For One Day Ads Will Be Replaced By Anti-Censorship Messages

We all enjoy browsing the internet, viewing all your favourite sites and then suddenly you find a pop up appear advertising a new product that you “must buy” or a new game that you even get a “special offer” when you decide to close the window. The solution people use is an Ad blocker, making sure that only the sites we trust can show us adverts, but in a new move Amnesty International is teaming up with AdBlock to show support in the form of anti-censorship messages.

March 12th is World Day Against Cyber Censorship and to mark this day Amnesty International, one of the most well-known human rights organisations, is teaming up with AdBlock to replace ad’s with something a more thought-provoking.

Instead of Ad’s for the day you will receive messages from artist Ai Weiwei, Pussy Riot and Edward Snowden. With everyone the messages coming from being large, public and actively against government censorship.

AdBlock’s CEO Gabriel Cabbage says the concept is to provoke thoughts about online privacy and will only last a single day. In his statement, Cubbage encouraged people to “take a moment to consider that in an increasingly information-driven world, when your right to digital privacy is threatened, so is your right to free expression.”.

Google Expands Right to be Forgotten to All Domains

Ever since it’s introduction, the EU’s right to be forgotten has been controversial and misguided to say the least. Under the law, Google and other search providers are forced to delist links to new stories that are no longer considered relevant or in the public interest. As if censoring information in just the EU domains is not enough, it looks like pressure is on Google to expand the delisting. According to Google, European regulators have compelled Google to delist links on all Google search domains, not just the EU ones.

According to Google’s blog post, the new strategy is to delist links when a user exposes geolocation data from an EU location. This means EU users will no longer have the option of using Google.com for instance, to easily bypass the delisting. In order to gain access to an uncensored version of Google, users will have to use a non-EU VPN though that may not be safe if regulators have their way.

From Google’s perspective, this isn’t much different from what they do now as geo-location data is already collected when a user goes to Google. Instead of triggering the delisting based on which Google search domain is used, the delisting is triggered by geo-location data. The one benefit from this is that instead of deleting from all EU Google domains, the deleting only occurs if the searcher geolocation data is from the same country as the requestee of the delisting.

New Web Code to Reveal When You’re Blocked by Censorship

Web status codes are sent by websites to give you a summary when you attempt to access them, from the classic 404 error telling you that there is no content found, to less subtle ones like 204, which means you found the site, but it contains no body, so doesn’t actually have any content to send back. A new code, however, has been created for a slightly more frightening situation.

The new status code of 451 was posted under a title of “an HTTP status code to report legal obstacles”. Submitted as a proposed standard, the status code would be returned by websites when you can’t access a site due to “legal obstacles” which could range from a firewalled website to a copyright issue with the site in question.

This means that your browser could soon be returning a message saying that you are unable to access a site because of the content it contains, rather than a technical reason. This could escalate and be used as a way of blocking sites altogether, with companies blocking the return of 451’s, so what would say it’s blocked due to legal reasons appears to return a 404, saying the site does not exist.

With new codes come new clarity as to why websites are inaccessible or what information we get from them, the problem is that for this new standard to work all the companies involved would have to pass it without intercepting the message, a task that recent security issues and legislation is more than likely to worry a few people.

Mark Zuckerberg Plans To Connect Refugee Camps Via The Internet

Mark Zuckerberg has built a powerhouse in the form of Facebook which has both revolutionized the notion of a social network for consumers and also provided a platform for discussion and quick responses to world events. The recent statements from the famous CEO, who always seems to clad himself in the same coloured T-shirt, have included phrases concerning the Internet being “a force for peace” and “an enabler of human rights”, has announced that his company would offer its assistance to the United Nations with the aim of supplying internet connections to refugee camps.

Mr Zuckerberg responded to suggestions that Facebook are aiming to offer this service with the knowledge and expectation of drawing new consumers to the company’s platform by stating that it’s “not all altruism”. This, according to Wikipedia is defined as the “principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others”. Facebook have yet to firmly state how and when they would be offering their assistance to refugee camps, or indeed how the internet connections would work.

This has coincided with a petition which Mr Zuckerberg has created with the entertainer Bono, the philanthropist Mo Ibrahim and others to expand connectivity, calling internet access “essential” to achieving the development goals. This is all well and good, but there has yet to be clarification on the subject of net neutrality or internet censorship.

I have a feeling this gesture is being driven in its entirety by share price and company growth, Facebook wants to break into developing markets and are viewing the current displacement of people as a business opportunity. Mr Zuckerberg believes “We all benefit when we are more connected.” Indeed, so do the advertisers and corporations. There is also another issue which I can think of, if these refugee camps are connected via the Internet, surely this would make them easier to be tracked or hacked into by governments, your average Joe Militia or terrorist organisations.

It will be interesting to track, see what I did there, the progress and potential outcomes of these projects on the wider world.

Thank you nytimes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of bnr.nl

The Big Reddit Quarantine Begins

Since new CEO Steve Huffman took the reins at reddit, its community has been bracing itself for a promised purge of the site’s “dark side”, where users engage in discussion and activity related to, let’s say, ‘taboo’ subjects. And so, it has begun, but in a far more humane manner than was anticipated. Rather than ban the edgier subreddits, they have instead been ‘quarantined’; effectively, groups such as /r/gore, /r/CuteFemaleCorpses, and /r/SpaceDicks are now locked away as subscription entities.

So, what does that mean? We’ll let reddit itself explain:

Reddit’s content policy update was implemented two weeks ago with the censoring of a handful of violence-inciting racist groups. The policy has been increasing in magnitude over the last two weeks, and is set to continue indefinitely.

The quarantined subreddits will continue to exist, but reddit will essentially pretend that they don’t, so that new users don’t accidentally stumble upon them.

Quelle surprise, some users are not happy:

While others are happy to compromise:

While most of reddit’s “dark side” has been sent to the naughty step, there are a handful of truly offensive subreddits that have been ejected from the premises entirely. The hateful subreddits /r/GasTheKikes and /r/KillingWomen – amongst a number of other aggressively racist, misogynistic, and homophobic groups – are now subject to outright bans.

Thank you NMR for providing us with this information.

Russia Threatens to Ban Reddit

First it was gay emojis and memes. Now mother Russia is threatening to ban the whole of reddit, unless the site’s administrators start banning marijuana-growing tutorials.

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision for Telecom, Information Technologies, and Mass Communications, posted to social networking site VKontakte that it had been in touch with reddit’s administrators, asking them to take down posts related to growing cannabis, in line with a request from the Federal Drug Control Service of Russia. Since reddit has not responded to the request, Roskomnadzor is “preparing” to add the site to its ever-growing list of prohibited sites in Russia.

“If anyone has contacts with the reddit administration, ask them to check their email for letters from Roskomnadzor, otherwise, due to technological features, many operators may block the whole site,” the VKontakte post reads.

Roskomnadzor’s list of banned sites is quite the eclectic collection, ranging from Internet Wayback Machine, the official Jehovah’s Witness site, and a Facebook group supporting Russian state critic Alexey Navalny. The blacklist is designed to “protect” the Russian people from sites and pages that contain child pornography, extremist content, content subject to a gag order, or materials that advocate drugs or suicide. At some point or another during its lifespan, reddit has ticked every box.

Thank you Vocativ for providing us with this information.

The Internet Could Become as Regulated as TV

“It’s not the level playing field that we once thought it would be,” Jennifer Granick lamented. She was talking about the internet, and how it is slowly shifting away from being the bastion of free speech, invention, and information, at the Black Hat computer security conference in Las Vegas. She fears that the web will become regulated into oblivion, much the same way as US network television.

“It’s going to be this slick, stiff, controlled, closed thing,” Granick, a lawyer and director of civil liberties at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University, said during her keynote speech in front of 10,000 security researchers in Vegas yesterday. She fears that laws such as Europe’s Right to be Forgotten could cripple the internet’s transparency, especially if the legislation becomes extraterritorial, as France is advocating.

“We’re losing the freedom to tinker,” she complained. “The message is clear—you need permission to operate in their world. If you step over the line, we’ll come for you.” To combat the creeping problem, Granick encouraged hackers and coders to keep jabbing at the establishment, and building decentralised internet systems, to keep ultimate control of the web out of the hands of “The Man”. Failing that, “we need to smash it apart and make something new and better,” she postured.

Thank you USA Today for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of LiveScience.

China’s Great Firewall to Be Patrolled by Real-Life Cyberpolice

China has plans to take internet censorship to a whole new level, placing members of a real-life cyberpolice within the country’s biggest online companies to make sure they don’t dun goofed. Chinese “network security officers” will monitor online entities, garrisoned within their own building, for signs that they are violating state laws by committing what the Ministry of Public Security deems to be fraud, or the “spreading of rumours”. Internet companies will be forced to house “cybersecurity police stations” within their own buildings.

China employs around 2 million people to monitor the country’s internet activity, which includes maintaining the country’s infamous “Great Firewall”, which prohibits most non-Chinese internet traffic from being accessible within its borders.

“As the country enters the internet age, network security has become a national security issue and social stability issue, important to economic development and a serious day-to-day working issue for citizens,” the statement from the Ministry of Public Security reads.

“We will set up cyber security police stations inside important website and internet firms so that we can catch criminal behaviour online at the earliest possible point,” added Chen Zhimin, China’s deputy minister said at a conference announcing the move in Beijing.

Though the Ministry of Public Security has not revealed which companies will be forced to have their own police garrisons, it has confirmed that it will not discriminate between local firms and international businesses based within China, no doubt forcing many non-Chinese businesses to relocate.

Thank you TIME and South China Morning Post for providing us with this information.

Former reddit CEO Prepares Users For the Great Purge

Following new CEO Steve Huffman’s announcement that reddit is to implement a cull of the social news site’s “dark side”, a former Chief Executive has warned that it will be a systematic “purge”. Yishan Wong, who ran reddit between 2012 and 2014, has decided to “declassify a lot of things” now that he’s free of his “executive privilege,” giving us a glimpse behind reddit’s curtain in the process.

In a post on reddit, Wong wrote:

“The free speech policy was something I formalized because it seemed like the wiser course at the time. It’s worth stating that in that era, we were talking about whether it was ok for people to post creepy pictures of women taken legally in public. That’s s***ty, but it’s a far cry from the extremes of hate that some parts of the site host today. It seemed that allowing creepers to post (anonymized) pictures of women taken in public, in a relatively small subreddit that never showed up on the front page, was a small price to pay for making it clear that we were a place welcoming of all opinions and discourse.

Having made that decision – much of reddit’s current condition is on me. I didn’t anticipate what (some) redditors would decide to do with freedom. reddit has become a lot bigger – yes, a lot better – AND a lot worse. I have to take responsibility.”

Wong accepts his share of the blame for some of the seedier sides of reddit, noting his discovery of r/creepshots as a pivotal moment. He says that he decided not to censor the subreddit, which revolved around “creepy pictures of women,” since it was a “relatively small subreddit that never showed up on the front page.” Wong decided that allowing it to exist was “a small price to pay for making it clear that we were a place welcoming of all opinions and discourse.”

Wong also dispelled the myth that recently deposed CEO Ellen Pao was in favour of large-scale censorship. According to Wong, Pao “upholds free speech and tolerates the ugly side of humanity because it is so important,” and only sanctioned the banning of r/fatpeoplehate because it incited “off-site harassment, not discussing fat-shaming.”

Wong added:

“What all the white-power racist-sexist neckbeards don’t understand is that with her at the head of the company, the company would be immune to accusations of promoting sexism and racism: she is literally Silicon Valley’s #1 Feminist Hero, so any “SJWs” would have a hard time attacking the company for intentionally creating a bastion (heh) of sexist/racist content.”

The users of reddit have made their own bed, thinks Wong, and not before time. “We tried to let you govern yourselves and you failed, so now The Man is going to set some Rules,” he says. “Admittedly, I can’t say I’m terribly upset.”

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Reddit to Start Cull of “Dark Side” Communities

Steve Huffman, the new CEO of reddit following the resignation of maligned former chief executive Ellen Pao, has announced that, under his watch, the news and social networking site will begin exorcising any subreddits that support or promote offensive and obscene content.

Huffman, a returning co-founder of reddit, said that he helped create the site not “to be a bastion of free speech, but rather as a place where open and honest discussion can happen.”

Pao was forced out of her position as CEO of reddit following an online petition that attracted 213,000 signatures. She was blamed for the firing of Victoria Taylor, reddit’s former Director of Talent. However, after Pao’s departure, it was revealed that co-founder Alexis Ohanian was the person responsible for Taylor’s dismissal. Pao was also considered to be leading reddit into “new age of censorship,” which again turned out to be not entirely true, with a statement from former reddit executive Yishan Wong revealing, “On at least two separate occasions, the board pressed [Ms Pao] to outright ban all the hate subreddits in a sweeping purge. She resisted.”

“She probably would have tolerated your existence so long as you didn’t cause any problems. I know that her long-term strategies were to find ways to surface and publicise Reddit’s good parts – allowing the bad parts to exist but keeping them out of the spotlight,” Wong added.

Now, Huffman has outlined plans to develop a “comprehensive content policy” to control the more distasteful parts of reddit. “The overwhelming majority of content on Reddit comes from wonderful, creative, funny, smart, and silly communities. That is what makes Reddit great,” he wrote.

“There is also a dark side, communities whose purpose is reprehensible, and we don’t have any obligation to support them. And we also believe that some communities currently on the platform should not be here at all.”

“We as a community need to decide together what our values are. To that end, I’ll be hosting an AMA [Ask Me Anything session] on Thursday.”

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

New Algorithm Detects Nudity in Images

An algorithm has been compiled which analyses colour images and flags anything deemed to be nude content. The website, isitnude.com launched this month and allows users to test the obscenity of images either hosted online or on your computer. All you have to do is drag and drop the image or paste in the target URL.

So how does it all work? The procedure is built upon an algorithm by Hideo Hattori and a paper authored by Rigan Ap-apid entitled, “”An Algorithm for Nudity Detection”. In the research, Ap-apid explains,

“A skin colour distribution model based on the RGB, Normalized RGB, and HSV colour spaces is constructed using correlation and linear regression. The skin color model is used to identify and locate skin regions in an image. These regions are analysed for clues indicating nudity or non-nudity such as their sizes and relative distances from each other. Based on these clues and the percentage of skin in the image, an image is classified nude or non-nude.”

The programming while fairly accurate is still prone to mistakes and in the early phases of development. Enabling an open testing model to the public will help to enhance the software’s database. The real question is, who would use this technology? Perhaps child-friendly sites need to moderate uploads and check the suitability of adverts. Webmasters might find it handy to automate any type of nude spam. However, surely common sense is more than enough to know if an image contains graphic content. My biggest concern is this technology or other variants which use algorithm scanning could be a tool for control and allow governments to censor content they deem inappropriate.

Do you feel this is a necessary piece of technology?

Thank You PSY.org for providing us with this information.

UK Police Calls for ‘Adult Only’ Game Ratings

Violent media has long been a scapegoat for societal ills: from the 1960s through to the 1980s, conservative reactionary Mary Whitehouse waged a one-woman war on social liberalism – essentially, freedom of expression – with a Helen Lovejoy-esque rhetoric of, “Won’t somebody please think of the children!?”, through to the Video Nasty controversy during the Eighties, which saw films like I Spit on Your Grave and Driller Killer banned from home release in the UK for decades.

Even today, the victimisation of adult content continues unabated with the news that Northamptonshire Police in the UK are calling for “Adult Only” video game ratings, and stricter controls on their sale, following an investigation that suggests 42% of children under 5-years-old surveyed have seen violent images that have “affected them”.

Despite PEGI ratings already certifying an 18 rating, which have been legally enforceable since 2012, Police seem to be blaming game makers and retailers rather than parents for children getting their hands on games containing mature content, saying, “Gaming industry needs to play a more proactive role in helping parents protect their children from disturbing content, as new report shows primary school children as young as five deeply affected by graphic images.”

According to the Northants Police site, “The report found that 26% of children had accessed games that they knew they were underage for with over one in 10 children aged 11 saying they had downloaded Call of Duty.”

Northants Police’s solution is that “Video games that ask players to participate in extreme acts of violence such as massacring civilians and torturing people should be labelled ‘AO’ (Adult Only) to warn parents they are not suitable for children,” as though they don’t already know under the current system.

Police accuse game developers of creating controversy to sell games, with Adam Simmonds, Police & Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, saying, “Controversy creates cash. However, today’s report shows that children as young as five are being subject to graphic scenes while playing video games that have left them feeling extremely upset.  Many parents might not be fully aware that these games contain such disturbing scenes. It is time for the industry to play a more proactive role in protecting young minds.”

But the plan is utterly redundant since games are already tightly rated through the European PEGI system, it seems Northamptonshire Police is itself courting controversy in order to pass the buck.

Thankfully, the investigation does not go so far as to suggest that video game violence provokes real-world violence, so I don’t have to crack out my “playing chess results in regicide” joke.

Source: Northamptonshire Police

Greatfire.org Under Attack After Wall Street Journal Story

Greatfire.org is a site that collects data on the Great Firewall of China and shares real-time and historical information about blocked web sites and searches, with a particular focus on Google and Baidu. Now Greatfire.org has become the victim of their first ever distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, most likely following a recent article in the Wall Stree Journal that highlight backlashes to U.S. Cloud providers that are being used to get around China’s Great Firewall.

This tactic used didn’t just bring down the website by flooding it with lots of requests, 2.6 billion requests per hour at the time of the official blog post. Websites are not equipped to handle that kind of volume, so they usually end up offline. That is only part of the issue though as Greatfire.org now also faces a lot of extra bandwidth costs.

The site is hosted on Amazon’s Cloud service where you pay for traffic. The DDoS attack accumulated about 2500 times the usual traffic which could end with an extra bill of $30,000 – that is if Amazon doesn’t wave the charges due to them originating from an attack. It would be fair to them to do it, but they aren’t obligated to do so. This kind of attack is aggressive and is an exhibition of censorship by brute force. Attackers resort to tactics like this when they are left with no other options.

Thanks to Greatfire.org for providing us with this information

Hotline Miami 2 Creator Tells Australians to Pirate the Game

Jonatan Söderströmm, co-creator of video game Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, has told Australians that, if they want to play the game, they should “just pirate it”.

Hotline Miami is the latest victim of Australia’s draconian video game certification system, in a list that boasts such luminaries as Grand Theft Auto V and Syndicate. South Park: The Stick of Truth was also banned certain scenes were removed.

Söderströmm’s advice comes from an e-mail, screencapped by a reddit user. Ben Kuchera of gaming website Polygon confirmed the e-mail’s authenticity. In response to a potential customer, dismayed at Hotline Miami 2 being refused classification in Australia, Söderströmm wrote:

“If it ends up not being released in Australia, just pirate it after release.

No need to send us any money, just enjoy the game!

Peace”

Source: Kotaku

China Tries to Push Draconian Web Declaration on Attendees of Internet Conference

Wuzhen in China hosted the World Internet Conference earlier this week, and the state refused to allow the opportunity to push its online censorship agenda to pass. China, home of some of the most oppressive internet regulations in the world, slipped a draft of their authoritarian internet declaration under the hotel room doors of attendees for them to approve. Note that attendees included representatives from Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung.

The declaration draft opens with a generic covering letter, recognising that the internet “has turned the world into a global village and made the international community a highly interdependent community of common destiny.”

The notable stringency appears when the declaration reaches its nine suggestions for regulating the internet. China indirectly defends its right to restrict internet content, through its infamous Great Firewall, imploring people to “respect each country’s rights to the development, use and governance of the Internet, [and] refrain from abusing resources and technological strengths to violate other countries’ Internet sovereignty.”

Side-stepping their own history of cyber-attacks on other governments and media outlets, China also asks to “safeguard cyber security. We should actively cope with challenges to cyberspace security and reject all forms of cyber attacks and Internet theft. We should work together to fight cyber crimes, protect individual privacy and information security, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens.”

Other points seek to protect “the healthy growth of young people” through censorship of pornography and violent content, and “fighting cyber-terrorism,” a crime China are as guilty of as anyone else.

The declaration was set to be officially released at the closing ceremony of the conference on Friday, but was pulled without explanation.

Source: TechCrunch

Reddit Censors Links to Celebrity Photo Hack

In a controversial move, Reddit’s CEO Yishan Wong offered a blog post explaining as to why the company rarely takes down “morally objectionable or otherwise inappropriate” subreddits – all whilst the site took down /r/TheFappening and related subreddits that pointed towards the recent celebrity photo hack.

Since going live with the statement, Mr Wong updated the post adding:

Those two events occurring together have created great confusion. That is: we put up a blog post explaining why we don’t ban things for reason X (which some people want us to, but we will not), but at the same time behavior in a subreddit started violating reason Y (a pre-existing and valid rule for which we do ban things) and we banned it, resulting in much confusion.

Following the move, a news thread about the topic quickly rose to the frontpage – offering an inside look at the reaction from the sites users – many of which saw the multiple subreddit takedowns as hypocritical and conflicting. Users noted that over the span of the material being posted, reddit site traffic increased dramatically – on top of donations coined “reddit gold” to users who posted in the aligned threads. It’s been a week since the leaks, with other highly controversial material available through the site – bringing concern to surrounding factors behind the takedowns beyond that of DCMA takedown notices. It would seem there’s still some explaining left to do behind the censorship from the company.

Thank you TechChrunch for providing us with this information.

Gory Photos of Death Are Going to Be Removed from Twitter

Twitter has said that it will remove images and videos of dead people as long as immediate family members request it.

Any photos “from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death” will be considered for removal as long as there is a request from a family member. However, Twitter said that they will take into account public interest of any content and said that they may not comply with all requests.

This action may have been triggered by the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Shortly after the beheading, video footage and images were spreading over the internet and the White House contacted social networks to ask for them to remove the media. Although Twitter are under no legal obligation to remove these images or videos, it seems that they are willing to help stop them spreading. Twitter declined to say whether they received a request from Mr Foley’s family or if it was just the request from the White.

Andrew McLaughlin, Googles former public policy chief, doesn’t agree with the removal of the images and says that they could have important news value. He told the Washington Post:

“You can imagine that if you’re a family member of this person, by all means you would want the horrific photos of their moment of death taken offline. But … the photos are obviously newsworthy.” “It’s awful that these photos were taken, and it’s awful that this moment happened, but their very existence is news.

It has been mentioned that a simple “graphic warning” label might be better than full censorship of the media. Twitter has not commented on whether this could be implemented in the future.

Thanks to Sky news for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of 3Q Digital

Microsoft Denies Allegations That It Censors Bing Outside China

Microsoft has been faced with some pretty serious allegations from cyber-censorship monitoring group Greatfire.org. They claim that Microsoft is deploying Chinese censorship on a “global scale” based on earlier research conducted by the Guardian newspaper in the UK. While Microsoft admit to censoring Bing search results in China, because they legally have to just like Google, Yahoo and others have to, they strongly deny censoring their Chinese Bing site outside of China.

“We can emphatically confirm that they are not, Bing search results outside of China are not subject to and are not modified in any way based on Chinese law.” Said Stefan Weitz, Bing Senior Director.

On the other hand Greatfire.org stated that, based on their findings:

“We are 100% sure our findings indicate that Microsoft is cleansing search results in the United States to remove negative news and information about China….And they are doing this in every market in which they operate in the world.”

The reason this has been so controversial is that we’ve come to expect all companies to censor certain things inside China but we don’t expect those same censorship practices to be applied at a global level. What are your thoughts on the possibility of Bing censoring their Chinese site for users outside of China?

Image courtesy of WinRumors

The Pirate Bay Plans To Beat Censorship For Good This Year

The Pirate Bay had a lot of battles to do last year, having their domains taken down by court-orders and resurfacing around the world with new domains. This did not discourage Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde or Fredrik Neij, the founders of TPD, and furthermore, they plan on beating the censorship for good this time.

They plan on dropping the servers and relying on P2P connections, while the website will serve as an alternative DNS. For those who are not familiar with, The Pirate Bay released a tool named PirateBrowser that lets you access the website and bypass the IPS restrictions. Now they are working in making it create its own P2P network through which sites can be accessed without restrictions.

“The goal is to create a browser-like client to circumvent censorship, including domain blocking, domain confiscation, IP-blocking. This will be accomplished by sharing all of a site’s indexed data as P2P downloadable packages, that are then browsed/rendered locally,” a Pirate Bay insider explains.””It’s basically a browser-like app that uses webkit to render pages, BitTorrent to download the content while storing everything locally,” he adds.

The website updates will be incremental so as not to download the entire site every day. The disk space required is said to vary between a few megabytes up to several gigabytes for larger torrent index. The main idea is that there is no central IP address, therefore it cannot be blocked by any ISP.

TPB has big ideas in the works this year, and given the following information, they can even pull this off and offer a pool of torrents once more, without censorship. Let’s just hope that P2P transfers don’t become illegal through some other law in the works.

Thank you Torrent Freak for providing us with this infomration

CISPA Back For Third Time

C.I.S.P.A. is back again? As I told you in April, it hasn’t quite made it out of the press room. DemandProgress.org shared this information with us today.

Apparently Congress leaders seem to want to keep Anti-Piracy, Censorship, and Internet Security on the top of their todo list. Though the people have told them that this is not something that they want, Congress seems to think otherwise. It is probably because Big Business keeps lining Congress members pockets trying to pass these ridiculous laws.

It has been rumored that California Senator Diane Feinstein and Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, are working on a ‘Companion’ bill for CISPA, both leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Both Senators are strong supporters of NSA mass surveillance.

Apparently the senators did not get the memo that CISPA failed to win support from the US Senate earlier this year, though after the issues with Edward Snowden, CISPA may have a bit more leverage. Though I don’t know how private companies sharing information about their users to the United States Government could have stopped the massive leak of information about the Government using the law to spy people.

CYBERSECURITY, CYBERSECURITY, CYBERSECURITY!!!

Yeah, I don’t really think so, right now in the cyber world you want to be very careful about what you type on the internet, in blogs, even in chat messages on facebook, as I feel you never know who really is watching. A few months ago I found a really funny site, which can be found HERE that gives you a random sentence for you to email, tweet or otherwise share to the internet to screw with NSA. Where you might get a quote like this

In one possible future, terrorists exploited the weapons grade plutonium the Doc stashed in his DeLorean.

Though there has been little information released about the new bill, we will need to keep you updated. Hopefully the actual text will be publicly released soon.

The Snowden Leaks about NSA is spying on people it makes me worry about what I am posting on the internet. Am I going to get someone knocking at my door from some no-named agency of the United States Government because I said something that they felt was some sort of threat?

Our private data needs to be kept PRIVATE, if we post something on the internet and it is not accessible from the random public, that makes it PRIVATE!

Thank you DemandProgress.org for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of LifeHacker.com

Russia Building State-Controlled “Sputnik” Search Engine

A Reuters report that emerged recently suggests that Russia is preparing to launch its own state-controlled search engine. The state-controlled search engine will be dubbed “Sputnik” and the Sputnik search engine will be operated by the Russian state-controlled Rostelecom. The Russian government has been pouring a fair bit of money into it, $20 million so far, and has started trying to hire in talent from other big search engines. The website www.sputnik.ru will go live in Q1 of 2014 and will be the default search engine for all state employees. So far the Sputnik project has indexed about half the Russia internet.

Analysts are sceptical of Sputnik’s chances of success and it is not expected to eat much into the 60% market share Yandex has in the Russian search engine market. Analysts claim the expertise required for a successful search engine is not possessed by Rostelecom and the Russian government has underestimated the expertise needed.

“Even if the launch of Sputnik is well-executed, we do not expect it could significantly eat into the market shares of Yandex or Google” said Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts.

A state-controlled search engine would be the latest internet control measure put in place by the Russian government which has already seen it launch a website black-list that critics claim will increase censorship in the country.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

PirateBrowser Passes 100,000 Downloads Already

TorrentFreak reports that within just three days of being release the Pirate Browser has passed 100,000 downloads already. The Pirate Browser is the Pirate Bay’s customised browser, based on FireFox 23, and is configured to navigate around Pirate Bay blockades as well as blockades of other torrent sites. In addition it uses a TOR client to protect the user more and a customised proxy configuration to improve page loading performance.

While the download has clocked an impressive 100,000 already, the official torrent file is also being seeded by more than 5000 people and growing. While the new Pirate Browser is proving very popular the Pirate Bay wants to remind people that it does not provide internet anonymity, only a way to circumvent blockades of torrent websites.

“I didn’t think it would catch on so fast,” The Pirate Bay’s Winston tells TorrentFreak. “I guess people want to see the websites their governments and courts are trying to hide from them.It’s not providing anonymity and it’s not secure to hide your identity. Pirate Browser is only supposed to circumvent censoring and website blocking. If we made the browser fully anonymous it would only slow down browsing”.

Image courtesy of the Next Web

Russia To Regulate Google and Facebook Since They Already Comply With NSA

Despite Russia’s “generous” stance on offering Edward Snowden asylum Russia has relatively strict internet censorship in place and is looking to use the NSA scandal to bolster this even further. In an interview with the New York Times two Russian MPs stated that:

“We need to quickly put these huge transnational companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook under national controls,” Ruslan Gattarov, a member of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, or Federation Council, said in an interview. “This is the lesson Snowden taught us.”

Russia is known for its strict internet censorship and there has been outrage at its recently passed “SOPA-style” legislation. Furthermore Russian internet companies are known to be strictly legislated hence why non-Russian internet giants like Google and Facebook have struggled to take off in Russia. This perhaps explains why Yandex is the number one Russian search engine and VKontakte is the number one social media site.

The Russian government had previously tried to regulate Google and Facebook in a similar way but they both refused to give the Russian government information citing it wasn’t fair or lawful. With the NSA revelations Russia is now going to press ahead with extracting such information citing Google and Facebook’s NSA/PRISM cooperation as legal justification. In future it will be tough for the USA and the U.S government to take the high ground when U.S companies refuse to collaborate with foreign governments.

Image courtesy of Digital Trends

U.S Army Censoring Soldiers Access To News In Wake Of PRISM Scandal

As if the NSA and PRISM spying on its own citizens wasn’t enough now The Next Web reveals that the U.S army has been censoring what information its soldiers received. Apparently the U.S army is blocking access to coverage of the PRISM/NSA scandal on the Guardian, RT.com and other reputable news sites – so much for free speech and free press. And if you thought that was bad enough then it isn’t just internet coverage that is being blocked, apparently other media is being restricted as well such as what TV channels are shown, what radio stations are broadcasted and what Printed Press the soldiers are allowed to read.

A spokesperson for the Army Network Enterprise Technology Command of the U.S army said that:

“We make every effort to balance the need to preserve information access with operational security, however there are strict policies and directives in place regarding protecting and handling classified information”

We’ve now seen spying in the form of PRISM, lying and deception as the NSA boss says he knows nothing about WikiLeaks and censorship as the U.S military blocks what soldiers are entitled to read. You just wonder how long the American government can continue with its hypocritical actions before people start to hit back.

Image courtesy of The People’s Cube

Russia Could Pass SOPA-Like Legislation By August

Taiwan were the most recent country to reject SOPA-like legislation and you would of thought governments over the world would have learnt from the public outcry against various attempts to censor the internet. Well apparently not as Russia are pushing ahead with their SOPA-like legislation and it could be implemented within a couple of months.

TorrentFreak has broken the news about the Russian Government introducing a draft bill which has passed through its final two readings in the Russian State Duma as of yesterday. Lawmakers have fast-tracked the controversial legislation despite opposition from both Google and Yandex.

The new Russian proposal now needs upper house and presidential approval to come into effect on August the 1st. The new legislation would allow sites to be rapidly blocked by ISPs on allegations of copyright infringement. Copyright holders can complain directly to the Russian courts if infringing content is suspected. Those websites then have to remove all infringing material within 72 hours or face a full IP address ban. There is great concerabout IP bans as IP addresses can be shared by many sites and dynamic/shifting IP addresses could cause havoc.

“This approach is technically illiterate and endangers the very existence of search engines, and any other Internet resources. This version of the bill is directed against the logic of the functioning of the Internet and will hit everyone – not just internet users and website owners, but also the rightsholders” a spokesman for Yandex said in a statement. “It’s like forever closing the highway, on which there was only one accident.”

Apparently when the legislation comes into effect only TV shows and films are covered but further negotiations are expected to extend that to cover things like video games, books and so on, at a later date.

Image courtesy of Digital Trends

Taiwan’s SOPA-like Copyright Bill Shot Down In Flames

According to a report by TechDirt there has been public outcry in Taiwan over the government’s proposed copyright bill. Apparently during May the Taiwanese government created and submitted a SOPA-like (Stop Online Piracy Act) bill to combat copyright violations. The legislation was apparently draw up by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Yet the public weren’t happy at all and clearly the Taiwanese IPO missed the fact that the internet doesn’t like SOPA wherever it is located and whatever form  it comes in. A public blackout begun with Wikipedia Taiwan and Mozilla Taiwan leading the way. In the end the proposal was abandoned without the need for lots of public protests.

Though like many other countries Taiwanese internet users are not out of deep water just yet because the proposal will undergo a process of adjustment and revision and will probably be introduced again in a different form in the hope that the public doesn’t notice and that the authorities can quietly slip it through.

As the EFF explains:

The unfortunate reality is that many government authorities around the world still buy into the belief that the health of the Internet is acceptable collateral damage in this manufactured war on copyright infringement. Lawmakers need to understand that creativity and innovation can only thrive when our platforms remain open, where users are free to share and experiment with content. While it’s clear that the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office did not learn from the mistakes of SOPA and PIPA in the U.S., let’s hope others see the defeat of this latest copyright blacklist law and recognize that users will not put up with efforts to censor the Internet.

Image courtesy of FlagsInformation.com