Media Law Round Up 11/16

//CGCS Presents this week’s Media Law Round Up – a collection of stories that developed over the week dealing with International Media Law & Policy, Freedoms of Speech, Information and Expression, Censorship, Privacy and all things Web 2.0.

// To read the articles in full, simply click on the title to go to the original host’s page.

ICTs and Social Networks Bring Debate Over Free Speech, Security, Censorship

11/14 Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA): freedom of expression should not be allowed to harm state institutions (via the Express Tribune)

The Pakistani regulatory authority over electronic media decided this week that ensuring freedom of expression is the foremost obligation of regulators,  “but nowhere is it allowed to harm state institutions and its functionaries in the garb of freedom of expression and speech.”

During a meeting, headed by Acting Pemra Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar, Pemra also urged its licensees to “realize their responsibility and exercise self-regulation in the larger national interest.”

11/15 In Britain, spate of prosecutions for Twitter and Facebook tirades spark free-speech debate (via Washington Post)

One teenager made offensive comments about a murdered child on Twitter. Another young man wrote on Facebook that British soldiers should “go to hell.” A third posted a picture of a burning paper poppy, symbol of remembrance of war dead.

Figures obtained by The Associated Press through a freedom of information request show a steadily rising tally of prosecutions in Britain for electronic communications — phone calls, emails and social media posts — that are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character — from 1,263 in 2009 to 1,843 in 2011. The number of convictions grew from 873 in 2009 to 1,286 last year.

Many of the charges come under a section of the 2003 Electronic Communications Act, an update of a 1930s statute intended to protect telephone operators from harassment. The law was drafted before Facebook and Twitter were born, and some lawyers say is not suited to policing social media, where users often have little control over who reads their words.

11/15 Can Twitter censor the Israel Defense Forces? (via Washington Post)

Israel made history Wednesday when it began live-tweeting its own strike on the Gaza Strip. Now that the initial shock is over, the questions are setting in: Are governments allowed to use Twitter that way? And even if they can, should they?

Users have seized on phrasing in both Facebook and Youtube’s terms of service as reasons for the alleged suspensions. Twitter does not allow users to post “direct, specific threats of violence against others,” and Youtube bans both threats and “graphic or gratuitous violence.” @IDFSpokesperson famously (or infamously) sent a tweet Wednesday warning Hamas leaders to hide, and its Youtube channel includes footage of Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip.

ICTs Embraced Internationally for Education, Development

11/14 Kenya: Curriculum to Go Digital (via allAfrica)

Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo said recently that he plans on digitizing that learners acquire digital skills best when exposed to Information Communication and Technology at a very young age which they increasingly use to explore and exploit the world of information and to craft that into knowledge.

The minister lauded the efforts of MultiChoice East Africa for funding the Multi-Choice Resource centre and establishing 90 others similarly in other parts of the country which he said would bring technology closer to the people especially those in rural communities. He noted that the equipment donated to the schools would enable them to provide education that was in tandem with the requirements of the 21st Century learning skills.

11/15 “Cue cards and chalkboards will not cut it ” – PM Baldwin Spencer of Antigua

A plea for Antiguans & Barbudans to grasp a technological vision for the future was repeated throughout the night at the launch of the eighth annual Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Fest at the Multipurpose Center, Perry Bay.

Prime Minister Spencer referred to the recent introduction of high speed internet and phone connectivity through the launch of Digicel’s two 4G networks as crucial for the economy, as well as an effort to provide iPasd to “fourth and fifth form students on the island”

11/16 Embrace the digital age, ICT Minister urges Ugandans (via allAfrica)

Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Ministry of ICT in Kampala on Nov. 14 ahead of the Africa ICT Week, Minister for Information and Communication Technologies Ruhakana Rugunda noted that Ugandans, just like other citizens around the world are living in an Information Society, where ICT tends to render paperwork redundant.

However, he observed that the amount of paper that continues to flow from the mailbox into people’s files and homes on a daily basis remains high. A paperless society is one in which paper communication – written documents, mail, and letters, is replaced by electronic communication and storage.

Besides its obvious contribution to saving the environment through reduction of deforestation, a wholly digitized society could provide a more democratic access to professional journals, newspapers, magazines, books and databases, notes a statement from the Uganda Communications Commission, the country’s communication regulatory body.

11/16 Zambia: Be Acquainted With ICTs – Minister (via allAfrica)

Mr. Christopher Yaluma, Transport, Works, Supply and Communication Minister recently made a call for the embrace of ICTs at a media awards program.

“For our journalists to report adequately and effectively, there is need for them to understand how these technologies work and how best they can be applied in their work and play,” Mr Yaluma said.

The minister said Government’s desire would remain to ensure that technologies were not for the elite but would trickle down to a wider magnitude of Zambians through the various implementation programs.

Escalating tension over new Russian Media & Treason Laws see Blacklistings and Criminal Cases

9/19 New Tension Over Russian Media Law (background, via Wall Street Journal: Europe)

Russian authorities ban an online trailer for anti-Islamic film, “Innocence of Muslims” reviving tensions over up coming media law that could result in banning all of Youtube. Many fear that unchecked government censorship of online content can lead to suppression of free speech and information.

11/14 Russia’s Controversial Internet Law Causing Collateral Damage (via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)

The latest in a string of controversial laws limiting free speech has recently come into effect in Russia, causing unrest for human rights advocates. The new law allows Russian government officials the right to force websites offline and “demand that Internet service providers block content” that it sees as harmful to children. Topics such as child pornography, suicide, substance abuse and extremist views are all subject to blacklisting.

Defenders of free speech are riled, as many fear that “the new law may be used to block websites seen as critical of the government or the Russian state.” Information rights expert Ilya Rassolov told Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, “This law can be seen as one of the elements that can, if the need arises, curb freedom of speech.” Critics from within Russian cyberspace are already emerging, such as Yandex and

11/14 Russia Treason Law Takes Effect (via Global Post)

Former Russian Constitutional Court judge Tamara Morshchakova said Monday during a presidential rights council meeting that under the new law the Federal Security Service no longer needed evidence to accuse suspects.

“Their goal was simple: We have few traitors, it’s difficult to prove their guilt, so it’s necessary to expand it,” she said. “Now they don’t have to prove it any more. An opinion of law enforcement agencies would suffice.”

Former Soviet dissident and human rights activist, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, 85, told Reuters the law echoed Stalinist Russia.

11/15 Where did 180 Russian Websites go? (via Christian Science Monitor)

The Russian blacklist continues to expand and changed as Russian bloggers and free speech activists try to stay on top of the situation, compiling their own list of blocked content.

“Roskomnadzor, (the Russian Federal Surveillance Service for Mass Media and Communications) can shut down a site within 24 hours, without appealing to a court. But in order to restore a resource, one has to complain and go to court. Even so, the rules for getting back online are not at all clear …  As a result, big resources like YouTube, or internet encyclopedias, or social networks are all under threat. They have millions of users, and some of them are inevitably going to post something deemed offensive. That could lead to the closure of the whole portal,” which will be disruptive even if it’s temporary”

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