The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Nowhere in Farago’s pro-censorship argument does he address, or even fleetingly consider, the possibility that the ideas that the state will forcibly suppress will be ideas that he likes, rather than ideas that he dislikes. People who want the state to punish the expression of certain ideas are so convinced of their core goodness, the unchallengeable rightness of their views, that they cannot even conceive that the ideas they like will, at some point, end up on the Prohibited List. That’s what always astounds and bothers me most about censorship advocates: their unbelievable hubris. There are all sorts of views I hold that I am absolutely convinced I am right about, and even many that I believe cannot be reasonably challenged. But there are no views that I hold which I think are so sacred, so objectively superior, that I would want the state to bar any challenge to them and put in prison those who express dissent. How do people get so convinced of their own infallibility that they want to arrogate to themselves the power not merely to decree which views are wrong, but to use the force of the state to suppress those views and punish people for expressing them?

France’s censorship demands to Twitter are more dangerous than ‘hate speech’ | Glenn Greenwald

And here is Jason Farago’s shortsighted pro-censorship article.

A little less than two years ago, when Internet access was cut off in Egypt, we worked with Twitter to launch Speak2Tweet, giving the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection.

In the last day, Internet access has been completely cut off in Syria. Unfortunately we are hearing reports that mobile phones and landlines aren’t working properly either. But those who might be lucky enough to have a voice connection can still use Speak2Tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+90 212 339 1447 or +30 21 1 198 2716 or +39 06 62207294 or +1 650 419 4196), and the service will tweet the message. No Internet connection is required, and people can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.
Google pushing Speak2Tweet during the Syria Internet blackout, via Google on Google+. (via futurejournalismproject)

Much of the criticism of the American media during the height of the Iraq War focused on its role repeating White House talking points and propaganda. But using the tools of social media, as Israel is doing, reveals there’s no longer a need to rely a media middleman, or to filter the raw feed of war through an “embedded” — and, military officials hope, captured — journalist’s mouth or keyboard. The military can broadcast exactly what it wants to, directly to its citizens, allies, and enemies. The IDF even appropriates the language of news, prefacing several tweets with “BREAKING” — and native social media, at one point saying “in case you missed it” before pointing to a YouTube video of it killing Ahmed Jabari in a missile strike. And unlike any propaganda machine before it, it’s inherently viral. It’s designed to spread. So the IDF spokesperson provides posters and YouTube videos and a constantly updated Flickr account; they’re more shareable than plain text. Its tweets are a mixture of documentation, saber rattling, sober reminders of the reality of war, and upbeat updates on the advanced state of its technology. All delivered direct to you. Please RT…

…Most importantly, though, consider this: A country can declare that it is at war with Twitter. If that doesn’t make the internet real, I don’t know what does.
Matt Buchanan, Buzzfeed. How to Wage War on the Internet. (via futurejournalismproject)

futurejournalismproject:

Where should freedom of speech begin and end when you are a web-based entity with a global audience? That’s the question raised by a couple of recent events, including the furor over a Reddit moderator’s creepy behavior, and now the news that Twitter has blocked an account for the first time at the request of a state government — in this case Germany, which asked the service to take action against a Twitter user posting neo-Nazi sentiments, something that is forbidden by the laws of that country. As the web and social tools become more mainstream, these kinds of battles over the limits that should apply to free speech are only going to become more frequent, but the solution to them remains elusive at best…

…Twitter has said that it will make its own judgments in such cases, as Google does — but what recourse do we have if they decide to do something we disagree with? More than anything, these kinds of cases reinforce how much influence private entities like Twitter and Google now have over what information we receive (or are able to distribute), and the responsibility that this power imposes on them.

— Matthew Ingram, GigaOm. Twitter, Reddit and the battle over freedom of speech.

Important programming note as you think on this one: In the United States, at least and as Matthew points out, “free-speech protection is something that is only legally or constitutionally required of governments, not corporations.”

Twitter complies with prosecutors to surrender Occupy activist's tweets | guardian.co.uk

Twitter has relented in its fight with New York prosecutors to hand over three months worth of messages from an Occupy Wall Street protester ahead of the activist’s criminal trial.

Twitter had argued that the posts belong to Malcolm Harris and as such it would be violating fourth amendment privacy rights if it were to disclose the communications.

But having lost a legal appeal against a subpoena, Twitter faced the prospect of steep fines if it did not comply with the judges order to turn over the tweets to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

The firm handed over the tweets on Friday after being told by a New York judge that it would be held in contempt after that date.

Twitter has relented in its fight with New York prosecutors to hand over three months worth of messages from an Occupy Wall Street protester ahead of the activist’s criminal trial.

Twitter had argued that the posts belong to Malcolm Harris and as such it would be violating fourth amendment privacy rights if it were to disclose the communications.

But having lost a legal appeal against a subpoena, Twitter faced the prospect of steep fines if it did not comply with the judges order to turn over the tweets to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

The firm handed over the tweets on Friday after being told by a New York judge that it would be held in contempt after that date.

NY judge compels Twitter to reveal user’s data | Ars Technica

On Monday, a New York criminal court judge denied Twitter’s motion to stop a court order that requires the company to produce information about one of its users, an Occupy Wall Street protestor. The move appears to open the door to Twitter’s release of the data in question or face being in contempt of court.

Malcolm Harris, aka @destructuremal, was charged with Disorderly Conduct in a state criminal case filed by the state of New York late last year. In January, state prosecutors subpoenaed Twitter “seeking the defendant’s account information and tweets for their relevance in the ongoing criminal investigation” for the period of September 15, 2011 to December 31, 2011.

Specifically, the prosecutor appears to be interested in more than the contents of the tweets themselves. The subpoena would include the IP address he logged in from, direct messages, deleted messages, how long each login lasted, date, time, and possible location information.

Twitter said previously it would not comply until the court had ruled on its motion.

[…] Twitter has said that its terms of service make it clear that users own their content, and therefore the company does not have to comply with such requests unless ordered to by a court.

Not surprisingly, in a statement, Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU, also called the ruling “disappointing.”

“What is surprising is that the court continued to fail to grapple with one of the key issues underlying this case: do individuals give up their ability to go to court to try to protect their free speech and privacy rights when they use the Internet?” he wrote.

“As we explained in our brief, the answer has to be no. The United States Supreme Court and courts around the country have repeatedly made clear that individuals whose constitutional rights are implicated by government requests for information to third parties have standing to challenge those third-party requests. There’s no reason for the result to be different when Internet activities are at issue, regardless of whether individuals ‘own’ their Internet speech or whether the Internet companies ‘own’ it.”

The Pakistani government has blocked the social networking website Twitter because of material considered offensive to Islam. AP quoted the chairman of Pakistan’s telecommunications authority, Mohammad Yaseen, as saying the website was blocked on May 20 because Twitter refused to remove material related to a competition on Facebook to post images of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad. The Pakistani government said later that it had subsequently restored Twitter access about eight hours after the initial block. Yaseen said Facebook had agreed to address Pakistan’s concerns but officials had not been able to get Twitter to do the same. Pakistan Restores Twitter After Block For Blasphemous Material

mehreenkasana:

Tweet of the Day: Pakistani journalist and policy analyst Huma Yusuf calls out the Zardari regime on its BS regarding the Twitter ban in Pakistan.

“Twitter banned in Pakistan because of ‘blasphemous’ content. This is censorship. Islam isn’t afraid of a few tweets, politicians are.”

Bingo. The state is using Islam as an excuse to justify its censorship which, most probably, has its roots in controlling increasing political dissent in the country. Guess what? No one’s buying it.

mehreenkasana:

Tweet of the Day: Pakistani journalist and policy analyst Huma Yusuf calls out the Zardari regime on its BS regarding the Twitter ban in Pakistan.

“Twitter banned in Pakistan because of ‘blasphemous’ content. This is censorship. Islam isn’t afraid of a few tweets, politicians are.

Bingo. The state is using Islam as an excuse to justify its censorship which, most probably, has its roots in controlling increasing political dissent in the country. Guess what? No one’s buying it.

OWS protestor doesn’t own his tweets, judge rules | Jeff John Roberts

In a candid ruling, a New York judge said a protester can’t stop prosecutors from searching his Twitter account because he doesn’t own the tweets in the first place.

Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. cited a “widely-believed” but “mistaken” notion about online privacy rights and said that search and seizure protections don’t apply because we “do not have a ‘physical’ home on the Internet.”

The ruling, which grows out of the Occupy Wall Street protests, reinforces a troubling legal trend that declares people have no privacy right in their online communications — even though they spend more and more of their time on services like Twitter and Facebook. Ironically, the judge acknowledged as much:

The reality of today’s world is that social media, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or any other site, is the way people communicate..

The communications in this case were the tweets of Malcolm Harris, who was charged with disorderly conduct after marching on the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. Tweets, by their nature, are public communications, but a search of his Twitter account would also reveal more private information. As the court explained, “Twitter collects many types of  user information, including IP address, physical location, browser type, mobile carrier among other types.”

In his ruling, Judge Sciarrino Jr. compared Twitter and email accounts to bank records. He cited a 1976 case in which a divided Supreme Court said a defendant had no right to stop searches of his bank statements because the records were the property of the bank.

In blunt language, the judge explained:

Here, the defendant has no proprietary interests in the @destructuremal account’s user information and Tweets … Twitter’s license to use the defendant’s Tweets means that the Tweets the defendant posted were not his.

The next civil liberties fight - read the rest

Twitter Won't Hand Over Data on Occupy Wall Street Protester | ReadWriteWeb

Barely two weeks after the New York District Attorney asked Twitter to hand over data about an Occupy Wall Street protester, the company says it will not comply with the request, at least for the time being.

The D.A.’s office had sent a subpoena to the microblogging service’s headquarters seeking information about the account belonging to Jeffrey Rae, one of several hundred activists arrested during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York on March 1.

Paul Mills, the attorney representing Rae, filed a motion to quash the subpoena on March 15 on the grounds that the request was in violation of California’s requirements for out-of-state subpoenas. Twitter’s legal department then informed the D.A.’s office that they would not comply with the request until the motion was resolved, Mills tells ReadWriteWeb.

Earlier this week, the D.A. offered Rae what’s known as an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, which effectively lifts the subpoena and may lead to the charges being dropped all together.

“When I received the subpoena, I was pretty shocked,” says Rae. “The District Attorney was subpoenaing my Twitter account over small charges like disorderly conduct and blocking traffic.”

Curiously, most of the data authorities sought, like a copy of Rae’s tweets from within a certain range of dates, was already publicly available. This fact lead him to believe that the motion was made “purely for intimidation and harassment.” [++]

Twitter adopts country-specific censorship regime - how will that work? | Cory Doctorow

As Xeni wrote, Twitter has adopted Google’s tactics for coping with legally binding censorship demands: from now on, when it receives a legal demand to censor a tweet, it will only censor that tweet for users in the country from which the demand emanates. Other countries’ users will still see it. Users in the censored country will see a notice that material has been censored. Additionally, all censorship demands will be archived at Chillngeffects.org, a clearinghouse that tracks Internet censorship.

In many ways, this is preferable to the existing system, whereby legally enforceable censorship orders would affect all Twitter users. And of course, Twitter only has to honor censorship demands in countries where it has offices and assets; Lower Pottsylvania can require removal of every mention of Glorious Leader, but unless Twitter has an office there, it can safely ignore the orders (JWZ points out that Twitter has opened offices in many cenorious countries and plans to open offices in more, because there’s money to be had by setting up local operations there).

It’s not a coincidence that Twitter’s censorship strategy is similar to Google’s — they were both set up by Alex Macgillivray, a Berkman Fellow and attorney who recently left Google for Twitter.

One interesting difference between Google’s censorship handling and Twitter’s is the ability of users to directly communicate with one another in a fast and fluid manner. If a tweet is censored in Saudi Arabia, it will be very easy for Saudi users to find non-Saudi users and ask, “What was in that censored message?” and then retweet it.