Home Blogger Disappeared in China: This Week in Online Tyranny

Blogger Disappeared in China: This Week in Online Tyranny

Xu Zhiyong disappeared in Beijing. The lawyer and blogger (PDF) disappeared last Friday, telling friends he was being “taken away to the suburbs.” He was seen with unidentified men.

He may be facing a resuscitation of tax charges he saw levied against him in 2009. He is one of many bloggers and activists detained and disappeared in the wake of an abortive “Jasmine Revolution” inspired by the Arab Spring.

Burma sees even more surveillance with new civilian president. After promising to “respect the role of the media,” Burma’s new president, Thein Sein, has continued the Burmese junta’s tradition of severe restriction of speech and harassment of journalists, activists and bloggers. New rules tightening restrictions on the already-restricted Internet have come into place, “including a requirement (of Internet cafes) to keep the personal data of all their clients along with a record of all the websites they visit, and make it available to the authorities.”

Further restrictions include “a ban on the use of portable hard disks, USB flash drives and CDs in Internet cafés, and a ban on the use of Internet telephony (VoIP) services to call abroad.”

U.S. DOJ withholds surveillance law memo.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit against the Department of Justice to force “the release of a secret legal memo used to justify FBI access to Americans’ telephone records without any legal process or oversight.”

The aftermath of 9-11 has seen a great many laws introduced, rules rewritten and policies changed to the detriment of individual liberties.

Great Firewall founder attacked.

Chinese technologist Fang Binxing is credited as the father of the Great Firewall of China, the ring of blocks and filters that keeps the Internet in that country under the political control of the ruling regime. Known as the “Golden Shield” in Chinese, is was begun as a way to seize economic opportunities for the country without sacrificing Communist Party control.

Fang, the president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, was speaking at Wuhan University in China’s Hubei province when he was pelted with an egg (which missed) and a shoe (which did not).

Facebook traffic declines in Middle East.

Adoption of Facebook by citizens of the Middle East started increasing prior to the Arab Spring. But in the wake of the protests, that number spiked upward dramatically. This month, however, the region “has lost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of users in some key countries,” according to Inside Facebook.

Of the nineteen Middle Eastern countries they track, seven have declined over the last month, some precipitously.

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