The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of problems, victories and new trends in Internet rights worldwide. This report covers the news and events that occurred between the October 13 and 15, 2019.
Massive public demonstrations have dominated Beirut, Tripoli and other large Lebanese cities since October 18, when people took to the streets to protest against government corruption, deteriorating public services and exorbitant tributes. A significant trigger for the protests was the proposal of a daily tax for the use of internet voice calling technologies that offer services such as WhatsApp and Facetime.
WhatsApp tax is has been set aside, but the protests have grown in power and intensity every day. Social networks have been flooded with images and videos of tens of thousands of people of all conditions manifesting together to ask for policy reforms and early elections that would bring a new government.
To follow the protests in Lebanon, we continue to:
There have also been violent clashes, which are the result of attempts by military and police forces to block protesters. According local activists, the result is more than 300 arrests. The pictures of arrest scenes on Twitter they suggested that the detained protesters, placed side by side on the street, had their mobile phones taken away.
Those initiatives have coincided with digital campaigns that convince the public not to join the protests, broadcast via WhatsApp and other social media services.
Journalists and local independent media have been reporting on the demonstrations, while state-supported media have kept silent. On October 22, they fired the head of the National News agency without much explanation. Benjamin Redd, a reporter for the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, he asked on Twitter: “Laure Sleiman, head of the National News agency, was fired for doing her job?”
On October 21, prominent leaders gave their speeches, in which they acknowledge the protesters' claims and commit themselves to improving public services and policies, but the predominant response of the demonstrations is that it is not enough. As Mohamad Najem, SMEX executive director and author of Global Voices expresses:
+ We don't care about Harriri’s new reforms suggestions, before the deadline even.
+ Down with all this political system. We want a temporary government that lead new elections in the next year.
These our political demands#LebanonProtests # لبنان_ينتفض
– Mohamad محمد (@monajem) October 21, 2019
+ We don't care about Harriri's new reforms, even before expiration.
+ Down all this political system. We want a temporary government that leads to new elections next year.
Those (are) our political requests.
Telephones are restored, but internet is still blocked in Kashmir
On October 14, after 72 days of blocking communications, Indian authorities in Kashmir reestablished text message services and calls for post-paid mobile subscriptions. But prepaid mobile internet and connection services remain suspended.
Srinagar, the main city of Jammu and Kashmir, was completely blocked on August 5, 2019 when the Government of India revoked article 370 of the Indian Constitution that granted special status for the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. Access to mobile networks, landlines and internet was suspended, while there were blockages in the streets and restrictions were applied to almost every movement. Although some measures have already been left without effect, the region is still heavily controlled by the Indian authorities.
Why are activists who speak Arabic (and other users) censoring on Twitter?
Hundreds of Twitter users – most of them write mostly in Arabic and are located in Egypt – tweeted or suspended their Twitter accounts in recent weeks. Twitter has apologized for the wrong suspensions, but he didn't explain what motivated them. Experts who have followed this closely have observed that in many cases it was due to the use of rude words, which is not prohibited on Twitter.
What the beginning seemed to be a series of mistakes now seems somewhat bigger, and online activists are taking note and highlighting account suspensions with tags #WeWillSpeak and هنتكلم # (we will talk).
Iranian officials take steps to ban the Google Play app store
On October 9, Iranian telecommunications service providers were ordered to block Google Play, the official Google app store “as soon as possible.” The order is said to have been issued by the attorney general in charge of cyberspace, Javad Javidnia.
If implemented, this will lead Iranians to use local services that are more vulnerable to surveillance, censorship and mishandling of personal data by the Government than with many global online services. Even Amin Amirsharifi, chief executive of Cafe Bazaar, the largest app store in Iran and main competitor of Google Play, tweeted That does not support the measure.
Zuckerberg fails to convince that Facebook is an example of free expression
On October 18, in a speech at Georgetown University, Mark Zuckerberg, executive director of Facebook, extolled the first amendment of the United States and described Facebook as a platform that had helped make the global internet better by sponsoring Free expression values around the world.
The speech left many Internet policy and civil rights experts to be skeptical. “On the one hand it boasts the illuminating effects of the dissemination of knowledge and information, on the other it ignores the toxic attributes of its own company,” wrote Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor at the University of Virginia.
In an opinion piece from The Washington Post, Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP legal defense fund, rebuked Zuckerberg for invoking the name of American civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., whose achievements Zuckerberg attempted to link with values Free expression of the company.
What Zuckerberg failed to note is that King was the subject of violent assaults (and finally assassination) that were the result of the same kind of hate-fueled disinformation campaigns that infect the Internet and are now aimed at a different generation of civil rights leaders.
What Zuckerberg did not observe is that King was subjected to violent attacks (and finally killed) that were the result of the same disinformation campaigns fueled by hatred that infects the Internet and now target a different generation of civil rights leaders .
On October 21, a coalition of more than 40 American civil rights organizations signed a joint letter citing the “reckless disregard of the company for civil rights” and demands that Facebook eliminate discriminatory advertising, white supremacist discourse and repression of voters on your platform.
Nigerian journalist may face charges for recording conversations in prison
The Nigerian journalist ‘Fisayo Soyombo He could face criminal proceedings for his undercover work investigating the prison system in Nigeria. In November 2018, Soyombo deliberately failed to pay a car to be arrested and observe the criminal justice system firsthand. The award-winning journalist spent five days in police custody and eight as an inmate at Ikoyi prison in Lagos, where he observed, documented and then reported in multiple incidents of bribery, inmate abuse by guards and other forms of corruption.
Soyombo is “in hiding” after fleeing his home on October 21. In case you are found and arrested, you will be charged under section 29 of the Nigerian correctional service law (subsection 1 (d)) for owning and using “communication devices” inside the prison to record “conversations with a telephone mobile or other devices ”without authorization. If convicted, he risks receiving a fine that does not exceed two million Naira (about $ 5,500), two years in prison or both.
Will the transitional government of Sudan protect free expression?
The transitional government in exercise in Sudan since August 2019, after the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir, is showing signs of wanting to defend freedom of expression in the country. At the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly at the end of September 2019, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdulla Hmadok signed the World Commitment to Defend Freedom of the Media and stated that “never again in the new Sudan will be repressed or imprison a journalist. “
Also in September, the Sovereign Council of Sudan, which must lead the three years of transition from Sudan to a civil government, issued a decree that puts the Regulatory Authority of Telecommunications and Posts under the authority of the council and withdraws it from the Ministry of Defense . But the rules and policies under which the regulator operates remain unchanged, and the authority has been a key element in deciding and implementing the censorship policies of the previous regime with its filtration and blocking system.
“Current laws impose imprecise restrictions on these fundamental rights and allow authorities to block and filter content without a warrant,” Mohamed Suliman writes in an analysis for Global Voices.
Digital authoritarianism in Egypt: Arrests of digital expression 2011-2019 – Open Technology Fund
India uses murky legal process to repress cashmere journalism, comments on Twitter – Committee to Protect Journalists
Are we better at distinguishing right from wrong? Content moderation automation – Namita, GenderIT.org