Netizen Report: China Cracks Down on Internet in Tibet

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 6 2013 11:10 AM

Netizen Report: China Cracks Down on Internet in Tibet

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The Dalai Lama prays with believers as he visits the Vien Giac Pagode and the Buddhist Monastery in Hanover, Germany

Photo by HOLGER HOLLEMANN/AFP/Getty Images

The Netizen Report originally appears each week on Global Voices Advocacy. Hae-in Lim, Lisa Ferguson, Renata Avila, Ellery Roberts Biddle, and Sarah Myers contributed to this report.

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Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This week's report begins in Tibet, where Chinese party chief Chen Quanguo has announced plans to prevent the Dalai Lama’s “propaganda” from reaching the public. Quanguo claims the spiritual leader has incited dissent—and even self-immolation—in Tibet. Officials reportedly plan to confiscate illegal satellite dishes, increase monitoring of online content, and require real-name registration of telephone and Internet users. China Digital Times notes similar claims were made in 2012, but the recent announcement indicates the revival of hard-line policies toward Tibet.

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Free Expression: Are Korean gamers dangerously addicted to StarCraft?
South Korea’s national legislature has proposed a bill that would regulate online gaming under a policy regime similar to that applied to drugs and alcohol, treating it as a major addictive element meriting government control. The proposal has drawn criticism from gamers and industry leaders alike.

In Vietnam, Dinh Nhat Uy was sentenced to 15 months in prison after using Facebook to campaign for the release of his brother, who was jailed for distributing anti-state propaganda. Dinh was convicted of violating criminal code Article 258, which censures those who “abuse freedoms to infringe upon the state.” Several of the supporters gathered outside of the courthouse during Dinh’s trial were arrested.

Individuals representing Anonymous hacked Singapore’s main newspaper, the Straits Times, making good on its promise to “wage war” on the Singaporean government for its new media-licensing requirements. Enacted in June 2013, the regulations prohibit websites with more than 50,000 visitors from publishing “prohibited content” that “undermines racial or religious harmony.” Singapore’s Government IT Security Incident Response Team alerted all government agencies to the possibility of attacks after Anonymous posted a warning video on Oct. 29.

India’s Election Commission released a set of guidelines for the use of social media for campaigning. All candidates will have to declare their social media accounts, and political parties will have to pre-certify advertisements with the Election Commission before they are placed on social media websites. In addition, candidates and parties will have to adhere to a moral code of conduct in their social media use—according to the Times of India, this will prohibit candidates from engaging in “personal attacks” or promoting “communal hatred."

Surveillance: Europol director thinks “anonymity is dangerous.”
Representatives from Europol and the Dutch National Police argued before at a computer security conference that they should be allowed to hack into computers in order to collect evidence on cybercrime. Discussing a law due to come before Dutch parliament, Europol Assistant Director Troels Oerting argued that the differences between cybercrime and traditional crime require new tools for policing. “I think that we need to have a balance between privacy, which I think we should respect, and anonymity, which I think is dangerous,” Oerting said.

The Russian government is expanding its surveillance requirements for Russian ISPs in a decree due to come into force next year. Under the decree (link in Russian), ISPs will be required to monitor all Internet traffic, IP addresses, telephone numbers, and usernames, and traffic will have to be stored for 12 hours after collection.

The German Federation of Journalists, which represents about 38,000 journalists, advised its members not to use Google or Yahoo for email and search engine services, citing possible surveillance by the NSA and by U.K. spy agency GCHQ. This follows the Washington Post’s revelations last week about MUSCULAR, a joint effort by the NSA and GCHQ to tap into the fiber-optic cables connecting Google and Yahoo data centers.

The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court revealed that no telecommunications company has ever challenged the court’s orders for bulk phone records under the Patriot Act, despite there being a mechanism for doing so. But the court’s claims contrast with those of some Internet companies that say they fought against NSA surveillance: Yahoo is petitioning the court to disclose an incident in 2008 in which it claims it refused to comply with NSA data requests until compelled by the court.

Industry: Apple disclosed data for somewhere between zero and 1,000 user accounts.
Apple released its first transparency report yesterday. The report offers some information about the number of user data requests the company received from different governments. In the preface, the company explains: "The US government has given us permission to share only a limited amount of information about these orders, with the requirement that we combine national security orders with account-based law enforcement requests and report only a consolidated range in increments of 1000." The report thus states that the company disclosed content data for "0-1000" accounts. Transparency indeed.

Facebook, Google, Apple, AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo have signed a letter urging members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee to enact reforms to government surveillance programs that would include greater transparency, oversight and accountability. The text of the letter is available here.

Copyright: Keep TPP on the slow track.
Lawmakers in the United States may move to put the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, an expansive trade deal between the U.S. and several Pacific Rim countries, on a "fast track" through Congress. This would eliminate opportunities for public hearings about the agreement. Despite the secret nature of negotiations around the agreement, advocates believe that the TPP could threaten users’ rights of privacy and access to information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging the public to voice concern about the fast-tracking proposal here.

Cool Things
The Harvard Law School Library is partnering with more than 30 libraries and nonprofits to combat the impact of linkrot—that is, websites disappear. The project, Perma.cc, works with the Internet Archive to take particular webpages at the request of authors and place them in the hands of a community of libraries for safe-keeping.

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