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Myanmar: Lift Internet Restrictions in Rakhine and Chin States
A joint statement signed by 29 organizations including Fortify Rights, Amnesty International and Article 19 "call[s] on the Government of Myanmar to immediately lift restrictions on mobile internet communications in eight townships in Rakhine State and one township in Chin State. We are particularly concerned by the Government of Myanmar’s recent reinstatement of restrictions on mobile internet access in five townships on February 3, 2020, after lifting restrictions in those townships earlier. We call on the Government of Myanmar to release publicly the justification for the internet shutdown and all information related to the process by which these restrictions were imposed...

"The almost eight-month blackout in Kyauktaw, Minbya, Mrauk-U, and Ponnagyun townships is one of the world’s longest government-imposed shutdowns of mobile internet communications. The internet restrictions disproportionately affect civilians in conflict areas, hampering humanitarian aid operations, livelihoods, and the work of human rights monitors. The shutdown appears to be a response by the Government of Myanmar to the ongoing conflict between the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army and the Myanmar military. An escalation in fighting since the start of 2019 has displaced tens of thousands of civilians in conflict-affected townships in Rakhine and Chin states."
otf  myanmar  burma  shutdown  access  asia  SoutheastAsia  rohingya  rakhine  chin 
3 days ago by dmcdev
Russia's security service tells internet firms to hand over user data: The Bell
"Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) has ordered some of the country's major internet companies to give it continuous access to their systems, The Bell investigative website reported late on Tuesday, citing three sources at the firms. It said the measure would affect a string of Russian internet services that have been added to a list of entities obliged to hand over user data and messages to Russian law enforcement agencies on request. The list, drawn up by Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, contains more than 200 entities such as popular messenger service Telegram, some Yandex services, social network VK and classified advertisement website

"Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the report. The Bell said the orders, which the companies received last year, demanded they install equipment allowing FSB employees to have continuous access to their information systems and the keys to decode users' communications. Companies that fail to comply can be blocked." - Reuters
otf  russia  fsb  access  surveillance  Roskomnadzor  vk  privacy  data 
3 days ago by dmcdev
India keeps lid on Kashmir's internet 6 months into lockdown
"Six months after India’s government stripped restive Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and enforced a total communications blackout, it is heralding the restoration of limited, slow-speed internet as a step toward normalcy. But for the Himalayan region’s 7 million people, the reality is far different. They are only allowed to access government-approved websites. Popular social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter remain blocked. And while users can access YouTube and Netflix, the internet service is too slow to stream video.

Some Kashmiris are evading censors by using virtual private networks, or VPNs, which are widely employed globally to access restricted websites, but Indian authorities are looking for ways to clamp down on those, too. 'Frankly, let’s call it what it is: It’s still an internet shutdown and a blanket censorship of the internet,' said Nikhil Pahwa, a New Delhi-based digital rights activist. 'Can you imagine this being done to Delhi?'" - Aijaz Hussain and Sheikh Saaliq, AP
otf  india  kashmir  shutdown  blackout  access  censorship  asia  southasia 
3 days ago by dmcdev
The internet has no room for tyrants
"Today, enemies of a free internet invest more than ever in censorship and surveillance technology," writes Open Technology Fund (OTF) CEO Libby Liu in an op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times ahead of next week's St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs. "To date, China and Russia have provided state-of-the-art technology to more than 108 countries, including advanced surveillance technologies and training on 'online information management.' Online censorship and surveillance have become global problems."

In response, "[f]ighting this threat requires a focused and fresh approach -- one that is user-focused and powered by a multidisciplinary mission-driven community," Liu says. "...This year, having proven we can successfully fight back, OTF has emerged as a new independent corporation to enable the US Agency for Global Media -- the agency that oversees RFA, Voice of America and RFERL, Alhurra and Radio/TV Marti -- to expand its internet freedom work and maximize its impact. With 90 percent of USAGM media networks’ audiences relying on the internet for news and information, they need the tools to access objective news safe from censorship and surveillance, as do our journalists, stringers, and sources, who are constantly exposed to threat.

"Tyrants and their enablers have made it clear that they will do and spend whatever it takes to distort the internet in their own image of control, power, profit and repression. The United States and its allies must act together to protect the internet as a democratic space for free expression and human dignity. The new Open Technology Fund is just one way to defend the world-wide web and empower people everywhere to join the fight."

Read the full op-ed here.
otf  usagm  netfreedom  censorship  surveillance  access  awareness 
3 days ago by dmcdev
The New Rude Masters of Fantasy & Science Fiction – and Romance | The World Remains Mysterious
For things to truly change, publishing must bring in new voices and not just allow them, but encourage them to speak — not just emotionally, but financially.

Those voices are a diverse group, but one thing they often share is a lack of economic privilege, the sort that allows one to work as an unpaid intern, or pay for the grad school that gives one time enough to write or resources for focusing on craft rather than survival. That’s part of the undercurrent in those cries about vulgarity: an unease with people who haven’t undergone the same social shaping features, who may not have been signed off on by society with a standardized degree. To ignore the ways otherness has been used to justify discouraging those others is to be complicit in that act of silencing. And that, I would argue, is about as rude as it gets.
SF  Romance  writing  awards  change  diversity  access  puppies 
5 days ago by Quercki
Glitches Mar Russia’s Internet Isolation Test – RBC
"Russian providers experienced slow connections and disruptions during test runs last fall for compliance with Russia’s so-called internet isolation law, according to the providers’ report to the government cited by the RBC news website Monday. At least one provider in Russia’s Urals Federal District said it was unable to block the popular messaging app Telegram, which a federal court banned in 2018 over encryption keys. Overall, five providers reported slowdowns, low-quality signals and even temporary outages during the tests, according to RBC...The providers reportedly submitted their reports detailing the glitches they had encountered in the Urals, which encompass six regions in central Russia, to the Communications Ministry in late November. Tools including deep package inspection (DPI) were installed throughout the district between August and September but were 'switched on for short periods' in November 2019, RBC reported. At least three providers reported having no connectivity issues during the tests." - The Moscow Times
otf  russia  shutdown  test  blackout  access  intranet 
5 days ago by dmcdev
Kashmir journalists accuse Indian police of muzzling press
"Journalists in disputed Kashmir urged the Indian government on Monday to allow them to report freely and expressed concern about alleged police harassment since the region’s semi-autonomy was rescinded in August amid an unprecedented lockdown. The Kashmir Press Club, an elected body of journalists in the region, said security agencies were using physical attacks, threats and summons to intimidate journalists. The group said the government should 'ensure freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in the constitution instead of muzzling the press'...It also criticized restrictions on the internet and surveillance by police, calling them 'tools designed and aimed to ensure only the government-promoted version is heard.'" - AP

+ "In Kashmir, there has been a surge in interest in VPN applications after the government recently allowed access to only 329 'whitelisted' websites after nearly six months of internet shutdown. The government has not explained why access was restored to such a limited number of websites. With many popular social media sites not being included on the government’s whitelist, Kashmiris have turned to VPN applications to get around the restrictions. In South Kashmir, this has given rise to a new kind of tension between civilians and the army. According to residents in several Kulgam villages, army personnel allegedly check the phones of youth for VPN apps. If such apps are found, the youth are allegedly thrashed." via Safwat Zargar, ‘VPN for terrorism’: In Kashmir, youth allege their phones are checked by the army for masking apps
otf  india  kashmir  conflict  access  shutdown  press  media  asia  southasia 
5 days ago by dmcdev
What do we know about the 'Great Firewall of India'?
"After five months of complete internet shutdown in the federally-administered Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, only partial internet access has been restored after the interference of the Indian Supreme Court on January 10, which called the shutdown 'unconstitutional'’.'Freedom of internet access is a fundamental right', said Justice N. V. Ramana who was a part of the bench that gave this verdict. This shutdown marks the longest ever internet shutdown in any democracy around the world, and is viewed by experts as a potential signal of the rise of the ‘'Great Firewall of India'’. The term 'great firewall' is used to refer to the set of legislative and technical tools deployed by the Chinese government to control information online, including by blocking access to foreign services and preventing politically sensitive content from entering the domestic network.

"While the Chinese firewall has evolved as a very sophisticated internet censorship infrastructure, the Indian one is yet to get organized into a large-scale and complex structure. India's tactics to control information online include banning entire websites and services, shutting down networks and pressuring social media content to remove content on vague grounds." - Subhashish Panigrahi, Global Voices Advox
otf  india  shutdown  access  kashmir  china  asia  southasia  gfw  censorship 
7 days ago by dmcdev
Jordan's online censorship decisions: non-transparent and —at times— arbitrary
"The Jordanian government is increasingly monitoring and restricting access to online content, possibly as a direct result of the Arab Spring protests, during which protesters made use of online platforms to organize and disseminate news about events on the ground. At times, this moderation leads to censorship that comes in the form of blocking websites, citing failure to obtain a press and publications law license. Other times, it manifests through the restriction of entire services, from access to messaging apps like WhatsApp during Tawjihi (university) exams to blocking an online LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) magazine. In Jordan, online censorship has become almost normalized and at times arbitrary." - Raya Sharbain and Tina Maria Abu Hanna, Global Voices Advox
otf  mena  jordan  censorship  news  media  access 
7 days ago by dmcdev
Russia Proposes Internet Ecosystem to Protect Users From ‘Foreign Influence’ – Report
"Russia’s state-controlled telecommunications provider is proposing a 260-billion-ruble ($4.1 billion) online ecosystem to 'protect users from foreign influence,' the Kommersant business daily reported Wednesday. Rostelecom’s so-called roadmap reportedly envisions the creation of state-run messengers, gaming services, browsers and operating systems. The telecom provider’s ambitious proposal also includes state-controlled content recommendation systems and speech and gesture recognition in addition to virtual and augmented reality technology, the publication reported...The roadmap is part of President Vladimir Putin’s centerpiece National Projects program, which aims to stimulate the economy through 12 state-centric projects. Rostelecom’s proposal for a state-run online ecosystem is named among the digital economy project’s more expensive roadmaps." - The Moscow Times

+ via Meduza's “The Naked Pravda” podcast: ‘RuNet Sovereignty’: How Russia is trying to isolate its Internet segment from the rest of the world, maybe
otf  russia  internetsovereignty  intranet  access 
7 days ago by dmcdev
We must not squander the future of legal services
We need new ideas. We are one-fifth into the 21st century, yet we continue to rely on 20th-century processes, procedures and regulations. We need to retain 20th-century values but advance them using 21st-century approaches that can increase access to justice.

For example, regulators in some states are exploring whether educated technicians without a law degree should be authorized and regulated under rules of professional conduct to offer limited legal services.

Others are looking at whether efficiencies can be gained by enabling professionals who are not lawyers to share fees or hold a financial interest in law firms without compromising lawyer independence. Courthouse kiosks, courthouse navigators, online legal forms, document-preparers and online dispute resolution are all gaining traction around the country.

Lawyers have the privilege of regulating their own profession. With that privilege comes a responsibility to ensure that the rules and regulations of the legal profession serve the public good. The ultimate purpose of regulation is not to protect the livelihoods of lawyers but to advance the administration of justice. Some would suggest that if we don’t have justice or public protection as our goal, we potentially put our self-regulation at risk.
regulation  governance  access 
8 days ago by JordanFurlong

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