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China: 1.3 million websites shut in 2010

Source: BBC

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said there were were 41% fewer websites at the end of 2010 than a year earlier.

Chinese officials have tightened regulations on the internet in recent years, and they launched a crackdown on pornography websites in 2009.

The academy’s researcher said there was no link, insisting China had a “high level of freedom of online speech”.

Liu Ruisheng said that despite the declining number of sites, the number of web pages had risen to 60 billion during 2010 – a 79% increase on the previous year.

“This means our content is getting stronger, while our supervision is getting more strict and more regulated,” he said.

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Censorship of comments

Source: Russia and India Report

Russia’s Communications Ministry is to discuss proposals on July 14 for ways to speed up the process of deleting offensive and extremist user comments from online media pages.

Sergei Zheleznyak, who heads the information policy committee in the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, said a special state-run network of all Russian online media should be set up to quickly inform moderators and editors about offensive and extremist content detected on their websites.

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Kazakh Bloggers Say Blockage Of Blog Website For ‘Political Reasons’

Source: RFE/RL

Some prominent Kazakh bloggers say the government’s blockage of the Wordpress blog platform since June is politically motivated, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reports.

In an official response to parliament deputy and active Wordpress user Murat Abenov, main Kazakh Internet provider KazTeleCom said on July 12 that it blocked domestic access to Wordpress because of two “illegal” blogs.

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Iran tightens online censorship to counter US ‘shadow internet’

Source: Saeed Kamali Dehghan, The Guardian

Iran has stepped up online censorship by upgrading the filtering system that enables the Islamic regime to block access to thousands of websites it deems inappropriate for Iranian users.

The move comes one month after the United States announced plans to launch new services facilitating internet access and mobile phone communications in countries with tight controls on freedom of speech, a decision that infuriated Tehran’s regime and prompted harsh reactions from several Iranian officials.

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Internet censorship in Africa…a Dutch issue?

Source: Saskia Houttuin,Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Accessing the internet has become increasingly more difficult in Africa: governments are blocking websites which they consider to pose a threat. Just in the past couple of months numerous websites and social networks like Twitter and Facebook were taken offline. African governments use software that was intentionally made for security reasons for censoring the internet and for tracking down people. This software, though not intentionally made for this kind of use, might have been distributed by The Netherlands.

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EU Parliament Group Rejects Mandatory Web Blocking

Source: Jennifer Baker, IDG News

The European Parliament’s civil liberties committee has voted unanimously to reject mandatory European Union-wide blocking of child pornography websites.

The European Commission had originally wanted to force member states to block illegal content and encouraged national authorities to use Internet service providers “to develop codes of conduct and guidelines for blocking access to such Internet pages.” This provoked concern among many civil liberties groups that were worried that member states might misuse the power to block websites and that legitimate content could be blocked in error.

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Internet, mobile phones eyed for Mt. Kumgang

Source: North Korea Tech

North Korea plans to allow Internet access and the use of mobile phones by visitors to the Mount Kumgang tourism zone.

Visitors are typically relieved of their mobile phones when entering North Korea and public Internet access is not available inside the country.

But the country is establishing a special tourism zone around Mount Kumgang, the scenic North Korean mountain resort that was the subject of a previous tourism agreement with Hyundai. The South Korean company halted tours to the area in July 2008 after a South Korean tourist was accidentally shot while walking along a beach in the region.

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Israel blocks airborne protest, questions dozens

Source: Jeremy Last, Associated Press

Aided by Facebook, Israel on Friday prevented scores of pro-Palestinian activists from boarding Tel Aviv-bound flights in Europe, questioned dozens more upon arrival at its main airport and denied entry to 69, disrupting their attempts to reach the West Bank on a solidarity mission with the Palestinians.

Israel had tracked the activists on social media sites, compiled a blacklist of more than 300 names and asked airlines to keep those on the list off flights to Israel. On Friday, 310 of the activists who managed to land in Tel Aviv were detained for questioning, said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Hadad. Of those, four were immediately put on return flights and 65 were being held until flights home could be arranged for them, she said. The rest were permitted entry, she said.

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NBN Co won’t apply internet filter

Source: Renai LeMay, Technology Specatator

The National Broadband Network Company late yesterday confirmed it wouldn’t be implementing the limited filtering scheme being implemented by other Australian telcos, noting that the national network it was constructing was incompatible with the type of technology being used in the filter.

Along with Telstra, Optus has pledged to implement a voluntary filtering framework developed by the ISP industry’s peak representative body, the Internet Industry Association. The filter, which is being seen as a more moderate industry approach developed in reaction to the Federal Government’s much more comprehensive filter scheme, will see the ISPs block a “worst of the worst” list of child pornography sites generated by international police agency Interpol.

However, a NBN Co spokesperson said late yesterday that its network wasn’t compatible with the filter as the filtering took place at a different network layer. “NBN Co is building a layer 2 open access network moving bits of data from a premises to a Point of Interconnect,” the spokesperson said. “Any internet filtering would need to be implemented at Layer 3.”

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Jiang Zemin death rumours spark online crackdown in China

Source: Tania Branigan , The Guardian

Even for China’s rigorous internet censors, it has proved an unusually busy day. References to rivers and laundry are among the apparently innocuous items vanishing from postings and search results amid rumours that Jiang Zemin, who led the country before president Hu Jintao took over in 2002, is dead or seriously ill.

Similar tales have circulated several times in the past. This time they seem to have been prompted by the 84-year-old’s absence from celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the Communist party on Friday. He is normally a staple of such events and other former leaders were shown at the gathering.

Sina, which runs a wildly popular microblog service, went to increasing lengths to keep the topic off-limits. Searches for the leader’s name, or even just for “jiang” – river – resulted in the warning: “Search results are not shown due to relevant laws and policies.”

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