Media Law Round Up 8/24

  • For India, Mass Texting, Twitter Parodies both causing unrest

8.18 India: Government Bans Bulk SMS To Stop Rumors The Ministry of Home affairs has banned bulk SMS and MMS for a period of 15 days, starting today, reports PTI. As per the report, users will not be able to send more than five SMSs and MMSs above 20kb at one go, following the directive.

8.19 India Asks Pakistan to Investigate Root of Panic  India’s top domestic security official on Sunday called on the Pakistani government to investigate Indian claims that “elements based in Pakistan” had orchestrated a fear-mongering misinformation campaign using text messages and social media that helped set off last week’s nationwide panic among migrants from India’s isolated northeastern states.

8.23 India: Social Media Blamed for Fueling Assam Unrest On 25 July, 2012, we reported about ethnic clashes that had broken out between the indigenous Bodo tribe and Bengali Muslim settlers in the Kokrajhar district of the Indian State of Assam. The mainstream media (MSM) at first chose to shy away from reporting the ground realities of the clashes. After being barraged with questions and criticism on social media about their silence and/or inadequate coverage of the Assam situation, various reasons were offered from their end, perhaps the most curious one being that of the “tyranny of distance” – that the clashes in Assam were happening in a faraway area…

8.23 Indian Government Casts a Wide, Puzzling Net Over Internet Earlier this week, the Indian government acknowledged that it had asked internet service providers to block about 250 web pages in an effort to contain ethnic tensions between Muslims and people from the northeast. Almost immediately, Internet-policy analysts and journalists started trying to figure out what was blocked. What they have found is a clumsy, haphazard dragnet that has ensnared posts, articles and Twitter accounts that do not appear to have any hate speech on them.

8.24 Social Media Guidelines For Government Officials Is A Desperate Attempt The Indian government has finally issued guidelines for its departments which was in a draft state from last year. The guidelines that have been published with no major changes to the draft is a half-baked effort from the government considering its own failure to understand social media.

8.24 Outrage in India Over Twitter Crackdown (On Twitter, at Least) The Indian government’s recent demand that Twitter block some accounts, including several that parodied Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has unleashed a storm of mockery and criticism from among the country’s millions of Twitter users. Topics like #GOIBlocks and #Emergency2012 (a reference to the national emergency declared when Indira Gandhi was prime minister which sharply curbed civil liberties) trended on Twitter as users expressed disgust at the

  • Updates on Pussy Riots, Russia

8.22 Pussy Riot Was Carefully Calibrated for Protest Depending on your taste, punk died in 1979, or maybe 1994, or whenever studded leather cuffs became a must-have mall-girl accessory. Now, suddenly, punk has been resurrected, stitched together anew in the form of the well-accessorized Russian women who call themselves Pussy Riot. The name helps. It’s its own form of culture jam, a savvy reference to feminist and musical history — riot grrrl and Susie Bright, as well as a wink to women’s appropriation of sexual agency and bodily power. Madonna has worn Pussy Riot’s name on her bare skin, a statement both of her support and of her own rebelliousness.

8.24 Chessmaster Gary Kasparov’s Arrest During Pussy Riot Trial Perhaps the most surprising thing to emerge out of the media saturated Pussy Riot trials other than the trial itself, was the attendance and subsequent arrest of the former Chessmaster of Caucasian descent, Gary Kasparov, at the reading of the verdict on August 17, which saw the three women accused of illegally performing  a “punk prayer” in a church receive a two year prison term.


  • Media Censorship in Bangkok

8.20 Myanmar to Curb Censorship of Media  The government of Myanmar said on Monday that it would no longer censor private publications, a move that journalists described as a major step toward media freedom in a country where military governments have tried for decades to control the flow of information.

8.20 Internet rules relaxed The head of the BBC’s Burmese Service, Tin Htar Shwe, says journalists in Burma are cautiously optimistic about the reforms, but that the end of the law does not necessarily mean the end of the censorship altogether. Many laws still exist under which journalists can be punished for writing material which angers or offends the government, she says. Wai Phyo, editor of the Weekly Eleven journal, told Reuters the move was “a big improvement on the past”, but that editors would now be under increasing pressure to ensure their publications remained legal. In the past, entire newspapers have been shut because of their reports and many reporters have been jailed.

8.21 Myanmar government ends censorship of local media The Southeast Asian nation’s media had long been regarded as among the most restricted in the world. But President Thein Sein’s reformist government began easing media controls over the last year, allowing reporters to print articles that would have been unthinkable during the era of absolute military rule.

8.22 Burmese media cautious despite relaxed censorship The media have been one of the most assertive sectors of Burmese society since the reforms began. The Myanmar Journalists Association, which has 800 members, held its first congress on August 11 and made a point of telling government officials they were not welcome. ”We said, ‘Sorry, you’re not invited – don’t come’,” the vice-president of the association, U Thiha Saw, said. ”We wanted to prove that we are an independent body.”

  • Puerto Rico harnesses Social Media for referendum awareness

8.20 Puerto Rican Voters Defeat Referendums on Size of Government and Bail  Yesterday Puerto Ricans delivered a resounding defeat to Governor Fortuño’s constitutional amendment referendum by a margin of 54% to 45% on both measures, with a 35% voter turnout. Voters were asked to approve two amendments to Puerto Rico’s constitution: (1) Allow for judges to deny bail in case of first degree murder and four additional cases of murder; and (2) shrink the legislature from 78 legislators to 56. Polls had placed the “YES” vote in nearly double digit leads. On the YES camp, was the Governor and the Statehood party (New Progressive Party, or PNP in Spanish) and a limited number of candidates from the Commonwealth Party (Popular Democratic Party, or PPD in Spanish), among them, the candidate for governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla.

8.21 Puerto Rico: Social Media’s ‘No’ Campaign Wins Big in Referendum Even with lack of economic resources and an advertising infrastructure, the “NO” option prevailed in the referendum that took place in Puerto Rico last August 19th to amend the country’s Constitution. The proposed amendments [es] limited the right to bail and the amount of legislators. Social media played a huge role throughout the campaign process in favor and against the proposed amendments. However, those who advocated for the NO (against the amendments) took more advantage of the power of social networks because they didn’t have the means to get the same presence in traditional media than those who favored the “YES” option (that was backed by an official political party, the pro-statehood PNP-New Progressive Party).

  • Kenyan’s UGC coverage stirs unrest, detained.

8.21 Kenyan Blogger Arrested Over “Illegal” Tweets A popular Kenyan blogger, Robert Alai has been arrested by police for “abusing communication equipment”. The blogger presented himself to the police at Nairobi Area CID offices on Tuesday afternoon where he recorded a statement and is being held until Wednesday when he will appear in court to take plea. Police had summoned the blogger for questioning over alleged abuse of the Kenya Information and Communication Act. Provincial CID office stated that it  received a complaint from government spokesman Alfred Mutua and Communication Commission of Kenya that Robert Alai has been abusing sections of the Act.

8.24 Kenyan Blogger Detained Over Controversial Tweets Controversial Kenyan blogger and Twitter user Robert Alai was detained in police cells on Tuesday 21 August, 2012, for allegedly abusing the Kenya Information and Communication Act. Alai is accused of claiming that Kenyan government spokesperson Alfred Mutua wanted to kill him, and alleging Mutua’s involvement in ordering the murder of human rights activists, Oscar King’ara and Paul Oulu, in 2009. Alai pleaded not guilty and was released on a cash bail of 100,000 Kenyan shillings.

Image courtesy of: Dominique Godbout / CC BY 2.0


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