Don’t Block the Blog

Speaking up Against Internet Censorship, the world over

January 3, 2009

PTA censors Salman Taseer’s pictures

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the internet monitoring body in Pakistan has issued directives to all its ISP providers to block a list of six webpages on the grounds that they were “harmful for the integrity of the country.”

The URL Level block directive by the PTA was in response to the decision taken by the Inter-Ministerial Committee whose charter is to monitor and block anti-Pakistan, blasphemous, and pornographic web sites. The specfic URL’s under question carry a bunch of pictures of Mr. Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab. These pictures had been making rounds on various email lists across Pakistan some months back ridiculing the lavish parties thrown by the Governor Taseer at the Governor House while his people have been starving on the streets.

It has been suspected that these pictures may have apparently been copied from a facebook picture album of one of the Taseer family and could arguably be deemed private in nature, but one does have to wonder how the Inter-Ministerial Committee chose to classify them as being ‘harmful for the integrity of the country’

Urooj Zia from The News writes

Three of the six webpages on the list issued by the PTA, however, are from dictatorshipwatch.com, a website set up after November 3, 2007, when then-President Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf implemented a state of emergency in the country. One webpage is from makepakistanbetter.com, a social and political discussion forum. The fifth page is from friendskorner.com, a general discussion forum, while the sixth webpage is a node from buzzvines.com. Most of the blocked webpages contained articles which claimed to provide information about Punjab Governor Salman Taseer’s “history”; others had pictures of members of Taseer’s family at lavish parties thrown recently at the Punjab Governor House.

None had blasphemous material, or anything which could even remotely be construed as “anti-Pakistan,” unless criticism of one person is considered an act of treason

Teeth Maestro on his blog writes

Though I still choose not to share those pictures myself but some common sense needs to be knocked into PTA and our Governor that its nearly impossible to totally block / censor content on the Internet as even now a simple Google search will list a dozen more websites which are also sharing the same images

The following are the six (6) URL’s that are supposed to be blocked from Pakistan

  1. http://www.dictatorshipwatch.com/2008/11/08/governer-punjab-salman-taseer-%E2%80%93%-history.html
  2. http://www.dictatorshipwatch.com/2008/11/06/leaders-of-a-nation-half-of-which-sleep-hungry.html
  3. http://www. dictatorshipwatch.com/taseer/taseer.swf
  4. http://www.makepakistanbetter.com/why_how_what_forum.asp?GroupID=5&Group_title=Pakistan%ArticalID=4297
  5. http://www.friendskorner.com/forum/f137/governer-punjab-salman-taseer-his-family-77872/
  6. http://www.buzzvines.com/node/3347

September 18, 2008

Moroccon Blogger Arrested a few weeks back RELEASED

It is just being reported on on Erraji’s facebook group that the court of appeals in Agadir has overturned the decision by the court of first instance and has decided to abandon all charges against blogger Mohamed Erraji, and he is a free man. More updates to follow on this post as the story develops

September 12, 2008

Morocco: Blogger Arrested, Sentenced Immediately

Moroccan blogger Mohammed Erraji was arrested last Friday, September 5th following the publication on the online news site Hespress.com of an article entitled “The King Encourages His Subject’s Dependency” (English translation) He was sentenced 72 hours later, in an expedited trial without assistance from a lawyer, to two years in jail and a fine of 5000MAD for “failure to uphold the respect due to the king”

Morocco’s often-criticized press law prohibits criticizing of the monarchy; In Raji’s article, which has been translated here by Amira al Hussaini, he claims that the King’s charity toward his people encourages them to remain helpless rather than work hard. His concluding paragraph reads

When the young Crown Prince, who will become the Ruler one day, witnesses how his father distributes honours, gratuities and gifts to people upon hearing compliments and praise, there is no doubt that he will act based on the same logic, when he rules. This is why we should delay our dreams of a Morocco of equality and equal opportunities until the reign of Mohammad the Seventh, which will follow after Hassan the Third, who is the Crown Prince at present.

Hespress has reported that Raji has already been given an expedited hearing and judgement and was sentenced to 2 years in jail as well as fined MAD 5,000 (USD $625)

ACTION ALERT

  1. Express Support by Sending Photo Messages
    You can display your solidarity by taking a picture of yourself with a message to Free Mohammed Erraji. Please also write where you are from in the message then send the photo to PhotoErraji@gmail.com, everyone who has a camera should participate!
  2. Join the Facebook Group:
    Express your support by joining the “Free Moroccan Blogger Mohammed Erraji” group and help amplify the message by changing your profile picture to the following. Don’t forget to also invite your friends!
  3. Sign the Petition:
    A petition calling for the immediate acquittal of Mohammed Erraji and the suspension of his sentence is available at www.helperraji.com
  4. Participate in the Blogoma (Moroccan Blogsphere) Blog Strike :
    Monday September 15th, on the eve of the appeal trial, several Moroccan bloggers and others around the world will start a blog strike that will last 24 hours. Those who wish to join to this movement will announce that their blog is on strike, indicate the reason they chose to participate in the strike, mention the details of the case and link back to the site put up in support for Mohammad Erraji. To introduce others to the strike several bloggers are ciculating a short descriptive text, and the english translation has been made available by blogger Jillian York.

Courtesy Global Voice Advox Blog & DigiActiv

August 18, 2008

Naval Chief Video ordered Blocked by PTA

A directive has been issued from the PTA [confirmed through source within the PTA] that a URL of a certain online video which was made by Dawn News about the misuse of power by the Naval Chief Admiral Afzal Tahir has been blocked

I personally cannot confirm exactly which URL’s were listed in the directive but did stumble across the Metacafe video which was definitely blocked from my ISP [MaxCom] showing ‘Access Denied’ while the video hosted on Youtube at least one URL that I used was accessible from my ISP.
PAKISTAN NAVAL CHIEF, ADMIRAL AFZAL TAHIR MISUSE OF POWERClick here for more free videos

More updates to follow as more reports emerge

August 17, 2008

Guide to Facebook Activism

DigiActive.org is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to helping grassroots activists around the world use the Internet and mobile phones to increase their impact. DigiActive has done a lot in highlighting the upcoming cutting edge technologies used in todays world and recently they published a short paper on Facebook Activism which is truly a must read.

It shares the inherent problems with Facebook and offers some interesting solution. Taking examples of a few brilliant mobiizations attempts into perspective eg. Burma Monks Campaign, Free Kareem Campaign in Egypt & also the Free Faoud Campaign in Morroco.

For anyone who has been involved in some form of facebook activism this is a short and must read guide on the do’s and dont’s of Facebook activism

Download from Digiactive.org

August 11, 2008

Major Companies decide on the Principles of Free Expression and Privacy

Major technology companies, including Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, have agreed, in principle, to a voluntary set of principles designed to guide businesses when they encounter laws and practices that may contravene international human rights standards or be at odds with law or culture in their home jurisdiction.

The objective is to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy. Included in this initiative are mechanisms to provide for ongoing learning as well as the monitoring of compliance. It must be remembered that the catch here is that this agreement and these principles are not an end point but a starting point.

The three major companies Google, Yahoo & Microsoft sent a letter to Senator Durbin and Senator Coburn in response to the US senate hearing on Global Internet Freedom: Corporate Responsibility and the Rule of Law held in May. In their letter they all have assured the senate committee on reaching a mutual understanding on best practices in line with Internet Freedom with responsibility. This bascially emerged from extensive discussion held by the Center for Democracy and Technology and Business for Social Responsibility and other organizations to finally draft a policy in this regard.

This is most definitely a very positive step in helping come to terms with what is the limitations on freespeech while simultanesloy weighing in civil responsibility, the local culture and the governmental insistence all in the same breath. One must defitnely applaud this effort and then in turn hope that Pakistan’s Ministry of IT & the PTA, the regualtory body in Pakistan decipher this document and attempt to understand their own limits of free speech to maybe draft one of their own hopign to embrace a clear cut guideline

Links: Nart Villeneuve

June 27, 2008

GlobalVoices Advocacy Summit ’08 (Live Blog)

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit 2008 in BudapestJust an update on the happenings of the closed door session about the Advocacy Summit today on 26th June 2008 at Budapest, Hungary

June 13, 2008

Two shows of Geo.tv are being blocked in UAE

Reports are coming in that Hamid Mir’s Capital Talk and Dr. Shahid Masood’s Merey Mutabiq on GEO both programs have been banned by UAE govt.

RSF issues an immediate press release questioning the blockage of Capital Talk and Meray Mutabiq on GEO tv

PAKISTAN-UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Dubai-based satellite TV station GEO News censored again

Reporters Without Borders calls on the governments of Pakistan and United Arab Emirates to explain how GEO News, a Pakistani privately-owned TV station that broadcasts by satellite from Dubai, was forced to drop two very popular talk shows under threat of losing its licence to operate in Dubai.

GEO TV president Imran Aslam told Reporters Without Borders that the Dubai authorities informed him last night that the station would lose its licence if “Capital Talk,” a show hosted by Hamid Mir, and “Meray Mutabek” (According to me), hosted by Shahid Masood, were not taken off the air.

Officials at Dubai Media City, where the GEO TV group is based, said these programmes threatened UAE’s relations with a friendly country.

The Pakistani information minister said her government was not involved in the decision. But GEO TV journalists suspect that President Pervez Musharraf applied pressure for the two programmes to be withdrawn. Masood recently interviewed a former general who was very critical of Musharraf.

The two shows also had also given a lot of coverage to efforts by lawyers to obtain the reinstatement of judges dismissed by Musharraf last year. In November, Musharraf pressured the Dubai government to suspend GEO TV’s operations altogether.

June 1, 2008

Blogspot inaccessible from Pakistan

Late last night there were reports that blogspot.com was being confronted with a network error when trying to attempt access to any sub-domain on that particular site. First instinct was the new DST time change which came into effect midnight yesterday and could have been the contributing factor to perpetuating this error, but a number of users reports that they saw similar problems even earlier at around 3pm on Saturday afternoon 31st May 2008.

Accessing any sub domain on blogspot give the following error [orthodontist.blogspot.com]

Network Error (dns_server_failure)

Your request could not be processed because an error occurred contacting the DNS server.
The DNS server may be temporarily unavailable, or there could be a network problem.

For assistance, contact your network support team.

Screen Capture:

Which is little different then accessing fastrising.blogspot.com which produces a TCP error

Network Error (tcp_error)

A communication error occurred: “No route to host”
The Web Server may be down, too busy, or experiencing other problems preventing it from responding to requests. You may wish to try again at a later time.

For assistance, contact your network support team.

Screen Capture:

On a personal note I can access blogspot without any problems on my Mobilink Blackberry browser but am unable to do it on MaxCom (KHI) while reports also have come in with similar issues on WorldCall & PTCL (LHR).

Additionally Tee Eee has also stumbled across a worrisome outage on PKNIC.NET.PK which should also raise some alarm bells as it is Pakistan’s only registrar

Traceroutes to all sites produce the same results as follows with not problems in en route


traceroute to orthodontist.blogspot.com (72.14.207.191), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 192.168.0.200 (192.168.0.200) 50.743 ms 51.646 ms 53.614 ms
2 10.0.0.138 (10.0.0.138) 56.596 ms 58.578 ms 59.560 ms
3 129.108.181.58.dynamic.max.com.pk (58.181.108.129) 97.557 ms 98.533 ms 100.510 ms
4 192.168.1.41 (192.168.1.41) 105.499 ms 107.481 ms 111.479 ms
5 192.168.10.14 (192.168.10.14) 117.461 ms 121.455 ms 125.434 ms
6 192.168.3.5 (192.168.3.5) 126.415 ms 40.854 ms 46.356 ms
7 khi77.pie.net.pk (202.125.137.49) 47.283 ms 49.256 ms 53.236 ms
8 khi77.pie.net.pk (202.125.128.141) 56.222 ms 60.205 ms 63.189 ms
9 rwp44.pie.net.pk (221.120.250.246) 66.159 ms 70.142 ms 73.144 ms
10 t2a1-p2-0.uk-glo.eu.bt.net (166.49.170.17) 217.180 ms 220.154 ms 222.140 ms
11 t2c1-prc1.uk-glo.eu.bt.net (166.49.135.139) 227.134 ms 230.110 ms 233.024 ms
12 t2c2-p4-0.uk-lon1.eu.bt.net (166.49.208.146) 191.952 ms 223.928 ms 182.897 ms
13 t2a5-ge2-1.uk-lon1.eu.bt.net (166.49.135.115) 186.828 ms 188.801 ms 191.777 ms
14 gi5-1.cr2.th.hotchilli.net (166.49.214.134) 242.779 ms 241.760 ms 240.750 ms
15 209.85.255.175 (209.85.255.175) 214.714 ms 192.876 ms 209.85.252.76 (209.85.252.76) 188.818 ms
16 64.233.175.213 (64.233.175.213) 265.817 ms 284.795 ms 66.249.95.146 (66.249.95.146) 268.774 ms
17 72.14.236.219 (72.14.236.219) 291.772 ms 72.14.233.113 (72.14.233.113) 290.103 ms 216.239.46.25 (216.239.46.25) 294.014 ms
18 72.14.236.183 (72.14.236.183) 306.999 ms 309.980 ms 66.249.94.90 (66.249.94.90) 312.963 ms
19 72.14.236.130 (72.14.236.130) 304.931 ms 319.920 ms 66.249.94.50 (66.249.94.50) 318.899 ms
20 eh-in-f191.google.com (72.14.207.191) 313.879 ms 315.865 ms 273.492 ms

March 19, 2008

Moroccan ‘Facebook Victim’, Fouad Mourtada Free

According to Global Voices Advocacy, the “Facebook victim” Fouad Mourtada has just been released by Moroccan authorities due to a royal pardon:

Fouad Mourtada, the 26-year old IT engineer who had been arrested on February 5th, 2008 and sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of $1350 for creating a fake Facebook profile of King Mohammed VI’s younger brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, has been released about an hour ago.

According to a source close to Help Fouad campaign, Fouad got a full royal pardon and left the Oukacha Prison (Casablanca) at approximately 8:00pm and is on his way home – Global Voices