Company criticized for bowing to government pressure
Apple has reportedly pulled a censorship-circumventing app from the Chinese iOS App Store. The app, titled FreeWeibo and developed through collaboration with Radio Netherlands Worldwide, is said to have worked around the government's censorship filters for content posted on the Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo.
Incendiary video continues to trouble Google
A court in Egypt has ordered for video sharing site YouTube to be blocked for hosting a video deemed blasphemous by a number of parties. Access to YouTube will be restricted over a 30-day period as it continues to offer the film "Innocence of Muslims" for viewing, something which has already provoked strong reactions in the last few months.
Filter to also block pornography, harmful information
Teenagers in South Korea may be required to have censorship software installed onto their mobile phones, if government plans come to fruition. The proposals would see profanity and pornography blocked from view on smartphones, and is hoped to curb "illegal and harmful information" being sent to teenagers in the country.
Temporary unbanning of YouTube quickly reversed
Pakistan lifted its ban on video-sharing site YouTube, only to block it shortly afterwards. The block, originally started due to content deemed blasphemous appearing on the service, has seen the website inaccessible within the country, though both the length of time and the reasons for the block being reinstated varies between reports.
Internet, telecommunications disrupted as fighting escalates
Syria is cut off from the Internet, according to an access monitoring firm, in what is being seen as a bid for censorship by the local government. All 84 of Syria's IP address blocks are currently unreachable, "effectively removing the country from the Internet," and appears to be linked to the current battle between the country's armed forces and Syrian rebels.
Confirms first step in private national network complete
Iran has blocked its citizens from accessing Google and Gmail. The country is blocking access to the web giant's websites as part of the ongoing protests over a YouTube video deemed blasphemous by religious leaders, however some see it as the first stage in the country creating its own national network, separate from the Internet.
Prime minister demands block following protests
YouTube has been banned in Pakistan after Google refused to remove a video deemed "blasphemous" from the site. Prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has ordered the Ministry of Information and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block the site, preventing the country's inhabitants from viewing a controversial video mocking the prophet Muhammad.
Stoppage likely to continue for weeks.
Iran is apparently proactively censoring selected Internet sites. Reports out of that country claim that the government there is blocking access to Google, Yahoo, and Gmail, It is also preventing access to sites using the secure Https protocol, effectively preventing any online banking services.
Legislators to limit spyware distribution
Legislators are currently drafting a bill that aims to impose export restrictions on software that can be used by foreign governments to monitor citizens or censor Internet content. Republican Representative Chris Smith, the bill's sponsor, suggests such legislation is necessary to help prevent certain governments from using American-produced software to quash political dissent.
Optus and Telstra opt for voluntary censorship
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a commentary critical of new voluntary censorship measures adopted by two of Australia’s largest ISPs, Optus and Telstra. Optus and Telstra have taken the decision to block a list of websites that depict child abuse provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). While most people would support the blocking of child porn websites, critics have argued that there is no transparency in the selection of URLs to be blocked and no accountability required of the regulatory bodies that develop the lists.
“Great Firewall of China” leads to lawsuit
Chinese Internet search giant Baidu has been sued in the US by a group of free speech advocates for censoring Chinese freedom of speech websites. The group of eight New York residents has also included the Chinese government in its complaint. The group claims that as the Baidu site can be utilized in the US, that it violates the US Constitution by reportedly colluding with the Chinese government to omit search results.
"Eye Candy" models also a problem for publishers
Apple has rejected a "magazine" app from Danish publisher Mediaprovider because the content was exclusively about Android, the rival mobile OS to Apple's own iOS -- reinforcing charges that Apple's censorship is heavy-handed, arbitrary and in some cases hypocritical -- in fact, a magazine app from the Netherlands called Androidworld Reader is already available on the App Store. While the App Store features dozens of magazines that have some discussion of other mobile operating systems in them -- Wired's popular iPad app being a prime example -- the fact that Android Magasinet is devoted exclusively to Google's smartphone OS was cited as the deciding factor, says publisher Brian Dixen.
New anti-censorship group
Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are among the founding members of a new anti-censorship group called the Global Network Initiative, reports indicate. The organization also has the backing of investor, human rights and press freedom groups, such as the Center for Democracy and Technology. The GNI is specifically aimed at forming a consistent approach to dealing with countries that block free speech on the Internet, such as China. Many governments around the world filter search results, or simply prevent citizens from accessing certain websites.
Apple pulls comic app
Apple has banned the comic book iPhone app Murderdrome, its creators claim. This adds to a growing list of titles that have been banned from the App Store for one reason or another, including Tetris clone Tris, lightsaber emulator PhoneSaber, and the "bling" app I Am Rich. Apple has used a variety of reasons for each pull, this time the iPhone SDK's assertion that content cannot offend Apple's "reasonable" sensibilities.
China resumes iTunes
Access to Apple's iTunes Store is once again available in China, although some content is no longer visible, according to SFGate. The service was apparently blocked by the Chinese regime last week; a controversial pro-Tibet album, however, is still unavailable to shoppers in the country. The album is suspected as the main reason for the earlier blockage of iTunes.
FCC to address SMS blocks
Several activist groups have submitted a petition to the FCC regarding SMS blocking, filings indicate. The problem, says a coalition include Public Knowledge, Educause and six other groups, is that cellular networks are sometimes blocking bulk text messages without legitimate pretext, hurting operations. One recent example comes from September, when Verizon refused to provide short codes to NARAL Pro-Choice America; although the group only wanted to send out opt-in alerts, Verizon said it would not allow "highly controversial" texts on its network.