Hossein Derakhshan's trial finally begins in Iran. Cyrus Farivar spoke to a source today.

"After many months of nearly no information about the status of Hossein Derakhshan, various Iranian websites and his family are reporting that his trial began on Wednesday in Tehran."

The source told him they expected him to be released after the trial due, in part, to the fact that he's been in jail, much of it in solitary, since November of 2008.

Hoder had moved to Canada in 2000, sometime after the publication he worked for in Iran, Asr-e Azadegan, was shut down. He traveled to Israel in 2006, blogging about breaking that barrier. Iran, like most Muslim countries, forbids its citizens to visit the Jewish state. Later, in a turnabout that confused many, he became a vocal proponent of the Islamic Republic and finally moved back. He was arrested for spying for Israel within weeks of touching down in Iran.

Thailand shuts down 113,000 websites. I believe Thailand is trying to set a record. Someone call Guinness. Or at least URDB. Using the old canard of lèse majesté, protecting the honor of the monarchy, the Thai government has gone on a site-blocking spree. Every repressive government uses different tools to silence its people. Given the profound respect in which all Thais hold royalty, this approach is a locally-useful tool of censorship. It is also a fraudulent shtick.

The U.S.'s top law enforcement authority encourages the sacrifice of liberty for safety. American "founding father" Benjamin Franklin said everything you would think needed to be said on the topic. "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Attorney General Janet Napolitano clearly thinks Ben was a big silly. "The First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet," she said. What could go wrong?

Whirly-eyed Pakistani lawyer files capital suit against Facebook's CEO. An addle-pated dingbat of an attorney in Pakistan has filed suit against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Because his company hosted a page for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day and drawing the Muslim prophet's image is considered by most Muslims to be blasphemous and in Pakistan blasphemy means you get your head chopped off, Zuckerberg could be sentenced to death. This is even more hare-brained than most muddy thinking on the Islamic bank of Crazy River, extra-super-mega-crazied up by the fact that Facebook couldn't roll over fast enough when Pakistan (and Bangladesh) shut down the site.

Saudi blogger detained for seven months without charges. Munir al Jassas has been languishing, without trial or even official charges, since November 7th of 2009. Munir was known for defending the rights of Shiite Muslims online, putting him, no doubt, in conflict with the kingdom's Sunni Wahhabist imams.

Azerbaijani blogger arrested in Iran. Ibrahim Rashidi, a blogger and journalist, was arrested by Iranian secret police in the northwestern city of Ardabil. Rashidi agitated peacefully online for the rights of the ethnic majority. The previous month saw 45 Azerbaijani activists arrested in Iran, 17 of whom remain in prison and 28 of whom were released on bail.

Maker of Swedish moose-hunting documentary hunts down, sues file-sharer. Using a Pirate Bay user name, Tor Lundberg hunted down a guy who had put his...moose-hunting documentary on the site for free download and is now suing him. At this point, someone should say, "...and I woke up screaming from the weirdest dream I've ever had." But it's true. The villain is being sued for $15,000. How much did it cost to track him down and take him to court?

Australia to be force to install anti-virus software, deprived of Internet connection if they refuse to comply. In another step of its rush to abandon even the appearance of privacy rights, Australia's House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications has issued a report on "cyber-crime" which recommends the country's legislature take those steps. Given the steps Australia has taken in the last several years to limit freedom online, including copying and storing all information from users online, even the normally paranoia proof have to wonder what presents will come wrapped in the anti-virus software.

OpenNet Institute introduces updated social network censorship map. Check out the map below to select which social network you wish to review and it will generate a map illustrating which countries are blocking it and to what degree.

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Lebanese Fight ISP Monitoring. Lebanese are fighting the establishment of the Electronic Signatures & Services Authority, which will be allowed to monitor and discipline ISPs and to access any type of electronic information transmitted through licensed ISP networks.

Viacom lawsuit against YouTube thrown out of U.S. courts. A New York-based federal judge dismissed the $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit. The judge said YouTube's owner, Google was "shielded from Viacom's copyright claims by 'safe harbor' provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act" which "protect a Web site from liability for copyrighted material uploaded by its users as long as the operator of the site takes down the material when notified by its rightful owner that it was uploaded without permission."

Top photo by Taco Meeuwsen