censorship

The debate around censorship in India has this week focused on a new target – Comedy Central.

The television channel has secured a stay order which delays a temporary transmission ban imposed after the airing of what the information ministry termed “obscene dialogues” and “vulgar words derogatory to women” which “appeared to offend good taste and decency”. 

More than a quarter of US companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in China say they have had trade secrets stolen or compromised through cyber-attacks on their China operations, adding weight to US accusations that Beijing is behind numerous corporate espionage attacks. 

China DailyTo date, the story of China’s growing presence in Africa has been mostly narrated by western media, African newspapers, and a universe of blogs, websites and social media outlets. Often, it is framed in the context of land-grabbing, resource-snatching, neocolonialism and invasion.

So perhaps a different perspective might be provided by China Daily? The state-run paper is launching a weekly Africa edition, and is keen to put its side of the story. 

What are you looking at?

Delhi is finally making a little headway in one of the defining struggles of our time.

Not in its fight against the scourge of corruption, or economic failure, or epidemic poverty, or the threat of terrorism. No, the Congress Party-led government has found its true enemy: YouTube. 

Indian TV fans anticipating a free download of the latest episodes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones on Monday morning, hours after they aired in the US, found themselves out of luck, as a seemingly ad hoc and arbitrary clampdown on file-sharing sites continued. 

Since Bo Xilai, the ambitious but controversial Chinese politician, was sacked as Communist party secretary of Chongqing in mid-March, the party has cranked up its propaganda machine to levels not seen in years. One aim is to control the flow of unauthorised information through the Twitter-like microblogs, or weibo, which have become the driver behind China’s news agenda. Will it work? 

Opponents of free speech in India racked up another victory on Monday when Google acknowledged that it had removed “objectionable” material from its Indian web sites in response to a court order.

The censorship was related to an ongoing case brought against Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other websites after telecommunications minister Kapil Sibal (left) had met with representatives of the sites to discuss the pre-emptive removal of what the government deemed “objectionable” material. That included blasphemous material and also, reportedly, sites that criticised, among other things, the leader of Sibal’s Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi. 

Is India going the way of China? Not when it comes to development indicators. Or enhanced infrastructure. Or economic power. But in another category at which Beijing excels: web censorship.

That was the implication of a ruling on Thursday from Justice Suresh Kait, of the Delhi High Court, who told lawyers for Facebook India and Google India that unless they develop mechanisms to regulate “offensive and objectionable” material on their web sites, India is prepared to take drastic measures, according to the Hindustan Times. “Like China, we will block all such websites,” Kalit declared. 

Prince Alwaleed bin TalalSaudi Arabia’s billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (pictured) has invested some $300m in Twitter, the social media network used frequently as a tool of protest.

While the move might look odd for a member of the royal family in a country which is nervous of the internet, it seemed to make sense to the shareholders of Kingdom Holding, the prince’s investment company. Its shares surged by 5 per cent after the announcement. Saudi Arabia’s benchmark Tadawul All Share index fell 0.25 per cent. 

As Beijing’s censors seek to strengthen control of the internet they are adding their own voice to the 300m users of Sina Weibo’s microblog. The Communist party is trying to sanitise the country’s social media and may be strangling China’s boisterous bloggers.

In theory, locking a blind man away in a house without phone or internet connection should be enough to make him disappear. But for the Chinese authorities, that task appears to become more difficult by the day.

Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights lawyer, has been under house arrest in his home since he was released from prison in September 2010 after serving a jail term for ‘creating a disturbance’ with a protest against forced abortions

Not so long ago, Sofia Vergara caused a ruckus in Peru when her character in the US comedy series “Modern Family” used the Andean nation as the butt of a joke.

Defending her native Colombia against the prejudices of her American husband, the actress snaps: “Oh, because in Colombia we trip over goats and we kill people in the street? Do you know how offensive that is? Like we’re Peruvians!”

Americans nominated Vergara for a Golden Globe. Peruvians utterly failed to see the joke. 

Around the globe, the US diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks are treating the public to a reality show of relations between the US administration and foreign governments. But as so often, China is an exception.

The WikiLeaks page devoted to the cables is blocked in China. The country’s print and television media, all owned by state or Communist party organs and kept on a tight censorship leash, are reporting on ‘Cablegate’ but omitting almost any reference to their own government – despite the fact that cables involving the US embassy in Beijing are a large part of the leaked documents and have revealed some of the most newsworthy details, including suggestions that hacker attacks on Google in China originated in the Politburo

Good news for businessmen in the United Arab Emirates: your BlackBerrys are a little closer to safety.

On Sunday the country’s telecoms regulator warned that the smartphones currently operate “beyond the jurisdiction of national legislation”. Today it rowed back, claiming to have no plans to introduce a ban.

In an interview with Al Arabiyah, a Dubai-based  news channel, an official at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said that the UAE is “studying all options to regulate the services…but we don’t have plans to stop them.”