Tag Archives: Internet Freedom

Privacy, National Security, Human Rights, Social Value, Whatever – It’s Whatever the West Says

Microsoft
Microsoft, Privacy, and Rights over Ex-territorial Servers

The Economist today had an article on a case involving Microsoft’s alleged refusal to turn over documents stored on a foreign server to FBI. The article can be found here (archived here).

According to the Economist:

SUPPOSE FBI agents were to break into the postbox of an American company in Dublin to seize letters which might help them convict an international drug dealer. There would be general uproar, if not a transatlantic crisis. But that is essentially what the FBI wants to happen, albeit in the virtual realm: it has asked a court to order Microsoft, in its capacity as a big e-mail provider, to hand over messages from a suspect in a drugs case which are stored in a data centre in Ireland. On September 9th an appeals court in New York will hear oral arguments on whether Microsoft has to comply.

The case has many wrinkles … But at the core of the case is one of the most knotty legal questions in the age of cloud computing: how to give law-enforcement agencies access to evidence when laws remain national, but data are often stored abroad and sometimes even at multiple places at once?

This article rightfully brings up conflicts in law in the Internet arena within the West. Over the last few years, certain very public and passionate debates have flared up with Europe and the U.S. regarding privacy, right to delete, and censorship on the Internet.

A few years ago, as early as 2008, when I noticed Google Streetview growing to incorporate the streets of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other Asian regions, I realized that everyone there simply took it for granted that it’s ok. What Google did must be the right, enlightened, and forward-thinking. Continue reading Privacy, National Security, Human Rights, Social Value, Whatever – It’s Whatever the West Says

Chinese Government Tightens Constraints on Press Freedom

Oh no … the Chinese government is at it again.  The New York Times is running on its front page today an article with the ominous title “Chinese Government Tightens Constraints on Press Freedom.”  Here is the full text of the article.

HONG KONG — China introduced new restrictions on what the government has called “critical” news articles and barred Chinese journalists from doing work outside their beats or regions, putting further restraints on reporters in one of the world’s most controlled news media environments.

Reporters in China must now seek permission from their employers before undertaking “critical reports” and are barred from setting up their own websites, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television announced in new rules Wednesday.

Continue reading Chinese Government Tightens Constraints on Press Freedom

Wen Jiabao Urges Political Reform and Praises Internet Criticism of Government

The Fifth Session of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC) has just ended.  Here are two stories about Wen that I found interesting.  I have no personal insights beyond what is reported, but I thought it is helpful to bring attention to such stories to balance the distorted view in the West that the Chinese government somehow has in its DNA a fear of criticisms and a distrust of people and reforms. Continue reading Wen Jiabao Urges Political Reform and Praises Internet Criticism of Government

What Does SOPA (and PIPA) Tell us About “Freedom”?

As you may know, there is a heated high-profile war being waged in the U.S. now over a new bill called SOPA (“Stop Online Piracy Act” in the House) and PIPA (“Protect Intellectual Property Act” in the Senate). The bills have been temporarily put on hold, but the issues highlighted by the controversies will not go away.

The purpose of the bills is to enable IP owners to target foreign-based websites from selling pirated movies, music and other products in the U.S. The bills have pitted entities with high stakes in IP such as Hollywood studios and drug companies against tech companies that will be target of any new law such as Google and Wikipedia. Earlier this week, the latter staged various forms of high-profile blackouts, with Chris Dodd of the Motion Picture Association of America responding accusing the tactics as Continue reading What Does SOPA (and PIPA) Tell us About “Freedom”?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks Internet ‘freedom’

A lot has already been written in the Western media about the yesterday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speech on Internet ‘freedom.’ In her speech, Clinton singled out China for being “repressive” on the Internet, and for that reason, the predictable narrative is out yet again: U.S. vs. ‘bad’ China, ‘bad’ China, or U.S. being too harsh to, still, a ‘bad’ China. This nonsense aside, I thought the speech was telling of a number of things.

First of all, don’t forget that the U.S. Department of State’s mission is to conduct U.S. foreign policies. In that sense, everything Clinton said were expected and predictable. The biggest give away is near the end of her speech where she said:
Continue reading U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks Internet ‘freedom’