Freedom of speech

The incident in Paris this morning has stuck with me most of the day.

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I have always been a defender of freedom of speech. But that freedom also includes the freedom to criticise others. Just because we are “tolerant” to others, their way of life, their religion, their political opinion or whatever, this does not mean that we should just “let them do their thing un-interrupted”. Of course not. If you are religious, and someone is mocking that religion, it’s your right to express your outrage.

But guns as a weapon against someone who wrote a cartoon you don’t like? Idiotic.

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A good article about mass surveillance (UK perspective)

The Matter magazine at Medium.com published this great article. Quote:

Technology is a tool: it is a process by which political and human desires are instantiated in the world. What is significant about that instantiation is that it must take a visible form. It may be a written, readable code, or a physical infrastructure in the landscape: servers in data centres, cameras on poles by the roadside, rusting signs on forecourt walls declaring the owner’s intentions.

When there is pressure to obscure that infrastructure — camouflaging cameras, closing down networks, or blocking freedom of information requests — a corresponding pressure is exerted on the very democracy it purports to uphold.

It’s long, but worth it in my book.

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Jan 15 and the Russian authorities

As Russian telecommunications regulators and law enforcement continue to play whack-a-mole online, in an attempt to block any mention of the January 15 protest in support of Alexey Navalny, it appears Facebook and Twitter have decided not to block any more pro-Navalny pages.

A TV Rain report, citing multiple sources, says Facebook has decided not to block any further protest content or pages, after the initial January 15 event page was blocked for Russian users. Twitter, TV Rain sources say, has also decided it will continue sending notifications to users whose content has been flagged by Roscomnadzor, but will not sanction the users in any way. Both platforms understand that such behavior could lead to Facebook and Twitter being fully blocked in Russia, TV Rain reports.

(source / via)

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From being tagged to being dragged to court

Who among us has not been tagged in an unflattering photo or an offensive post? It might lead us to wonder why we took that group picture after midnight or raise some eyebrows at work. It might also make us regret the evaporation of privacy. But it should not lead to legal trouble with the authorities. Yet this is precisely what happened to a woman in Perm, Russia.

In September, Yevgeniya Vychigina was prosecuted and fined for being tagged by a friend in a so-called “extremist” video on the Russian social media site VKontakte. Featuring interviews with self-styled “partisans” who attacked police officers, the video was undeniably controversial. Yet Vychigina was no partisan. She was neither in the video nor supported the video’s message.

Her friend simply wanted her to watch it, and she claims to have accepted the tag without watching the video. After she accepted the video, it appeared on Vychigina’s Vkontakte page, leading a court to fine her for “disseminating extremist materials.” The case reveals the absurd and alarming scope of Internet censorship in Russia.

(source / via)

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India blocking Vimeo.com because of content found on site?

According to Times of India (via), Indian ISPs are asked to shut access to over 30 sites, including vimeo.com, a popular videoblogging service that I have also used since it’s early days.

@pranash_prakesh also published this picture:

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Business Insider has more information, stating that

It’s believed that the Indian government ordered the websites to be blocked after threats against the country purported to be posted by ISIS were found on them.

This is absurd. Should 1 billion people lose access to a site because someone has published questionable content on that site?

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