Archive for the 'Freedom of information' Category

“A Path that was Not Paved in Gold, but in Danger”: Freedom of Expression in Pakistan

Pakistani correspondent for the Italian news agency Asnkronos International (AKI) and Asia Times Online, Saleem  Shahzad, was awarded an International Journalism Award by Italy’s Ischia Prize Foundation on 12 June 2011 for his “illuminating analyses of international terrorism” and his commitment to the profession’s “supreme mission for peace and culture.”

This prestigious award, however, was granted to Shahzad posthumously.

 Saleem Shahzad was kidnapped, tortured, and brutally murdered in Pakistan in May 2011 just days after publishing an investigative report on a military attack in Karachi.

 Although Article 19 of the 1973 Pakistani Constitution ensures that “every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press,” there is substantial speculation that Shahzad was detained and killed by Pakistani intelligence authorities. If true, this emphasizes the government’s continued backhand control of freedom of expression in Pakistan.  Continue reading ‘“A Path that was Not Paved in Gold, but in Danger”: Freedom of Expression in Pakistan’

Rights to what? Understanding intellectual property

Understanding an area of law is all about understanding the juridical concepts from which it is comprised. When considering Media Law one must examine human rights, constitutional rights and private law rights such as those not to be defamed or libelled. However, there is one other important type of right that merits examination: rights of Intellectual Property. There are of course many types of Intellectual Property Right, such as copyright, patents, trademarks, trade secrets and creative commons but it seems worthwhile to consider the general notion of ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ in virtue of what these instantiations have in common. Continue reading ‘Rights to what? Understanding intellectual property’

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’

What’s in a Name? Counter-Terrorism Measures v Open Justice

It is a general principle of any justice system that not only must justice be done but justice must be seen to be done. At least part of this second limb is literal: court cases and trials are held in public and reported, in full, to the public unless there are extenuating circumstances which warrant closed proceedings or reporting restrictions (see, in particular, Scott v Scott [1913] AC 417).

This is the principle of open justice and, according to Lord Judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, it ‘represents an element of democratic accountability, and the vigorous manifestation of the principle of freedom of expression. Ultimately it supports the rule of law itself. […]’ (§ 39, The Queen on the application of Binyam Mohamed v the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, [2010] EWCA Civ 65) Lord Judge went so far as to state that ‘[…] the principles of freedom of expression, democratic accountability and the rule of law are integral to the principle of open justice and they are beyond question. […]’ (§ 41, supra)

Continue reading ‘What’s in a Name? Counter-Terrorism Measures v Open Justice’

Blackberry encryption and the right to privacy

Digital communications from mobile phones are routed through powerful computers called ‘exchange servers’. Research In Motion (RIM) based in Ontario, Canada runs the exchange servers for its business-friendly Blackberry mobile device. The company has built a reputation for secure communications, basing all its exchange servers in Canada, much to the consternation of governments around the world, who would like to listen in on these communications.

For example, if you were to send an email from your Blackberry, the email goes through as a heavily encrypted* signal to exchange servers in Canada and is then sent encrypted to the recipient. This encryption is difficult to break without the right encryption keys and hence the Blackberry smartphone has a reputation of being secure for communication. Continue reading ‘Blackberry encryption and the right to privacy’

Wikileaks: Freedom of Information v National Security

In April this year, Wikileaks posted a video of US Military personnel celebrating after launching an airstrike that killed a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists. The Pentagon had initially blocked an application by the Reuters News Agency to obtain the video on the grounds that it would compromise US national security; however, Wikileaks director Julian Assange was leaked the video and able to view the recording after breaking through military encyption protecting it. The US has since released an arrest warrant for Mr Assange, who has been advised not to travel to the States.

Since Wikileaks posted the video a soldier has been charged. However, not for the attack on the Iraqi civilians, in direct violation of international law, but rather for leaking the video itself. Army Specialist Bradley Manning was charged with two criminal counts including disclosing classified national defence information, exceeding his authorised access to US computers and transferring classified data onto his personal computer. Continue reading ‘Wikileaks: Freedom of Information v National Security’


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