Civil Society

Posts tagged “Civil Society”

The need to protect the internet from ‘astroturfing’ grows ever more urgent

“Every month more evidence piles up, suggesting that online comment threads and forums are being hijacked by people who aren’t what they seem.

The anonymity of the web gives companies and governments golden opportunities to run astroturf operations: fake grassroots campaigns that create the impression that large numbers of people are demanding or opposing particular policies. Companies now use “persona management software”, which multiplies the efforts of each astroturfer, creating the impression that there’s major support for what a corporation or government is trying to do.

Software like this has the potential to destroy the internet as a forum for constructive debate, as it jeopardises the notion of online democracy.”

From The Guardian

The joys of online activism

“There are many worrying trends in this modern era of globalisation, most notably the ease with which companies can operate and banks move money around, apparently outside any democratic parameters set by nations or an international community struggling to catch up with a rapidly liberalising context. But I have never been part of the ‘anti-globalisation’ movement because there are so many positive aspects to globalisation.”

From Guardian

Revealed: Second undercover police officer who posed as activist

“The controversy over a police surveillance network embedded in the environmental protest movement has deepened dramatically after the Guardian identified a second undercover officer who spent years living a double life as an activist.

The woman’s name has been known to a group of six activists since Mark Kennedy – the police infiltrator identified by the Guardian on Monday as having spent seven years inside the movement – claimed she was also a police officer when confronted by them about his own identity last October.”

From The Guardian

Internet groups fear UN could threaten cyberspace

Should governments have the only say in Internet governance? Non-governmental organizations are fighting to keep their seats at the Internet Governance Forum and the International Telecommunications Union. These important discussions are held in order to decide how to legislate and secure cyberspace, and typically include a variety of stakeholders such as NGOs and private firms. CTV News speaks to Ron Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab and the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies on the future of cyberspace governance.

From CTV News

2010 Report on Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

“Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is an increasingly common Internet phenomenon capable of silencing Internet speech, usually for a brief interval but occasionally for longer. In this paper, we explore the specific phenomenon of DDoS attacks on independent media and human rights organizations, seeking to understand the nature and frequency of these attacks, their efficacy, and the responses available to sites under attack.”

From The Berkman Center for Internet and Society

Granting Anonymity

“Transparency is secretive business. WikiLeaks, the swashbuckling new-media organization whose motto is “We open governments,” relies on a technology of extreme reticence called Tor Hidden Services — a part of the Tor Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated not to light and clarity but to shadows and opacity, to the increasingly difficult art of keeping secrets online.
Kelsey Dake

A deliberately byzantine system of virtual tunnels that conceal the origins and destinations of data, and thus the identity of clients, Tor has been around since 2001, when programmers from M.I.T. and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory introduced it at a California security conference. In the past year, supported by grants from the U.S. government and other funders, the Tor Project has prolifically expanded its networks. The software has been downloaded more than 36 million times this year, and thousands of nameless volunteers — many of them Tor clients — now help to relay mind-bogglingly diverse Tor data in nearly every country on earth.”

From The New York Times

Microsoft Expands Effort to Protect Nonprofits

“MOSCOW — Microsoft is vastly expanding its efforts to prevent governments from using software piracy inquiries as a pretext to suppress dissent. It plans to provide free software licenses to more than 500,000 advocacy groups, independent media outlets and other nonprofit organizations in 12 countries with tightly controlled governments, including Russia and China.

With the new program in place, authorities in these countries would have no legal basis for accusing these groups of installing pirated Microsoft software.

Microsoft began overhauling its antipiracy policy after The New York Times reported last month that private lawyers retained by the company had often supported law enforcement officials in Russia in crackdowns on outspoken advocacy groups and opposition newspapers.”

From The New York Times

Authorities still using emergency powers to suppress free expression and other rights, says Human Rights Watch

Five months after violent clashes between anti-government groups and state security forces, the Thai government still uses emergency powers to suppress fundamental human rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

On April 7, 2010, in response to escalating violence by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and other parts of the country. The Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation (“Emergency Decree”) allows Thai authorities to carry out extended detention of suspects without charge; deny information about those detained without charge; use unofficial detention facilities, where there are inadequate safeguards against possible abuse in custody; and impose widespread censorship. While implementing the Emergency Decree, officials have effective immunity from prosecution for most acts they commit.

From International Freedom of Expression eXchange

Nine NGOs issue joint statement on deterioration of freedom of expression ahead of elections

The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan conducted a three-day freedom of expression mission to Azerbaijan from 7-9 September, during which they met with journalists and other media workers, civil society activists, and government officials, and collected testimonies of violations of freedom of expression.

The participating organisations were: ARTICLE 19, Freedom House, Index on Censorship, International Federation of Journalists, Media Diversity Institute, Open Society Foundations, Press Now, Reporters Without Borders and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

From Reporters Without Borders