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Posts tagged ‘Internet’

Turkish court formally blocks access to Wikipedia

April 29, 2017

ISTANBUL (AP) — In a move that social media users called censorship, a Turkish court on Saturday blocked access to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, enforcing an earlier restriction by Turkey’s telecommunications watchdog.

The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) said an Ankara court ordered Saturday that a “protection measure” related to suspected internet crimes be applied to Wikipedia. Such measures are used to block access to pages or entire websites to protect “national security and public order.”

In response, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted his support for those who labeled the decision censorship: “Access to information is a fundamental human right. Turkish people I will always stand with you to fight for this right.”

Turkey Blocks, an internet censorship monitor, said users in Turkey have been unable to access all language editions of Wikipedia since 8 a.m. Saturday. “The loss of availability is consistent with internet filters used to censor content in the country,” the monitor said.

The site had initially been blocked by BTK under a provisional administration measure. The exact reason for the ban remains unclear. But Turkey’s official news agency, quoting the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, said Saturday the site was blocked for “becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena.”

The state-run Anadolu Agency said officials had warned Wikipedia to remove content likening Turkey to terror groups but the site “persistently” did not. Turkey had demanded that Wikipedia open an office in the country, act in line with international law and abide by court decisions and not be part of “blackout operation against Turkey,” according to the agency.

Anadolu said if these demands are met and the content removed, the site would be reopened. Opposition lawmakers also criticized the court order. Republican People’s Party parliamentarians Eren Erdem tweeted the ban puts “Turkey in line with North Korea” while Baris Yarkadas called it “censorship and a violation of the right to access information.”

Turkey’s status is listed as “not free” on the 2016 Freedom on the Net index by independent rights watchdog Freedom House. It says over 111,000 websites were blocked as of May last year. Wikipedia, a collaborative online reference work, says it is ranked among the 10 most popular websites.

Sweden drops case but WikiLeaks’ Assange is not in the clear

May 19, 2017

LONDON (AP) — Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, almost seven years after it began and five years after the WikiLeaks founder sought refuge inside Ecuador’s London embassy.

Assange’s Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson declared Friday that “this is a total victory for Julian Assange. He is now free to leave the embassy when he wants.” But the picture is more complicated than that.

HAS ASSANGE BEEN EXONERATED?

No. The investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a 2010 visit to Stockholm — allegations he denies. Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest.

After that, the investigation stalled. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation. Marianne Ny, the Swedish director of public prosecutions announced Friday that she was dropping the rape case because there is no prospect of bringing Assange to Sweden “in the foreseeable future” and it is “no longer proportionate” to maintain the European arrest warrant.

She told a news conference in Stockholm that the investigation could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020. Ny said the case was not being dropped because Assange has been found innocent.

“We don’t make any statement of guilty or not,” she said.

IS ASSANGE FREE TO LEAVE THE ECUADOREAN EMBASSY?

Sweden has revoked a European Arrest Warrant for Assange, so British police are no longer seeking him for extradition. But there is also a warrant issued by a British court after he skipped bail in June 2012.

London’s Metropolitan Police force says that it “is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy.” The maximum sentence for that offense is a year in prison.

Assange said Friday that “my legal staff have contacted the U.K. authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward.”

Ecuador, which has granted Assange asylum, says it will step up diplomatic efforts to gain him safe passage to the Latin American country.

ARE THERE OTHER CHARGES AGAINST ASSANGE?

That’s unclear. Assange suspects there is a secret U.S. indictment against him for WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked classified American documents, which has infuriated U.S. officials. CIA Director Mike Pompeo has branded WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service,” and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that Assange’s arrest is a priority.

Both U.S. and British officials have declined to comment on whether there is a warrant for Assange’s arrest.

Assange told reporters Friday he would be happy to discuss his case with the U.S. Department of Justice.

DOES SWEDEN’S ACTION MAKE ASSANGE SAFER?

Some legal experts say it makes his position less secure. Until Friday, Britain was bound to honor Sweden’s extradition request before any warrant from the United States. That is no longer the case.

Lawyer David Allen Green, who has followed the case, tweeted: “Once outside embassy, Assange more at risk from any U.S. extradition attempt than if he had gone to Sweden.”

Assange could fight any U.S. extradition request in the British courts, a process that could take years.

WHITHER WIKILEAKS?

WikiLeaks’ release of classified material has continued unabated during Assange’s five years in the Ecuadorean embassy. On Friday, the group released what it said were new details of CIA cyberespionage tools.

Facebook targets 30,000 fake France accounts before election

April 14, 2017

PARIS (AP) — Facebook says it has targeted 30,000 fake accounts linked to France ahead of the country’s presidential election, as part of a worldwide effort against misinformation. The company said Thursday it’s trying to “reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts.”

It said its efforts “enabled us to take action” against the French accounts and that it is removing sites with the highest traffic. Facebook and French media are also running fact-checking programs in France to combat misleading information, especially around the campaign for the two-round April 23-May 7 presidential election.

European authorities have also pressured Facebook and Twitter to remove extremist propaganda or other postings that violate European hate speech or other laws. Facebook ramped up its efforts against the spread of false news and misinformation on its service in December, a month after the U.S. presidential election. The company said at the time that it will focus on the “worst of the worst” offenders and partner with outside fact-checkers and news organizations to sort honest news reports from made-up stories.

It was accused of allowing the spread of false news in the months leading up to the U.S. election, which critics said may have helped sway the results in favor of Donald Trump. Since December, the company has broadened its efforts beyond the U.S.

Last week, it launched a resource to help users spot false news in 14 countries including the U.S., France and Germany. It’s a notification, available for a few days, that leads users to a list of tips for spotting false news and ways to report it.

Facebook’s other efforts include participating with other companies and tech industry leaders to establish a “news integrity” nonprofit organization to promote news literacy and increase the public’s trust in journalism. A nascent Facebook Journalism Project , meanwhile, is a lofty effort to work with news organizations to develop products, provide tools for journalists and generally promote trust in news.

Facebook closes accounts of Palestine activists

January 7, 2017

Facebook has closed the accounts of a number of Palestinian activists after using a hashtag lamenting a Palestinian assassinated by Israel 20 years ago, Quds Press reported yesterday.

Former female prisoner Ghofran Zamel, fiancée of Hassan Salameh who is spending several life sentences in Israeli jails, said that she was surprised to find her Facebook account was shut down yesterday.

Zamel said that when she wanted to open her accounts, a message appeared telling her that the accounts were closed but without giving any reasons. She said she sent messages to Facebook to complain.

Meanwhile, several activists reported their accounts were closed in addition to accounts managed by Hamas activists after using a hashtag which praised a Hamas fighter.

On 3 January, a bill authorising Israeli courts to block or delete social media content under the pretext of incitement passed its first hurdles in the Knesset.

Israeli TV Channel 7 said that this bill, if passed into law, would give the Israeli courts the power to shut down websites inciting against Israel and close Facebook or Twitter accounts that are considered as inciting to violence or that are provocative.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170107-facebook-closes-accounts-of-palestine-activists/.

Palestinians launch drive against Facebook ‘censorship’

30 September 2016 Friday

Palestinian activists have recently launched a campaign to boycott Facebook after the popular social-media platform blocked several Palestinian accounts and deleted numerous posts — at Israel’s request — for alleged “incitement”.

Earlier this week, campaigners — using the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine — called on supporters to refrain from posting on Facebook between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (Jerusalem time) on Sept. 25.

Hussam al-Zayegh, the campaign’s Gaza-based spokesman, told Anadolu Agency that the initiative had been launched in response to what he described as Facebook’s “pro-Israel bias”.

According to al-Zayegh, the world’s most popular social-networking site is actively working to undermine Palestinian activists and journalists who rely on Facebook to help spread their message.

Earlier this month, Facebook signed an agreement with the Israeli authorities that will — among other things — allow the latter to monitor all Palestinian content posted on Facebook and delete whatever posts, pages or personal accounts that are deemed objectionable.

According to Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Facebook administrators have complied with some 95 percent of the Israeli authorities’ requests to date.

“We demand that the Facebook administration clarify the agreement signed with Israel, which we believe targets freedom of opinion and expression,” al-Zayegh said.

The agreement, he went on to assert, directly contributes to the persecution of Palestinian activists — both on the ground and in cyberspace.

Al-Zayegh and his fellow campaigners intend to push ahead with the initiative until all its demands have been been met.

“We will not stop our campaign until Facebook withdraws from the agreement and respects international laws and standards safeguarding the freedom of opinion and expression,” he said.

Next Friday, according to al-Zayegh, members of the campaign plan to stage a demonstration outside Facebook’s New York headquarters to press for their demands.

Accounts blocked

Recently, the Facebook accounts of 12 administrators and editors at two leading Palestinian news agencies — Shehab News Agency and the Al-Quds News Network — were deleted without prior notice or warning.

Mohamed al-Zaneen, an editor at Shehab News Agency, told Anadolu Agency that he had not been able to accesses his account for more than five days.

“I believe this step was taken after the agreement was struck between the Facebook administration and Israel,” al-Zaneen said, adding that his account had also been blocked during Israel’s 2014 war on the Gaza Strip.

According to officials at the two news agencies, dozens of letters were sent to the Facebook administration asking why the pages had been blocked.

Facebook later restored the blocked pages and apologized for what it said had been a “mistake”.

Global audience

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, over 120 Palestinians — including 20 women — have been detained by the Israeli authorities for alleged “incitement to violence” on Facebook.

Due to a lack of evidence, most of these were held under Israel’s policy of “administrative detention”, which allows “suspects” to be held indefinitely without charge or trial.

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian MP and leader of the Palestinian National Initiative Party, told Anadolu Agency that Palestinian activists — through the use of social media — had recently succeeded in bringing Palestinian suffering before a global audience and exposing the crimes of Israel’s decades-long occupation.

This was especially the case, Barghouti noted, during Israel’s devastating military onslaught against the Gaza Strip in 2014 and the subsequent third Palestinian “intifada” (“uprising”).

“Palestinian activists have succeeded in winning a large part of public opinion over to the Palestinian cause,” he said. “Israel now sees these social-media activists as a major threat to its international image.”

Barghouhti went to assert that Israel’s policy of arresting Palestinians for alleged “incitement” over posts made on social media “will not deter young Palestinian activists from exposing the occupation’s ongoing crimes”.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/palestine/177954/palestinians-launch-drive-against-facebook-censorship.

Launch pad blast destroys SpaceX rocket, Facebook satellite

By Leila Macor, with Jean-Louis Santini in Washington

Miami (AFP)

Sept 2, 2016

An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad during a test in Florida on Thursday, destroying a satellite that Facebook planned to use to beam high-speed internet to Africa.

The blast at Cape Canaveral — though it caused no injuries — marks a setback for the California-based private space firm and its founder, internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, who wants to revolutionize the launch industry by making rocket components reusable.

“Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation,” Musk tweeted. “Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.”

Dramatic footage broadcast by ABC News showed the rocket burst into a roaring ball of flame amid what appeared to be a succession of blasts — sending its payload tumbling to the ground as a dense plume of black smoke filled the air.

“At approximately 9:07 am ET (1307 GMT), during a standard pre-launch static fire test for the Amos-6 mission, there was an anomaly at SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 40 resulting in loss of the vehicle,” the firm said.

“Per standard operating procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries.”

But the explosion destroyed the Israeli communications satellite that the Falcon 9 was due to deliver into orbit on Saturday — drawing a dismayed reaction from Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.

“As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page.

Facebook was contracted to use the Amos-6 to provide broadband internet coverage for large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and other remote parts of the world as part of the social media giant’s Internet.org initiative.

“Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well,” Zuckerberg said, referring to the solar-powered plane being developed by Facebook to make the internet available in remote areas.

“We will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”

European satellite operator Eutelsat — Facebook’s partner in the project — said in a statement it was committed to expanding broadband access in Africa despite the loss of the Amos-6.

– Heaviest payload –

A NASA spokeswoman told AFP that emergency services at the nearby Kennedy Space Center were monitoring the situation and conducting air quality tests to ensure there is no threat to the health of staff.

Officials at the center advised workers to remain inside until further notice, but Brevard County Emergency Management said there was no threat to the public from the incident.

The Amos-6 was the heaviest payload to date for a SpaceX rocket, with an estimated value of between $200-300 million, according to John Logsdon, former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

The accident — the second of its kind since SpaceX was founded in 2002 — comes just over a year after a Falcon 9 rocket failed after liftoff on June 28, 2015, destroying a Dragon cargo capsule bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

Before that, SpaceX had logged 18 successful launches of the Falcon 9 — including six of 12 planned supply missions to the ISS carried out as part of a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.

It had carried out another eight successful launches since June 2015, including last month when a Falcon 9 successfully placed a Japanese communications satellite in orbit, and then landed intact on a floating drone ship.

Before then the firm lost several rockets as it attempted to land them upright on an ocean platform at the end of a flight — a crucial part of its strategy for reusable spacecraft.

– ‘Valuable experience’ –

While the blast is likely to disrupt SpaceX plans for six more launches between now and January 2017, experts made clear that such incidents are a normal part of the space learning curve.

“It’s clearly a setback, but how great the setback is and how long the delay, it’s impossible to know until there is more information available,” said Logsdon.

He noted that the launch pad damaged on Thursday was distinct from the one that will serve to launch SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, intended to ferry astronauts to the ISS starting in late 2017.

NASA said in a tweet that Thursday’s SpaceX explosion “reminds us that spaceflight is challenging. Our partners learn from each success & setback.”

Loizos Heracleous, a professor of strategy at Warwick Business School, said such setbacks were par for the course — and would not affect SpaceX’s stated long-term goals of slashing the cost of space flight through the use of reusable rockets, and eventually colonizing Mars.

“SpaceX is gathering valuable experience, and each accident brings lessons on how to enhance the integrity of the craft for future missions,” he said.

“Given that SpaceX is working to provide NASA with a way to transport not just cargo, but also astronauts to the International Space Station, it is especially crucial that such learning takes place before that happens.”

Source: Space Daily.

Link: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Launch_pad_blast_destroys_SpaceX_rocket_Facebook_satellite_999.html.

Baghdad shuts down social media

June 4, 2016

The government in Baghdad announced on Friday that it was shutting down social media from midnight until further notice, Masralarabia.com has reported.

“The leadership issued an order to shut down the social media platforms in all the areas across the capital,” a security source explained. No further details were provided.

The shutdown was put in place due to fears that demonstrations calling for reform might have been organized on Friday evening. The security services also closed six main streets leading to the Green Zone in the center of Baghdad, where large numbers of troops and police were deployed in the early morning.

At the time of writing, no news was available about whether or not the shutdown is still in place.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160604-baghdad-shuts-down-social-media/.

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