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Social Media and You: technology issues global

Table of Contents ]

FREE SPEECH, HATE SPEECH & OPEN COMMUNICATION

There is no global clarity (or even national clarity) on the meaning of free speech nor the rights that can and should be tied to it. Consider the following situations in the context of the right to free speech, the meaning of hate speech, and the right to open communication:

Comparing Hate Speech Laws In The U.S. And Abroad
http://www.npr.org/2011/03/03/134239713/France-Isnt-The-Only-Country-To-Prohibit-Hate-Speech 
March 3, 2011

Pakistanis protest against Facebook (1:40)
May 19 2010
http://www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=89093023 

Kyrgyzstan: A Free Press Begets Hate Speech
http://www.eurasianet.org/node/63473 
May 12, 2011 - 1:34pm, by Alisher Khamidov

Channel Five journalist severely beaten in Kyrgyzstan
http://eng.24.kg/incidents/2011/05/12/18029.html 
May 12, 2011 10:09, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency

With picture: Supreme Court Considers Constitutionality Of Military Funeral Protests
Mark Sherman | 09/30/10
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/30/military-funeral-protests_n_745082.html

INTERNET MOBILIZATION

Tear gas and Twitter: Iranians take their protests online
June 14, 2009
http://articles.cnn.com/2009-06-14/world/iran.protests.twitter_1_facebook-president-mahmoud-ahmadinejad-supporters?_s=PM:WORLD 

Moldova's "Twitter Revolution"
4/8/2009
http://www.rferl.org/content/Moldovas_Twitter_Revolution/1605005.html

Moldova's 'Twitter revolutionary' speaks out
4/25/2009
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8018017.stm

Note: Moldova is no longer the only 'twitter revolution'. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter_Revolution for a list of others

INTERNET SHUTDOWN

SAMPLE: LYBIA INTERNET SHUTOFF 

Internet used to communicate:

Opponents of the Gaddafi regime have called for fresh protests following Friday morning prayer, according to several Facebook and Twitter groups run by Libyans abroad. (Stall, 2011)

Overnight in Egypt, the government shut down the vast majority of Egypt's Internet service, only allowing a network used by the stock exchange and most banks to stay live. Text message services were shut down in an effort to disrupt protest organization and all cell phone service was ordered shut in select locations according to Vodafone, one of Egypt's two main cellphone companies (Murphy, 2011)

Internet shut off to stop communication:

Egypt goes off the digital map as authorities unplug the country entirely from the internet ahead of protests...about a half-hour past midnight on Friday in Egypt, the internet went dead.

China has long restricted what its people can see online and received renewed scrutiny for the practice when internet search leader Google Inc. proclaimed a year ago that it would stop censoring its search results in China.

In 2009, Iran disrupted I=internet service to try to curb protests over disputed elections. And two years before that, Burma's internet was crippled when military leaders apparently took the drastic step of physically disconnecting primary communications links in major cities, a tactic that was foiled by activists armed with cell phones and satellite links.

Computer experts say what sets Egypt's action apart is that the entire country was disconnected in an apparently co-ordinated effort, and that all manner of devices are affected, from mobile phones to laptops. It seems, though, that satellite phones would not be affected.

"Iran never took down any significant portion of their Internet connection, they knew their economy and the markets are dependent on Internet activity," Cowie said.

When countries are merely blocking certain sites, like Twitter or Facebook, where protesters are co-ordinating demonstrations, as apparently happened at first in Egypt, protesters can use "proxy" computers to circumvent the government censors. The proxies "anonymise" traffic and bounce it to computers in other countries that send it along to the restricted sites.

But when there is no internet at all, proxies can't work and online communication grinds to a halt.

Renesys' network sensors showed that Egypt's four primary internet providers, Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all went dark at 12:34am. Those companies shuttle all internet traffic into and out of Egypt, though many people get their service through additional local providers with different names.

Italy-based Seabone said no internet traffic was going into or out of Egypt after 12:30am local time. (Aljazeera, 2011)

INTERNET FILTERING

Internet filtering has its place in global social technology communication at varying levels. In some cases the country controls to a large degree what its residents are able to see and access.  "One key to the success of Chinese social media sites like Kaixin001 and Xing is the Golden Shield Project enforced by the Chinese government. This national firewall serves as a barrier to sites like Facebook and Twitter." (Bonfils, 2011)  Learn more about the Golden Sheild Project in China (aka, the Great Firewall of China) at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Firewall_of_China

ACCOUNTABILITY

Who is responsible for online content? The originator? The person who posts? The service upon which it is posted? The service provider? 

Italy's Google Verdict Launches Debate Over Internet Freedom
TIME - Jeff Israely - ‎Feb 25, 2010‎
http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1968123,00.html?xid=rss-topstories

Google verdict 'threatens freedom' (BBC one minute video)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8534157.stm