Netizen Report: Cuba Accidentally Makes U.S. Government-Backed Websites Available

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 27 2014 10:07 AM

Netizen Report: Cuba Accidentally Makes U.S. Government-Backed Websites Available

Mvd6576863
A student in Havana

Photo by ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images

The Netizen Report originally appears each week on Global Voices Advocacy. Ellery Biddle, Lisa Ferguson, Weiping Li, Hae-in Lim, Deji Olukotun, Bojan Perkov, and Sarah Myers West contributed to this report.

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 Cuba, where authorities unblocked access to a number of websites on June 19, including the sites of U.S. government-led news outlets Radio and TV Martí. But this appears to have been a technical error—the blocks were restored within a day. Established as part of Cold War era efforts to push "objective" news to the island, the Marti radio and television network signals have been blocked on the island since their inception in 1980. It was thus no surprise that the Cuban government chose to block their websites when they came online. Also briefly available was Revólico, a Cuban site much like Craigslist where Cubans regularly (using proxy servers and phone, with help from family in other countries) buy and trade services and tech hardware.

Advertisement

Researchers at Citizen Lab found that the filters placed on the Internet in Iraq are at best ineffective and at worst counterproductive. They tested 1,358 URLs and found that none of the 20 sites that are believed to be associated with the insurgent group ISIS were blocked.

Thuggery: Nine Ethiopians and one Tajik remain behind bars
The investigation into the arrests of nine journalists—including six members of the Zone9 blogging collective—appears to be delayed, after a judge ruled in a hearing on June 14 that police would be given more time to investigate. The cases of three of the detained bloggers—Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, and Abel Wabella—are being handled separately for reasons that are unclear. Their next hearing will take place on June 28.

University of Toronto researcher Alexander Sodiqov, who disappeared in Tajikistan on June 16, was allegedly brought before local state television to appear in a heavily edited video in an attempt to discredit him. Reports from an anonymous resident [link in Russian] that were published by the independent Tajik news agency Asia-Plus suggest Sodiqov is being used to discredit opposition party member Alim Sherzamonov, with whom Sodiqov was allegedly speaking at the time of his arrest.

Six students from and the principal of India’s Government Polytechnic College at Kunnamkulam were arrested on accusations of defamation and provocation with intent to cause riots after they published a controversial critique of the country’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, in a college magazine. The students and principal were released on bail. Police confiscated the 400 copies of the publication that had yet to be distributed.

Surveillance: U.K. fesses up on social media spying
The British government’s most senior security official, Charles Farr, admitted that the government monitors searches on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, including those in supposedly private channels like direct messaging. In his defense of the program, Farr claimed that because the searches involve communicating with servers located outside the U.K., they are deemed external communications that do not require a warrant for interception.

Industry: Twitter a flutter in Russia, Pakistan
Twitter restored access to a series of tweets it had previously removed using its Country Withheld Content tool. The tweets were originally removed on May 18 at the request of the Pakistani government, which claimed they were “blasphemous” or “unethical,” according to Chilling Effects. A spokesperson for Twitter said the tweets were reauthorized “in the absence of additional clarifying information from Pakistani authorities.”

After a meeting with Russian authorities in Moscow, Twitter executives did not agree to block 12 accounts deemed “extremist” by the Russian government, despite suggestions to the contrary in the lead up to the visit. According to tweets from Twitter’s public policy team, the meeting was “productive” and conversations will continue.

Netizen Activism: #LeyTelecom protests continue in Mexico
Mexican citizens have launched a number of acts of protest against a proposed telecommunications law [link in Spanish] that would violate net neutrality, codify censorship, and require service providers to collect and retain user data. Initiatives include a symbolic human chain across Mexico City (#NoMásPoderAlPoder), online protests coinciding with the World Cup under the hashtag #CascaritaXlaPatria, and an alternative technical proposal to the law.

Egyptian rights groups joined together to take a stand against encroaching government surveillance, filing a lawsuit aimed at halting the government’s plan to procure social media monitoring software. Described by the Ministry of Interior as a “public opinion measuring system,” the software would help “monitor, list, analyze, execute, support, confront, and refute … destructive ideas,” such as blasphemy, libel, sarcasm, inviting demonstrations, and spreading rumors.

Publications and Studies

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.