|Search news by keyword||Category||Date Range|
Linda - According to the organization Reporters Without Borders, the Islamic Republic of Iran now ranks alongside China as the world’s biggest prison for journalists. They note that the recent crackdown on freedom of speech has been intensified following Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s endorsement of the result of the 12 June presidential election and the opposition’s decision to call demonstrations against it. As of earlier this week, Iran has a total of 33 journalists and cyber-dissidents in its jails, while journalists who could not be located at their homes have been summoned by telephone by Tehran prosecutor general Said Mortazavi. Reporters Without Borders wrote to the leaders of the European Union’s 27 member countries urging them not to recognise President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection.
Tom - Reporters without Bourders noted that Journalists and activists held in prison are being put under a lot of pressure to make filmed “confessions” acknowledging their participation in a “velvet revolution.” Reporters Without Borders has also received many allegations of torture. The Iranian state radio and TV broadcaster is meanwhile putting out false information about the opposition candidates and the cancellation of today’s demonstration. Foreign news agency correspondents are also being pressured not to report anything about the opposition. At least 24 journalists had already been arrested since 12 June. Reporters Without Borders has not been able to trace many others. Some may have found refuge but others may now be with those of their colleagues who had already been in jail for some time. Even before the election, Iran was ranked as the Middle East’s biggest prison for journalists and cyber-dissidents.
Linda - Iranian authorities have also tightened their squeeze on the internet. Authorities have blocked Web sites such Facebook, Twitter and many sites linked to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi or his backers. Text messaging has been blacked out since last week, and cell phone service in Tehran is frequently down. The restrictions on foreign media were imposed after one of the most stunning images of the showdown appeared online: hundreds of thousands of marchers pouring through Tehran last Monday to denounce alleged vote rigging in the June 12. At least seven protesters were killed in gunfire from a militia compound. The bloodshed was covered by the world's media. One photo showed the body of one victim sprawled on the ground with blood spilling from a head wound. But the bar on eyewitness reporting makes it difficult to confirm reports of casualties. Two separate videos posted on YouTube and Facebook following street battles Saturday in Tehran showed a young woman with blood pouring from her nose and mouth as people — shouting in Farsi — frantically tried to help her.
Tom - The YouTube video described the location in central Tehran and said the woman, identified on the video as "Neda," had been fatally shot. The images began to appear on media around the world, including at protests by Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles. The Associated Press noted the existence of the videos but could not independently verify the content, its location or the date it was shot. The AP monitors Twitter and other sites and has reported some posted comments on known events. At CNN, more than 2,000 reports from "citizen journalists" related to Iran have been received since the day after the election, and more than 80 "fully verified" videos and photos have been aired, spokesman Nigel Pritchard said. CNN also has reported on content carried by Twitter and other social networking sites.
Linda - In other international media news, the Financial Times is reporting that the US has complained officially to China over its strict new internet censorship rules as tension builds over an issue causing consternation among international technology companies and Chinese internet users. The development is a rare direct intervention by the US over internet freedom, which has steadily risen in importance as an issue between the two countries in recent years. US technology companies see it as a back-door way of keeping them out of the Chinese market.
Tom - Said Ian Kelly, a State department spokesman "We view with concern any attempt to restrict the free flow of information," "Efforts to filter internet content are incompatible with China's aspirations to build a modern, information-based economy and society." The US embassy in Beijing said representatives had met officials at the ministry of industry and information technology and the ministry of commerce on Friday. Chinese Internet users are calling on fellow web surfers to stay offline on July 1, the debut of a controversial software filter that critics say the Chinese government is using to tighten censorship http://www.benton.org/node/26024
Linda - Reuters is reporting that eight percent of all consumers in Britain, France, Germany and the United States admit to downloading video illegally from the Internet, according to a survey, showing the scale of the ongoing fight against piracy. Two-thirds of those surveyed in Britain often or sometimes watched TV, movies and video on their PC or laptop computer, with U.S. consumers not far behind. Of those, 15 percent did so illegally, the Futuresource Consulting survey showed. According to the report, the widespread availability of illicit content presents a major obstacle to the development of online content services, and continues to heavily impact upon revenues, despite governments' and industry authorities' renewed attempts to tighten up the system. Most media companies are struggling to persuade consumers to pay for video, music or news online amid the widely held assumption that content on the Web is free. But attempts to fund free content by selling advertising are mostly falling short. Governments around the world are trying to help media providers fight online piracy.
Tom - The worst effects have so far been borne by the music industry, which is still struggling to compensate for an ongoing decline in CD sales. In the United States, a woman was fined almost $2 million last week for illegal music sharing. France's lower house of parliament approved a bill last month that will let authorities track illegal downloading over the Internet and disconnect repeat offenders. And Britain's government proposed a range of measures this week to punish persistent illegal downloaders, including slowing down connections and eventually blocking Internet access. The survey found that 90 percent of those who watched video content online had never paid to watch news or recently-missed TV shows. Just over half had never paid to watch new movies. But most said they would or might be willing to pay in future. Futuresource carried out online surveys of more than 2,500 people to put together its report.
Linda - American intelligence agencies have been accused of spying on the emails of millions of Americans, including those of former president Bill Clinton. In the latest in a series of intelligence scandals to hit Washington, details of a secretive email surveillance scheme are beginning to come to light - with fresh allegations reported in the New York Times. The Times quotes one anonymous NSA analyst who claims that electronic messages sent to and from American citizens, and says that the former president - whose wife is now the country’s secretary of state - was among those targeted by the sweep. The database system, called Pinwale, is used by America’s National Security Agency to intercept and examine huge volumes of email passing through American telecommunications networks. The NSA has confirmed that Pinwale exists, although it will not comment on the latest allegations or give further details on how the system operates.
Tom - The news is just the latest in a long series of revelations about the extent to which America’s security agencies are keeping track of ordinary people, including the controversy over warrantless wiretaps. Californian Senator Dianne Feinstein, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating the unauthorised surveillance claims for several years, reacted to the news of Pinwale system by suggesting that nothing illegal had taken place. That stance is a sharp contrast with four years ago, when Feinstein told the Senate said that she had a “very heavy heart” after learning that intelligence services had acted in contravention of laws that she had helped pass. In 2005 it emerged that President Bush had bypassed the usual process of court approval for wiretaps, encouraging NSA officials to conduct wiretaps at his command.
Linda - Accused of abusing his powers, Bush later claimed it was his “constitutional responsibility” - but while Congress strongly objected, the controversy ended last year with a compromise that effectively approved his actions and gave immunity to American telecoms companies for their role in aiding the NSA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the government over the illegal interception of communications. Their lawyer, Kevin Bankston, said that “Ordinary Americans’ most private emails have been and still are being intercepted in bulk and then stored in secret NSA databases, without probable cause.” “One of the remedies we’re asking for in that case is the destruction of the domestic communications and records that the NSA has been illegally hoarding in databases like Pinwale.”