Media Law Round Up 10/19

//CGCS Presents this week’s Media Law Round Up – a collection of stories that developed over the week dealing with International Media Law & Policy, Freedoms of Speech, Information and Expression, Censorship, Privacy and all things Web 2.0.

 

// To read the articles in full, simply click on the title to go to the original host’s page.

 

  • ICT Embraced Worldwide

10/18 East Africa: Regional Varsities Not Plugged in ICT to Be Exposed

An international research company has embarked on the process of ranking universities and other institutions of higher learning in East Africa on the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

CPS International, a social and market research company wants to establish how universities and colleges have employed the use of ICT in learning, including exposing their students and lecturers to computer use.

“The main reason for ranking universities is the vast growth in higher education in recent decades. Every university wants to be the best choice that a prospective student can have and that is why it is very important to establish how students are prepared in terms of ICT,” CPS director, Dann Mwangi said.

10/18 India, China Likely Successors to Silicon Valley by 2016: Survey

WASHINGTON: Close to half of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) leaders worldwide see India and China to be the likely successors of Silicon Valley as the global technology innovation center within the next four years, a new survey has revealed.

More than two in five technology executives surveyed for KPMG’s Technology Innovation Survey 2012 believe Silicon Valley is on the way out as the global technology hub, in which a plurality of 44% expect China to replace it by 2016.

10/18 Ericsson Brings Connectivity to Schools in Arab World

Ericsson announced the launch of the Connect To Learn project, which has resulted in five schools enjoying the benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) using the power of cloud-based technology, in Djibouti.

Ericsson launched this initiative in collaboration with Djibouti Telecom, the Ministry of Telecommunication of Djibouti and the Ministry of Education of Djibouti.

10/19: Namibia: MPs Embrace ICT, Go Hi-Tech

Parliamentarians will soon be reading their statements from tablets as they table motions before the National Assembly.

The move is part of the e-government programme implementation, which the Parliament Standing Committee on Information and Communication Technology is pursuing.

The Standing Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has just returned from a study visit to the Republic of Estonia, north Europe, where it looked at how that country has progressed in the use of information and communication technology (ICT). The MPs, led by Dr Moses Amweelo, were very impressed by what they experienced, and recommended that if Namibia wants to succeed and become a digital society, “we need to upgrade ICT infrastructure and implement policies effectively”.

  • ICT Policy Reform

10/18 Proposal to Entrench Digital Rights into Maltese Constitution

The Maltese are being called to give their feedback on new digital rights to be entrenched into the Maltese Constitution to reflect today’s digital lifestyle. These include the right to internet access with no threats from authorities and service providers to have access curtailed, the right to access information and services online, and the right to limit how much personal information is given to third parties online.

Several proposals are put forward on the role of the State

Last week the Ministry for Infrastructure, Transport and Communication presented a White Paper with proposals in the wake of the ACTA controversy early this year.

10/19 ASIO Head Backs Interception Changes

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) director general David Irvine on Friday declined to outline what the particular problems were.

He told ABC radio information had been missed in recent years because “devices have been used that we didn’t know about”.

Mr Irvine said the current telecommunications interception regime required ASIO to obtain a warrant for each device, and that became difficult when people were using different forms of communication.

  • #Freedom of Speech Issues Follow #Twitter; Google Policy Changes too?

10/17 Reddit CEO Defends Free Speech — “even for ‘creeps’ like Violentacraz”

49-year-old computer programmer Michael Brutsch was the main moderator for Reddit’s “Creepshot” forum, which sparked outrage last month for encouraging users to post “covert photos they had taken of women in public,” typically close-ups of body parts for voyeuristic sexual thrills.

Brutsch was publicly exposed by Gawker writer Adrian Chen last weekend, leading his real-world employer to fire him and many Reddit administrators to ban links to Gawker websites as a show of solidarity with head creep Brutsch.

10/18 Google Threatens to Omit French Media from Search

Google and the French government are engaged in an on-going battle over news results displayed in Google searches.

The French government is proposing a law that would require search engines to pay for news articles if they wanted to include them in query results, according to global news agency AFP. And Google has said that rather than complying with the law, it will simply omit French media sites from search.

In a letter sent by Google to a handful of government offices this month, which was obtained by AFP, the search giant said it “cannot accept” the law’s requirements and “as a consequence would be required to no longer reference French sites.”

10/18 Twitter Grapples with Wiggly Censorship Line in Germany

Twitter on Thursday blocked tweets from the accounts of a neo-Nazi group that is in violation of German law. The ban is effective only within Germany. This is the first time Twitter has acted on its “country withheld content” policy, which it first announced in January.

Twitter enacted the policy in an effort to balance freedom of expression with compliance with local laws. This is far from the first time that a company has confronted that problem. In 2000, a French court ordered Yahoo to block access in France to auctions that sold Nazi memorabilia.

Since the end of World War II, many nations have adopted laws against the display of Nazi images, including flags, and Germany has banned certain groups. It was last month that the state of Lower Saxony declared the group Besseres Hannover (Better Hannover) illegal, and German authorities requested that the group’s Twitter account be shut down.

Instead, Twitter blocked the account’s tweets, but only in Germany.

 10/19 Twitter, Reddit & The Battle of Free Speech

Where should freedom of speech begin and end when you are a Web-based entity with a global audience? That’s the question raised by a couple of recent events, including the furor over a Reddit moderator’s creepy behavior and now the news that Twitter has blocked an account for the first time at the request of a state government—in this case, Germany, which asked the service to take action against a Twitter user posting neo-Nazi sentiments, something forbidden by the laws of that country. As the Web and social tools become more mainstream, these kinds of battles over the limits that should apply to free speech are only going to become more frequent, but the solution to them remains elusive at best.

  • Sanctions on Iran bring wide range of consequences

10/16 EU puts new Sanctions on Iran for Nuclear Program

The European Union, concerned by what it called Iran’s refusal to come clean on its nuclear program, imposed a new range of sanctions Monday intended to hit the country’s treasury and increase pressure on its Islamic regime.

A leading European satellite provider, meanwhile, took 19 Iranian television and radio broadcasters off the air Monday — a cutoff due to earlier sanctions. The move prompted accusations of censorship and threats to sue from Iranian state television.

Foreign ministers from the 27 EU member countries, meeting in Luxembourg, said Iran was “acting in flagrant violation of its international obligations” and was still refusing to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency to address international concerns.

“European satellite company Eutelsat says it’s pulled the plug on several Iranian satellite channels following an order by the European Commission.

Eutelsat told Press TV that it asked media services company- – Arqiva, to take Iranian satellite channels off one of its Hot- Bird frequencies on Monday. Arqiva said in a separate statement emailed to Press TV that the decision was made by the E-U Council. The channels include Press TV, Al-Alam, Jaam-e-Jam One and Two, Sahar One and Two, Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, Qur’an TV, and al-Kawthar. European satellite firms had been jamming the Iranian channels for months before the decision was announced. Iran’s Arabic-language news channel, Al- Alam, has been jammed on a daily basis while airing a program on Bahrain. Technical experts say the jamming was carried out by British technicians. Observers are saying the jammings and now the ban show the European Union does not respect freedom of speech and is trying to silence the voice of alternative media.”

10/17 Iran Media Officials Outraged Over Satellite Blackout

Denouncing what they called a hypocritical Western suppression of free speech, Iranian media officials expressed outrage Wednesday over a decision by Europe’s largest satellite providers to cease transmission of Iran’s 19 state-operated satellite television and radio channels that broadcast to Europe and parts of the Middle East.

The decision, announced Monday by the French company Eutelsat and the British company Arqiva, came as the European Union expanded its list of sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear program. The satellite blackout has deprived the Iranian channels of an audience abroad that represents 200 million households.

The blocked channels include Iran’s flagship English-language Press TV news service and the Arabic-language Al Alam, both among the Islamic Republic’s most powerful outlets for disseminating the government’s political and religious viewpoints.

10/18 Azhar Ahmed: Punished for Irresponsible Freedom of Speech?

His crime was posting comments that were tasteless, rude, offensive, and highly insensitive to those who had lost their loved ones, but were they worthy of a criminal trial?

According to various prominent UK news organisations, including The Independent, the following comments posted by a 20-year-old British man, Azhar Ahmed, on the social networking website Facebook, landed him in hot water…

10/19 Iran’s Feared Intelligence Ministry Launches Website

One of Iran’s most feared and secretive state agencies has softened its tone and pulled back the curtain on some of its activities in what appears to be an attempt to improve its public image.

The country’s Intelligence Ministry has launched a new website with a variety of content aimed at informing, reassuring, and protecting ordinary Iranians.

Its debut offerings includes an interview with Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi — who notes that all “antirevolutionary” moves are being closely monitored — as well as analyses of U.S. and Israeli intelligence services and information about “human rights abuses by the U.S. government,” and “Egypt’s new ties with the Zionist regime.”

10/19 Iranian Journalists Rap West’s Claims about Freedom of Speech, via Fars News

In a statement issued on Thursday, a group of Iranian journalists and reporters condemned the recent ban on the Iranian satellite channels in Europe, saying the ban proves that freedom of speech is “mere joke” in the West.

The statement added that the arrogant powers seek to “subvert the truth” through their biased and dishonest media and block any path to factual and truthful news.

 

Featured Image Credit: Illustration in Harper’s weekly, v. 11, no. 566 (1867 Nov. 2), p. 693. Scan provided by The Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons.

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