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Weekly Global Readings: Repression

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, January 9 2013

In our first weekly global readings post, the theme is repression, whether it be the non-democratic government of China poised to mandate the end of Internet user anonymity, or the democratic government of Zambia threatening the editors of a digital citizen media watchdog publication with charges of treason.

The Chinese government is poised to approve rules that would require websites to verify the real identity of their users. That means that people who use social media sites like Sina Weibo, the local Twitter clone that has about 400 million registered users, would have to post under their real names.

In Iran, the government is developing "intelligent software" to restrict content on popular social networks.

A Kuwaiti citizen was entenced to two years in jail for insulting the emir on Twitter.

The Russian government has accused opposition bloggers of corruption, in what many believe is a politically motivated campaign to discredit them. Now a Russian journalist has stirred the pot by asking the accused bloggers to reveal their sources of income.

An angry minister has threatened to arrest the editors of the Zambian Watchdog, a digital publication that is critical of the government. The minister claims he would charge the editors with treason, which is a capital crime.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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