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Google’s China answer page inaccessible

“BEIJING–A Google question-and-answer page for Chinese users was inaccessible from mainland China on Tuesday less than a month after the search giant’s Internet license was renewed amid a dispute over online censorship.

The company found no technical problems with the Hong Kong-based service, a Google spokewoman, Courtney Hohne, said in an e-mail. Phone calls to China’s Internet regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, were not answered and the agency did not respond to questions sent by fax.

Beijing encourages Web use for education and business but tries to block material deemed subversive and closely watches sites where China’s public can leave comments. ”

From MercuryNews.com

Tibet Steps Up Internet Censorship

“Chinese authorities in Tibet have ordered Internet cafes across the region to finish installing state-of-the-art surveillance systems by the end of the month.

“If there is something that is being controlled, there’s no way anyone will get to see it. It’s definitely a tighter form of control,” says a proprietor of an Internet cafe in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

Under the nationwide scheme, which took effect Aug. 1, second-generation identity cards belonging to the person using the Internet must be swiped to allow online access. Viewed content can then be traced back to that identity, using the the surveillance system.

“There has to be a question mark over why the government is installing such a surveillance system in Tibet right now,” Zhang said. “The Chinese Communist Party has always used cleaning up pornography as an excuse.”

From Eurasia Review

UAE’s BlackBerry ban: Why is Canada silent?

“The UAE’s BlackBerry ban drew condemnation from freedom monitors and the US government, but nothing from Canada, BlackBerry’s home country.

“I think this is a glaring absence and it’s part of a lamentable lack of attention this government has given to cyberspace,” says Ronald Deibert, director of The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.”

From The Christian Science Monitor

FBI access to e-mail and web records raises fears

“Invasion of privacy in the Internet age. Expanding the reach of law enforcement to snoop on e-mail traffic or on Web surfing. Those are among the criticisms being aimed at the FBI as it tries to update a key surveillance law.

The Obama administration’s proposal to change the Electronic Communications Privacy Act ‘raises serious privacy and civil liberties concerns,’ Mr. Leahy said Thursday in a statement.
Although the FBI engaged in widespread and serious misuse of its authority illegally collecting data from Americans and foreigners, it has continued to gather information from telephone companies, banks, credit bureaus and other businesses with personal records about their customers or subscribers — and Internet service providers. Now, the proposed amendment to U.S. surveillance law leaves many guessing on privacy implications for internet users.”

From The Globe and Mail

Thai advocates of liberal change now fear the worst

“THAILAND–Three years after its arrival, the controversial Computer Crime Act has done little to protect internet users against online threats such as hacking. Instead, it has been largely used to threaten and prosecute political dissidents.

While the demand from a circle of web masters, internet users and free speech advocates to have the act amended grows, conservatism from within the government and parliament continues to pose a challenge to their efforts to push for liberalisation of this law.”

From Bangkok Post

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