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Web censorship moves to democracies

Source: Elizabeth Flock, Washington Post

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said in a conference Monday that he thought governments’ restriction of new media was likely only to get worse in reaction to the protests in the Middle East and North Africa.

But new data and filtering schemes show an alarming trend by democratic governments and businesses to censor what’s online, too.

New July-December 2010 data from the Google Transparency Report confirms the trend of increasing Web censorship in democratic nations. The data shows that governments such as Germany, the U.K., and Brazil, make thousands of takedown requests every year, and countries like India and Italy made specific requests to remove videos criticizing senior government members.

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Google sees growing struggle over web censorship

Source: Reuters

(Reuters) – Internet giant Google’s tussles with some governments over Internet censorship could get worse, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said on Monday, adding he feared his own colleagues faced mounting danger of occasional arrest and torture.

The chairman of the world’s largest web search engine warned that in certain countries governments would try to make sure the Internet became as regulated as television.

“I think this problem is going to get worse,” Schmidt told a Google-organised Dublin summit on militant violence.

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Kuwaiti Citizens to be Tried for Tweets

Source: The Next Web

Tweeting in Kuwait is becoming quite the hazard. We reported earlier that Nasser Abul was arrested for criticizing the Bahraini and Saudi Arabian royal families.

Abul is now joined by yet another Kuwaiti citizen, both of whom will be put on trial. Lawrence al-Rashidi was also recently arrested, but for comments made about Kuwait’s own ruling family.

According to Reuters, both men are to be detained for the next two weeks, until their hearings are scheduled, on charges of harming the Gulf state’s interests and defaming the Kuwaiti emir.

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Thoughts to ponder on Australia’s Internet censorship

Source: International Business Times

Most Australian internet users will have their web access censored next month after the nation’s two largest internet providers agreed to block access to websites that have themes considered to be unsuitable by the Federal Government of Australia.

Telstra and Optus have agreed to block access to 500 child abuse sites identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and additional sites provided by “reputable” international organizations.

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Chilean government’s decision to monitor social networks sparks debate about Internet privacy, threats of cyber attacks

Source: Monica Medel, Journalism in the Americas

President Sebastián Piñera’s plan was announced a few weeks ago, but the controversy on social networks started Sunday, June 19, with the naming of BrandMetric as the company that will be in charge of monitoring comments, reported El Mostrador.

According to the Chilean government, the aim is to “measure” public perception about the administration, reported Los Tiempos. The goal is for the government to be aware of issues that are important to society and to know how to respond to the needs of the people, according to the minister for the Secretary General of the Government, Ena von Baer, as cited by Publimetro.

But some social network users say that it is a plan for “online surveillance.” UPI said that the group of Internet activists known as Anonymous announced it will begin hacking Chilean and Peruvian websites because of the attempts to monitor public opinion on social networks. Similarly, the digital newspaper El Mostrador in an opinion piece titled “Someone is Watching You” said that Twitter users have adopted the hashtag #gobiernosapo as a way to accuse the government of spying.

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Lobbyists ‘held closed-door meetings’ with UK government to censor Web

Source: Zack Whittaker, ZDNet

The UK government held secret committee meetings with company copyright officials, which may pave the way for the British web to be censored and blocked.

A plan leaked which describes a plan to create a committee of experts, which would go on to decide whether websites would be shut down and censored from the British public. Approved by an independent judge, a streamlined process would be created to allow the immediate blocking of a website.

While this plan has not been finalised, it shows the effort that the coalition government is going to in reducing file sharing and illegal copyright infringement on the web.

This could also have a significant impact on freedom of speech, for which British law does not have definitive legislation to fall back on; unlike the United States.

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Deibert and Rohozinski Interview at the SC Congress 2011

On June 14 – 15, 2011, the SC Congress Canada’s data security conference and expo was held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

For a video interview with Deibert and Rohozinski about their keynote speech entitled, “Securing the Cyber Commons?” and the ongoing changes in cyberspace, click here.

Hacking group says they do it for the ‘lulz’

Source: Michael Oliveira, Globe and Mail

It used to be that hacking was all about finding security flaws in the computers of rich targets and exploiting the weakness for as much money as possible.

Now, it seems a lot of hackers are doing it just for fun. Or as they say in hacking parlance, they’re doing it for the “lulz,” a variation on the Internet acronym LOL for “laugh out loud.”

In some cases, those lulz-seekers are choosing their targets for political reasons and harnessing their technical skills to take down unprepared targets, said Rafal Rohozinski, CEO of the Ottawa-based SecDev Group, a cybersecurity consulting firm.

“Hacking is a nascent form of politics,” Rohozinski said.

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A rash of high-profile thefts reveals just how unsafe the Internet we depend on has become

Source: Chris Sorensen , Macleans

It’s not only state secrets that can yield big returns for cybercrooks. A 2010 report by the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs explored one St. Petersburg gang that earned about $2 million a year with a simple but effective scheme called Koobface (an anagram for Facebook). It involved setting up fake social networking accounts and then sending links to unwitting “friends,” promising a video of the recipient captured naked by a hidden webcam. “One click leads down a Kafka-esque rabbit hole of viruses and Trojan horses,” according to the report. How did the gang make money? The compromised computers engaged in thousands of micro-transactions in multiple countries around the globe, often for less than a penny each. The transactions included things like clicking on online ads or downloading fake anti-virus software packages, with each hit generating a small cut for the gang.

A similar approach could also yield big returns in stock or currency trading schemes, according to Rafal Rohozinski, a principal at the Ottawa-based security firm the SecDev Group, which was involved in the Koobface report. Hackers could also team up with white-collar crooks looking to make money off of stock price movements—selling shares short after a major data breach has been revealed and the stock price plummets, only to buy them again before the shares recover. “It’s a perfect example of how cybercrime is much bigger and more commonplace than a pimply-faced teenager in the basement eating pizza,” says Rohozinski.

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Hackers attack Malaysia government websites

Source: BBC

Hackers have attacked dozens of government websites in Malaysia, days after a hacking group criticised the country over censorship.

Malaysian officials said attempts had been made to hack 51 websites, and at least 41 had been disrupted.

The “Anonymous” group of hackers had threatened Malaysia with an attack this week, accusing the government of blocking some websites.

No group has yet said they carried out the attack.

The exact nature of the attacks was not immediately clear, and it may be that they were denial of service overloads, rather than hacking intrusions into the computer servers.

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