. And perhaps it lends credence to the optimists, like Susan Crawford, telecommunications policy expert and visiting professor at Harvard's Kennedy School and School of Law. She wrote Thursday that the resolution was a step forward for human rights online. Read More

Survey Says the Digerati Are Hopeful About Technology and the Future of Freedom

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Thursday, July 5 2012

A new Pew Research Center study released Thursday finds that among some of the leading thinkers and doers at the intersection of the Internet, media and technology, the outlook is bright for Internet freedom. Pew surveyed more than a thousand experts in conjunction with the Elon University School of Communications in a project called "Imagining the Internet." That sentiment was buoyed by a vote Thursday by the United Nations Human Rights Council to endorse a resolution to uphold the principle of free expression and information on the Internet. Read More