"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

A Look At Internet Censorship In Malaysia & Vietnam

The internet news cycle loves to collect pageviews by finding things that make people angry. When there is no news, news must be assisted into existing to fill the space in the 24/7 media cycle that wants to collect more pageviews, and therefore more advertising dollars. Wikileaks has gotten very clever with it’s manipulation of the media cycle by stoking the anger of citizens and giving newspapers what they want, more things to outrage people. This time they’ve leaked information about a secret project called TrapWire, a large scale integrated surveillance network which has actually had a public website with an explanation of it’s services up for several years.

Journalism is becoming more and more hyperbolic, constantly seeking to plant implications that will force individuals to spread news pieces virally so they can feed more advertising dollars into the internet media machine. All of this ignores the long term reality of a society where it’s becoming extremely unlikely that we will have any serious privacy unless we create unique defenses with these new technologies as they develop.

Not even your genetic data will be safe. Right now it costs around $10,000 to sequence a human genome, 10-15 years from now we might be able to do it with a smartphone on the fly. In 10 years or less cameras with web-cam level resolution will be cheap enough that you can print them out and post them around town like stickers.

A great deal of the progress from the past 20 years was built on the back of Moore’s Law. Simply trying to block out the free-flow of information isn’t going to be a good long term strategy for any society that wants to reap the rewards of scientific progress. More knowledge than ever is circulating, and pieces of knowledge are going obsolete faster than ever at the same time. The imposition of government censorship, as it exists in most countries, is just going to act as a tax that will hinder them from competing and taking full advantage of advances in AI, roboticsnanotechnology, 3d printing and synthetic biology. In some cases that’s a good thing, there are many dangers that come with the technology but the opportunity costs of not embracing it will hurt more in the long run for smaller countries.

Dang Thi Kim Lieng, the mother of the jailed blogger Ta Phong Tan, died after setting fire to herself today outside the headquarters of the People’s Committee in Bac Lieu, Tan’s home province, in an act of despair about her dissident daughter’s trial next week in Ho Chi Minh City for criticizing corruption and injustice in her blog.

The organization also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Tan and her fellow defendants – Phan Thanh Hai (also known by the blog name of Anhbasaigon) and Nguyen Van Hai (also known by the blog name of Dieu Cay) – who are due to go on trial with her on 7 August. Link

On July 25, Stanford law school’s Alan Weiner tabled a petition to the United Nations about the arbitrary detention of 17 activists from the Catholic Redemptionist Church in Vietnam.

However no matter the amount of pressure applied and the number of statements issued, the situation in Vietnam has not improved. Weiner calls it “a growing pattern of human rights abuses”  in a press release sent to media.

In fact, the decline dates back to 2008 when press freedom was curtailed after two reporters were arrested for their reporting on the well-known PMU18 case, when, in 2006, some Party officials were found to be gambling vast sums of Japanese and World Bank aid money on football matches.

That was the same year a new blog law came into force officially banning bloggers from touching anything political.  Link

Malaysian Web activists are fighting back against a Parliament ruling that could land bloggers in court.

As noted by the BBC, Aug. 14 was dubbed “Internet Blackout Day” in Malaysia, but since the country runs 12 hours ahead of the U.S. east coast, most Americans were asleep as the protest raged.

Participants blackened their home screens to protest the amendment to Section 114A of the Evidence Act, which was revised in April. The changes place all responsibility on website owners for any defamatory comments posted on the site. The amendment says that anyone can bring legal or criminal action against social networkers, mobile device owners, and even Wi-Fi network service providers who post defamatory comments on any website.

News site Malaysiakini, along with about 60 other news hubs, commercial websites, and prominent blogs, participated in the Web blackout.

“In other words, if defamatory comments are posted on a blog, the blog owner is likely to be sued or charged with criminal defamation,” Malaysiakini said on its website.


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