Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Defying Washington to Save the Internet

Co-authored by S. Derek Turner

It’s a rarity in Washington to see a communications bill that actually serves the public.

But a bill Sen. Jay Rockefeller introduced last week is a direct challenge to the communications cabal that controls much of our media in the United States.

For that the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act faces very long odds. But Rockefeller’s bill does so much for Internet users and video watchers that it deserves everyone’s support.

Sen. Rockefeller, who is serving out his final term in Congress, has clearly been emboldened by the open Internet movement. Over the past decade, millions of people have spoken out to preserve Net Neutrality, stop online censorship and protect our rights to connect and communicate. We recognize the power of free speech and access to information that the Internet enables, and we’re using the Internet in growing numbers to protect these rights against corporate and governmental abuse.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Self-Censorship from Beijing to the Bay Area

Online news organization ProPublica on Friday launched a special feature documenting censorship on social media in China.

China's Memory Hole focuses on censorship of users of Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, which filters out "undesirable" content from the more than 100 million items that are posted there daily.

A team of ProPublica writers, technicians and translators combed through deleted items after gaining access to and monitoring Sina Weibo's network over a five-month period.

ProPublica is vague -- perhaps intentionally -- about the actual mechanics of their monitoring.

We do know that China has assigned the task of blocking social media content to the privately held companies that run the services. It’s a comprehensive self-censorship approach that keeps the companies guessing on the limits of appropriate public discourse.