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Internet censored, media gagged in Iran to sabotage pro-democracy protests

“In an expected repeat of the January internet and electronic communication blockade in Egypt, Iranian authorities have begun censorship by disrupting mobile phone services and slowing down broadband speed in the major cities.

Following the outbreak of the Opposition-fueled pro-democracy demonstrations in Tehran, pro-opposition websites have been blocked. The anti-government movement began in Iran on Monday, when thousands of supporters of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi took to the streets.

The anti-government dissidents have also been forced to compromise on electronic communication as mobile-phone and text message services stand disrupted.”

From International Business Times

Libyans hope their revolution will also be tweeted

“Opposition to Muammar Gaddafi was inconceivable in Libya for four decades. But that was before the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings embraced the power of the Internet. Now Libyans are hoping their revolution will also be tweeted.

This week, the video-sharing Web site YouTube was inundated by amateur footage of violent anti-government protests that rocked the second-largest city of Benghazi Tuesday.

The footage was picked up by major international news organisations and a multitude of Twitter users and Facebook pages as Libyan opposition groups prepared for Thursday’s “Day of Rage”.”

From France24

WikiLeaks row intensifies as US makes ‘privacy’ move against Twitter

“The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, praised the role of social networks such as Twitter in promoting freedom – at the same time as the US government was in court seeking to invade the privacy of Twitter users.

Lawyers for civil rights organisations appeared before a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, battling against a US government order to disclose the details of private Twitter accounts in the WikiLeaks row, including that of the Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, below.”

From The Guardian

US launching Chinese, Russian, Hindi Twitter feeds

“WASHINGTON — Just days after launching Twitter feeds in Arabic and Farsi to communicate directly with people in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday that the State Department would begin sending messages in Chinese, Russian and Hindi.

Clinton, in a speech on Internet freedom at George Washington University here, said the United States is “committed to continuing our conversation with people around the world.”

Clinton singled out China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Syria and Vietnam as countries which practice censorship or restrict access to the Internet.”

From AFP

China faces Internet ‘dictator’s dilemma,’ says Clinton

“China, Syria and others face a “dictator’s dilemma” over Internet control and risk being left behind as the rest of the world embraces new technologies, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.

Clinton, making her second major speech on Internet policy, said the recent Internet-fuelled toppling of rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and protests in Iran, showed governments could not long pick and choose which freedoms to grant their citizens.

“We believe that governments who have erected barriers to Internet freedom – whether they’re technical filters or censorship regimes or attacks on those who exercise their rights to expression and assembly online – will eventually find themselves boxed in,” Clinton said in a speech at a Washington, D.C. university.”

From The Globe and Mail

U.S. Policy to Address Internet Freedom

“Days after Facebook and Twitter added fuel to a revolt in Egypt, the Obama administration plans to announce a new policy on Internet freedom, designed to help people get around barriers in cyberspace while making it harder for autocratic governments to use the same technology to repress dissent.

Ron Deibert, the director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, said that governments had been shifting from blocking the Internet to hacking and disabling it. Even in the United States, he noted, the Senate is considering a bill that would allow the president to switch off the Internet in the event of a catastrophic cyberattack.”

From The New York Times

Egypt, Twitter, and the rise of the watchdog crowd

“Social media did not make the revolution in Egypt happen. But, with every step chronicled in real time and broadcast to anyone with an Internet connection, it hastened its pace and transferred the voice of international scrutiny from sovereign leaders to a community of millions. When it comes to pressuring an authoritarian leader to step down, the heat has never been turned up so quickly.

As entrepreneur Habib Haddad tweeted about the whole thing, ‘Social media has lowered the cost of revolution.’ ”

From CNET

WikiLeaks fights to keep Twitter data from U.S. government

“An Icelandic lawmaker and two other people associated with the website WikiLeaks are asking a federal judge not to force the social networking site Twitter to turn over data about whom they communicate with online.

The dispute cuts to the core of the question of whether WikiLeaks allies are part of a criminal conspiracy or a political discussion. It also challenges the Obama administration’s argument that it can demand to see computer data and read

The information would allow the government to map out their entire audience and figure out where each person was when he logged on to Twitter, attorneys said, amounting to an intrusion on the First Amendment constitutional guarantee of free speech.”

From The Globe and Mail

‘Twitter messages not private’ rules PCC

“Material that is published on Twitter should be considered public and can be published, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has ruled.

The decision follows a complaint by a Department of Transport official that the use of her tweets by newspapers constituted an invasion of privacy.

Sarah Baskerville complained to the PCC about articles in the Daily Mail and Independent on Sunday.”

From BBC News

Should governments and spies spend more time on Twitter?

“With unrest and chaos apparently having taken Egypt’s rulers and Western states by surprise, governments and spies are increasingly looking to social media like Twitter to detect political threats in advance.

Protesters who overthrew Tunisian President Ben Ali and brought revolution to the streets of Egypt used sites such as Twitter and Facebook to coordinate action. While few credit social media with causing the uprisings, the speed of instant communication it allows is believed to have accelerated events. With so much more human interaction taking place online, and Tunisia and Egypt proving online dissent can swiftly yield real world consequences, governing authorities are interested.

Experts say the real advantage of monitoring social media sites is that it can give those in authority the chance to detect public anger early and engage in the debate, hopefully heading off discontent before it reaches the streets.”

From The Globe and Mail