Archive for June, 2010

Why Asia should matter?

28 June 2010

Up to 43 percent of the world’s online population will reside in Asia by 2013, according to projections from Forrester Research. And China will account for 17 percent of the global online population.

In mobile, eMarketer forecasts China will have 1.3 billion subscribers and 957 million mobile Web users by 2014. The consultancy projects there will be more people accessing the Web on their cell phones in the country than the entire population of the U.S. in 2010.

Other digital marketing facts in Asia include:

  • Internet users in Asia Pacific spent more than 5.6 trillion minutes online in 2009, and bought $7 billion in virtual goods, according to the Asia Pacific Digital Marketing Handbook.
  • Nearly half of all search activity (44.1 percent) across the region in September 2009 took place on Google; representing 17 billion searches. (comScore)
  • India’s Internet population grew to 71 million, a year-on-year increase of 42 percent in 2009; 51 million of them are active users. (Economic Times)
  • Japan has around 21.8 million social network users. Around half of them actively manage their profiles, according to Universal McCann.
  • The Philippines has more than 10.6 million Facebook users and is ranked eighth in the world in terms of countries with highest number of using the social networking site, reports Inside Facebook.

Source taken from: http://www.clickz.com/3640741

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Pakistan Monitors Websites For ‘Blasphemy’ Against Islam

Free speech is precious. We don’t realize how much but maybe as Pakistan monitors websites for “blasphemy” we’ll begin to understand. Pakistan banned Facebook last month when someone wanted people to submit their drawings of the Prophet Muhammed. Now Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Bing and others will be monitored for what Pakistan deems “blasphemous.”

YouTube was also banned by Pakistan for sacrilegious material according to their definition of sacrilege. The monitoring of the websites in Pakistan began with the banning of 17 websites by court order. These sites contain, according to the LaHore High Court, blasphemous material. My Way News reports that one of the banned sites is a site called islamexposed.blogspot.com. The “blasphemy” in this case is headlines such as “Islam: The Ultimate Hypocrisy.”

Pakistan is not the only country that has monitored or banned websites. China has monitored websites searching for blasphemy against their god; the government. Other Islamic countries do and will most surely follow Pakistan’s lead in suppressing freedom of speech. Islamic extremists can’t afford for other thoughts and ideas to penetrate their world of indoctrination.

Here in the states, the Obama Administration is looking to “regulate” the internet. Regulation is just another term for monitor. If the Administration has their way, we could be on the slippery slope to outright suppression of our First Amendment rights if they are allowed to monitor sites that may be in opposition to Obama’s policies.

Pakistan monitoring websites for “blasphemy” is a scary thing. The internet is a place for the free exchange of thoughts and ideas. Sure there are wacko’s out there, but even they have the right to speak their peace.

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Turkey tightens Internet control in YouTube feud

By SUZAN FRASER (AP)
26 June 2010

ANKARA, Turkey — Furious over Internet insults of the country’s beloved founder, Turkey has gone on the offensive against Google, tightening a ban on YouTube and cutting public access to a host of Google-owned sites.

Turkey’s communications minister has accused the Internet giant of waging a battle against Turkey and dodging taxes. But the government faces widespread public anger and attacks from the political opposition for restricting freedoms.

Even the president has spoken out against banning internet sites — using his Twitter account — after Turkey restricted access to some Google pages earlier this month.

The controversy is a setback for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, which won plaudits for carrying out democratic reforms but now stands accused of placing Turkey in the same class as countries already notorious for tight Internet controls.

“If the government doesn’t now put an end to the Internet ban that has extended to certain Google services … Erdogan’s name will be remembered along with that of Internet prohibiter Ahmadinejad,” wrote Haluk Sahin, a professor of media studies and columnist for Radikal newspaper, referring to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran cracked down on free use of the Internet during its disputed presidential election last summer.

Even for Turkey, exercising control of the internet is not new.

The country began blocking access to websites in 2007, after parliament adopted an a law against cyber crime in an effort to curb child porn, prevent the dissemination of terrorist propaganda and stamp out illegal gambling. Websites deemed to be disrespectful of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and of religious beliefs were also outlawed.

Under court order, Turkey’s telecommunications authority banned access to YouTube, the video-sharing site, in May 2008, after users complained that some videos insulted Ataturk. Earlier this month, Turkey expanded the ban to include some Google pages that use the same Internet Protocol addresses as YouTube, to prevent users from circumventing the ban. The search giant Google Inc. is YouTube’s parent company.

Hundreds of internet users have signed an online petition denouncing the ban as an affront to “free speech and rights to access information.” Signatories are calling for the resignation of the telecommunications officials and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim.

Three information technology groups are challenging the ban in courts.

President Abdullah Gul threw his weight behind opponents of the ban in a series of tweets June 14, saying the Internet gag was preventing Turkey from “integrating with the world.” He said he has instructed officials to look into ways of overcoming the ban, including changing laws if necessary.

“I cannot approve of Turkey being in the category of countries that bans YouTube (and) prevents access to Google,” the president said.

The opposition Republican People’s Party, which under new leadership is trying to present itself as a viable alternative to Erdogan’s government in elections next year, brought the issue to parliament Thursday.

“The whole of Turkey is disturbed. Reaction, criticism, protests are increasing by the day,” lawmaker Emrehan Halici said. “Unfortunately, we are again faced with censorship in our country.”

Yildirim, the minister in charge of Internet issues, responded by accusing YouTube of attacks against Turkey.

“This site is waging a battle against the Turkish Republic but Turkey will never accept it,” he said.

He accused Google of failing to abide by Turkish laws and failing to cooperate with Turkish authorities.

This month, Yildirim lashed out at Google saying it owed Turkey 30 million Turkish Lira (US$20 million) in taxes for revenue from advertisements placed in Turkey.

Google said in an e-mailed statement that it is “disappointed that that this ban remains in place against a safe and lawful international service enjoyed by millions of people around the world.”

“Google complies with tax law in every country in which it operates,” Google said. “We are currently in discussion with the Turkish authorities about this, and are confident we comply with Turkish law. We report profits in Turkey which are appropriate for the activities of our Turkish operations.”

Erdogan has in the past shrugged off complaints over the YouTube ban. In 2008, he told a journalist: “I know how to get around the ban,” and urged everyone else to do the same. He would not however, disclose which proxy servers he used to circumvent the ban.

Richard Howitt, a British member of the European Parliament and advocate of Turkey’s European Union membership, has warned Turkey that it cannot be considered as a serious candidate as long as the Internet continues to be censored.

Howitt said the ban puts “the country alongside Iran, North Korea and Vietnam as one of the world’s worst offenders for cyber censorship.”

The 56-nation Vienna-based security and human rights organization has also called on Turkey to abolish or reform the law that allows it to block Internet sites.

More than 6,000 sites have been banned in Turkey according to Engelli Web, a site that monitors blocked pages.

Inaccessible sites include pornographic pages, some online betting sites, escort services and sites that provide live soccer feeds.

Source taken from: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iPZmDTKYEB6SFdyOAv97vXytVnSAD9GICUUG0

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Blogging behind Vietnam’s bamboo cyberwall

By Pamela Boykoff, CNN
June 25, 2010

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (CNN) — Helmet under her arm, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh arrives after traveling 450 kilometers by motorbike, evading the security police, to tell CNN the story of her imprisonment for blogging in Vietnam.

“The first three days I was scared for myself,” she said about her 10 days in prison, during which officers repeatedly asked her about her writing and if she received cash from anti-government groups outside the country.

Vietnamese like Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh are embracing the internet in full force. There are 24 million internet users right now, nearly a third of the population. A decade ago there were 200,000. Internet cafes have popped up all over Ho Chi Minh City, and social networking sites are increasing in popularity along with mobile internet use.

“Internet life grows so fast,” said a popular blogger, who requested anonymity out of concerns for his safety. “Even I, one of the bloggers, could not imagine how fast this could be.

“And nearly everyone, each Vietnamese, has their own blog.”

Like elsewhere, most Vietnamese blogs deal with life, work, humor or technology. But a group of bloggers here also focus on a more dangerous territory in this one-party Communist state: They write about local corruption, land seizures and the increasing influence of China. They complain about the lack of multiparty democracy, too.

In a nutshell, they blog about the sort of issues that can get you into deep trouble in today’s Vietnam.

This is something that Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh — who blogs under the Vietnamese pen name Me Nam or Mother Mushroom — knows well.

Her blog includes writings about her daily life and pictures of her young daughter, but she also expresses her outspoken views against China’s intervention in her country, including Beijing’s financing of a controversial bauxite mine in the Central Highlands.

Those views led to her arrest and imprisonment for ten days in August, for, she said, “abuse of democratic freedoms and infringing on the national benefit.”

When I first got in touch with Nguyen nearly a year later, her phone and movements were still being monitored. E-mail, I had been told, was the best way to get in touch.

“I am willing to tell my story to you,” she wrote to me, saying she would travel from Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City to meet us.

Twelve hours later, she sent another e-mail. “Can you sure filming is OK and safe for us?” She feared the security police would prevent her from coming, but she would try.

The next day she arrived, and over the next two hours she told her story.

“I did not know what happened. But the fourth and fifth and the sixth day when they asked me the same questions, I was scared for my mom and my daughter and my husband. I didn’t want to think about them when I was put in prison, because if I ever think about them I wanted to give everything to come to my family.”

As a condition of her release, she agreed to give up blogging, posting a handwritten letter on her site in which she explained that she loved her country, but that the government felt this was the wrong way. After being denied a passport two months later though, she decided to begin again.

“I write another entry on my blog, that I gave up already, but they didn’t leave me alone,” she said. “I have to take the right to say what I think.”

What does she think the government will do if they see her telling her story on CNN?

“I think that they have to think about this,” she said. “Because I just tell the truth … If they arrest me again because I send a message outside to the world, I am not scared. This means that they show to (the) world that we don’t have freedom like they say.”

When contacted by CNN about its policy on freedom of expression on the internet, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry provided the following written response.

“In Vietnam, freedom of information and freedom of speech are guaranteed and practiced in accordance with the law. Such concern as ‘government threatens free expression online and an open internet’ is groundless.”

Nguyen and I have been keeping in touch by e-mail since her story aired on CNN International television one week ago.

“Thank you so much for the film …,” she wrote me on Saturday. “Thank you for coming to report about our country.”

And at the bottom of her automatic signature, the same as on every e-mail I have received from her, it read: “Who will speak if you don’t?”

Source taken from: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/social.media/06/24/vietnam.cyberwall/

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Blogger loses job; Post loses standing among conservatives

Post blogger Dave Weigel, who wrote about the conservative movement, resigned amid controversy today following disclosure of disparaging e-mails he’d written about some of the very people he was hired to cover.

Weigel bears responsibility for sarcastic and scornful comments he made in e-mails leaked from a supposedly private listserv called “Journolist,” started in 2007 by fellow Post blogger and friend Ezra Klein. Weigel’s e-mails showed strikingly poor judgment and revealed a bias that only underscored existing complaints from conservatives that he couldn’t impartially cover them.

But his departure also raises questions about whether The Post has adequately defined the role of bloggers like Weigel. Are they neutral reporters or ideologues?

And, given the disdainful comments in his e-mails, there is the separate question of whether he was miscast from the outset when he was hired earlier this year.

Raju Narisetti, the managing editor who oversees The Post’s Web site, said Weigel called him last night and offered to resign after Fishbowl D.C. initially revealed some damaging e-mails. Narisetti said Weigel alerted him that another Web site, the conservative Daily Caller, planned to disclose more e-mails today.

“This morning, after reading them, I accepted his resignation,” Narisetti said. Contacted by e-mail, Weigel replied: “I no longer work for the Post.”

The e-mails made negative comments about Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, among others. One suggested it “would be a vastly better world” if Webmeister Matt Drudge “decided to handle his emotional problems more responsibly, and set himself on fire.”

Weigel apologized online yesterday, but the damage was too severe to save his job.

“I don’t think you need to be a conservative to cover the conservative movement,” Narisetti told me late today. “But you do need to be impartial… in your views.”

He said that when Weigel was hired, he was vetted in the same way that other prospective Post journalists are screened. He interviewed with a variety of top editors, his writings were reviewed and his references were checked, Narisetti said.

“But we’re living in an era when maybe we need to add a level” of inquiry, he said. “It may be in our interests to ask potential reporters: ‘In private… have you expressed any opinions that would make it difficult for you to do your job.”

Weigel’s exit, and the events that prompted it, have further damaged The Post among conservatives who believe it is not properly attuned to their ideology or activities. Ironically, Weigel was hired to address precisely those concerns.

With bloggers such as Weigel, “I think The Post needs to decide what it wants to be online,” said Dan Gainor, a vice president at the conservative Media Research Center. “Does it want to be opinion? Or, does it want to be news? The problem here was that it was never clear.”

“If it’s going to be opinion, it ought to have somebody on the conservative side — something Dave Weigel never was,” he said.

If The Post wants to assign a “good neutral reporter” to cover conservatives, “we’d be thrilled,” said Gainor. But quickly added, Weigel “wasn’t one. He looked at the conservative movement as if he was visiting a zoo. We’re more than that.”

Gainor raises valid points. Klein’s blog posts clearly pass through a liberal prism. For that reason, liberals have a comfort level with what he writes, and conservatives know where he’s coming from, even if they disagree. In contrast, Weigel’s blog seemed to confuse many conservatives who contacted me. Was he supposed to be a neutral reporter, some wondered? Others complained that he was a liberal trying to write about conservatives he disdained.

“We will look for someone to replace Dave,” Narisetti said.

Instead of just a replacement, The Post might consider two: one conservative with a Klein-like ideological bent, and another who can cover the conservative movement in the role of a truly neutral reporter.

In the meantime, Post managers would be wise to remind all staffers that personal opinions, expressed privately on listservs or through social media, can prove damaging if made public.

Klein addressed that danger this afternoon in a thoughtful blog post explaining why he is closing down Journolist, and why he is saddened that leaks from the listserv led to the resignation of Weigel, a “dear friend.” Klein wrote:

There’s a lot of faux-intimacy on the Web. Readers like that intimacy, or at least some of them do. But it’s dangerous. A newspaper column is public, and writers treat it as such. So too is a blog. But Twitter? It’s public, but it feels, somehow, looser, safer. Facebook is less public than Twitter, and feels even more intimate. A private e-mail list is not public, but it is electronically archived text, and it is protected only by a password field and the good will of the members. It’s easy to talk as if it’s private without considering the possibility, unlikely as it is, that it will one day become public.

Alas, it took only one listserv participant to bundle up Weigel’s archived comments and start leaking them outside the group. The result is that Weigel lost his job. But the bigger loss is The Post’s standing among conservatives.

// By Andy Alexander  |  June 25, 2010; 5:24 PM ET

Source taken from: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ombudsman-blog/2010/06/blogger_loses_job_post_loses_s.html

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China’s Ambivalent Relationship With The Internet: Podcast

By Gady Epstein
25 June 2010

If you’ve been spending too much time reading books lately, including the China books recommended on the last Sinica podcast, you may be missing out on real life — by which I mean, of course, the series of tubes that make up the Internet. On the new Sinica podcast, four people who have actually used the Internet in China discuss Beijing’s ambivalent relationship with the online world: Host Kaiser Kuo (now more firmly entrenched in the Chinese Internet as a communications bigwig at Baidu), Jeremy Goldkorn of the Danwei blog, China Tracker contributor Bill Bishop of the blogs Digicha and Sinocism, and  your Forbes Beijing bureau chief.

The impetus for discussion was the Chinese government’s first white paper on the Internet. Whether you are a student of the Chinese Internet or of Communist Party doublespeak, it is a fascinating document — I recommend reading Part III: Guaranteeing Citizens’ Freedom of Speech on the Internet, and Part V: Protecting Internet Security, in which you learn about the many exceptions to those things they just said about guaranteeing free speech. Rebecca MacKinnon, an expert on Internet freedom and a visiting fellow at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, nicely vivisects some of the best parts on her blog.

On the podcast we also discuss a phenomenon that was abetted by the Internet, the mung bean-snake oil guru Zhang Wuben, written about in detail here. Listen to the mp3 here for a wide-ranging discussion of the Internet’s role in citizen speech, social control and commerce. Bottom line: Whereas at one point Chinese leaders might have feared the Internet more than they appreciated it, they are clearly more confident in their approach to the Internet now. It will be interesting to see where China’s Internet policies lead.

Source taken from: http://blogs.forbes.com/china/2010/06/25/chinas-ambivalent-relationship-with-the-internet-podcast/

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Turkey Urged to Loosen Rules on Internet Access

Dorian Jones | Ankara
24 June 2010

Europe’s main human rights and security agency told Turkey this week to stop blocking Google’s video-sharing website “YouTube” and thousands of other sites banned under its Internet law. Turkey has banned more websites than any other country in Europe, and ranks with countries like Iran and Burma.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, said the law, introduced in 2007, has been expanded to block more than 5,000 sites in the past few years and is severely damaging freedom of expression and information rights.

The minister of transport, Binyali Yildirim, is responsible for Internet policy. He defends the government’s actions, saying Google could solve all of this by opening an office in Turkey.

It is the duty of everyone to protect the rights of Turkey, he says.  All we are saying is for them to act according to Turkish laws.  We are not in a position to bargain with them. They need to accept Turkish laws and have a valid address in Turkey.

Google is reluctant to set up an office in Turkey because analysts say that would mean opening itself up for possible prosecution over its content.

Google’s hugely popular “YouTube” site has already been banned for two years in Turkey because of videos officials say have denigrated Ataturk,  the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Professor of Media studies Haluk Sahin at Istanbul’s Bilgi University says Turkey’s lawmakers are simply unable to change with the times.

“It is an extension of a mentality that has very deep roots here. We don’t have a liberal tradition in which freedom of speech and expression is considered to be of a fundamental part of civilized life,” he said.  “As a result law makers today react to developments in ways that are very similar to their fathers and grandfathers used to do, which is to ban.”

Many savvy Web users are circumventing the bans by using proxy servers, but the courts hit back this week by banning them. This prompted President Abdullah Gul to intervene .

“Of course there should not be such bans in Turkey,” he said. “If there is a need for a new law, then the law should be introduced.  They should find a way.  All this should be resolved very soon. Turkey shouldn’t like to appear as a country which bans websites.”

Richard Howitt, spokesman for the European parliament’s committee on Turkey, says he is confident Ankara is pushing for reforms.

“The censorship of the Internet probably is likely a result of local prosecutors, rather than government policy. That these complaints that we brought to our parliamentary colleagues were listened to, we got commitments for them to be investigated,” he said.

But such optimism is not shared by Professor Sahin.  He says despite the growing national and international pressure he doesn’t expect legal change anytime soon.

“Nobody seems to move a finger to change them, even when they say see it, they do not take necessary steps to get rid of them. It’s anomaly that makes Turkey an embarrassing place,” he said.

That pessimism seems well placed with no Internet reforms currently planned.  So for some time to come,  Turkey seems destined to remain in the company of countries like Burma, North Korea and Iran when it comes to Internet freedom.

Source taken from: http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/science-technology/Turkey-Urged-to-Loosen-Rules-on-Internet-Access-97090344.html

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