Vietnam's government is to decide policy in managing free internet-based telecom tools like Viber, Line and Whatsapp, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said on Friday, a move bound to increase concerns about Communist Party censorship. State media said the government might "ban" free messaging services because of the harm done to network providers. Vietnam has repeatedly come under fire for curbs on free speech and harsh treatment for bloggers who dare to criticize the one-party regime.
The BBC is due to cut comments made by violinist Nigel Kennedy about “apartheid” in Israel when it broadcasts his concert, performed with Palestinian artists as part of the Proms musical festival, on British television channels next week. The concert, held at London’s Royal Albert Hall last week, featured 17 musicians from the Palestine Strings, the troupe performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons alongside Kennedy. Kennedy likened the situation in Israel to apartheid in South Africa.
This week we are running a film that first aired on Al Jazeera English six months ago, on another one of Al Jazeera English programmes, Witness. It is the story of two Russian bloggers, Sergei Mukhamedov and Irina Gundareva, who use their blogs to expose corruption and challenge the established order in the different areas in which they live. Mukhamedov is based in Moscow and says he set up his LiveJournal blog to skirt the restrictions on freedom of expression put in place by President Vladimir Putin.
As far as the Internet goes, Cuba is the Western Hemisphere’s last frontier. Despite the island nation’s proximity to Florida — just 90 miles away — and the existence of a fully functioning fiber-optic cable linked up to Venezuela, only 25% of the population is online, according to last year’s government statistics, which are likely inflated. In June, Cuban citizens were for the first time legally allowed access at designated “cyber points” but few can afford the charges—the cost of one hour online matches an average Cuban’s week’s salary.
The US has criticised a new internet decree in Vietnam that would restrict online users from discussing current affairs. The law, announced last week and due to come into force in September, says social media should only be used for "[exchanging] personal information". The US embassy in Hanoi said it was "deeply concerned" by the decree.
This week on South2North Redi speaks to three film directors who have dealt with different forms of censorship and story-telling in Africa. Jahmil Qubeka’s film Of Good Report was banned on the opening night of the Durban International Film Festival - allegedly for showing child pornography.
Yesterday Freedom House released a report on Internet censorship in China based on information they collected for their Freedom on the Net survey. The report is especially interested in Internet censorship since the leadership transition that brought Xi Jinping to power last November. It not only examines the obstacles citizens face in getting Internet access, but also on what is censored, surveillance, and how citizens are punished by the state for their activities online.
Starting on May 3, the White House's petition website has become a favored landing spot for Chinese Web users, and the hashtag #occupytheWhiteHouse, and a variety of related memes, has recently appeared on Chinese social media platforms. The origin of this chatter provides a case study in censorship, Chinese netizen humor, American soft power, and the unintended consequences of a (sometimes) borderless Internet.