by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 28th 2013 3:05pm
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Jan 2nd 2013 8:04pm
from the targeted-blocking-software-fails-to-block-main-target dept
More recently, it joined a variety of nations which imposed a Youtube ban (or at least complained loudly and violently) because of Google's refusal to block or remove the "Innocence of the Muslims" video. Reacting to violent protests, Pakistan cut off Youtube, much to the dismay of its estimated 25 million internet users.
After the protests switched from decrying the offending video to decrying the offending censorious government, Pakistan decided to lift the ban... only to put it back in less time than it takes to sing [insert viral pop tune title here]:
A ban on YouTube, which Pakistan imposed after an anti-Islam video caused riots in much of the Muslim world, was lifted Saturday, only to be reinstated — after three minutes — when it was discovered that blasphemous material was still available on the site.Much to the censor's dismay, the offending video remained just where the uploader had left it. The government stated it had "taken steps" to block offending content, but somehow the very thing that had prompted the shutdown had eluded the blockade, putting Muhammed directly in the path of badly-dubbed criticism.
This three-minute unbanning prompted another round of government-aimed criticism, this time with a bit more of a sarcastic edge, as a Pakistani journalist compared interior minister Rehman Malik to a kid playing with the light switch and pointed out that the same government that couldn't handle a website wants to be entrusted with stopping terrorism.
Unfortunately, part of the collateral damage of the Youtube ban is one of Pakistan's own -- Mohammed Shahid Nazir, a fishmonger whose song "One Pound Fish" has gone viral on the video service, racking up over eight million views.
The Nation’s report gave a sense of how famous Mr. Nazir managed to become, despite the ban on the video-sharing site in his home country: “Around 250 people, including local politicians met him at the airport, showering him with rose petals and chanting ‘Long Live One Pound Fish!’ while TV networks interrupted coverage of the fifth anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination to show his return live.”Of course, that's the danger of blocking or taking down content viewed as dangerous, blasphemous, heretical or just plain infringing -- very often, legitimate, non-dangerous, non-offensive content gets caught in the sticky webs of overreaching entities.
I suppose the government has to be grateful that this past weekend's up-and-down action managed to leave the rest of the internet intact. It has to be tough living down a surreptitious Youtube blockade that manages to kill your own country's internet service while blocking the Youtube connection of a handful of unrelated (except by ISP) countries.
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Dec 21st 2012 3:42am
from the blanket-bans-are-out dept
Back in 2010, Techdirt reported on Turkey's habit of blocking Google over certain holdings on its various sites. Mostly these were YouTube videos it took exception to, but other services were banned too. An earlier case, from 2009, received less attention at the time, but has now led to a precedent-setting ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that could have a big impact on future cases in Europe, and maybe even beyond.
The case was brought by a Turkish PhD student named Ahmet Yildirim, who complained that he had faced "collateral censorship" when his Web pages hosted on Google Site were shut down by the authorities in 2009 as a result of a court action aimed at another set of pages held there. Open Society Foundations, which had filed a brief with the European Court of Human Rights in support of the applicant's claim, explains the background:
Yildirim's academically-focused site was blocked by the Turkish regulator, TiM, as a result of a court injunction that ordered it to close down local access to the entire Google Sites domain. The move was supposedly aimed at a single website hosted by Google which included content deemed offensive to the memory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, in breach of Turkish law.
As this makes clear, the problem was the over-blocking that resulted in all Google Sites being taken down, even though only one of them was accused of insulting modern Turkey's founder. The court's judgment (pdf) explains that such blocks are only compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights if they fulfil various strict conditions:
Yildirim's appeals against the injunction were turned down by the Turkish courts, which argued that the blanket ban was reasonable because it was not possible for the authorities to block a single Google-hosted site.
In its judgment, the ECHR noted that the regulator had not attempted to contact Google to seek the closure of the offending site, and that the 2007 law that allowed the regulator to close down foreign-hosted sites did not permit blocking an entire domain such as Google Sites.
The Court reiterated that a restriction on access to a source of information was only compatible with the Convention if a strict legal framework was in place regulating the scope of a ban and affording the guarantee of judicial review to prevent possible abuses. However, when the Denizli Criminal Court had decided to block all access to Google Sites, it had simply referred to an opinion from the TiB without ascertaining whether a less far-reaching measure could have been taken to block access specifically to the site in question. The Court further observed that there was no indication that the Criminal Court had made any attempt to weigh up the various interests at stake, in particular by assessing whether it had been necessary to block all access to Google Sites. In the Court's view, this shortcoming was a consequence of the domestic law, which did not lay down any obligation for the courts to examine whether the wholesale blocking of Google Sites was justified. The courts should have had regard to the fact that such a measure would render large amounts of information inaccessible, thus directly affecting the rights of Internet users and having a significant collateral effect.
The broader importance of this decision is explained in a comment quoted by the Open Society Foundations press release:
Darian Pavli, a lawyer at the Justice Initiative who worked on the submission, said: "This is the first ruling by an international tribunal on wholesale blocking of internet content, and a very significant precedent. The court made clear that access to online content is a fundamental right, and that it can only be restricted in exceptional cases, subject to full judicial review."
Although there is a three-month period in which the ruling can be appealed, the fact that the court's verdict was unanimous among the seven judges, one of whom is from Turkey, suggests that any such appeal is unlikely to stand much chance of overturning this important decision.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Oct 8th 2012 9:49am
from the seems-a-bit-excessive dept
Then, on October 4, 2012, the IFC began preventing files hosted on servers outside Iran from entering the country by blocking specific file extensions. At the time of writing, this policy applies to all MP3, MP4, AVI and SWF files. This kind of filtering was used after the controversial presidential elections of 2009, amidst harsh crackdowns on freedom of information, and coincides with Iran's current economic crisis and the ensuing protests.Apparently, those blocks do not apply to those files hosted within the country -- just those from foreign sites. Still, that's a pretty extreme move: blocking all of those files takes away a significant part of the audio-visual part of the web. The article highlights a number of Iranians complaining on Twitter about how these blocks are having a severe negative impact on what they do. Still, it's yet another warning for what happens when a government can aggressively filter the internet in extreme ways.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 1st 2012 5:33am
from the good-for-them dept
“KPN sees the blocking of websites as a drastic measure for which a court order is required,” KPN said in a statement, adding that innovation is needed to curb piracy.It's good to see that these ISPs are standing up for the right to an open internet. Of course, I do wonder how such block orders work under Netherlands' (first of its kind) net neutrality law.
“KPN doesn’t believe a blockade is the right solution. What is needed are robust, attractive business models that are easy to use and offer a fair deal to both producers and consumers of content.”
T-Mobile also said that it will only respond to court orders, while it emphasized the value of an open Internet.
“T-Mobile strongly supports an open Internet and is fundamentally against shutting off access to websites. Dutch law is very clear when it comes to blocking access to the Internet. T-Mobile will only respond to a court ruling, not to demands from a private party such as BREIN.”
In the meantime, the two ISPs who were subject to the court order have begun the blockade, with Ziggo pointing users to an information page... in which they tell users that it's easy to get around the blockade.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 14th 2011 3:32am
from the won't-stop-infringement dept
Second, as soon as any blacklist is in place, the copyright holders will push for more. Witness the record labels immediately pushing for BT to block access to other sites, including the Pirate Bay, on their say so alone, rather than any court order. And here, again, we see the natural state of things for copyright maximalists. They'll never stop trying to expand what they control. If the law gives them an inch, they'll try to claim a mile.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 22nd 2011 8:12am
from the internet-censorship-at-work dept
IP blocking is a blunt method of filtering content that can erase from view large swaths of innocuous sites by virtue of the fact that they are hosted on the same IP address as the site that was intended to be censored. One such example of overblocking by IP address can be found in India, where the IP blocking of a Hindu Unity website (blocked by an order from Mumbai police) resulted in the blocking of several other, unrelated sites.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 18th 2011 1:09am
from the overreact-much? dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, May 5th 2011 12:10pm
from the technological-realities dept
Of course, the same problems that we discussed a few years back apply (and haven't been solved). If you think kids won't figure out how to get around such things, you haven't seen kids and their mobile phones lately. They understand the devices better than parents. Even if a parent can figure out how to enable the software, you can bet kids will figure out how to disable it.
An even bigger issue is that blocking texting based on the speed of travel is a really broad brush for trying to stop texting while driving. Speed of travel isn't a very good proxy for whether or not someone is driving. It may be a good indication that someone is travelling in a vehicle, but that hardly means they're controlling the vehicle. And, it really doesn't make sense to block texting for passengers. In fact, allowing passengers to communicate in this way often serves as a good way to stop drivers from texting, because they can ask a passenger to handle the texting instead. Or if someone's on a bus or a train, should they really be stopped from texting? Often, that's when people use such functionality the most, letting others (such as parents!) know that they got on the bus or train and would be arriving on time/late/early/etc.
I certainly recognize the risks of texting and driving. And it's no secret that many, many kids do engage in this incredibly risky and stupid behavior. But laws like this don't solve the real problem. Instead, they just create even more problems.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 30th 2011 1:21am
from the open-the-whole-thing-up dept
Of course, this is kind of silly. It's as if they're pretending that porn doesn't exist elsewhere on the web. But, the other silly thing this highlights is the idea of slowly rolling out specialized TLDs. For years, we've been asking why ICANN doesn't just do away with specialized TLDs and let anyone register anything.anyTLD. It really would not be that difficult to set up a system to allow that, and then you get away from this idea of having to set up all these expensive special TLDs. It also makes it silly for any country to target a specific TLD to block. But, of course, it won't happen, because it doesn't involve the companies wishing to be registrars of these new TLDs getting tons of cash.