Archive for the 'Censorship' Category

Apple and Net Neutrality – Relevant?

In recent months the legal and ethical debate over net neutrality and its implications for freedom of expression has drawn quite a bit of attention. Net neutrality is of utmost cultural, societal, and legal significance. Net neutrality regulation is one of the most important decisions the world’s lawmakers will have to make in the upcoming years. A prominent example can be found in Apple, the company famous for its computers, mp3 players, and most recently the iPhone. The quarrel over the submission and review policy for publishing an application on the Apple App Store has become highly controversial. Now, the actual review policy is too long to include in this blog but the gist is explained quite well in Apple’s official summary:

‘The app approval process is in place to ensure that applications are reliable, perform as expected, and are free of explicit and offensive material. We review every app on the App Store based on a set of technical, content, and design criteria…’ Continue reading ‘Apple and Net Neutrality – Relevant?’


Burma: Liberalisation to conceal repression?

Burma, also known as Myanmar, held its first elections in 20 years in November 2010, and the new ‘civilian’ government took office in March 2011. However, as many international observers have reported, the elections were fraudulent and undemocratic. A quarter of the seats on Parliament are reserved for the military, and a military-backed party controls 80% of the rest. According to reports, the government continues to imprison political opponents,  use convicts as human shields for the military, violently repress ethnic minorities, silence critics through censorship of the press, and limit access to information through surveillance of the internet, among other claims. The result is absolute military rule wearing the mask of democracy; a mask that the government thinks it can continue to wear as long as it controls the press and the internet. Continue reading ‘Burma: Liberalisation to conceal repression?’

The Value of Democracy: A Challenge to the ‘Hyper-Injunction’?

One could understandably become very confused by all the new terminology English Media Law has had thrown at it these days. First we had ‘super-injunctions’, described by Lord Neuberger’s report as:

 “…an interim injunction which restrains a person from: (i) publishing information which concerns the applicant and is said to be confidential or private; and, ii) publicising or informing others of the existence of the order and the proceedings (the ‘super’ element of the order)”

 Next we have been introduced to ‘hyper-injunctions’, which in addition to the above, explicitly prevent parties from complaining about matters to their local MP. This is designed to forestall claiming of Parliamentary Privilege in disclosing the information to the House of Commons. Apparently however, this does not prevent MPs from discussing the details of cases off their own bat. The distinction between hyper-injunctions and super-injunctions is not conceptually deep; essentially they are the same juridical tool, the difference is one of specificity. Continue reading ‘The Value of Democracy: A Challenge to the ‘Hyper-Injunction’?’

Behind the ‘Great Firewall’: Internet Censorship in the People’s Republic of China

Recognising the huge and growing importance of the Internet as a vehicle for facilitating in practice the free flow of information and ideas that lies at the heart of the right to freedom of expression’

– Preamble, International Mechanisms for Promoting Freedom of Expression – Joint Declaration by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

In fact, a new term was coined to refer to the citizens the world over who interact through the Internet and participate in social, economic and political discussion on an unprecedented global scale; they are the ‘netizens’ and there are now more than 400 million of them in the People’s Republic of China. Continue reading ‘Behind the ‘Great Firewall’: Internet Censorship in the People’s Republic of China’

China’s crackdown on human rights lawyers

In a press release dated 14 April 2011, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) called for ‘an end to intimidation and abuse of human rights lawyers in China’. The IBAHRI’s press release names 9 human rights lawyers who had ‘disappeared’ since February 2011. Some have since been released, others are still missing. Indeed, according to Amnesty International, it appears that the Chinese government has embarked over the past few months on a fresh wave of repression in its ongoing  ‘campaign of harassment and intimidation’ of human rights lawyers.  Continue reading ‘China’s crackdown on human rights lawyers’

“Asian Values”: a credible alternative to a universal conception of human rights,or a justification for restricting freedom of expression?

A recent High Court ruling has reignited fierce debate on Freedom of Expression in Singapore. Dr Chee Soon Juan, the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party, has just lost his appeal to overturn a conviction for speaking in a public place without a licence. Sentenced to a fine of $20,000 or imprisonment of 20 weeks in default, the SDP leader is facing the very real risk that, incarcerated, he will be unable to lead his party in the forthcoming general elections.

Dr Chee’s case is symptomatic of a wider problem in Singapore: the systematic repression of the right to freedom of expression. On the issue of freedom of the press, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew remarked:

“We cannot allow [the press] to assume a role in Singapore that the American media play to America, that of invigilator, adversary and inquisitor of the administration.”

Continue reading ‘“Asian Values”: a credible alternative to a universal conception of human rights,or a justification for restricting freedom of expression?’

Spotlight on Tibet: Tibetan writer Gedun Tsering speaks out on his home-land

Gedun Tsering, writer of  books and blogs on Tibet, today  lives in Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan government in exile is based. He recently fled there, after  living in hiding for  twelve months, but continues to write and peak of his home-land.

According to the Chinese authorities his writing is politically motivated and like other Tibetan writers, he has been accused of ‘inciting separatism’. Whereas, Tsering, in an recent interview with ‘Reporters without borders’ (that has also been diffused by the “Tibetan Post”)states that he just wants to talk about his homeland and his articles are more descriptive than politically charged. Continue reading ‘Spotlight on Tibet: Tibetan writer Gedun Tsering speaks out on his home-land’

UK government urges ISPs to block porn

This week the government revealed plans to approach internet service providers (ISPs), in January, in a bid to curb easy access to internet porn. Ministers are hoping for a system (provided and administered by the ISPs) where customers must opt-in. It has been suggested that if ISPs fail to devise this system voluntarily, legislation may be introduced. The main supporting argument for these changes has been to control what children can access online. More and more young children are inadvertently viewing porn sites and only 15% of parents understand how to use the controls provided on their computers to restrict such access. Another more recent worry is the ability to access such sites on mobile phones, which is obviously much more difficult to monitor. Some, but not all, ISPs have recently blocked this ability. Continue reading ‘UK government urges ISPs to block porn’

Swazi PM threatens to censor journalists

 In a statement published last Tuesday in the state-owned Swazi Observer newspaper the Prime Minister, Sibusiso Dlamini accused news columnists of tarnishing the name of the country and taking bribes from foreign parties. He announced his intention to create a law that requires journalists to seek permission before publishing any article which is critical of the government. No further detail is provided about what the law would require or when it may be enacted.

  Continue reading ‘Swazi PM threatens to censor journalists’

State responsibility for Mexico’s self-censored media

The current climate of self-censorship among journalists in Mexico is unusual as an example of a limit on freedom of expression, as it is born not of armed conflict or revolution, but of a government’s inability to control criminal elements such as drug traffickers and gangs. Mexico has one of the highest rates of kidnapping and violence against journalists in the world, resulting in many media sources ceasing to report upon topics that will place them at risk of retribution. Recently, one of the few newspapers that had so far stood against the trend has pled with gangs to provide guidelines on what it should and should not report, after a young photographer – the second member of the paper’s staff to be killed in two years – was shot earlier this month. Continue reading ‘State responsibility for Mexico’s self-censored media’

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