Google Fallout

Google’s New Approach

 
There has been quite a lot of coverage of Google’s statement concerning the attacks it experienced and its reconsideration of its service offerings in China. Google made reference to our Ghostnet investigation, and felt that there might be a direct connection between the two. At this point, and with the evidence at hand, we believe they are similar in nature, but probably distinct attacks. Much more, I’m sure, will be revealed in weeks to come. Citizen Lab associates have been commenting on the attacks and the wider implications in the press and elsewhere. Below are some selected sources:

Citizen Lab, Psiphon and SecDev’s Nart Villeneuve’s reaction

Globe and Mail editorial

Christian Science Monitor

Wall Street Journal

New York Times

Globe and Mail

CBC As it Happens (My interview starts at the beginning of Part 3)

Policy@Google Tech Talk December 8th

I recently gave a Policy@Google Talk on December 8th 2009 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA. The talk was an overview of Internet censorship patterns worldwide, with a focus on the work of the OpenNet Initiative and some references to challenges around circumvention technologies. Google’s Free Expression point person, Bob Boorstin introduces….

Some Facts about the Incident at the IGF Egypt

1. We were told that the banner had to be removed because of the reference to China. This was repeated on several occasions, in front of about two dozen witnesses and officials, including the UN Special Rapporteur For Human Rights, who asked that I send in a formal letter of complaint.

2. Earlier, the same officials asked us to stop circulating a small invite to the event because it contained a mention of Tibet. They even underlined it in showing it to me. Because the event was just about to start, we said that we would not be distributing any more of these invitations so it was a moot point.

3. We asked repeatedly to see any rules or regulations governing this act. They did not give us any, only referring to the “objections of a member state.”

4. There were in fact many posters and banners in many of the rooms that I attended, including others in our own. The video itself shows us, at one point, taking one of the other posters we have and offering to cover up the original one. They objected to that and told us this banner must be removed.

On another matter of clarification:

The UN officials did not throw the banner on the ground. They asked us to remove it and one of our staff placed it on the ground for us to consider what to do. That’s where we had the discussion. When we refused to remove it, their security guards bundled it up and took it away.

UN slated for stifling net debate

BBC News

By Jonathan Fildes, Technology reporter

The UN has been criticised for stifling debate about net censorship after it disrupted a meeting of free-speech advocates in Egypt.

UN security demanded the removal of a poster promoting a book by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) during a session at the Internet Governance Forum in Egypt.
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Globe and Mail comment piece

I wrote a comment piece for the Globe and Mail today, which can be accessed here

In a time when every person’s digital life is now turned inside out and electronically dispersed and disaggregated, does it really make sense to think solutions lie in adding to that flood? Law enforcement and intelligence don’t need to sidestep court protections and civil liberties to meet the challenges of cyber crime – they need a new investigatory paradigm.

Toronto’s Citizen Lab uses forensics to fight online censors

A basement in the gray, Gothic heart of the University of Toronto is home to the CSI of cyberspace. “We are doing free expression forensics,” says Ronald Deibert, director of the Citizen Lab, based at the Munk Centre for International Studies. Deibert and his team of academics and students investigate in real time governments and companies that restrict what we see and hear on the Internet. They are also trying to help online journalists and bloggers slip the shackles of censorship and surveillance.

From the Committee to Protect Journalists, found here

Online Censorship on rise in Middle East, North Africa

CBC News

CBC News has posted a news item about the OpenNet Initiative’s Middle East and North Africa reports, just released. You can read the CBC news item here.

The item also mentions the Citizen Lab’s GNI Monitor project:
“The Citizen Lab, which runs out of the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies, announced last month it would examine how closely companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo follow their own principles regarding freedom of expression and privacy.”