Topic: Freedom of speech
GitHub has been the target of censorship from governments using methods ranging from local Internet service provider blocks, intermediary blocking using methods such as DNS hijacking and man-in-the-middle attacks, and denial-of-service attacks on GitHub's servers from countries including China, India, Russia, and Turkey. In all of these cases, GitHub has been eventually unblocked after backlash from users and technology businesses or compliance from GitHub.
Everybody Draw Mohammed Day (or Draw Mohammed Day) was a 2010 event in support of artists threatened with violence for drawing representations of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It stemmed from a protest against censorship of the American television show South Park episode "201", led by the show's distributor Comedy Central, in response to death threats that had been made against some of those responsible for two segments broadcast in April 2010. A drawing representing Mohammed was posted on the Internet on April 20, 2010, with a message suggesting that "everybody" create a drawing depicting Mohammad on May 20 in support of free speech.
U.S. cartoonist Molly Norris of Seattle, Washington created the artwork in reaction to Internet death threats that had been made against animators Trey Parker and Matt Stone for depicting Muhammad in an episode of South Park. Postings on RevolutionMuslim.com (under the pen name Abu Talha al-Amrikee; later identified as Zachary Adam Chesser) had said that Parker and Stone could wind up like Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was stabbed and shot to death.
Norris claimed that, if people draw pictures of Muhammad, radical Islamist terrorists would not be able to murder them all, and threats to do so would become unrealistic. Within a week, Norris' idea became popular on Facebook, was supported by numerous bloggers, and generated coverage on the blog websites of major U.S. newspapers. As the publicity mounted, Norris and the man who created the first Facebook page promoting the May 20 event disassociated themselves from it. Nonetheless, planning for the protest continued with others "taking up the cause". Facebook had an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page, which grew to over 100,000 participants (101,870 members by May 20). A protest page on Facebook against the initiative named "Against ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day'" attracted slightly more supporters (106,000 by May 20). Subsequently, Facebook was temporarily blocked by Pakistan; the ban was lifted after Facebook agreed to block the page for users in India and Pakistan.
In the media, Everybody Draw Mohammed Day attracted support from commentators who felt that the campaign represented important issues of freedom of speech, and the need to stand up for this freedom.
- "Today is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" | 2010-05-20 | 93 Upvotes 196 Comments
Free speech zones (also known as First Amendment zones, free speech cages, and protest zones) are areas set aside in public places for the purpose of political protesting. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The existence of free speech zones is based on U.S. court decisions stipulating that the government may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner – but not content – of expression.
The Supreme Court has developed a four-part analysis to evaluate the constitutionality of time, place and manner (TPM) restrictions. To pass muster under the First Amendment, TPM restrictions must be neutral with respect to content, be narrowly drawn, serve a significant government interest, and leave open alternative channels of communication. Application of this four-part analysis varies with the circumstances of each case, and typically requires lower standards for the restriction of obscenity and fighting words.
Free speech zones have been used at a variety of political gatherings. The stated purpose of free speech zones is to protect the safety of those attending the political gathering, or for the safety of the protesters themselves. Critics, however, suggest that such zones are "Orwellian", and that authorities use them in a heavy-handed manner to censor protesters by putting them literally out of sight of the mass media, hence the public, as well as visiting dignitaries. Though authorities generally deny specifically targeting protesters, on a number of occasions, these denials have been contradicted by subsequent court testimony. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed, with various degrees of success and failure, a number of lawsuits on the issue.
Though free speech zones existed prior to the Presidency of George W. Bush, it was during Bush's presidency that their scope was greatly expanded. These zones continued through the presidency of Barack Obama; he signed a bill in 2012 that expanded the power of the Secret Service to restrict speech and make arrests.
Many colleges and universities earlier instituted free speech zone rules during the Vietnam-era protests of the 1960s and 1970s. In recent years, a number of them have revised or removed these restrictions following student protests and lawsuits.
- "Free Speech Zone" | 2013-06-29 | 70 Upvotes 22 Comments
The dangers to journalists in Russia have been well known since the early 1990s but concern over the number of unsolved killings soared after Anna Politkovskaya's murder in Moscow on 7 October 2006. While international monitors mentioned a dozen deaths, some sources within Russia talked of over two hundred fatalities. The evidence has since been examined and documented in two reports, published in Russian and English, by international organizations. These revealed a basic confusion in terminology that explained the seemingly enormous numerical discrepancy: statistics of premature death among journalists (from work accidents, crossfire incidents, and purely criminal or domestic cases of manslaughter) were repeatedly equated with the much smaller number of targeted (contract) killings or work-related murders. The Remembrance Day of Journalists Killed in the Line of Duty in Russia is observed on 15 December every year.
The practice of mass surveillance in the United States dates back to World War I wartime monitoring and censorship of international communications from, to, or which passed through the United States. After the First World War and the Second World War, the surveillance continued, via programs such as the Black Chamber and Project SHAMROCK. The formation and growth of federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and NSA institutionalized surveillance used to also silence political dissent, as evidenced by COINTELPRO projects which targeted various organizations and individuals. During the Civil Rights Movement era, many individuals put under surveillance orders were first labelled as integrationists then deemed subversive. Other targeted individuals and groups included Native American activists, African American and Chicano liberation movement activists, and anti-war protesters.
The formation of the international UKUSA surveillance agreement of 1946 evolved into the ECHELON collaboration by 1955 of five English-speaking nations, also known as the Five Eyes, and focused on interception of electronic communications, with substantial increases in domestic surveillance capabilities.
Following the September 11th attacks of 2001, domestic and international mass surveillance capabilities grew immensely. Contemporary mass surveillance relies upon annual presidential executive orders declaring a continued State of National Emergency, first signed by George W. Bush on September 14, 2001 and then continued on an annual basis by President Barack Obama, and upon several subsequent national security Acts including the USA PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendment Act's PRISM surveillance program. Critics and political dissenters currently describe the effects of these acts, orders, and resulting database network of Fusion centers as forming a veritable American police state that simply institutionalized the illegal COINTELPRO tactics used to assassinate dissenters and leaders from the 1950s onwards.
Additional surveillance agencies, such as the DHS and the position of Director of National Intelligence have exponentially escalated mass surveillance since 2001. A series of media reports in 2013 revealed more recent programs and techniques employed by the US intelligence community. Advances in computer and information technology allow the creation of huge national databases that facilitate mass surveillance in the United States by DHS managed Fusion centers, the CIA's Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) program, and the FBI's TSDB.
Mass surveillance databases are also cited as responsible for profiling Latino Americans and contributing to "self-deportation" techniques, or physical deportations by way of the DHS's ICEGang national database.
After World War I, the US Army and State Department established the Black Chamber, also known as the Cipher Bureau, which began operations in 1919. The Black Chamber was headed by Herbert O. Yardley, who had been a leader in the Army's Military Intelligence program. Regarded as a precursor to the National Security Agency, it conducted peacetime decryption of material including diplomatic communications until 1929.
In the advent of World War II, the Office of Censorship was established. The wartime agency monitored "communications by mail, cable, radio, or other means of transmission passing between the United States and any foreign country". This included the 350,000 overseas cables and telegrams and 25,000 international telephone calls made each week. "Every letter that crossed international or U.S. territorial borders from December 1941 to August 1945 was subject to being opened and scoured for details."
With the end of World War II, Project SHAMROCK was established in 1945. The organization was created to accumulate telegraphic data entering and exiting from the United States. Major communication companies such as Western Union, RCA Global and ITT World Communications actively aided the project, allowing American intelligence officials to gain access to international message traffic. Under the project, and many subsequent programs, no precedent had been established for judicial authorisation, and no warrants were issued for surveillance activities. The project was terminated in 1975.
In 1952, President Harry S. Truman established the National Security Agency (NSA) in 1952 for the purposes of collecting, processing, and monitoring intelligence data. The existence of NSA was not known to people as the memorandum by President Truman was classified.
When the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI published stolen FBI documents revealing abuse of intelligence programs in 1971, Senator Frank Church began an investigation into the programs that become known as the Church Committee. The committee sought to investigate intelligence abuses throughout the 1970s. Following a report provided by the committee outlining egregious abuse, in 1976 Congress established the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It would later be joined by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 1978. The institutions worked to limit the power of the agencies, ensuring that surveillance activities remained within the rule of law.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed The Patriot Act to strengthen security and intelligence efforts. The act granted the President broad powers on the war against terror, including the power to bypass the FISA Court for surveillance orders in cases of national security. Additionally, mass surveillance activities were conducted alongside various other surveillance programs under the head of President's Surveillance Program. Under pressure from the public, the warrantless wiretapping program was allegedly ended in January 2007.
Many details about the surveillance activities conducted in the United States were revealed in the disclosure by Edward Snowden in June 2013. Regarded as one of the biggest media leaks in the United States, it presented extensive details about the surveillance programs of the NSA, that involved interception of internet data and telephonic calls from over a billion users, across various countries.
- "Mass Surveillance in the United States" | 2019-07-04 | 82 Upvotes 76 Comments
Microsoft v. MikeRoweSoft was a legal dispute between Microsoft and a Canadian Belmont High School student named Mike Rowe over the domain name "MikeRoweSoft.com". Microsoft argued that their trademark had been infringed because of the phonetic resemblance between "Microsoft" and "MikeRoweSoft".
The case received international press attention following Microsoft's perceived heavy-handed approach to a 12th grade student's part-time web design business and the subsequent support that Rowe received from the online community. A settlement was eventually reached, with Rowe granting ownership of the domain to Microsoft in exchange for an Xbox and additional compensation.
Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel by English novelist George Orwell. It was published in June 1949 by Secker & Warburg as Orwell's ninth and final book completed in his lifetime. The story was mostly written at Barnhill, a farmhouse on the Scottish island of Jura, at times while Orwell suffered from severe tuberculosis. Thematically, Nineteen Eighty-Four centres on the consequences of government over-reach, totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation of all persons and behaviours within society.
The story takes place in an imagined future, the year 1984, when much of the world has fallen victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, historical negationism, and propaganda. Great Britain, known as Airstrip One, has become a province of a superstate named Oceania that is ruled by the Party who employ the Thought Police to persecute individuality and independent thinking. Big Brother, the leader of the Party, enjoys an intense cult of personality despite the fact that he may not exist. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a diligent and skillful rank-and-file worker and Party member who secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion. He enters a forbidden relationship with a co-worker, Julia.
Nineteen Eighty-Four has become a classic literary example of political and dystopian fiction. Many terms used in the novel have entered common usage, including Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5, prole, and memory hole. Nineteen Eighty-Four also popularised the adjective "Orwellian", connoting things such as official deception, secret surveillance, brazenly misleading terminology, and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state. Time included it on its 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was placed on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels, reaching No. 13 on the editors' list and No. 6 on the readers' list. In 2003, the novel was listed at No. 8 on The Big Read survey by the BBC. Parallels have been drawn between the novel's subject matter and real life instances of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and violations of freedom of expression among other themes.
- "1984" | 2013-06-09 | 10 Upvotes 2 Comments
The Scunthorpe problem is the unintentional blocking of websites, e-mails, forum posts or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that appear to have an obscene or otherwise unacceptable meaning. Names, abbreviations, and technical terms are most often cited as being affected by the issue.
The problem arises since computers can easily identify strings of text within a document, but interpreting words of this kind requires considerable ability to interpret a wide range of contexts, possibly across many cultures, which is an extremely difficult task. As a result, broad blocking rules may result in false positives affecting innocent phrases.
A warrant canary is a method by which a communications service provider aims to inform its users that the provider has been served with a government subpoena despite legal prohibitions on revealing the existence of the subpoena. The warrant canary typically informs users that there has not been a court-issued subpoena as of a particular date. If the canary is not updated for the period specified by the host or if the warning is removed, users are to assume that the host has been served with such a subpoena. The intention is to allow the provider to warn users of the existence of a subpoena passively, without technically violating the court order not to do so.
Some subpoenas, such as those covered under 18 U.S.C. §2709(c) of the USA Patriot Act, provide criminal penalties for disclosing the existence of the subpoena to any third party, including the service provider's users.
National Security Letters (NSL) originated in the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act and originally targeted those suspected of being agents of a foreign power. Targeting agents of a foreign power was revised in 2001 under the Patriot Act to allow NSLs to target those who may have information deemed relevant to both counterintelligence activities directed against the United States and terrorism. The idea of using negative pronouncements to thwart the nondisclosure requirements of court orders and served secret warrants was first proposed by Steven Schear on the cypherpunks mailing list, mainly to uncover targeted individuals at ISPs. It was also suggested for and used by public libraries in 2002 in response to the USA Patriot Act, which could have forced librarians to disclose the circulation history of library patrons.
- "Warrant Canary" | 2013-06-13 | 289 Upvotes 128 Comments
Google and its subsidiary companies, such as YouTube, have removed or omitted information from its services to comply with its company policies, legal demands, and government censorship laws. Google's censorship varies between countries and their regulations, and ranges from advertisements to speeches. Over the years, the search engine's censorship policies and targets have also differed, and have been the source of internet censorship debates.
Numerous governments have asked Google to censor what they publish. In 2012, Google ruled in favor of more than half of the requests they received via court orders and phone calls. This did not include China and Iran who had blocked their site entirely.
- "Censorship by Google" | 2020-05-19 | 59 Upvotes 17 Comments