Internet Censorship

Regional News • Asia
Myanmar coup: military junta shuts down internet indefinitely

Myanmar's acting military leadership has ordered the shutdown of wireless broadband internet services indefinitely to prevent access to information. According to local internet provider Ooredoo, the Ministry of Transport and Communication has ordered "all wireless broadband data services be temporarily suspended until further notice."

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Russia restricts Twitter access over 'illegal' content
Russia restricts Twitter access over 'illegal' content
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler.

Russia's media regulator says it will block Twitter if it does not remove 'illegal' content. The measures will only apply to images and video, not text. The regulator cites 2,569 cases of users inciting minors to commit suicide and 149 cases of child pornography.

In December, the Russian Parliament's lower house passed two bills that would give the state greater power to punish Facebook and Twitter companies.

Regional News • Asia
Myanmar's military blocks Facebook claiming it destabilizes the country
Myanmar's military blocks Facebook claiming it destabilizes the country
Credit: unsplash.com / Leya Lakwatsera

The new military leadership in Myanmar has ordered a temporary block on the online network Facebook, through which its opponents called for civil disobedience after Monday's coup. Local telecommunications providers were ordered Wednesday by the Ministry of Transport to block access to Facebook until the end of the week. The platform was contributing to the destabilization of the country, it said in justification

Regional News • Africa
Uganda shuts down internet ahead of general election
Uganda shuts down internet ahead of general election
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Real-time network data shows that national internet connectivity in Uganda has fallen to 33% of ordinary levels following a government order to shut down the internet for the general population ahead of the general elections.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook to be possibly shut down in Vietnam following censorship requests
Facebook to be possibly shut down in Vietnam following censorship requests
Credit: unsplash.com / Thought Catalog

A senior official from Facebook has told Reuters that the Vietnamese government is pressuring the platform to censor more local political content on the social network. If the company does not comply it could face a ban in the country. Vietnam's foreign ministry stated on the matter that "spreading information that violates traditional Vietnamese customs and infringes upon state interests".

Technology • Internet & Web
Apple requests Telegram to shut down chat channels of the Belarusian opposition
Apple requests Telegram to shut down chat channels of the Belarusian opposition
Credit: Courtesy of Telegram

Telegram CEO Pavel Durov has announced that Apple has requested that Telegram shuts down three channels that are "used by the people of Belarus to expose the identities of their oppressors". Apple states that violence might be incited because personal details of Belarusian "law enforcers and propagandists" get shared in the channels, according to Durov.

He assumes that the channels will be blocked from iOS devices to avoid a ban from the Apple AppStore.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU Commission removes upload filters from digital package
Archive - protest against European Upload Filters in 2019
Archive - protest against European Upload Filters in 2019 Credit: unsplash.com / Markus Spiske

In a new proposal the legislators at the European Commission have removed a general filter obligation for uploaded content to digital platforms.

The original proposal would've required operators of digital communication platforms who want to continue to enjoy freedom from liability - the non-responsibility for content published by users - should proactively check for violations. This includes checking for copyright infringements or illegal content such as child pornography.

Whether and what replaces the filter obligation is currently still open.

Regional News • Asia • China
ByteDance accused of censoring anti-China content in Indonesia
ByteDance Logo
ByteDance Logo Credit: ByteDance

Reuters reports that, from 2018 to mid-2020, ByteDance censored content in its BaBe app in Indonesia. According to Reuters sources, local moderators were instructed to remove content perceived as critical of the Chinese government.

Articles with references to 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, or to Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China, were among those taken down.

In a statement, BaBe disagreed with the claims: "A cursory search on the BaBe app shows numerous articles and videos that highlight the type of content these claims say we would remove."

ByteDante has previously faced criticism as TikTok, one of their applications, has been criticizes for its alleged data harvesting on behalf of the Chinese state.

Technology • Internet & Web
Messenger app Telegram announces that it will develop anti-censorship tools for Iran and China
Messenger app Telegram announces that it will develop anti-censorship tools for Iran and China
Credit: unsplash.com / Christian Wiediger

The co-founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, has announced that the company will direct "anti-censorship resources into other places where Telegram is still banned by governments — places like Iran and China". In the past Telegram has already developed and provided users with tools to circumvent the Telegram ban in Russia.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook blocks article from "The Guardian" and bans users through automated anti-nudity system

The social media network has blocked a link of the British daily newspaper "The Guardian" on the grounds of nudity because the preview image of the article contained a historical photo of Aboriginal men in chains even though it did not show naked people. Facebook took down the post of at least one user and multiple are reporting that they are unable to share the link even after a Facebook spokesperson apologized for the "mistake" made by an automated system.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook shows tool to suppress words like "unionize" in productivity tool Workplace
Facebook wall decor
Facebook wall decor Credit: Alex Haney

In an internal presentation that showed new features for Facebook's own productivity tool Workplace, the company presented a feature that helps employers control the content on the platform through blacklisting words. In the presentation "unionize" was used as an example, which sparked a backlash from Facebook employees leading to the presentation being taken down from the internal platform a day later. Karandeep Anand, a product manager for Facebook Workplace has apologized for using "unionize" as an example claiming that Facebook has no intention of "censoring users".

Technology • Internet & Web
Workspace and note-taking app Notion has been blocked in China
Screenshot of Notion's front page
Screenshot of Notion's front page Credit: Notion

Notion, the fast-growing workspace and note-taking app, has been blocked in China, according to a tweet by the company: "Notion is blocked by a firewall in China. We are monitoring the situation and will continue to post updates."