Welcome to the Media Law Roundup October 3, 2014 — a survey of the week’s developing media news.
China vs. Hong Kong:
The citizens of Hong Kong took to the streets in protest over news that China would not allow open nominations for the 2017 elections. Instead, all candidates for Hong Kong leadership will need to be vetted by a committee largely made up of pro-Beijing supporters. Hong Kong citizens are claiming that this is a violation of the agreement that China made with Hong Kong as part of its ‘one country, two systems’ governance system. The protests in Hong Kong provoked the most censored day of the year for Chinese social media as censors cracked down on the tags #OccupyCentral and #UmbrellaRevolution. Western news stations broadcasting in China were blacked out before they ccould report on the situation in Hong Kong. Instagram on the mainland was also blocked in order to prevent the spread of pictures showing protesters being sprayed with tear gas. To avoid potential interference by the Chinese government, protesters have turned to new social technologies in order to stay connected to one another, including apps such as FireChat and Stand By You. Though the protests still continue, the Chinese media reports that there will be no change in the voting policy. “This is an open challenge to the basic law and the law of Hong Kong,” says the state-run People’s Daily. “It is against the rule of law and will not succeed.”
Russia and Media Control:
Russia faces continued international pressure regarding its media laws. The Eurasia Review has called for the country to revoke the amendments to its media law that would restrict foreign involvement in media companies, claiming that the changes threaten media freedoms. This news joins the influx of stories surrounding Russia’s media bubble, as the state exerts an increasing level of control over all media outlets in order to spread its own propaganda. State control over the media is reflected in almost every aspect of the news, from the lack of reporting on new non-discrimination standards implemented after the Sochi Olympics to the reporting on Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution as a United States plot against China.
Conference on Surveillance:
Guardian News & Media is hosting a conference on mass surveillance and press freedom in London on Thursday, October 16, 2014. The conference will discuss the ongoing revelations of mass surveillance by government and police forces, and will involve journalists, politicians, lawyers, and others invested in the cause of media freedom. If you would like to attend, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 8, 2014.
The Shellshock Bug:
A new vulnerability found in Apple computers is even bigger than this past Spring’s Heartbleed bug. Shellshock, a flaw found in a MacOS and Linux component called Bash, can be used to remotely access a computer system. “This was about giving you direct access to the system. The door’s wide open,” said security researcher Professor Alan Woodward of the University of Surrey. The Shellshock bug could potentially affect 500 million devices compared to Heartbleed’s 500 thousand. Security experts recommend downloading a software patch immediately, even though patches may not be able to completely safeguard systems. The Shellshock bug affects both websites and computer systems that run using the Bash component. Shellshock’s discovery has placed renewed scrutiny on the technology industry. The Bash component is handled by just one unpaid volunteer developer named Chet Ramey. “Ultimately, this is a lifecycle problem,” said Tony Dyhouse of the UK Trustworthy Software Initiative. “It’s here because people are making mistakes whilst writing code and making further mistakes when patching the original problems.”
Two months ago at the Black Hat security conference, researcher Karsten Nohl revealed that a security flaw present in all USB devices would allow them to be corrupted by undetectable malware. This is the result of a fundamental error with the design of the USB. The same code that enables the device to work can be rewritten to include a malware attack. A USB could appear completely clean and still be carrying malware in places that only the most skilled engineers would think to look. This flaw does not only apply to flash drives, but also to keyboards, mice, and anything else that can be plugged into a computer’s USB port. Because no fix for the error existed, Nohl opted not to reveal his attack code. However, researches Adam Caudill and Brandon Wilson have revealed it for him. “The belief we have is that all of this should be public,” said Caudill. “If you’re going to prove that there’s a flaw, you need to release the material so people can defend against it.”
Turkey’s Prime Minister is Increasingly Against the Internet:
The Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) sent a joint delegation to Turkey in order to discuss the Turkish government’s stance on media freedom. A statement released by the delegation showed Erdoğan saying, “I am increasingly against the internet every day.” Other Turkish leaders have also spoken in defense of the government, pointing to media coverage of events such as the government corruption scandal in 2013 and last summer’s Gezi Park protests as validation for the government’s stance on media freedom. “Media should never have been given the liberty to insult,” said Erdoğan. Though the delegation’s anxieties have not been completely allayed, the Constitutional Court’s recent rulings against laws that would have given the country’s telecommunications bureau the power to block websites without a court order were seen as an encouraging step forward.