Friday, February 28, 2014

Ninety Percent Americans Approve Of Internet's Impact

As the Web celebrates its 25th anniversary in March, the Pew Research Centre has published the first of four reports on the Web at 25 in the US. While Pew has tracked the explosive growth in the adoption of the internet from 1995, this new report looks at the level of internet penetration today and Americans’ responses to its impact on their lives.

The report found that 87% Americans use the internet with “near-saturation usage among those living in households earning $75,000 or more (99%), young adults ages 18-29 (97%), and those with college degrees (97%). Fully 68% of adults connect to the internet with mobile devices like smartphones or tablet computers.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014

YouTube: Marauder's Map For War Criminals?

In a perceptive piece Christoph Koetti, emergency response manager for Amnesty International, USA, draws attention to the benefits and potential pitfalls of using videos uploads on YouTube documenting human rights violations, as evidence to prosecute crimes.

“Opening my laptop today in 2014, I have thousands of sensors at my fingertips, documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria—an elaborate way of describing how I spend the majority of my time on YouTube in order to track the ever-escalating human rights situation. If Vietnam was called the first ‘Television War,’ Syria can indisputably be called the first ‘YouTube War,’” he writes.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Government's Grip On Hong Kong Media Tightens With Attack On Editor

Kevin Lau (Pic. courtesy AP/WJS)

Kevin Lau, 49, former editor of Hong Kong’s Chinese-language daily Ming Pao was critically wounded, Wednesday, when he was struck by an assailant with cleaver, said Associated Press. This follows his abrupt dismissal on January 7 as the editor of the newspaper, apparently due to reporting corruption and human rights abuses in China. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

China's Export To Iran: 'Clean Internet'

(Pic courtesy US News & World Report)

In a perceptive blog post Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president of the New York-based Freedom House wrote March 2013 how “Authoritarian regimes around the world are exporting their worst practices and working together to repress their own citizens and undermine human rights standards internationally.”

He went on to say that although interactions between regimes are largely opaque, methods of repression are replicated in dictatorial regimes and “direct assistance is provided across borders to crack down on dissent, and joint efforts are made to chip away at international protections for fundamental freedoms.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

“I am the victim of a political conspiracy" - Le Quoc Quan

Le Quoc Quan speaks to court during his appeal (Pic. courtesy CPJ)

Hanoi’s Peoples’ Court of Appeals rejected Monday the appeal of blogger and dissident Le Quoc Quan, 41, against a 30-month jail sentence imposed in October. The sentence for tax evasion also includes a hefty fine of 1.2 billion dong (US$57,000).

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One Journalist Killed And Many Injured In Kiev Clashes

Vyacheslav Veremyi (Pic. IFJ)

At least one journalist has been reported killed during clashes between protestors and the police in Ukraine’s capital Kiev. The BBC reported that Vyacheslav Veremyi, a journalist working for the Russian newspaper Vesti was pulled out of a taxi by masked men and shot dead.

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) confirming the death of Vermeyi “by unknown assailants” said that there were reports of 30 journalists being seriously injured and many more hurt.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Venezuelan Government Attacks Protestors, Strangles Media

Student Protests in Venezuela (Pic.

Last year, when popular discontent in Turkey spilt out on to the streets, the Ankara government opened fire on protestors at Gezi Park. Following that it clamped down on the media to prevent news about the protests leaking out.

Now it is Venezuela’s turn.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Penguin India Withdraws: To Keep Religious Peace Or Placate BJP?

 Free speech in India came under fire when an internationally renowned publisher agreed to withdraw a book from circulation after complaints by far-right Hindu nationalists. But, critics said Penguin India had agreed to an out-of-court settlement in a civil law suit because it did not want to offend the Hindu nationalist Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) that is widely expected to return to power in the May general election.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Moderate" Rouhani's Government Executes Iranian Poet Hashem Shabani

The Iranian government executed by hanging poet and human rights activist Hashem Shabani on January 27 for blasphemy (“speaking against God”). Before his execution 31-year-old Shabani was imprisoned for nearly three years and reportedly tortured.

“The crazy thing is that by the logic of the Iranian government, Shaabani had to be killed. He criticized God and the punishment for blasphemy is clear: death.  Technically, Shaabani criticized the regime by speaking out against repression of ethnic Arabs in the Khuzestan province, but since the regime sees itself as the representative of God on Earth, his fate was sealed,” writes David Keyes for the Daily Beast.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CPJ's Publication On Attacks On Journalists And The Media

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has published the 2014 edition of Attacks on the Press: Journalism on the World’s Front Lines. The 240-page study contains both country reports with concise accounts on assaults on media freedom and the freedom of information, and thematic studies on impunity, surveillance, media and markets, censorship, global development, the internet, security and nations at risk.

The thematic studies are the following. Impunity: When Journalists Are Killed, Witnesses May Be Next surveillance: The NSA Puts Journalists under a Cloud of Suspicion media and markets: Without Stronger Transparency, More Financial Crises Loom censorship: Would-Be Repressors Brandish ‘Ethics’ as Justification global development: Putting Press Freedom at the Heart of Anti-Poverty Efforts internet: How the United States’ Spying Strengthens China’s Hand security: Finding the Courage to Cover Sexual Violence ations at risk: CPJ Risk List: Where Press Freedom Suffered

“Every day, journalists around the world face incredible risks – from imprisonment and assassination to simply just ‘disappearing’ – all for the ethical practice of their profession. Caught between wars and uprisings and corrupt police and drug cartels, as well as increasingly oppressive censorship laws, they find themselves in some of the most dangerous situations imaginable,” says CPJ.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Obama's Admininstration Most Aggressive Against Whistleblowers In US History

The steep decline in media freedom in the United States is reflected by Reporters without Borders (RSF) in its Press Freedom Index for 2014 by placing the US in position 46 – 13 behind what it occupied last year.

To bringing alive the statistics, partly by relating his own experience and partly by referring what had befallen his colleagues, was James Risen of the New York Times, Risen has been ordered by the Court of Appeals to give evidence in the trial of a whistleblower, Jeffrey Sterling, a CIA agent charged under the Espionage Act for leaking unauthorised information to Risen. 

Risen was speaking at a press conference convened by RSF at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Tuesday to release the 2014 Press Freedom Index. Also on the panel, chaired by Delphine Halgand, RSF’s director in Washington, were Huong Nguyen, a doctoral student at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, cofounder of the Viet Youth for Democracy movement and a friend of jailed Vietnamese pro-democracy activist/blogger Nguyen Tien Trung, and Tolga Tanis, Washington correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

Monday, February 10, 2014

AFP To Co-sponsor Peter Mackler Award

The international news agency Agence France-Presse has joined the advisory board of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism, the Mackler family announced today.

“AFP is very happy to provide support for the award issued in memory of Peter, who played such a vital role over nearly three decades in building the agency's international activities and reputation,” said David Millikin, AFP’s director for North America who will represent AFP on the advisory board.

Turkey Passes Draconian Laws To Stifle Internet

Protesting  internet censorship in Ankara (Pic.

On Wednesday, February 5, Turkey adopted Law 5651 that imposes greater restrictions on an already stifled media. During its passage through parliament, the bill came under fire from the opposition and was later criticised by sections of Turkey’s business community and the European Parliament. Notwithstanding that, the new reality in Turkey will be government agencies authorised to block websites without a judicial order and carry out surveillance through deep packet inspection.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Murder of Cambodian Journalist Latest In Saga Of Impunity

Cambodians read local newspaper (Pic courtesy AFP/RFA)

Suon Chan, 44, who worked for a local Khmer-language newspaper Meakea Kampuchea, was murdered on the evening of February 1, in Peam Chhkork in central Cambodia, allegedly by a group of fishermen. Though yet to be officially confirmed, the likely motive is because he wrote against illegal fishing.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cyberspace Joins CPJ's Media Risk List In 2013

Supranational Cyberspace joined the Risk List in 2013, which the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has developed to flag countries where media freedom is in significant decline. Countries that have displayed the most alarming regress in 2013 are: Egypt, Russia, Syria, Vietnam, Turkey, Bangladesh, Liberia, Ecuador, and Zambia.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Burma Stifles Critics By Arresting Journalists, Intimidating Lawmaker

Village of Du Char Yar Tan ablaze (Pic. courtesy DVB)

Authorities in Burma took action this week to stifle criticism against the state from two widely different sources: the Yangon-based newspaper Unity Weekly published a story alleging a chemical weapons factory operated by the military linked to former military junta leader Than Shwe in central Burma, while a Rohingya member of Burma’s parliament accused police of an arson attack on Rohingya homes in a village in Rakhine state.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stifling Media Could Affect Turkey's European Integration, Alliance With US - Freedom House

Turkish Police fire water cannon at protests against internet bill (CPJ)

As Turkey continues the crackdown on free speech by targeting journalists and media organisations, as well as stifling internet freedom through legislative amendments, the New York-based Freedom House published, Monday, a report on curbs on media freedom over the past year, but especially following the corruption scandal involving Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Niger Releases Journalists But Media Monitors Remain Concerned

On January 31, Niger released two journalists arrested three days earlier for participating in a television talk show. They were to be prosecuted for “defamatory statements” and “media offences.” A civil society activist, arrested for the same reason, too was released.

 Zakari Amadou, host of the talk show on the privately-owned Canal 3TV and Ousmane Dan Badji, editor of L’Union were released, the first unconditionally, while Badji was told to “remain available to judicial authorities” because he had declined to divulge the name of a source, said the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF). Nayousa Djimraou secretary general of the Peoples’ Movement for Responsible Citizenship (PMRC), the civil society activist, was the third.