The Free Internet Project


China censors Weibo posts on Hong Kong protests

As demonstrations for universal suffrage and democracy continue in Hong Kong, China is clamping down on social media service Weibo. According to Weiboscope, a project of the University of Hong Kong that tracks censorship, 15 of every 1,000 posts on Weibo were being censored, five times the usual amount.

Some terms that were being censored: "Hong Kong police" and "#HongKong."

In addition, China blocked Instagram, the photo sharing site owned by Facebook, as well as news articles related to the Hong Kong protests.  The major news outlets in China did not report the protests.  Searches on Baidu and other Chinese search engines yielded no results relevant to the ongoing protests.

Tim Berners-Lee calls for Magna Carta for Internet rights

At the Web We Want festival in Londan, Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the Web continued his call for a Magna Carta for Internet rights, including free speech and privacy. He said his biggest fear is that the Web will be controlled either by corporations or governments.

“If a company can control your access to the internet, if they can control which websites they go to, then they have tremendous control over your life. If a government can block you going to, for example, the opposition’s political pages, then they can give you a blinkered view of reality to keep themselves in power. Suddenly the power to abuse the open internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies." 



African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Unveiled

At the Internet Governance Forum in Instanbul, Turkey, the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms was unveiled.  The result of one year of discussions among NGOs, stakeholders, and interested parties, including through online comments, the Declaration is "a Pan-African initiative to promote human rights standards and principles of openness in Internet policy formulation and implementation on the continent. The Declaration is intended to elaborate on the principles which are necessary to uphold human and people’s rights on the internet, and to cultivate an Internet environment that can best meet Africa’s social and economic development needs and goals."

Russia's "Blogger law" goes into effect for sites with 3,000 daily visitors

Russia's new "Blogger law" goes into effect today.  It requires all blogs in Russia that attract 3,000 daily visitors or more "to register with the state watchdog Roskomnadzor, disclose their real identity and follow the same rules as journalists working in conventional state-registered mass media," according to Russia Times. In the United States, treating bloggers like professional journalists usually is a good thing, offering full First Amendment protections.  In Russia, it's the exact opposite.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook-led effort to provide free Internet access in Zambia

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook helped to start a cooperative effort among telecoms and Facebook to provide free Internet access to countries that lack it.  This initiative--called launched an app for people in Zambia that provides limited free access to  Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Google, AccuWeather, Unicef, job search sites in Zambia, and women's health and rights organizations.  (More here.)

Google tells EU regulators of problems in implementing "right to be forgotten" requests

After losing a landmark decision before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in May 2014 (Google Spain v. Costeja, C-131/12), Google has begun enforcing the controversial EU right to be forgotten.  Under the right that is recognized in EU countries, people in the EU may request search engines such as Google to remove links to web pages describing them (presumably in an unflattering way) after a certain period of time.  For example, imagine that a Google search for your name resulted in the first entry being an old article about your arrest for drunk driving as a teenager.  Since the decision, Google has received over 90,000 requests from Europeans to remove links from search terms involving people's names.


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