Internet/Censorship

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Concept.png Internet/Censorship 
(social control,  censorship)Rdf-icon.png 4
Internet Censorship.jpg
Interest ofDan Dicks
Subpage(s)Internet/Censorship/Soft
Removing things from the internet has become a high priority for those who seek to contain knowledge and shape ideas. This is done under a range of covers, notably the "war on terror".

Internet censorship takes various forms and is carried out under various guises. After a slow start,[1] both deep states and governments are making strenuous and coordinated efforts, notably US, UK, France, China and Russia to try to prevent the internet being used for free exchange of ideas.[2] Overtly authoritarian governments may present censorship as a fait accompli,[citation needed] but governments with a historical commitemnt to freedom of speech use a range of pretexts for curtailing it, particularly scare tactics such as the "war on terror" - a development critised by the EFF.[3]


History

Google Trends reveals a spike in search interest in the term "hate speech" in January 2013 - of unknown origins. This phrase was used increasingly by those aiming to legitimize internet censorship

The culture of the early internet was very permissive. From a mixture of technical and cultural grounds, it promoted free speech and was definitely censorship unfriendly. Until around 2000 "few people initially thought that it was possible to regulate the Internet. "Cyberspace" was considered to be a space apart from the real world; one that was to a large extent exempt from its laws."[1] Back in 2000, internet use was an uncommon and limited to geeks, academics and the military. Prominent among internet activists of this period was Steve Kangas.

Early censorship

With prominent reference to child pornography and the incipient "war on terror", governments began to explore rudimentary blocking, which was still relatively easy for educated users to circumvent. As internet speeds increased, technological barriers to sharing of information waned and the threat of copyright violation was increasingly circumvented through delocalised technologies such as Bit Torrent. The deep state (and the NSA in particular) nevertheless devoted massive resources to developing censorship and particularly invisible "mass surveillance" technology. This was met with relatively little popular resistance, until the Edward Snowden affair underlined just how effective logging and pervasive of data had become and sparked a renewed debate about the issue of information freedom and privacy on the Internet.[1]

Technical challenge

The internet was designed to try to not have a single point of failure or control, making it technically harder than the censorship of traditional corporate media.

“The Internet perceives censorship as damage, and routes around it.”
John Gilmore [4]

"War on Terror"

Full article: Rated 4/5 “War on Terror”

Internet censorship was ramped up under excuse of the "War on Terror". The EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove stated in 2007 that “Radical and extremist Islamic propaganda distributed in Europe continues to feed off events happening outside Europe. The Internet is one media outlet, perhaps the essential media outlet for this propaganda.” [5] In 2018, Wired reported that "According to Financial Times sources, the EU is working on draft legislation that would force online".[6] This follows the development of the dubious claim that vulnerable people are "radicalised" by exposure to "terrorist material".[7]

Content moderation

Websites are geographically localised, allowing national governments to exercise censorship by defining laws circumscribing permitted use. These generally restrict the broadcast of graphic child abuse, pornography or gratuitous violence. Content moderation is software assisted, but has been termed "a profoundly human decision-making process". Exact codification is frustrated by the need to occasionally make exceptions (when Youtube, for example, retained the video depicting the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan because of 'newsworthiness' and political importance). One commentater wrote in 2016 that "to an alarming degree, the early seat-of-the-pants approach to moderation policy persists today, hidden by an industry that largely refuses to participate in substantive public conversations or respond in detail to media inquiries."[8] A 2016 estimate has put 1/3 of Facebook's entire staff as moderators, but Facebook claimed this was an overestimate. Legal liability contributes to secrecy, leading to a system in which "the details of moderation practices are routinely hidden from public view, siloed within companies and treated as trade secrets when it comes to users and the public".

Reviewing content can be a very harrowing job.[9] It is carried out a large number of low paid workers, following policies set by senior decision-makers who rarely experience the material directly. "One content moderator, on condition of anonymity, said her colleagues and supervisors never saw violent imagery because her job was to remove the most heinous items before they could. Instead, she was asked to describe it."[8]

Google

Full article: Google/Censorship

As the most used search engine, Google is in a unique position to carry out censorship - whether to discourage users from finding content or simply to block access from their site. Google's blocking is not straightforward to estimate. For example, as of January 2018, a Google search for the "Beyond The Dutroux Affair" did not return results from Joël van der Reijden's ISGP site (https://isgp-studies.com) amongst the top 100 hits - in spite of returning several mentions of that site, and copies of van der Reijden's original article of that name (at https://isgp-studies.com/belgian-x-dossiers-of-the-dutroux-affair). Google's blocking policy, like their ranking policy, is a black box which facilitates easy and inscrutable censorship to promote vested interests.

Censorship by Google has a self-reinforcing nature; when search results are ranked low, fewer requests are made to view the page, in turn lowering its exposure, resulting in fewer "likes" and fewer person to person referrals. Similarly, Google can inscrutably inflate the popularity of certain pages with a similar knock-on effect.

Wikipedia

Full article: Wikispooks:Problems with Wikipedia/Censorship

Wikipedia's guidelines on notability and its definition of what constitutes a "reliable source" mean that it is firmly part of the corporate media establishment, notwithstanding its efforts to present itself as a democratic alternative medium ("the encyclopedia that everyone can edit..."). The repeated deletion of the following pages indicates some of the stories it is determined not to tell:

                  Page                  Description
9-11/WTC7/DestructionCompared to the WTC Twin Towers, few people have seen video footage of the collapse of the 47-story WTC building 7, but the event was predicted and recorded by at least 3 TV networks and exactly resembles a controlled demolition. The event was subject to a news blackout by commercially controlled media for years afterwards, no mention of WTC7 was made in the 9/11 Commission's final report and Wikipedia has no separate page for this event.
Kevin AnnettWhen he reported that the church of which he was a minister had been involved in genocide, Rev. Kevin Annett was told to shut up. He didn't. He researched the topic and wrote books and made a movie about it. His Wikipedia page has been deleted at least 4 times as "non-notable" because he has been blacklisted by corporate media. He continues to expose institutional corruption and child abuse.
Bernard Asso
Jane BürgermeisterAgainst the concerted opposition of Big Pharma, Jane Bürgermeister has attempted to highlight risks and malfeasance associated with vaccines and emerging diseases.
Barry JenningsA key 9/11 witness whose testimony contradicted the 9/11 report. He was reported dead without further explanation, aged 53. No death certificate is available on the internet, the cause of death is unknown, and his entire family went missing without explanation at the same time.

Censorship by countries

Europe

Germany

The city of Dusseldorf passed a censorship law in 2001 which required all ISPs to block http://rotten.com.[10]

France

In February 2015, following the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the French government introduced new laws to allow sweeping internet censorship. In March 2015, it blocked five websites accused of condoning "terrorism". ISPs were given 24 hours to comply with government ban orders.[11] Citing a paper[12] by Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, François Hollande called for governments of the world to award themselves new powers to censor any ideas they deemed as "conspiracy theories".[13]

Russia

Would this be an illegal image under the apparently rather vaguely worded Russian meme 'misuse' law?

In May 2014, Vladimir Putin passed a law which requires bans anonymous wifi connections and requires any site with more than 3,000 visitors/day to register, and meet certain requirements.[14][15] In 2015, a law was announced which would make 'misuse' of memes illegal.[16]

In 2019, after the Christchurch Mass Shooting‎‎, Putin passed a bill to ban "fake news" and another to make it illegal to insult public officials.[17]

UK

In March 2014, James Brokenshire (UK minister for immigration and security) "has called for the government to do more to deal with 'unsavoury', rather than illegal, material online." Brokenshire is reported as stating that Terrorist propaganda online has a direct impact on the radicalisation of individuals and we work closely with the internet industry to remove terrorist material hosted in the UK or overseas.” [18] In 2014, the head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner, Mark Rowley claimed that counter-terrorism officers were removing more than 1000 online postings every week.[19]

The Metropolitan Police Service have issued misleading warnings that viewing certain videos may constitute an offence under anti-terrorism legislation, in an apparent attempt to get people to self-censor.[20]

Craig Murray wrote in 2016 that the Guardian "has led the charge for internet censorship in the UK."[21]


The conservative party manifesto issued before the 2017 General Election declared an ambition to introduce sweeping regulations on the internet, aiming to give the UK government the control to decide what is said online: “Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet. We disagree.” [22]

Asia

Bahrain

Bahrain is the second largest jailer of journalists, per capita, in the world (after Turkey). Website are blocked and social media infiltrated.

China

China spends millions of dollars on software to enable internet censorship, and began controlling its citizens' Internet access in the mid-1990s.[23] China reportedly has "around two million people policing public opinion online"[24] In 2015, CNN suggested that about 1 to 3% of Chinese Internet users regularly jump the Firewall to browse the open Internet.[23]

Jordan

In 2014, the Jordanian government claimed the right to shut down any internet site it objected to.[25]

Turkey

In April 2015 it was revealed because of the technical difficulty of blocking a single site, the Turkish authorities blocked Wordpress.com, censoring 60,000,000 websites because of a single post.[26] Turkey has also blocked YouTube and Twitter.

Americas

US

The US government has long had a policy of seizing entire top level domains (particularly .com addresses) at will. This effectively censors websites not only for the US public, but worldwide. This policy has lead to increasing interest in a de facto adjustment to the system for managing domain names. In December 2014, an outage of Drudge, WND.com and other popular sites which offered a challenge to the commercially-controlled media was interpreted as a test run of plans to censor a range of alternative news sites.[27][28] In November 2016, following the victory of Donald Trump in the US Presidential Election, the "Fake News" meme was promoted by commercially-controlled media, followed by an increase in internet censorship.[29]

Reason.com reported that in September 2016, Mark Feigin was prosecuted for 5 tweets he made, under a Californian law against people who "with intent to annoy or harass, makes repeated telephone calls or makes repeated contact by means of an electronic communication device".[30]

In December 2016, Twitter 'ghost banned' Craig Murray, resulting in a 90% decrease in traffic to his site from that site.[31]

Australia

“For some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift” [32], stated Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in September 2014, as laws were being introduced to outlaw speech that the authorities see as "advocating "terrorism"".

New Zealand

After the Christchurch shooting, the New Zealand police was threatening internet users with 10 years in prison for downloading a video of it or 14 years for uploading.

Circumvention

Websites interested in assisting the circumvention of internet censorship include https://greatfire.org/

 

Examples

Page nameDescription
Facebook/Censorship
Google/Censorship
Internet/Censorship/Soft
Reddit/Censorship
Twitter/Censorship
Wikipedia/Censorship
YouTube/Censorship

 

Related Quotations

PageQuoteAuthorDate
"Fake News"“long before “fake news” became a major media topic, the US government was already planning its legally-backed crackdown on anything it would eventually label “fake news".”25 December 2016
Dan Dicks“The internet we have today is not going to be around very much longer. They need to control the narrative...

They are starting to clamp down, not on just conservative voices.

It's not about those on the right, it's not about people on the left, it's about anybody who goes against the status quo.”
Dan DicksJune 2019
Document:I've Been Banned From Facebook for Sharing an Article About False Flags“That such a statement [about the need to censor social media] could be made in a congressional hearing, entirely without objection, is an expression of the terminal decay of American democracy. There is no faction of the ruling class that maintains any commitment to basic democratic rights. None of the Democrats in the committee raised any of the constitutional issues involved in asking massive technology companies to censor political speech on the Internet. Only one Republican raised concerns over censorship, but only to allege that Google had a liberal bias.”Andre Damon1 November 2017
Holger Münch“The still high incidence of punishable hate posting shows a need for police action. Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threat, criminal violence and violence either on the street or on the internet.”Holger Münch21 June 2017
Joanna Shields“Where there is more propaganda directing people to kill, we must act to remove it quickly. Where there are new networks promoting radicalisation, we must disrupt them. We need to work with industry to improve solutions that automate the identification and removal of dangerous extremist content at scale and tools that better tackle automated bots and other techniques that support these propaganda machines. This must be done as quickly as possible before people, particularly sympathisers and the vulnerable, get the chance to see it. And we must work with civil society to offer a brighter and more compelling path to young people who feel they have no hope of changing their circumstances. There is no panacea, no single piece of technology, intervention or public policy that will solve this. But we can make it harder for terrorist and extremists to use the Internet to recruit, inspire and incite.”Joanna Shields1 August 2016
Streisand effect“How long is it going to take before lawyers realize that the simple act of trying to repress something they don't like online is likely to make it so that something that most people would never, ever see (like a photo of a urinal in some random beach resort) is now seen by many more people? Let's call it the Streisand Effect.”Mike Masnick5 January 2005
Streisand effect“[T]he British Government moved to silence the national media. Using the D-Notice system that Australia similarly enforced, Rear Admiral David Pulvertaft warned editors that "a US-based website has today published on the Internet a list which identifies a large number of SIS (MI6) officers. Departmental officers are examining how the damage of this disclosure can be minimised. While this is in progress, I would ask that editors do not interpret the information in the website as being widely disclosed and do not, therefore, publish the address or the content of the website". Duncan Campbell wrote a week later that "The folly of the decision sank home in London this weekend as officials watched the list from Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) spread across the world.”Duncan Campbell16 May 1999


Rating

4star.png 9 April 2019 Robin  Good overview of this important topic
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References

  1. a b c http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/teaching/ilaw/2011/Summary_of_Four_Phases
  2. It is interesting that these same 5 countries are the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council
  3. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/11/censoring-web-isnt-solution-terrorism-or-counterfeiting-its-problem
  4. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/27/internet_censorship/
  5. , 6 November 2007
  6. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/wired-awake-200818
  7. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/terrorist-radicalisation-facebook-twitter-isis
  8. a b http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/13/11387934/internet-moderator-history-youtube-facebook-reddit-censorship-free-speech
  9. https://irlpodcast.org/season4/episode4/
  10. http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/issue-sections/features-issue-sections/10700/rotten-history-shock-site/
  11. https://news.yahoo.com/france-blocks-five-sites-accused-condoning-terrorism-164621455.html
  12. File:Cass sunstein conspiracies.pdf
  13. Document:The State Against The Republic‎ by Thierry Meyssan
  14. |Russia Quietly Tightens Reins on Web With ‘Bloggers Law’, New York Times
  15. http://www.dailydot.com/politics/russia-anonymous-public-wifi-registration/
  16. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/13/russian_censor_warns_against_meme_misuse/
  17. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/03/russia-makes-it-illegal-to-insult-officials-or-publish-fake-news/
  18. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-03/15/government-web-censorship Wired , 2014
  19. http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29649010
  20. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/08/20/met_police_reg_hack_is_not_a_terrorist_hes_not_even_a_naughty_boy/
  21. https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/12/twitter-facebook-censorship-mainstream-media-denial/
  22. https://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/theresa-may-wants-to-regulate-the-internet?utm_term=.aejlVYg8a#.vqBL391qz Buzzfeed , May 2017
  23. a b http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/25/asia/china-war-internet-great-firewall/
  24. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/07/world/asia/china-internet-monitors/
  25. https://cpj.org/blog/2014/05/jordans-free-press-record-dims-with-website-restri.php
  26. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150403/06061530530/turkish-censorship-order-targets-single-blog-post-ends-up-blocking-access-to-60-million-wordpress-sites.shtml
  27. http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2014/12/internet-news-sites-blocked-12-2-2014-getting-ready-to-go-live-3071452.html
  28. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/2/drudge-report-wnd-go-dark-amid-fbi-warning-of-sony/
  29. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/01/corporate-censorship-independent-sites-begun.html
  30. http://reason.com/volokh/2017/12/29/calif-prosecuting-man-for-insulting-post
  31. https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/12/twitter-facebook-censorship-mainstream-media-denial/
  32. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/the-delicate-balance-between-freedom-and-security-may-have-to-shift-tony-abbott-20140922-10kdz7.html The Sydney Morning Herald , September 2014