Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘Reporters Without Borders’

Recommendations concerning access to information and press freedom in the US

In Activism, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society on April 6, 2011 at 4:38 am

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In light of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of the United States at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, Reporters Without Borders would like to make the following recommendations concerning access to information and press freedom in the US:

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1) American officials must review their methods for classifying information and improve transparency surrounding the Freedom of Information Act requests filed by civil society groups and the media

Several incidents over the past year have raised questions about the government’s use of national security concerns to try and curb media access to issues of legitimate public interest. The WikiLeaks release of a 2007 video of a US helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 12 people including two Reuters’ staff and the Pentagon’s decision to ban four journalists from military commissions at Guantanamo Bay a month later, although eventually reversed, highlighted the military’s perceived lack of transparency and inconsistencies in its compliance to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

More than two weeks ago, in a new blow to the FOIA, the US Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal by 23 lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay detainees who want the National Security Agency to reveal whether it tapped their phone conversations with their clients and, if so, to provide them with transcripts.

2) The Federal Shield Law must allow blogs and whistleblower websites the same protection as it does to all other media organizations

National security issues are playing an important role in the consideration of the Federal Shield Law legislation, which is being delayed by proposals to exclude whistleblowing websites from source protection, mainly because of the political reaction to WikiLeaks publishing over 70,000 classified Afghan war documents. Such amendments would be, in Reporters Without Borders’ opinion, unfair and unnecessary, as the legislation already contains exemptions relating to legitimate questions of national security.

3) The Obama administration must ensure that commercial agreements between internet companies and content providers do not pose a threat to Net Neutrality or the free flow of information

In January 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to protect the Internet as a place for social development and emphasized the importance of equal access to knowledge and free exchange of ideas. However in August, Google and Verizon were reportedly nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to relay online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

4) To regularly assess domestic press freedom issues and the working conditions of journalists throughout the country

Although Reporters Without Borders welcomed the enactment of the Daniel Pearl Act in May 2010, requiring the State Department to list countries that threaten freedom of expression and tolerate violence against journalists, our organization believes American officials must also monitor the press freedom situation within the US in the same manner.

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Control of news and information part of battle for Abidjan, RTI reportedly broadcasting from mobile truck

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Society, World News on April 6, 2011 at 4:11 am

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03.04.2011 – 12 noon – RTI reportedly broadcasting from mobile truck

While yesterday’s resumption of broadcasting by state-owned Radio-Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI)gave the impression that its headquarters had been recovered by forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, various local sources have told Reporters Without Borders that the Gbagbo camp could be broadcasting the RTI signal from an Abidjan house using a mobile broadcast truck.

This is also what Capt. Kouakou Léon Alla, the spokesman of the government of Gbagbo rival Alassane Ouattara, claims in communiqué, a copy of which has been obtained by Reporters Without Borders.

“The Prime Minister and defence minister [Guillaume Soro] assures all Ivorians and the international community that it is by using a mobile truck that the Gbagbo clan pirates are trying to revive RTI in order to continue their propaganda for the destruction of Côte d’Ivoire,” says communiqué No. 030 of 02/04/11/CAB-PM-MD/PP, signed by Alla.

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“This vehicle is the target of a search by the [pro-Ouattara] Republican Forces and will be destroyed as soon as possible,” the communiqué continues. “RTI’s actual installations are no longer functional.”

The Gbagbo government’s spokesman, Ahoua Don Mello, and its foreign minister, Alcide Djédjé, deny these claims and insist that their camp still has control of RTI.

Several sources who live near the RTI headquarters in the Abidjan neighbourhood of Cocody, told Reporters Without Borders that there was no one currently in the building.

President Gbagbo gave RTI a mobile broadcasting truck worth 1 billion CFA francs in February 2009, along with two Fly-Away mobile TV signal satellite uplinks.

“Propaganda and public appeals to Ivorians to mobilize are compounding such rumours and mysteries of the past 72 hours as who controls RTI and where Laurent Gbagbo is,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The fierce street fighting is being accompanied by an all-out communication and information war. We caution all the forces involved against using the media to issue messages of hate against opposing forces or civilian groups.”

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02.04.2011 – 7pm – Held by pro-Gbagbo forces, RTI urges supporters to protect presidential palace

Soldiers loyal to Laurent Gbagbo appealed on the air on state-owned Radio-Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) late this morning for troops to mobilize to “protect the republic’s institutions,” effectively confirming their control of the station. Described as “Communiqué No. 1 from the support point” and read by a soldier accompanied by 10 others, it urged soldiers to report to five Abidjan-based units.

During a 1 p.m. news broadcast, Damana Pickas, an adviser to the president of the pro-Gbagbo Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), urged the “Young Patriots” to take to the streets and converge on the presidential residence in the Abidjan district of Cocody and the presidential palace in Plateau.

He also urged the “Young Patriots” to block two bridges linking the southern districts of Abidjan with Plateau.

In a text message at the bottom of the screen, Gbagbo youth minister Charles Blé Goudé, who is also head of the “Young Patriots,” urged the population to go about its everyday activities, claiming that Abidjan was under the control of pro-Gbagbo forces.

02.04.2011 – 11am – RTI resumes broadcasting, unclear who is in control

The state-owned national broadcaster Radio-Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) resumed broadcasting last night in Abidjan, transmitting footage of Laurent Gbagbo being sworn in after the 28 November presidential election and then patriotic music.

The content belied suggestions that forces loyal to Gbagbo opponent Alassane Ouattara were in control of RTI but it did not prove that the pro-Gbagbo forces had regained full control, as Gbagbo’s foreign minister, Alcide Djédjé, claimed yesterday.

Sources told Reporters Without Borders that it could have been just archive footage that was pre-set to play in the absence of any current programming.

At this point, it continues to be very hard to determine whether one camp or the other has effective control of the RTI building and its equipment. They are located in the Abidjan district of Cocody, where there has been intense fighting since 31 March.

Read the Reporters Without Borders article “Big battle for small screen in Abidjan” that was published in French in yesterday.

01.04.2011 – Control of news and information part of battle for Abidjan

Reporters Without Borders fears that the ongoing military battle for control of Côte d’Ivoire’s business capital, Abidjan, could be accompanied by atrocities and massacres. It urges all parties to protect civilians and hopes that peace will be quickly restored.

Amid a climate of confusion in which information is hard to confirm, Reporters Without Borders also warns against any score-settling and reprisals within the highly-polarized Ivorian media. The suspension or disruption of media activities is likely to encourage rumours and disinformation.

Forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara announced that they took control of the Abidjan headquarters of state-owned Radio-Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) last night. Since then, its signal has been cut. As a result of the chaos in Abidjan, no newspaper was printed or distributed today.

The continuing crisis has fuelled a spate of rumours, denials and propagandistic statements. The following entry was posted on Laurent Gbagbo’s blog at 5 a.m. today:

Gbagbo appears on RTI, in good shape.

At a time when mad rumours encouraged by the Ouattara terrorists, are claiming that the Abidjan government is on its knees, Ivorians were able to see President Laurent Gbagbo at his home, thanks to RTI. The relaxed president was surrounded by aides, friends and members of his family. The president was in a good mood and was conversing with everyone, while the so-called international press was gleefully predicting the worst for his government.

The doors of Abidjan’s main prison were opened early yesterday and all the inmates were freed. They included two Télé Notre Patrie journalists, Abou Sanogo and Gnahoré Charly, who had been held since 28 January.

“I left the prison at 7:50 a.m.,” Charly said. “All the other prisoners also left (…) We were in our cells when, at around 6:30 a.m., we heard shooting. The shooting lasted until 7:10 a.m. Then we heard shouts of joy. We went down and saw that the prison’s gates had been opened. We did not wait to ask why. We just left.”

Charly added: “There had been no guards in the prison since yesterday [Wednesday] evening. Once outside, we saw members of the ‘invisible commando’ around the prison but no members of the FDS [the pro-Gbagbo army].”

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World Day against Cyber Censorship March 12th.

In Activism, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Society, World News on March 10, 2011 at 12:59 am

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Internet companies such as Yahoo! Inc., Google and Microsoft Corporation have made it possible for people around the world to communicate, interact, exchange ideas and challenge each other’s political, religious and cultural views. But for the millions of people who live in countries where freedom of expression, creativity and peaceful thought are not respected or protected, these concepts remain unknown or unfulfilled.
March 12 is recognized as an international day of action against Internet censorship. Amnesty International USA supports the efforts of Reporters Without Borders to call attention to online freedom of expression on this day and joins them in calling on Yahoo! Inc., Google and Microsoft Corporation to give all Internet users worldwide one day of uncensored Internet search and blogging on March 12.

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WASHINGTON, February 17, 2011 – The Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing Wednesday to address potential criticisms of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Acts (COICA), which would target websites dedicated to stealing American intellectual property.
The bill empowers the Department of Justice to issue court orders to Internet service providers (ISPs), search engines, payment processors and online advertising networks who do not refrain from providing their services to rogue websites. The DOJ defines these “rogue” websites as those that promote either copyright infringement or the sale of counterfeit goods.

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Internet Censorship Is Rampant Around the World

In Egypt, Human Rights, Internet Censorship on February 11, 2011 at 1:18 am

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A stark set of infographics breaks down what we know about government censorship of the Internet.

Egypt‘s Internet may be back on, but that country’s weeklong web blackout was a wake-up call to the rest of the world about just how fragile the intertubes really are. Ars Technica has a detailed technical breakdown of how Internet “kill switches” work– in Egypt’s case, it was basically just a matter of cracking down on the country’s four major ISPs — but for an at-a-glance visual distillation of the who/what/why of web censorship, it’s hard to beat this sobering set of info graphics.First, who’s doing it? The above map, based on data from the press-freedom watchdogs at Reporters Without Borders, paints a grim picture: Almost all of the industrialized “first world” Internet is moderately to pervasively censored by government authorities. There are obvious and practical reasons for having some online surveillance, but the fact that only countries like Mongolia and Madagascar have a completely open web is rather shocking to see illustrated so starkly.




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After a strong start, the infographics are interesting but a bit shaky, as seen in the chart above. Using circles to compare data is tricky enough to do correctly (see example #6 here), but even assuming their geometry is correct, the percentages are a bit tricky. Here, we seem to be talking about percentages of the entire universe of censored items. This, it’s not that 20% of all blogs in existence actually being censored, but rather than blogs make up 20% of all censored content. It probably would have been better to show all those dots as pieces of a whole.And here a Venn diagram lends visual legitimacy to three types of censorship that are hard, in practice, to ever disentangle from one another. There’s lots of insight contained in here, but let’s not forget that censoring to maintain “social values” is basically a buzzword for political propaganda. (The ONI’s own interactive censorship visualizations, while not as pretty, are probably more informative.)



That said, there’s no harm in whipping together a pretty-darn-good visual snapshot of the state of global web censorship while the subject happens to be hot in people’s Twitter feeds. So bravo,! Next time, let’s get more info on sources after you’re done with Adobe Illustrator.

Read full article here

Read full article here

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