Home Egypt’s Got Facebook Cops: This Week in Online Tyranny

Egypt’s Got Facebook Cops: This Week in Online Tyranny

Egypt has created a special security department to monitor Facebook. Allegedly, the “main task of this group is to monitor Facebook content like groups, pages and chat and to publish reports countering online criticism of current Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak or his son Gamal.” But it’s extremely unlikely that the secret police powering it will not collect user information, as well as seek out and punish those who use the social network for free speech and political reasons.

Egypt’s relationship to Facebook is extensive. Very popular for several years prior, on April 6, 2008, students and others used it to stage a protest against the Egyptian government’s precipitous raising of bread prices. This protest gave birth to the the April 6 Movement. But the protest was brutally put down and the leadership of April 6, whose goal is an open discussion of issues of importance to their country, have been harassed ever since.

India adds Google, others to censorship efforts. Censorship efforts grow like mold. Earlier efforts against Blackberry by Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates grew to infect India. India’s efforts to force Blackberry to decrypt user information has now expanded to include, well, everyone. India is demanding that “all companies that provide encrypted communications…install servers in the country to make it easier for the government to obtain users’ data.” Web and social media companies have not been brave in general, and Blackberry has already started to yield.

Attorney sues crowdsourced rating site. A Florida attorney filed a complaint alleging that a rating site for lawyers “defamed him and other lawyers by misrepresenting public information and using ‘punitive, coercive and manipulative practices’ against attorneys who try to correct their listings.” MLRC is a great blog to keep track of lawsuits filed against bloggers and the users of other social media in the U.S.

Chinese scientist and blogger attacked. Fang Zhouzi, scientist, blogger and anti-fraud campaigner was attacked by two men after a television interview in a tea house near his apartment. Politicians and bosses in China, like Egypt, often uses thugs to prosecute violence against opponents.

Jordan adjusts its Internet censorship law. The anti-free speech law that Jordan implemented last month has been ameliorated somewhat. Prosecutor’s offices do not have unlimited discretion on whom to prosecute and the defamation elements have been limited. But you can still be sent to forced labor for blogging. And “immoral” content is still illegal. (That means “any” content is illegal if the wrong person decides he doesn’t like you.)

Israeli and Palestinian chauvinists duel on Wikipedia. Right-wing Israeli groups are teaching courses on how to edit Wikipedia entries to give them a Zionist slant and now Palestinian journalists are doing the same in reverse. Nothing like a true believer to put you off your lunch, is there?

Imprisoned Iranian blogger receives press award. Kouhyar Goudarzi, one of 17 prisoners on a hunger strike to protest horrifying conditions in Tehran’s Evin prison, has been awarded this year’s Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award by the National Press Club.

Activist gets parole revoked for Facebook. Rod Coronado, who served time in prison for arson after burning down research facilities at the Michigan State University, and who has been arrested several times since, has had his parole revoked. One of the violations was “associating” with a proscribed type of person, an environmental activist who had expressed approval of illegal actions for protest. Coronado accepted a Facebook friend request from Greenpeace co-founder Mike Roselle. The other probation violation was accessing a computer outside his home. The conditions come from two different convictions.

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