A visit to your PC repair shop could be swiftly followed by a trip to court and a short stay in your local jail if it harbours any remotely questionable material – whether you knew about it or not.…
(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
VIENNA, 25 June 2009 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, criticised as restrictive today amendments to the country’s communication law, adopted on 24 June by the Kazakh Parliament, and called on President Nursultan Nazarbayev not to promulgate them.
‘Despite some minor changes introduced by the Senate, this law limits freedom of the Internet and media freedom in general. Its adoption would be a step backwards in the democratisation of Kazakhstan’s media governance,’ Haraszti wrote in a letter to President Nazarbayev.
Haraszti noted that his Office had provided assistance to the authorities, for example by conducting a legal review on how the draft law could be adapted to comply with media freedom requirements. The legal review’s recommendations were submitted to the authorities in February and presented in Astana in April. The Office continues to support the country’s media legislation reform, Haraszti added.
Haraszti brought to the attention of the President that the law contravenes OSCE commitments and international standards by:
- allowing for unjustified limitations of freedom of the Internet by equating forums, blogs, chats and other Internet resources with traditional media outlets
- expanding the list of justifications for suspending the production or the distribution of any media outlet
- limiting free access of Kazakhstan’s citizens to foreign media outlets and foreign Internet resources.
‘Refusing to enact this law will send a strong signal that the forthcoming OSCE Chairmanship of Kazakhstan in 2010 intends to fully honour the country’s OSCE media freedom commitments,’ Haraszti said in his letter to the President.
By Gary Feurerberg
Epoch Times Staff Jun 21, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Internet has expanded the opportunities of citizens to express their views that challenge the authoritarianism of repressive regimes, as seen, for example, in China, Iran and Burma. Other digital media, such as mobile phones, have also played a significant role in getting news and pictures out to the world as well as facilitating communications between critics of repressive governments.
Applications like the social-networking site Facebook and Twitter, the video-sharing site YouTube, and the blog-hosting site Blogspot, are providing new outlets for expression, which can be highly threatening to totalitarian regimes.
Repressive regimes have responded with increasingly sophisticated controls that censor online content, monitor Internet users and intimidate and punish their critics.
To discuss the growing threats to Internet freedom in repressive nations, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing June 16 on Capitol Hill. Representatives from five human rights organizations voiced their concerns on the measures being taken by repressive regimes, and advocated for the Global Online Freedom Act of 2009, which if enacted would prevent U.S. internet companies from cooperating in the censorship and surveillance by repressive regimes.
The methods being used by the repressive regimes are becoming more menacing and insidious. This was especially evident on the day of the hearing when the lead news story was about the huge protests in Iran over the June 12 presidential election.
“…the government intensified its Internet filtering, disrupted social networking sites such as Facebook, and jammed transmissions of text message on mobile phones in an apparent attempt to prevent Iranian citizens from voicing their suspicions of electoral fraud,” said Daniel Calingaert, Deputy Director of Programs, Freedom House.
China is by far the most “advanced” country in applying layers of surveillance, filters, and general policing to the Internet and mobile phone communications. In early June, China announced that the installation of its censorship software, Green Dam, would be mandatory on every PC sold in China. This software, claiming to filter pornography, does much more. In addition to filtering out political content the regime opposes, it will stop e-mails it regards as incendiary, and keep a record of a user’s activity even after the computer is shut down, “with dire implications for the freedom of Chinese computer users,” says the Washington Post (June 13).