[news release] Governments around the world have used the COVID-19 pandemic as cover to expand online surveillance and data collection, censor critical speech, and build new technological systems of social control, according to Freedom on the Net 2020, the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of internet freedom, released today by Freedom House.
Pakistan has become the latest country to ban TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media platform, in a move that government critics said stemmed as much from politics as from allegations of immoral content.
Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate has banned the use of 138 words in domain names and now tens of thousands of Turkish websites face closure, reports Hürriyet, Turkey’s English language daily newspaper.The list was sent to “web-hosting firms on Thursday” and existing domain names using the words will be deleted.The report gives some examples of domain names that could be deleted including “‘donanimalemi.com’ (hardwareworld.com) because the domain name has ‘animal’ in it, a banned word and likewise “sanaldestekunitesi.com,” (virtualsupportunit.com) would not be able to operate under its current name because it has ‘anal’ in it; also among the 138 banned words. Websites cannot have the number 31 in their domain names either because it is slang for male masturbation.”Other English words included on the list are “beat,” “escort,” “homemade,” “hot,” “nubile,” “free” and “teen.” The report also lists some English words that have different meanings in English and Turkish such as “pic,” short for picture, but is banned because it means “bastard” in Turkish. The past tense of the verb “get” is also banned because “got” means “butt” in Turkish. Haydar, a very common Alevi name for men, is also banned because it means penis in slang.”Gay” and its Turkish pronunciation “gey,” “çıplak” (naked), “itiraf” (confession), “liseli” (high school student), “nefes” (breath) and “yasak” (forbidden) are some of the other banned words.To read this full report in Hürriyet, go to:
The legislation introduced on Monday this week that aims to curb online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods through deleting domain names has been slammed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.The legislation, a short bill, called the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) is described as flawed by the EFF. It “would allow the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to break the Internet one domain at a time – by requiring domain registrars/registries, ISPs, DNS providers, and others to block Internet users from reaching certain websites,” said the EFF. “The bill would also create two Internet blacklists.”The EFF describes the two lists as thus:
“The first is a list of all the websites hit with a censorship court order from the Attorney General. The second, more worrying, blacklist is a list of domain names that the Department of Justice determines — without judicial review — are ‘dedicated to infringing activities.’ The bill only requires blocking for domains in the first list, but strongly suggests that domains on the second list should be blocked as well by providing legal immunity for Internet intermediaries and DNS operators who decide to block domains on the second blacklist as well. (It’s easy to predict that there will be tremendous pressure for Internet intermediaries of all stripes to block these ‘deemed infringing’ sites on the second blacklist.)”The EFF goes on to say the bill is a censorship bill that “censorship bill that runs roughshod over freedom of speech on the Internet.” The legislation blocks a whole domain name, not just the infringing part of the website. Not only that, but the EFF notes “the DMCA already gives copyright owners legal tools to remove infringing material piece-by-piece, and to obtain injunctions requiring ISPs to block certain offshore infringing websites.”The EFF describes the bill as being poorly drafted and asks what “governments deny their citizens access to parts of the Internet? For now, it is mostly totalitarian, profoundly anti-democratic regimes that keep their citizens from seeing the whole Internet. With this bill, the United States risks telling countries throughout the world, ‘Unilateral censorship of websites that the government doesn’t like is okay — and this is how you do it.'”It is also not very good at dealing with technology with “even a relatively unsophisticated technologist can begin to imagine the workarounds: a return to encrypted peer-to-peer, modified /etc/hosts files (that don’t rely on the domain name system for finding things on the Internet), and other tools, which will emerge and ensure that committed pirates have a way to route around the bill’s damage to the DNS system.”The EFF concludes that to them “COICA looks like another misguided gift to a shortsighted industry whose first instinct with respect to the Internet is to try to break it. There are still many questions to be answered, but one thing is for sure — this bill allows the government to suppress truthful speech and could block access to a wealth of non-infringing speech, and the end result will do little to protect artists or mollify the industries that profit from them. Stay tuned for more analysis, information, and steps you can take to fight Internet censorship.”To read the EFF’s analysis in full of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act or COICA, see www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/09/censorship-internet-takes-center-stage-online.
China has taken its censorship of .CN websites a step further following CNNIC’s hiring of 600 temporary workers to check all .CN domain names for pornographic content and inaccurate records, says an IDG report.This will be quite an onerous task for 600 people given there are close to 14 million .CN domain names registered.CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center), the .CN registry, has “previously announced its cleanup of .CN domains, but the scale of its hiring is a reminder that the center must bow to directives from the country’s authoritarian government. While lax regulation in China has been partly blamed for malicious activity on .CN domains, the government’s crackdown has focused on porn more than Web security,” says the IDG report.”As with so many cleanups in China, there is a very legitimate crime-fighting and law enforcement side of this,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, a visiting fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, in an e-mail to IDG. “But the flip side is that it also provides a very handy excuse to tighten controls on political and dissenting speech at the same time.”To read this IDG report in full, see:
The Russian government is supporting the introduction of a Cyrillic internationalised Top Level Domain, but the Russian public does not seem so keen to follow, reports The New York Times.The Times says “computer users are worried that Cyrillic domains will give rise to a hermetic Russian Web, a sort of cyberghetto, and that the push for Cyrillic amounts to a plot by the security services to restrict access to the Internet. Russian companies are also resisting Cyrillic Web addresses, complaining about costs and threats to online security.”One person quoted on the introduction of IDNs says “This is one more step toward isolation” with concerns about the ability of the Russian government to introduce more censorship.And a representative from Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine, says he does not see Cyrillic domains being popular. He believes that few than ten per cent of registrants would favour Cyrillic domains.To read this New York Times report in full, see: