Monthly Archives: October 2008

New “Global Network Initiative” to Limit Governments’ Censorship of the Internet

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and other large internet companies have been criticized for “cooperating with Chinese government censorship and demands for information on dissidents.” It appears that these companies are changing their attitude:

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo and a group of human rights and public interest organizations plan to introduce Wednesday a global code of conduct that they say will better protect online free speech and privacy against government intrusion.

Big Tech Companies Back Global Plan to Shield Online Speech (NYTimes)

Online Giants Unveil New Code of Conduct for Net Censorship (Ars Technica)

Global NetWork Initiative website

More Nationwide Firewalls

I’ve previously blogged about the debate over nationwide firewalls in Australia. Today the New York Times has an article about nationwide firewalls in other countries, including Russia, Thailand, and the United States.

National Firewalls a Step on Slippery Slope to Censorship (NYTimes)

Censors Censor Censor’s History of Censorship

Say that one three times fast.

In the UK,

[t]here is a long tradition of the military suppressing news that it considers detrimental to national security by slapping a D-notice on it.

But when the D-notice committee decided that the time was ripe to publish its own official history, nobody imagined that it would fall victim to its own system. The history of the D-notice committee has, in effect, had a D-notice slapped on it by the D-notice committee.

link

Australian Senator Attempts to Hush Critics of Net-Filtering Software

Australian Senator Stephen Conroy

is attempting to silence critics of its controversial plan to censor the internet, which experts say will break the internet while doing little to stop people from accessing illegal material such as child pornography.

link

Senator Conroy is a member of the Labor Party and is the “Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.”

Senator Nick Minchin, member of the Liberal Party of Australia and “Leader of the Opposition in the Senate,” has expressed outrage at the attempt by Senator Conroy to stifle criticism of the plan.

iTunes Censors Song Titles

The iTunes Store is “substituting asterisks for letters in song titles featuring swear words.”

link

UCLA Art Department Censors Artwork

Curators removed part of artist Maya Lujan’s large-scale artwork from UCLA’s Wight Biennial 2008 Exhibition — without bothering to tell her.

Ms. Lujan’s work, titled White Magic and Xanadu, still appeared in the show. But in response to (idiotic) public comments, curators decided to remove just part of the work — a “wall mandala” that bore a superficial resemblance to a swastika.

The curators asked Lujan if it would be OK to remove the wall mandala — but then they removed it without waiting for her approval.

Russell Ferguson, chairman of the UCLA art department, said that the removal “seems to me within the norms of the curatorial process.”

What a bunch of bull. It’s one thing for curators to remove an entire work of art from a show. It’s a totally different thing for curators to selectively edit a work of art and remove the bits and pieces that they don’t approve of — without even telling the artist what they are doing.

Say you’re showing a bunch of paintings by Lucian Freud (google image search). Would it be OK to put tape over the naughty bits without letting Mr. Freud know about it? Would that be “within the norms of the curatorial process?”

Give me a break!

Little Big Planet recall

So there’s this new video game that’s got everyone excited. It’s called Little Big Planet. LBP has been receiving rave reviews from various gamer publications. The game was to be released this week and gamers everywhere have been drooling in anticipation.

They’ll have to wait a little longer.

In response to some criticism of the lyrics of one of the in-game songs — lyrics which contain expressions from the Qu’ran– Sony has delayed the release of LBP and is recalling copies of the game that have already shipped to retailers.

The song in question, Tapha Niang, is by Grammy Award-winning African kora player Toumani Diabate — a devout Muslim. He defends the song here.

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy, an Islamic non-profit, opposes Sony’s decision to remove the Qu’ran references from the game.