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Mitigate risks of Covid-19 for Jammu and Kashmir by immediately restoring full access to internet services
"In wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Government of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir must restore full access to internet services in the region of Jammu and Kashmir and ensure that people have full access to health and safety related information, said Amnesty International India [last week]...'There is a growing anxiety around the pandemic and unwarranted restrictions on content and dissemination of information only stands to add to the panic,' said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India. 'Complete shutdowns or restricting of internet speed or access makes it difficult for people to navigate their way through a difficult time further undermining their trust in the authorities. The Government of India needs to adopt a rights-respecting approach to protect public health and restore access to 4G speed internet.'" - Amnesty International
otf  kashmir  india  coronavirus  censorship  access  shutdown  blackout  asia  southasia 
15 days ago by dmcdev
8 Million People Can’t Get News About The Coronavirus Because Their Government Is Slowing Down The Internet
"More than 8 million people who live in Kashmir, the disputed region between India and Pakistan, are unable to depend on the internet to get reliable information about the coronavirus pandemic, work from home, or attend classes online...A new government order, which was released Tuesday, has extended the region’s existing restrictions on internet speed until March 26 to 'prevent misuse of social media applications' and following 'recent terror activities' in the region. But locals said that the restrictions on internet speed are unacceptable at a time when access to timely and reliable information about the coronavirus is crucial.

'I can’t open even basic websites that provide information and advice about the pandemic,' Nayeem Rather, a freelance writer based in Srinagar, the largest city in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, told BuzzFeed News. 'Most people in Kashmir don’t really have any information about the coronavirus or what is going on in the world right now. It’s a crisis.'" - Pravav Dixit, BuzzFeed News
otf  kashmir  india  shutdown  access  blackout  asia  southasia  coronavirus 
20 days ago by dmcdev
Asia’s internet shutdowns are a violation of human rights
"Last month, Myanmar announced it was — again — shutting down mobile data services in one of the country’s most conflict-affected regions. Across the border in Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have lived without internet access in sprawling and overcrowded camps for months. In India’s Kashmir, the world record for a state internet shutdown in a democracy was broken in December. Taken together, all these point to a stark trend across the Asia-Pacific region, where governments are increasingly relying on internet shutdowns to control free speech...Instead of looking for new ways to control and restrict what is said online, governments across Asia should take a cue from civil society and look to champion free speech. The 'Asian century' should be built on openness and debate — not repression and control." - Binaifer Nowrojee, Asia Pacific regional director for the Open Society Foundations, for Financial Times
otf  shutdown  blackout  access  asia  myanmar  Rohingya  india  kashmir  southasia  SoutheastAsia  SEAsia 
22 days ago by dmcdev
Pakistan’s new digital law could prompt social media companies to stop offering services in country
"The biggest threat posed by the new rules is the requirement that social media companies structure their systems to allow for the delivery of any data that government investigators ask for in a decrypted and readable format. In essence, this would mean an end to strong and safe encryption technologies not just in Pakistan, but around the world. No tech company in their right mind would jeopardise their global operations for the sake of a single country’s market. This means, in practical terms, that the impact of the rules will be to push every social media company out of offering services in Pakistan. It would, in essence, cut the country off from the world. This cannot be the future that Pakistanis want." - Michael Karanicolas,
otf  pakistan  asia  southasia  social  law  policy 
26 days ago by dmcdev
We Asked Kashmiris To Tell Us What Living Through A Seven-Month Internet Shutdown Was Like. They Had Lots To Say.
"When the government of Jammu and Kashmir, the region disputed between India and Pakistan, finally allowed the valley’s 7 million residents back online for the first time since August 2019, BuzzFeed News asked them to write to us and tell us, in their own words, what it was like. We received nearly a hundred submissions from Kashmiris who were finally able to access the internet and let us know how they truly felt. Here’s what they said." - Pranav Dixit, BuzzFeed News. Here's a few quotes from Kashmiri residents:

"This is what the totalitarian face of the world’s largest democracy looks like under the surface."

"I was planning to apply for a PhD to a university abroad, but I couldn’t finish my research and missed application deadlines."

"Sometimes, I would dream. In my dreams, the internet would be back, and I’d be on cloud nine."

"I felt like I was in a virtual jail."

"For me, every day of the last seven months has been filled with rage and anxiety."
otf  india  kashmir  shutdown  access  southasia  asia  blackout 
26 days ago by dmcdev
India restores full internet access in Kashmir for 2 weeks
"Indian authorities on Wednesday temporarily revoked a ban on social media sites and restored full internet access in disputed Kashmir for two weeks, seven months after they stripped the restive region of its statehood and semi-autonomy and enforced a total communications blackout. Internet access over mobile devices, however, will remain restricted to slow speed. The restoration of the internet will remain in effect till March 17, a government order said. It gave no explanation of the time limit. A recent Supreme Court order had said the internet ban could not be indefinite. The order issued by the region’s home secretary, Shaleen Kabra, said internet access over fixed lines will be restricted to registered customers." - Aijaz Hussain, AP

+ Cisco denied reports that it is helping the Indian government "to build software to prevent Kashmiris from accessing social media websites in the region," BuzzFeed News reports.
otf  india  kashmir  shutdown  access  blackout  southasia  asia  cisco 
4 weeks ago by dmcdev
Facebook, Google and Twitter Rebel Against Pakistan’s Censorship Rules
"When Pakistan’s government unveiled some of the world’s most sweeping rules on internet censorship this month, global internet companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter were expected to comply or face severe penalties — including the potential shutdown of their services. Instead, the tech giants banded together and threatened to leave the country and its 70 million internet users in digital darkness. Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition, they wrote a scathing letter to Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan. In it, the companies warned that 'the rules as currently written would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.' Their public rebellion, combined with pressure and lawsuits from local civil libertarians, forced the government to retreat. The law remains on the books, but Pakistani officials pledged this week to review the regulations and undertake an 'extensive and broad-based consultation process with all relevant segments of civil society and technology companies.'" - Vindu Goel and Salman Masood, New York Times
otf  pakistan  facebook  google  twitter  social  censorship  southasia  asia 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
In Kashmir, a spree of arrests for alleged ‘misuse’ of social media and VPNs
"In Kashmir, there has been a surge of interest in VPN applications after the government allowed limited access to 329 websites in January, after six months of a complete internet shutdown. Keen to clamp down on VPN use, the security forces first resorted to physical checks of smartphones, as multiple Kashmir residents told Then, on February 17, the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s cyber wing filed a first information report on the alleged 'misuse of social media' through VPNs. The FIR invoked the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code against unknown persons.

According to police officials, there have been no arrests directly under the cyber police’s FIR. But it has kicked into motion several arrests under FIRs filed at the district level. tracked down at least five cases of arrest since February 17, all for social media and VPN use." - Safwat Zargar,

+ Quartz reports on how some Kashmiris have fallen prey to sketchy VPNs in attempting to circumvent the blocks, resulting in lost photos and breached social media accounts.
otf  kashmir  vpn  circumvention  social  india  southasia  asia  access  shutdown  blackout 
5 weeks ago by dmcdev
Kashmir’s Internet Has Been Cut Off For Almost Seven Months, The Longest Blackout In History
"On August 5, India’s government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir a measure of autonomy. The government split the state, a region disputed between India and Pakistan, into two territories. Supporters of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party hailed the move, while Kashmiris, many of whom want to see Kashmir join Pakistan or become independent, were angered. To prevent public opposition from turning into open rebellion, India’s government detained Kashmiri politicians, arrested thousands of activists and academics, and imposed a complete communications blackout. Overnight, mobile phones and landlines stopped working, broadband lines were frozen, and text messaging stopped. Over the last six months, the government has relaxed some of these restrictions: Landline phones came back after five weeks, and in December, people who had postpaid mobile connections found they could make calls again. Last month, texting was allowed again, and eventually large swathes of Kashmir were able to access, at glacial speeds, a few hundred government-approved websites — which excluded social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and messaging apps like WhatsApp. The lockdown continues despite India’s Supreme Court in January deeming “indefinite” suspension of internet services illegal.

'This internet shutdown is a human rights violation,' said Irfan Mehraj, a researcher at the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a federation of human rights organizations in Kashmir that releases an annual report of Kashmir’s human rights situation each year. 'It’s to break the will of the Kashmiri people.'" - Pranav Dixit, BuzzFeed News
otf  india  kashmir  shutdown  access  asia  southasia 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Indian police open case against Kashmir social media users
"Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have registered a case against unidentified internet users who employed virtual private networks, or VPNs, to circumvent a social media ban in the disputed region, police said Tuesday, in an apparent effort to stop their use. Police said they misused social media 'to propagate a secessionist ideology and promote unlawful activities.'

'Hundreds of suspected misusers have been identified and are being probed,' said Tahir Ashraf, who heads the police cyber division in Srinagar, the region’s main city. Police said in a statement Monday that they have seized 'a lot of incriminating material,' adding that the accused could be charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which also allows the government to designate individuals as 'terrorists.' Police officials questioned several users about their social media posts. However, no formal arrests have been made." - Sheikh Saaliq, AP

+ "While surveillance technology has proliferated in India over the last decade, institutional and legal safeguards have not kept pace. The Indian Parliament has yet to enact a data protection law, and the courts have failed to adequately grapple with the ethical and constitutional challenges posed by invasive new technologies. The Indian public, for its part, has largely shrugged off the steady creep of the surveillance state, which now collects huge amounts of data in a legal and judicial vacuum—and at times in open defiance of the law and judicial orders.

"India’s neighbor to the north, China, looms large in international media as an Orwellian state, with its expanding use of facial recognition technology and invasive data collection practices. By contrast, India is often portrayed as a chaotic democracy, its government far weaker and less capable than the fine-tuned autocracy in Beijing. That image belies the changing reality in India, where the government’s embrace of powerful new surveillance technologies increasingly threatens the rights of its people."

- via Foreign Affairs: India’s Growing Surveillance State
otf  kindia  kashmir  vpn  circumvention  social  access  asia  southasia 
6 weeks ago by dmcdev
Pakistan's government approves new social media rules, opponents cry foul
"Under regulations that were approved by the cabinet late last month but were not immediately made public, social media companies will be obliged to help law enforcement agencies access data and to remove online content deemed unlawful. Companies that do not comply with the rules risk being blocked online, according to a copy of the regulations seen by Reuters. The approval of the new rules follows accusations by opposition parties that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has sought to intimidate and silence its opponents and allegations of media censorship. Pakistan’s military has also faced accusations of cracking down on media and free speech." - Asif Shahzad, Reuters

+ Coda Story checks in on the status of Pakistan's launch of a nationwide "web monitoring system", which Coda first reported in October 2019. In a story published today, Coda reports that they received confirmation from the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) that the system " now fully operational across Pakistan."
otf  pakistan  asia  southasia  policy  legislation  social  socialmedia  foe  censorship  content 
7 weeks 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 
7 weeks 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 
8 weeks 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 
8 weeks ago by dmcdev
Pakistan broadcast regulator proposes sweeping control of internet news programs
"The internet increasingly provides a home for news that’s censored on mainstream TV, and for broadcast journalists whose reporting or analysis has caused them to lose their jobs. And the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is poised to stop it. On January 8, PEMRA issued draft regulations that would apply existing rules for broadcast and cable TV news and entertainment programming to the budding area of internet video transmissions.

'The main intent is to silence the critical voices that are using internet TV to get their views across considering that they have already been censored from TV broadcasts,' Usama Khilji, director of the Pakistani digital rights group Bolo Bhi, told CPJ. 'They believe they have a war to fight on the internet, and we are the enemy,' [journalist Munizae] Jahangir said." - Committee to Protect Journalists
otf  pakistan  policy  legislation  regulation  news  media  asia  southasia 
8 weeks ago by dmcdev
Pakistan wants to extend censorship to online video content
"Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Pakistan’s parliament to completely reject a draconian proposal for regulating Web TV and online video streaming services that the authoritarian broadcast media regulator, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), published earlier this month. Using the crude ploy of pretending to seek civil society’s opinions, the PEMRA billed its proposal as a 'Consultation on Regulating Web TV & Over the Top TV (OTT) Content Services' when posting it on the PEMRA website on 8 January. Comments and suggestions could be submitted until 31 January, it said. According to the information obtained by RSF, a parallel and much more drastic proposal for regulating content censorship is currently being circulated to federal government agencies. Civil society has not been fooled. A score of associations issued a joint public call yesterday for both versions to be rejected." - RSF
otf  pakistan  southasia  asia  censorship  video  streaming 
9 weeks ago by dmcdev
India partially lifts internet block in Kashmir
"The Indian government partially revoked its internet shutdown within Jammu and Kashmir over the weekend, allowing people in the union territory to regain internet access to around 300 websites. The partial lift brings an end to a full-blown internet shutdown that had lasted for almost six months. Since August last year, internet, mobile phone, and landline services in Jammu and Kashmir were suspended after the government came to the decision to remove the union territory's partial autonomy...With the official whitelist [PDF], the Home Department expanded the number of accessible websites to 301. Among the whitelisted websites include content platforms, like Netflix and Spotify, as well as international news outlets such as BBC, the New York Times, and Washington Post. " - Campbell Kwan, ZDNet

+ "Why would the government make us see only what it wants us to see? What is it afraid of? Why do I not have the freedom to browse whatever I wish to, on the internet? In this day and age, are you going to tell me not to use Facebook and WhatsApp, and then expect me to gracefully abide?" via Vice: Social Media is Still Banned in Kashmir, But VPNs Come to the Rescue

+ "“One of the reasons why India has so many shutdowns is that the institutional framework enables them...It is a framework where local officials have very broad discretion to order shutdowns." - Jan Rydzak, a research analyst at Ranking Digital Rights in IEEE Spectrum: How India, the World's Largest Democracy, Shuts Down the Internet
otf  india  shutdown  blackout  kashmir  southasia  asia  access  vpn  circumvention 
10 weeks ago by dmcdev
Kashmir blackout eases but restrictions remain
"Mobile internet and social media remain largely blocked in Indian-administered Kashmir, despite a partial easing of curbs imposed when the government revoked its special status in August. Limited broadband service returned to the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, while 2G mobile coverage resumed in parts of Hindu-majority Jammu...The government's move restores a handful of broadband connections to 'institutions dealing with essential services' such as banks, hospitals and government offices and these will be heavily monitored. A government notice explicitly stated that access to social media sites or 'peer-to-peer' messaging services like WhatsApp would not be restored. Furthermore, internet service providers will be expected to install firewalls to prevent access to sites other than specific "white-listed" ones such as government websites." - BBC News
otf  india  kashmir  blackout  shutdown  access  southasia  asia 
11 weeks ago by dmcdev
'A disturbing crackdown on press freedom': Pakistan arbitrarily blocking
"The Pakistani authorities continue their arbitrary blocking of, a U.S based online news magazine that covers current affairs, politics, and culture. This is the second time that the website has been blocked in Pakistan in 2019, and the third time since 2018. Slate was first noticed to be blocked on Pakistani servers in July 2018, reason of which is still unknown. According to the data of [OTF-supported project] Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), the magazine was again blocked in June 2019 for its coverage of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a social movement that demands human rights of the Pashtun community in Pakistan...

"Katie Rayford, Director of Media Relations at Slate, confirmed to the author that their website has experienced a 50 per cent drop in traffic from Pakistan since November 1, 2019. She says:

'It is deeply concerning that Pakistan, a democratic country with a constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression, would once again choose to block a media outlet dedicated to bringing information and truth to readers and listeners around the world. It is even more alarming [that] officials did so without informing us — and more importantly its citizens — about their reason for censoring our reporting. We ask Pakistani officials for full transparency in their decision-making process and to reverse this disturbing crackdown on press freedom.'" - Hija Kamran, Global Voices Advox
otf  pakistan  slate  media  censorship  block  access  asia  southasia 
january 2020 by dmcdev
Bangladesh: Online Surveillance, Control
" Bangladesh authorities are blocking access to online news sites in violation of the right to free speech and access to information, Human Rights Watch said today. The government has also adopted advanced methods to block or conduct surveillance on internet traffic and regulate online news sites without a sufficient legal framework to protect rights to privacy, expression, and access to information. On December 29, 2019, access to the Sweden-based investigative journalism website Netra News was blocked within Bangladesh after it published a report alleging corruption by Obaidul Quader, an influential party leader and a minister in the Awami League government. Bangladesh authorities have previously blocked access to international news sites like Al Jazeera and The Wire for publishing articles that criticized the government. They have also arbitrarily blocked Bangladeshi news websites. 'The Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh continues its march toward authoritarianism, willing only to allow praise, and shutting down criticism,' said Brad Adams, Asia director. 'These restrictions disregard the basic principles of free expression and suggest that the government has plenty to hide.'" - Human Rights Watch
otf  bangladesh  hrw  asia  southasia  news  access  block  censorship  surveillance  privacy 
january 2020 by dmcdev
Overload on train to Kashmir's internet oasis
"Every day the train to Kashmir's remote cyber oasis Banihal is packed as people travel for hours to get online in the disputed region where internet has been cut for five months. The mountain town of fewer than 4,000 people has six internet cafes, which are booming due to a security clampdown by the Indian government. 'The speed is very slow,' admitted Irfan, manager of one of the cafes where customers pay up to 3,000 rupees ($40) an hour to link their laptop to the snail's-pace broadband. 'Scores of Kashmiris, mostly students and income tax professionals, come visiting every day,' said Irfan, who only gave one name. In early August New Delhi made a sudden move to axe Kashmir's semi-autonomous status, shutting down communications and sending tens of thousands of extra troops into what was already one of the world's most militarised zones. While phone calls and very limited text messages are now possible, the internet is still down." - AFP

+ "Indian mobile operators are losing around 24.5 million rupees ($350,000) in revenue every hour they are forced to suspend internet services on government orders to control protests against a new citizenship law, a top lobby group said[.]" via Reuters: India's internet shutdowns costing mobile carriers millions of rupees in lost revenue

+ Quartz: Over 4,000 hours of internet shutdowns cost India more than $1.3 billion in 2019
otf  india  shutdown  kashmir  access  blackout  asia  southasia 
january 2020 by dmcdev
India Adopts the Tactic of Authoritarians: Shutting Down the Internet
"As the government of India pushes increasingly provocative policies, it is using a tactic to stifle dissent that is more commonly associated with authoritarian regimes, not democracies: It is shutting down the internet. India tops the world — by far — in the number of internet shutdowns imposed by local, state and national governments. Last year, internet service was cut in India 134 times, and so far this year, 93 shutdowns have occurred, according to week, citing a threat of violence and false rumors, authorities in the states of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura in northeast India severed connectivity in response to protests against a new citizenship law that critics say would marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims. Much of West Bengal and parts of Uttar Pradesh, two of India’s most populous states, were also put under digital lockdown. With the Kashmir region still languishing offline since August, at least 60 million people have been cut off — roughly the population of France." - Jeffrey Gettleman, Vindu Goel and Maria Abi-Habib, New York Times

+ "China’s state-run mouthpiece on Wednesday published an article defending the country against western criticism of cyber censorship by pointing towards India’s record for shutting down internet services for security reasons...The article in People’s Daily titled 'India’s internet shutdown shows normal practice for sovereign countries' uses internet shutdown in Assam and Meghalaya to defend against US criticism of Chinese orders to stop all internet services in the volatile province of Xinjiang." via The Wire: India's Internet Shutdowns Draw Praise From at Least One Country: China

+ BBC: Why India shuts down the internet more than any other democracy

+ Human Rights Watch: Shutting Down the Internet to Shut Up Critics
otf  india  asia  southasia  shutdown  blackout  access 
december 2019 by dmcdev
India’s Internet shutdown in Kashmir is the longest ever in a democracy
"Each morning at 8:15 a.m., a train pulls out of the station in the Kashmiri capital of Srinagar. Hundreds of passengers cram the cars for the 70-mile journey, packed so tightly they can barely move. Nearly all will return the same day. Kashmiris call the train the Internet Express. It shuttles people out of the Kashmir Valley — where India has shut down access to the Internet for more than four months — to the nearest town where they can get online. On a recent foggy morning, it was full of people hoping to renew driver’s licenses, apply for passports, fill out admissions forms and check email. They included 16-year-old Khushboo Yaqoob, who was rushing to register for a medical school exam. 'If I had any other option, I wouldn’t be here,' she said. The shutdown, which entered its 134th day Monday, is now the longest ever imposed in a democracy, according to Access Now, an international advocacy group that tracks Internet suspensions. Only authoritarian regimes such as China and Myanmar have cut off the Internet for longer." - Niha Masih, Shams Irfan and Joanna Slater, Washington Post
otf  india  shutdown  blackout  asia  southasia  access  kashmir 
december 2019 by dmcdev
India has once again shut down the internet to control protesters
"India shut down the internet in the state of Assam on Thursday, after citizens took to the streets to protest a controversial new citizenship rule. It’s the latest example of a worrying worldwide trend: cutting online access to control the people...On Wednesday, India’s government approved the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which creates a path for citizenship for minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (but not for the country’s Muslim minority). In the state of Assam, where residents have long been unhappy about immigration from nearby Bangladesh, protesters set fire to train stations. The government sent in troops and shut down the internet, according to CNN." - MIT Technology Review
otf  india  shutdown  blackout  southasia  asia 
december 2019 by dmcdev
Pakistan moves to install nationwide 'web monitoring system'
"Pakistan has acquired the services of a controversial Canada-based company to help build a nationwide 'web monitoring system,' Coda Story can reveal. Sandvine is expected to provide equipment for monitoring and analyzing all incoming and outgoing internet traffic from Pakistan. The agreement raises serious concerns about privacy and civil liberties in Pakistan, where government critics have sometimes seen digital retribution from officials and other powerful groups. According to the agreement — a copy of which was exclusively shared with Coda — the contract is worth $18.5 million and dated December 12, 2018. The 'web monitoring system' will use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to monitor communications, measure and record traffic and call data on behalf of the country’s national telecommunications regulator, Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA)." - Umer Ali and Ramsha Jahangir, Coda Story
otf  pakistan  censorship  surveillance  asia  southasia  DPI 
october 2019 by dmcdev
India Shut Down Kashmir’s Internet Access. Now, ‘We Cannot Do Anything.’
"Masroor Nazir, a pharmacist in Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, has some advice for people in the region: Do not get sick, because he may not have any medicine left to help. 'We used the internet for everything,' said Mr. Nazir, 28, whose pharmacy is near the city’s famed clock tower. He said he normally went online to order new drugs and to fulfill requests from other pharmacies in more rural parts of Kashmir Valley. But now, 'we cannot do anything.' As the Indian government’s shutdown of internet and phone service in the contested region enters its 11th day, Kashmir has become paralyzed. Shopkeepers said that vital supplies like insulin and baby food, which they typically ordered online, were running out. Cash was scarce, as metal shutters covered the doors and windows of banks and A.T.M.s, which relied on the internet for every transaction. Doctors said they could not communicate with their patients." - Vindu Goel, Karan Deep Singh and Sameer Yasir, The New York Times
otf  india  shutdown  access  asia  southasia 
august 2019 by dmcdev
India Is the World’s Leader in Internet Shutdowns – Foreign Policy
India's status as the world leader in Internet shutdowns has been highlighted after the Internet was cut off in Kashmir, following the Indian government's announcement that it planned to revoke the region's autonomous status: "Mobile and broadband services were shut down in India-administered Kashmir over the weekend, preceding an announcement by the Indian government to strip the region of its limited autonomy. There is precedent for the government’s move: Internet service was suspended 53 times in the Jammu and Kashmir region so far this year...the number of shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir more than doubled each year from 2015 to 2018—and is on track to increase once again this year. Thanks in large part to Kashmir, the region with the most shutdowns, India has suspended the internet around the country 159 times in the past three years...India recorded more internet shutdowns between January 2016 and June 2018 than Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, and Iran combined." - C.K. Hickey, Foreign Policy
otf  india  shutdown  access  blackout  kashmir  jammu  southasia 
august 2019 by dmcdev
Five Questions on #MeToo in Pakistan: Nighat Dad
In this interview with the Council on Foreign Relations' Meighan Stone, Nighat Dad, "a leading women's activist, lawyer, and executive director of the Digital Rights Foundation" (and also a previous OTF Digital Integrity Fellow) discusses "leveraging the momentum of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in Pakistan," "representing the country’s highest profile #MeToo case," and how her work is helping change "workplaces, and online spaces."
otf  nighatdad  pakistan  drf  digitalrights  asia  southasia  metoo 
july 2019 by dmcdev
Bangladesh government blocks news website in fresh blow to media
"Bangladesh authorities have blocked access to a popular news portal in what critics on Tuesday condemned as the latest blow to freedom of expression in the South Asian nation., one of the country's top five online news outlets, was cut off without notice on Sunday, managing editor Abu Sufian told AFP. He did not give a reason...But a Bangladesh media industry source said a government security agency issued the order after a report published on the website raised questions about the financing behind a newspaper advert against Muslim militancy...The blocking of Poriborton came just days after three prominent activists and writers were arrested under the country's tough internet laws." - AFP
otf  bangladesh  censorship  media  news  access  asia  southasia 
may 2019 by dmcdev
Pakistan’s Undeclared Censorship
"Pakistan’s media houses are working under a climate of fear, which is affecting their coverage and operations. Journalists are increasingly practicing self-censorship to save both their jobs and lives; they are bullied on social media, abducted in broad daylight, and threatened for reporting facts. The government is controlling advertisements for news channels in an attempt to silence them. It is a very sorry situation for media houses that heavily rely on government advertisements. The most recent example is the country’s most-read English language newspaper, Dawn, and its TV channel, whose advertisements were banned on Press Freedom Day...Websites have also been shut down for their critical reporting and extensive coverage of issues the authorities would rather not be covered. The Urdu website of the United States’ Voice of America was shut down in Pakistan in December 2018 allegedly for covering PTM rallies. VOA reporters claim that the Pashto website was blocked months before that. Then-Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry had commented that the websites were blocked for false and prejudiced reporting. However, VOA English wrote in a news story that Pakistani authorities were scrutinizing media coverage of the PTM, blocking VOA websites, and filing police cases against journalists covering its public gatherings. Still, websites are the most popular platform among journalists in Pakistan as they give them space, which is shrinking in mainstream media." - Tehreem Azeem for The Diplomat
otf  pakistan  censorship  media  southasia 
may 2019 by dmcdev
Sri Lanka Has Blocked Most Major Social Networks After A Facebook Post Sparked Anti-Muslim Riots
"Sri Lanka on Monday temporarily banned social networks Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube and instant messaging apps Snapchat, Viber, WhatsApp, and IMO after a Facebook post sparked attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses across several towns on Sunday. The move comes three weeks after jihadist bombers killed at least 300 people in the country, sparking fears of sectarian violence against the country’s minority-Muslim population. On Twitter, Sri Lanka’s largest mobile carrier, Dialog Axiata, confirmed that it had restricted the websites and apps according to a directive from Sri Lanka’s telecom regulator. NetBlocks, a nonprofit organization that tracks internet outages [and formerly a recipient of OTF funding], tweeted that this was the third time in weeks the country had banned social media in the wake of religious tension." - Pranav Dixit, BuzzFeed
otf  srilanka  social  access  southasia  asia  blackout  shutdown 
may 2019 by dmcdev
India election: internet shutdowns continue during polls - @jgriffiths
"India is in the middle of the world's largest election, with more than 900 million people eligible to vote between April 11 and May 19. Despite this grand exercise in political freedom, some Indians are being denied access to the internet for days at a time as they prepare to cast their ballots. Since voting began last month, shutdowns of mobile internet have been reported in the Indian states of Rajasthan, West Bengal and Indian-administered Kashmir, according to the Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), adding to more than 30 recorded already in 2019. According to the SFLC, on April 18, authorities in the Srinagar and Udhampur districts of Indian-administered Kashmir suspended mobile internet access during polling 'as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.' Law and order was also cited as a reason for cutting off mobile internet a couple of days later in Rajasthan's Sikar district. The majority of Indians access the internet via mobile devices. This is in keeping with a massive uptick in internet shutdowns — both mobile and full access — in India in recent years. The number has risen from 79 in 2017 to more than 130 last year." - James Griffiths, CNN
otf  india  asia  southasia  election  shutdown  access  blackout 
may 2019 by dmcdev
The Creeping Rise of India's Internet Shutdowns - @sjash87
"According to a Software Freedom Law Center tracker, there have been more than 300 reported shutdowns in India over the last six years. (And these are just the incidents that have been reported; it’s likely that there have been more.) This data point makes India the leading country for internet shutdowns globally, even surpassing countries like Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. More soberingly, it questions the prevailing assumption that digital authoritarianism is only a problem in authoritarian countries." - Subhodeep Jash, 2019 India-U.S. Fellow at New America
otf  india  shutdown  access  blackout  asia  southasia 
april 2019 by dmcdev
Balochistan’s Great Internet Shutdown
"In late February of 2017, before beginning to collect population census data, 3G/4G mobile internet services were suspended in Kech district. The sole reason given was 'security reasons.' Over two years later, 3G/4G services remain suspended, and now the flood [which hit the region in mid-February] had ensured that even wired internet connections are no longer functioning. Kech is the second most populous district of Balochistan with 900,000 people. Some say it is the intellectual hub of Balochistan. The insurgency-driven district has produced politicians, academicians, bureaucrats, poets, and writers. Caught between the security forces and insurgents, people struggle for a better and peaceful life." - Shah Meer Baloch for The Diplomat
otf  pakistan  shutdown  access  blackout  asia  southasia  balochistan 
march 2019 by dmcdev
Nepal social media bill sparks freedom of speech concerns
"Nepal's government [last week] tabled draft legislation that would impose harsh penalties for "improper" social media posts, igniting concerns it could be used to suppress freedom of speech and stifle dissent. Under the proposed law, the government would have the power to block social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube unless they register in Nepal. And social media posts deemed defamatory or against national sovereignty could be punished with up to five years in jail and a fine of 1.5 million Nepalese rupees ($13,000). No timetable was given for passing the bill, but activists have described it as an attempt to shackle criticism of the powerful communist government, which has a two-thirds majority in parliament.

'The bill is against the freedom of expression and justice as it criminalises online expression,' Tara Nath Dahal of Freedom Forum, a media freedom organisation, told AFP. The government has defended the bill, saying it is needed to ensure data and internet security." - AFP
otf  nepal  southasia  social  censorship  access 
march 2019 by dmcdev
India Proposes Chinese-Style Internet Censorship
"India’s government has proposed giving itself vast new powers to suppress internet content, igniting a heated battle with global technology giants and prompting comparisons to censorship in China. Under the proposed rules, Indian officials could demand that Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok and others remove posts or videos that they deem libelous, invasive of privacy, hateful or deceptive. Internet companies would also have to build automated screening tools to block Indians from seeing 'unlawful information or content.' Another provision would weaken the privacy protections of messaging services like WhatsApp so that the authorities could trace messages back to their original senders.

The new rules could be imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government anytime after the public comment period ends on Thursday night. The administration has been eager to get them in place before the date is set for this spring’s national elections, which will prompt special pre-election rules limiting new policies. Civil liberties groups and other critics said the changes would violate constitutional protections for free speech and privacy and put India in the same league as autocratic countries like China and Russia. Some of them suggested that the Modi administration was rushing to adopt the regulations so it could more easily pressure the tech platforms to remove social media posts by political opponents in the coming election."
otf  india  censorship  access  foe  speech  southasia 
february 2019 by dmcdev
WhatsApp to push back against Indian crackdown on encryption
"WhatsApp is gearing up to fight the Indian government’s proposals to force tech companies to hand over the personal data and encrypted messages of hundreds of millions of Indians.

The Facebook-owned messaging app has more than 210m users in India, making the country its largest market by far. But over the past year, the company has been under growing pressure from New Delhi to find ways to clamp down on fake news and incendiary rumours circulating through its systems, especially after a series of lynch mobbings by crowds of angry villagers incited by inflammatory WhatsApp messages.

India’s telecoms regulator and IT ministry have both proposed laws that would allow authorities to trace the origins of encrypted messages. The legislation would also compel tech companies including Facebook, Twitter and Apple — whose iMessage system is also end-to-end encrypted — to proactively monitor and remove objectionable content posted on their platforms. The government has opened a consultation, which will close at the end of the month." - Madhumita Murgia, Financial Times
otf  india  southasia  whatsapp  encryption  privacy 
january 2019 by dmcdev
Bangladesh: Crackdown on Social Media
"The Bangladesh government has embarked upon intensive and intrusive surveillance and monitoring of social media ahead of national elections, raising concern over a chilling effect on speech, Human Rights Watch said [last week]. Draconian new laws and policies are being used to target political opponents, journalists, internet commentators, and broadcasters. National elections are due in Bangladesh by January 2019. Opposition parties and independent observers fear that the increasing crackdown on privacy and free expression is an attempt to limit speech and criticism of the government in the election period. The government claims these efforts are to stem harmful rumors, false information, or objectionable content to maintain law and order. 'Bangladesh is using claims about public security to silence opponents and critics,' said Brad Adams, Asia director. 'The government’s surveillance practices are violating the rights to privacy and freedom of expression ahead of the elections.'"
otf  bangladesh  asia  southasia  elections  foe  social  speech 
october 2018 by dmcdev
South Asian governments keep ordering internet shutdowns — and leaving users in the dark
Throughout India and in Bangladesh, governments in South Asia are increasingly shutting down the internet during times of political activity and protest, writes Afef Abrougui for Global Voices Advocacy: "When students in Dhaka, Bangladesh launched public protests demanding road safety after a speeding bus killed two students on July 29, mobile internet connections suddenly were no more. When the protests turned violent on August 3, after rumors of rape and kidnapping triggered confrontations between police and protesters, authorities resorted to shutting down 3G and 4G networks in and around Dhaka...The measures made it impossible to share multimedia and live video, which many protesters were using in an effort to show what actually was happening on the streets, in real time, and to debunk false claims. Telecom operators in Bangladesh gave subscribers no explanation of the cut in service. These measures are not unique to Bangladesh. They represent part of a growing trend across South Asia, where access to networks or platforms is restricted or completely shut down when protests or violence erupts, and the public is left in the dark, with little or no information about what causes these shutdowns."
otf  southasia  india  bangladesh  shutdown  access  blackout 
september 2018 by dmcdev
Toward a safe and open Internet in Pakistan – @thenetmonitor
The Berkman Klein Center's Internet Monitor sat down for a conversation with lawyer and human rights activist Nighat Dad, founder of the Pakistan-based Digital Rights Foundation (DRF). Dad, a former OTF Digital Integrity Fellow, talks about DRF's work promoting internet freedom in Pakistan, accomplished through policy advocacy, trainings custom-made for journalists and women in the country, and other efforts aimed at countering online harassment, stalking, and the other forms of violence experienced regularly by women and other at-risk groups.

"'Honestly, I just started looking up international practices, seeing what other countries do. Even developed countries, to my surprise, were not really addressing the issue the way that they should.' Dad found that around the world, states and law enforcement were struggling to address crimes that occur online. 'In some parts of the world, like Pakistan, it wasn’t even an issue people were seriously considering.' Dad found that the challenge for her and her team was convincing people that what happens online can be a human rights violation at all...Pakistan has suffered frequent Internet shutdowns, while Dad and the Digital Rights Foundation have tried to show Pakistani citizens that those events are violations of their rights...'My mission was that the demand for good legislation, or demand for the government to do something about this issue should come from the public or Internet users, not digital rights organizations,' Dad said."
otf  pakistan  asia  southasia  harassment  stalking  difp  nighatdad 
august 2018 by dmcdev
India's internet shutdowns cost the economy billions of dollars
Through the first seven months of 2018, there have been more than 90 internet shutdowns in India. Those shutdowns - usually in response to political activities - have come at a cost, with one expert estimating that the Indian economy has suffered productivity losses somewhere "between $1 billion to $3 billion," reports Sushma U N for Quartz. Some say the increase in shutdowns may be aided by the lack of clarity around the legality of when a shutdown is sanctioned and by what authority.

"In recent years, various regional governments and authorities have displayed a growing tendency to simply switch off internet connectivity to contain social and political disturbances. It has already peaked this year. In just the first seven months of 2018, there have been 92 such incidents across the country; in all of 2017, there were only 79, according to data from The website’s findings are based on data collected by New Delhi-based pro bono legal services firm Software Freedom Law Center...'The economic impact itself is very high because our entire economy is gravitating towards internet connectivity,' said Praveen Bhadada, partner at Zinnov Management Consulting. 'The estimate is anywhere between $1 billion to $3 billion of productivity losses'...What India needs to do now is to work on clear guidelines on when such shutdowns can be ordered. While India’s telecom regulator allows for shutdowns, there is ambiguity around when and why this can be done."
otf  india  southasia  asia  shutdown  access 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Monitoring internet disruptions during Pakistan's elections
Pakistan is holding general elections on Wednesday, July 25th, and digital rights groups Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), NetBlocks, Access Now, and Bolo Bhi will be monitoring for signs of disruptions to Internet connectivity. Last week, DRK and Bolo Bhi called on Pakistan's caretaker government to "ensure mobile and digital accessibility" as the elections get under way, which "some say appears to be a 'democratic coup' of sorts" (BBC). On July 20, mobile Internet services were suspended in the Balochistan province (, raising fears that more shutdowns could be in the works.

Pakistani news site has a live election blog going, which you can check out here
otf  pakistan  southasia  election  shutdown  access 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Government data shows 21 unreported internet shutdowns in India
India's Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC.IN) as been tracking internet shutdowns in the country for years, and in that time the organization has seen "a staggering increase in the number and frequency of shutdowns," rising from a total of 3 in 2012 to 70 shutdowns during 2017. That total has already nearly been surpassed this year, with 68 recorded shutdown incidents thus far. SFLC.IN recently filed a FOIA-like request to the government to see if there were any unreported shutdowns, and found 21 such cases. The group, otherwise mostly relies on media reports to track internet shutdowns, has a list of list of the 21 unreported shutdowns on the blog post linked to above.

SFLC.IN: "We at have been tracking incidents of Internet shutdowns across India in an attempt to draw attention towards the number and frequency of shutdowns, which are imposed for reasons ranging from curbing unrest to preventing cheating during examinations. This data is made publicly available in the form of an interactive Internet Shutdown Tracker hosted on our dedicated website, which also features additional resources on the topic...And as of July 2018, 68 shutdowns have already been recorded across 14 states, bringing the total number of shutdowns recorded since 2012 to 197. It’s worth noting that this number is the highest anywhere in the world."
otf  india  shutdown  asia  southasia 
july 2018 by dmcdev
Study reveals extent of Awami Workers political party website block in Pakistan: @netblocks
A study by NetBlocks (a previously OTF-supported project) conducted in coordination with the Pakistan-based Digital Rights Foundation shows evidence of the website of the left-leaning Awami Workers Party being blocked as the country gears up for its upcoming general elections, scheduled for July 25th.

From the NetBlocks blog: "The extensive study conducted on Sunday 3 June 2018, spanning 73 autonomous networks and comprising some 10,000 measurements using network digital forensic techniques reveals that the political party’s website has been blocked by most, but not all, Pakistani internet service providers throughout the country. Both the TLS-secured https edition and standard http edition of the party’s website were found to be affected. Providers implementing the block, which has been criticised on human rights grounds as a violation of the right to free expression and right to political speech during the pre-election period, include national provider PCTL, Wateen and Nayatel...The measurements were made using the NetBlocks web probes measurement technique, which uses the vantage points of volunteers based inside and outside the country to build a comprehensive view of reachability of online properties."
otf  pakistan  netblocks  measurement  research  southasia  asia  election  censorship 
june 2018 by dmcdev
2017 was the worst year ever for internet freedom in India
India has shut down the internet 124 times, with over half of those instances coming in 2017, according to the New Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC). Says Ananya Bhattacharya for Quartz, "Authorities cut off internet access 65 times during the past year, more than double the number of times (31) in 2016..the strife-hit northern state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) saw 29 instances of the internet being shut down, mainly as a precautionary measure during gunfights between soldiers and militants...Rajasthan came second, with nine shutdowns, mostly due to communal tension and farmer protests...[and] in Punjab and its capital Chandigarh, the union territory which it shares with the state of Haryana, access was blocked for the first time in five years."
otf  india  shutdown  access  southasia 
january 2018 by dmcdev
Pakistan closes 27 NGOs in what activists see as widening crackdown
Free speech and humanitarian work are being further restricted in Pakistan as 27 NGOs were given 90 days to conclude operations in the country in what activists say is a crackdown on NGO activity. Saad Sayeed of Reuters reports: "Among those being expelled are Action Aid, World Vision, Plan International, Trocaire, Pathfinder International, Danish Refugee Council, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Oxfam Novib, and Marie Stopes. Talal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Affairs, told Reuters the reason for shutting down the NGOs was because they were doing work in Pakistan 'which is beyond their mandate and for which they have no legal justification'...Pakistan has hardened its stance towards domestic and international NGOs in recent years, requiring them to undertake a painstaking registration process and clear multiple bureaucratic hurdles to continue working in the country."
otf  pakistan  ngo  humanrights  southasia 
december 2017 by dmcdev
Right To Information Requests in Sri Lanka Reveals Process for Blocking Websites
When Sri Lankan citizen journalist group called Groundviews submitted a request for government information around the blockages of websites during the past two years through a FOIA-like "Right to Information (RTI)" request, they didn't receive all the answers they wanted, but did glean info around what sites are blocked and the legal procedure behind those blocks. "The information released by the [Telecommunications Regulatory Commission] revealed that 13 websites had been blocked from 2015...The supporting documentation provided showed the process behind the blocking of each of the websites named in the letter. While it was the Media Ministry who issued the final order to the TRC, the initial order came directly from as high up as the Presidential Secretariat, for at least four of the websites. This letter, signed by then Presidential Secretary P B Abeykoon, notes that the listed websites have reached the president’s attention. Some of the Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) flagged clearly link to specific articles rather than an entire website." - GroundViews, via Global Voices Advocacy
otf  srilanka  southasia  block  access  censorship 
december 2017 by dmcdev
How Pakistan blocked news outlets, social media sites, and IM apps amidst protests - @OpenObservatory
OONI analyzes how the Pakistani government blocked access to several social media and news outlets last week amid violent Islamist protests in the capital of Islamabad. Demonstrators were demanding the resignation of Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid after he failed to include reference to the Prophet Muhammad in a revised edition of the country's electoral oath - an error protesters deemed 'blasphemous.' OONI data "confirm[s] the DNS-based blocking of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram...[and] the DNS blocking of 14 news websites, as well as the censorship of applications including Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and WhatsApp’s web interface. All of these censorship events were temporarily implemented last weekend, and are no longer in place."
otf  pakistan  social  censorship  access  blackout  southasia  protest 
november 2017 by dmcdev
Dissident website 'blocked' in Sri Lanka
"Access to a dissident website that often publishes articles critical of Sri Lanka's government has been blocked in the country, the portal's administrators said Thursday, as activists expressed alarm over deteriorating press freedom on the island.

The popular London-based Lanka E News became inaccessible in the country on Thursday, a day after publishing an expose alleging graft within the office of President Maithripala Sirisena in the procurement of state vehicles.

A source at a private service provider told AFP that Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) has ordered internet service providers 'to block Lanka E News' across the island, but requested anonymity for fear of repercussions.

The website's administrators posted on their home page that readers in Sri Lanka had been blocked from accessing their content." - AFP
otf  acccess  srilanka  southasia  censorship  block  circumvention 
november 2017 by dmcdev
"We cannot be what we cannot see": maps gaps in research in gender and information society
New research from the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) looks at "...the complicated ways in which identities are being formed around new interactive practices, particularly for young Dalit women. This article probes the ways in which caste, gender and ideology/practices of technology are interlinked in India, and how women and young girls from the Dalit community in South Asia (India in particular) are living, sharing and exploring on the internet, and fashioning news spaces and collectives online."
otf  dalit  apc  gender  india  southasia 
october 2017 by dmcdev
Pakistan’s requests to remove Twitter accounts doubled in six months: report
"The number of requests made by Pakistani authorities to Twitter for removal of accounts and information has doubled since last year, according to a bi-annual transparency report of the social networking website. Between January and June 30, the government asked Twitter to remove 24 accounts, and over 80 accounts were reported, with zero compliance. According to Nighat Dad from the Digital Rights Foundation, there has been strict monitoring of Twitter and other social networking websites since some bloggers disappeared earlier this year." - Tooba Masood, Dawn
otf  pakistan  nighatdad  southasia  twitter  social  censorship  surveillance 
september 2017 by dmcdev
The internet has been shut down in Pakistan’s FATA for more than a year
"On June 12, 2016, 4.5 million FATA residents woke up to another intentional government internet suspension—one that targeted 3G/4G and portable internet devices, which accounted for most of the access in FATA. The shutdown emerged in the wake of armed clashes between Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Torkham border on June 11, 2016. The authorities took immediate measures by suspending the few available mobile-based internet services in all seven agencies, or regions, of FATA. More than a year later, the shutdown is still ongoing." - Hija Kamran, Slate
otf  pakistan  fata  access  southasia  shutdown 
august 2017 by dmcdev
A Handy Guide to Decide How Safe That Safety App Will Really Keep You
Safety apps are increasingly popular in India, but a closer look at the security of such apps shows many may not be as safe as they claim. Gendering Surveillance reviewed 50 such apps to check out their functionality, usability, and related security concerns.
otf  india  harassment  security  safety  southasia 
august 2017 by dmcdev
Abuse in Pakistan: 'I’m more scared of harassment online than offline'
"The country’s first cyber harassment helpline is providing legal and psychological support to women facing threats on social media platforms," writes Sabrina Toppa for The Guardian. OTF supported the launch of the hotline, which "has received more than 700 calls [pdf] from women seeking help. On average, the helpline fields more than 80 calls a month, more than 60% of which are from women."
otf  pakistan  drf  nighatdad  difp  southasia  harassment 
august 2017 by dmcdev
India blocks access to the Internet Archive, 2,600+ file sharing sites
"Access to the Internet Archive is being barred within India.

The move appears to be the result of two Bollywood production companies attempting to stop pirated copies of their films being viewed online within the country.

A government agency emailed the BBC copies of the court orders involved.

They list 2,650 websites that a judge ordered internet providers to block. Most are file-sharing services, but the Internet Archive is also included.

The San Francisco-based non-profit is best known for its Wayback Machine - an online tool that allows the public to see old versions of websites. It contains more than 302 billion saved web pages." - Leo Kelion, BBC News
otf  india  wayback  internetarchive  censorship  southasia 
august 2017 by dmcdev
Free speech: In massive internet crackdown, Pakistan goes after critics on social media
"Since mid-May, the cyber wing of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency has arrested dozens of people under the newly enacted Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 for criticising the government on social media. The crackdown was ordered by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan after the military received a barrage of criticism regarding its handling of the investigation into the 'Dawn Leaks' case.

The case refers to a report published by the Dawn newspaper in October that exposed the power struggle between the political government and the military high command over the actions of militant groups that the government claimed had led to Pakistan’s growing international isolation. An inquiry by the prime minister’s office established the story was based on the minutes of a meeting that had been leaked to the media by a government functionary, who was subsequently removed. On May 10, the military’s media affairs wing tweeted its rejection of the government’s findings, but withdrew the tweet after it was severely criticised for undermining democracy." - Matthew Marcus,
otf  pakistan  southasia  social  facebook  media  press  foe  speech  netfreedom 
august 2017 by dmcdev
The Internet Policymaking Landscape in Pakistan
A new report from the Internet Policy Observatory looks at policymaking, the telecom industry, legal framework, and censorship in Pakistan. "This is the first study focused on Pakistan that attempts to map the country’s internet policymaking process, identify its stakeholders, and analyse the strengths and shortcomings of each...Via interviews with key stakeholders, this study reveals Pakistan’s ad-hoc, reactionary, internet policymaking, as well as a state apparatus, including the bureaucracy, politicians, and the judiciary, that has little technological understanding and hence mandates orders that are ineffective, undemocratic, and draconian. The blockages of Facebook in 2010, and of YouTube in 2008 and from 2013 to 2016 are testimony to the government’s tendency toward knee-jerk reactions to perceived challenges online." - Internet Policy Observatory
otf  pakistan  research  policy  southasia 
august 2017 by dmcdev
Crackdown on Online Criticism Chills Pakistani Social Media
"[T]he Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, was widely promoted as a tool to punish internet activity by banned militant groups and curb online sexual harassment. But in recent months it has increasingly been used to crack down on those who have gone online with criticism of the government and, particularly, the military.

Civil rights advocates, as well as people directly targeted by the authorities, have described actions that included harassment, intimidation, and detention without access to lawyers or family members. In a few cases, physical abuse of those in custody was reported.

More subtly, the campaign has also injected a distinct chill into a Pakistani social media scene long known for boldness and rollicking satire." - Mehreen Zahra-Malik, New York Times
otf  pakistan  southasia  asia  social  speech  foe  twitter  facebook 
july 2017 by dmcdev
.@DigitalRightsPK Cyber Harassment Helpline's six month report highlights impact of online violence in Pakistan
Dights Rights Foundation Pakistan's latest report assesses their cyber harassment helpline through 6 months of operations. Among the findings: The Helpline received 763 complaints, mostly from women (63%), with an average of 82 calls per month. Read the full report at link above (pdf).
otf  pakistan  southasia  harassment  drf  privacy 
july 2017 by dmcdev
How @nighatdad is fighting online harassment and abuse in Pakistan
Recognising there was an urgent need [for assistance to women feeling unsafe or attacked online], Dad expanded her operations and launched Pakistan’s first cyber harassment helpline. Now, Dad and her team of 12 – including a counsellor – field up to 20 calls a day.

The cases range from women wanting advice on social media security settings to more serious problems. “Every single day we are resolving these issues. There are issues of identity theft, blackmail, there are women filmed being raped and then blackmailed to prevent it going online,” says Dad.

“Technology is ever changing, so violence in the online spaces has also increased. It has become doxing, sextortion and revenge porn. It’s massive.” - Halima Ali, The Guardian
otf  pakistan  nighatdad  difp  southasia  harassment  awareness  privacy  foe 
july 2017 by dmcdev
#Pakistan: Regulating social media
An op-ed on the regulation of social media in Pakistan, published in Dawn: "‘National security’ has become a rug under which all dissent can be swept, abetted by a murky cybercrime law. In such a climate, it is necessary that any measures to regulate social media have clearly stated and precise parameters, and that these measures are made transparent to the public. The state must unequivocally target the hate speech of extremists, while recognising that the path to mending our fractured polity requires respecting, not fearing, its peaceful citizens’ right to free speech."
otf  pakistan  social  southasia  access  foe  speech 
july 2017 by dmcdev
WhatsApp warriors on the new frontline of Kashmir’s conflict
The role of technology and social media, including WhatsApp and Facebook, in the the ongoing Kashmir conflict, during which social media sites and the internet itself have been shut down multiple times in recent years. Article by Michael Safi for The Guardian.
otf  kashmir  india  southasia  whatsapp 
july 2017 by dmcdev
Internet censorship in India is on the rise
"The nation has shut down the internet in various regions 20 times in the first five months of this year, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. Four of those blackouts have taken place this month, all in states where violent protests took place.

That represents a dramatic uptick from last year, when 31 shutdowns were recorded in total, and an even greater increase since 2012 -- which saw only three shutdowns." - Rishi Iyengar, CNN
otf  india  shutdown  access  censorship  blackout  asia  southasia 
june 2017 by dmcdev
#India: 20 Internet Shutdowns in 2017 - @hrw
"State governments have imposed 20 internet shutdowns so far in 2017, including by four states in June. Shutdowns in response to campaigns on social media and mobile mass messaging applications spreading false and even incendiary information have frequently been disproportionate. The authorities have failed to follow legal procedures, undermined stated objectives of preventing rumors or panic, and ordered unnecessary shutdowns such as to prevent cheating in examinations.

'Indian authorities’ concerns over the misuse of the internet and social media should not be the default option to prevent social unrest,' said Meenakshi Ganguly, [Human Rights Watch] South Asia director. 'The lack of transparency and failure to explain these shutdowns only further the perception that they are meant to suppress nonviolent reporting and criticism of the government.'" - Human Rights Watch
otf  india  asia  southasia  shutdown  access  blackout  censor  censorship 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Police Threaten Maldivian Bloggers Abroad With Arrest Over Twitter
"Four independent Maldivian bloggers and activists living overseas have been issued arrest warrants by police over the past week. Police have also threatened to seek prosecution in absentia if the bloggers fail to return to the Maldives within two weeks.

Police put out warrants for Muzaffar ‘Muju’ Naeem, Hani Amir, Dr. Azra Naseem, and Aishath Velezinee via separate press releases and in public tweets. This was the warrant sent to blogger Muju Naeem, a pro-democracy and secularist blogger from Maldives who has been living in voluntary self-exile nearly five years." - Rezwan, Global Voices Advox
otf  maldives  blogger  bloggers  asia  southasia  speech  foe 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Digital India Is No Country for Women. Here's Why
"Only 29% of India’s internet users are women. Unless this digital gender divide is bridged, India’s aggressive push towards digitisation will further entrench the political, economic and social marginalisation of women. The bulk of policy and commercial interventions focus on improving access to internet services by upgrading spectrum and broadband infrastructure and bringing down the costs to individual users, in addition to facilitating the uptake of digital technologies through programs for digital skilling. Isolated technical solutions however, will be inadequate to address the social and cultural roots of India’s digital gender divide." - Urvashi Aneja, The Wire
otf  india  gender  society  equality  social  awareness  southasia 
june 2017 by dmcdev
Measuring Pakistani Women's Experiences of Online Violence [pdf] - @DigitalRightsPK
"Over the course of 2016, Digital Rights Foundation trained close to 1,800 women
throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan. This report compiles together data
collected during the 17 sessions that had been conducted in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Gilgit, to create the first ever set of data around online
harassment and electronic violence against women [e-VAW] in Pakistan. The study will
map different aspects of online harassment and e-VAW, along with a look at how
women use digital tools on the whole." - Digital Rights Foundation
otf  pakistan  research  difp  nighat  nighatdad  violence  southasia  asia 
may 2017 by dmcdev
Pakistan: Escalating Crackdown on Internet Dissent | Human Rights Watch
"On May 10, 2017, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) sent a text message to millions of citizens warning against sharing 'blasphemous' content on social media and asking them to report such content. On May 14, the interior minister, Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, ordered the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) to take immediate action against “all those dishonoring the Pakistan Army through social media.'

'The Pakistani government’s crackdown on online expression will put dissenting voices at a greater risk in an already toxic environment,' said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. 'The government should focus on protecting those at risk of being attacked for their opinions instead of encouraging violence against them.'

These new government measures threaten greater censorship, arbitrary arrests of critical internet voices, and violence by militant groups against religious minorities and critics, Human Rights Watch said." - Human Rights Watch
otf  pakistan  asia  southasia  dissent  speech  foe 
may 2017 by dmcdev
Bangladesh’s LGBT Community Launches a Blog Commemorating Slain Activists
"On the first anniversary of the killings [of LGBT magazine editor Xulhaz Mannan and LGBT activist Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy], Boys of Bangladesh, the largest network of self-identified Bangladeshi gay men from home and abroad, launched a Bangla-language blog called Dhee to commemorate the victims and raise awareness of the plight of the LGBT community in the conservative Muslim-majority nation...The blog features pieces by members of the LGBT community remembering Mannan and Tonoy and explaining the fear they now live with since their deaths. The authors are kept anonymous, and even the email address of the commenters are withheld for safety reasons." - Pantha, Global Voices Advocacy
otf  bangladesh  southasia  lgbt  gay  activist  activism  humanrights  asia  speech  foe 
may 2017 by dmcdev
Outspoken Maldives Blogger Who Challenged Radical Islamists Is Killed
"A liberal blogger who wrote satirical critiques of the Maldivian government and the spread of radical Islam died Sunday after being stabbed in the stairway of his apartment building.

The blogger, Yameen Rasheed, 29, had complained repeatedly to the police about receiving death threats, he said in an interview with The New York Times this year, adding that the police often failed to return his calls or dropped his complaints without investigation.

'In my case, I get multiple kinds of death threats from different people, because I write and do the campaign,' he said. Mr. Rasheed was a coordinator of a campaign to find his friend Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a journalist for The Maldives Independent who was abducted in 2014." - Hassan Moosa and Kai Schultz, New York Times
otf  maldives  asia  southasia  blogger  bloggers  speech  media  activism  violence 
april 2017 by dmcdev
Pakistani university student killed after allegedly posting 'blasphemous' content online
"A student of Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan was killed and another injured by a vigilante mob for allegedly publishing blasphemous content online, local police said Thursday.

At least 15 people were arrested in connection with the incident, which occurred within the university premises. The campus was shut down until further notice. The hostels were vacated and a search for the remaining culprits was ongoing, police said.

Mardan's Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Alam Shinwari said the killed student was accused of running Facebook pages which allegedly published blasphemous content." - Ali Akbar and Hassan Farhan, Dawn
otf  pakistan  southasia  violence  speech  facebook  social 
april 2017 by dmcdev
Bangladesh considering overnight Facebook block
"The government says it has yet to decide whether it will shut down social networking site Facebook for six hours every night...Telecom Ministry sources said the government is planning to block Facebook for six hours every night from 12am as use of this particular social networking site late at night is affecting the students and their studies." - Syed Samiul Basher Anik, Dhaka Tribune
otf  bangladesh  asia  southasia  facebook  social  access  censorship 
april 2017 by dmcdev
‘Keep Us Online,’ says a new campaign by the @internetfreedom Foundation against internet shutdowns in India
"The Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), comprising of technologists, lawyers, journalists and activists who believe in a free and fair internet, have launched a new campaign today against internet shutdowns in India...The campaign will take the form of a petition to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (with copies to Union Minister for IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, and Minister of State for IT, Manoj Sinha) asking the Union government to introduce credible measures to stop the indiscriminate usage of internet shutdowns for reasons such as preventing riots, national security, and even to prevent cheating in exams. Through the campaign, the activists aim to demonstrate that these measures are actually not effective, and that internet shutdowns create huge disruptions in the lives of ordinary people in an increasingly digital-dependent world." - Shrabonti Bagchi, Factor Daily. The IFF campaign features an interactive map tracing internet shutdowns in India since 2010, which can be viewed here:
otf  india  shutdown  access  censorship  asia  southasia  campaign  activism 
march 2017 by dmcdev
Pakistan’s Missing Activists and the State’s War on Online Anonymity
The turn of the millennium and the accompanying internet boom changed [Pakistan's control over the media]. The advent and surge of social media in the past ten years threw the cat among the pigeons. All of a sudden, you no longer needed to dig up condemned literature, be in touch with exiled activists, or catch signals from neighboring TV or radio stations to access the counter-narrative.

Religion, nationalism, military, history — every idea was losing its monolith status, and every question that had hitherto been reviled as blasphemous, treasonous, or at the very least contemptuous, had become a multiple choice question with the answers just a few clicks away. - Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, The Diplomat
otf  pakistan  asia  southasia  bloggers  speech  press  humanrights  censorship 
january 2017 by dmcdev
Resources on press freedom and digital security for #SouthAsia journalists - @ifjasiapacific
Recent reports include "Breaking the Walls: The fight for freedom of expression in the digital space in South Asia" and "Safer, Smarter Journalism: Survey on Digital Security in South Asia’s Media." - SAMSN Digital Hub
otf  southasia  security  press  journalism  speech  pressfreedom  digitalsecurity 
june 2016 by dmcdev
Mobile Internet Blocked, Strike Called As Patel Groups, Police Clash In Gujarat: 10 Facts
"Mobile internet services [in India] have been blocked in Ahmedabad, Surat and two other cities in Gujarat, after protesters demanding the release from jail of 23-year-old activist Hardik Patel clashed with the police." The censorship occurred "to prevent protests sparked by the spread of rumours. As word about the Mehsana clash had spread, protesters gathered in Surat and the police used tear-gas and batons to disperse them." - NDTV
otf  india  blackout  censorship  access  patel  southasia 
april 2016 by dmcdev
“We Will Choke You”: How Indian Women Face Fatal Threats on Facebook While Trolls Roam Free
When Global Voices contributor Inji Pennu set out to write about Preetha G Nair, the feminist activist who briefly lost access to her Facebook account after facing a deluge of misogynistic harassment, she was seeking to support a woman who reminded her very much of herself.

What Inji got instead was much of the same—brutal harassment and threats of violence. One Facebook user threatened to choke her. Two days later, on August 4, Inji's Facebook account was suspended. - Sahar Habib Ghazi, Global Voices Advocacy
otf  India  facebook  southasia  speech  harassment  awareness 
august 2015 by dmcdev

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