INFORMATION CENTRE AND ANALYSIS OF CHIAPAS (CIACH)

The magazine Palabra Created in the mid-eighties in the South East of Mexico, CIACH publishes a monthly magazine La Palabra broadcast in the indigenous rural communities, it organizes discussions in communities and also disseminates information on the Net. Ostensibly, even if no contact directly with the Zapatista rebellion, the CIACH supports its claims and participates in the process of asserting political, cultural and social Indians. He maintains regular contact and association with the”Enlace Civil”, prozapatiste pressure group that gathers information from the native villages, about violations of human rights because of the federal army or paramilitary groups. A commitment to it being now a target of the authorities in the tense situation in Chiapas.

  • The role of CIACH
  • Indian rights
  • Resumen Informativo
  • Palabra the Internet
  • With civil society
  • Funding and perspectives
  • Contact

The role of CIACH

Located almost at the end of the long narrow street Flavio Paniagua as far back from the main avenue that connects the Parque Central in San Cristobal de Las Casas in his local market of India, the current offices of CIACH are both close and back to the center of the city… Close enough not to feel too far away from the heart of the colonial city around key locations that ensures the future of the region, far enough away as to enjoy a certain peace of mind essential to the work.

In What made ​​these offices the monthly La Palabra (speech), distributed in thirty municipalities of the State of Chiapas in the central region of Altos around the colonial city and tourist center of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in La Selva and valleys where now lives a large part of the Mayan Indian population, and the north of the state.”In recent years, information has become a strategic area for the government and the army, says Elizabeth Polito Barrios, head of CIACH. More than ever, they intend to control it. As long as in the source distribution. They have their own version of the current state and they impose by whatever means. This ensures the”loyalty” of the major media – newspapers, radio and television – but also, and even worse, by intimidating the independent media that do not comply.” In short, the Centre has an independent certainly not the favor of the authorities, like many other actors of civil society Chiapas. The CIACH is defined as”a media open to the outside and serving the people and Indian and peasant organizations in the region”. It’s objectives? Informed of what’s really going on in Chiapas, “bringing in communities and grassroots elements that help in the analysis of reality” and “help raise people’s participation in making decisions that concern”. The government has the will to suppress the attempts to change data in the region. In particular, when they come from the Indian communities themselves. All independent organizations that want to give voice to the excluded are viewed by the government as obstacles to be swept or accused of all evils. Evidenced by the smear campaigns that the organizations most claims have been victims in the media when it is not harassment or even open repression…

Modestly but continuously, with ups and downs, the work of CIACH is therefore to cope. To participate, against all odds and from his work on information, self-organization of rural Indian communities and the articulation of popular movements independent. Meetings for analysis and discussion are organized in villages or with representatives of farmers’ organizations, or Indian human rights. From the themes developed in La Palabra – land distribution, marketing of coffee, elections, etc.. – And experience that each organization or individual can have, participants try to understand their social, political and economic and increase their ability to act on it.

Indian rights

The situation is not rosy every day for the campesinos (peasants) in Chiapas, especially for Mayan Indians, the majority in this part of the state where the work CIACH. Majority but obviously forgotten in the distribution of wealth in the region. And, for more than five hundred years! Very rich in natural resources (wood, oil, water, livestock, tourism…), the Chiapas only benefits a minority of Chiapas braced on their privileges. Today, however, following the Zapatista uprising of 1994 and despite the impasse in the peace process and the deterioration of the situation that tends to prevail, most of the Indians of this region of Mexico continue to brag their “Ya basta!” (that’s enough!).”Earth, education, food, health, shelter, freedom, democracy, justice… that’s what we were refused, that is what we demand.”

In 1985, when the center was established, its leaders had first intended to coordinate efforts in the field of information from many sectors of society in turmoil. Teachers, peasant movements, indigenous associations, students… each group at the time realized its own newsletter. All with the same goal: to circulate among the members an alternative to the official version information and prevent almost systematic repression suffered by independent organizations. These bulletins were still by force of circumstances sectoral and geographically limited. Students from San Cristobal had their own magazine and were the main players, the peasants of the northeast of the state not only by them spoke to the press releases sent, etc.. The CIACH was then formed with the idea to provide each organization a common space of expression and information, where one could find information on all the players and where the links between them would be favored…

The first steps were laborious. Without a lot of ways, the few volunteers began to buy, read, codify and classify systematically all the newspapers and news magazines sold in Chiapas. Besides the specific contribution of each of the independent organizations in the region, information was gathered and made available to all popular sectors of Chiapas, organized outside government institutions.

Resumen Informativo

Soon, however, was felt the need to publish this information in order to increase accessibility. Thus was born the first publication of CIACH the”Resumen Informativo” (Summary Information), a monthly manageable than fifty pages printed in a thousand copies, sold or distributed within a large network of grassroots organizations more or less Consolidated: peasant and indigenous organizations, such as the Central Independiente de Campesinos y Obreros Agricolas (CIOAC), the Union of Unions”are Pajala Kactic”, the Committee Defensa de la Libertad Indigena (CDLI), the Consejo of indigenous representatives in Los Altos de Chiapas (CRIACH )…, teacher union (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación…), sector workers of hydroelectric power, student associations, promoters or” Pastoral” of the Catholic Church in the diocese of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, development NGOs or human rights organizations, research centers, etc..

The edition of Resumen Informativo was divided into eight parts, each them with a descriptive summary of the facts of the past month in one of eight areas of social life in Chiapas. The current agricultural union, urban, educational, political, economic and religious there was treated in detail in conjunction with events related to the Mexican border with Central America and the lives of Guatemalan refugees in Chiapas. The opportunity therefore for managers or members of many grassroots organizations to learn from information previously inaccessible due to cost, distance and lack of independence of the mainstream media…

Each new issue of Resumen Informativo was also an opportunity for readers to”take stock of the ins and outs of the news of the region and establish links between different issues”. And it is precisely to emphasize this aspect of his work, along with business writing and editing, CIACH organized from the beginning, periodic workshops and decentralized to”regional scan” for all the popular actors of social life in Chiapas. Workshops, to ensure the”memory”, also came out on a new quarterly publication:”The Review of Regional Workshops trends”.

In the early nineties, against a backdrop of economic crisis and a reflux movement social area facing repression, CIACH experienced a slump of three to four years and went to cease operations of writing and editing. Only continued to be provided by a team employee, but now reduced to a minimum, the job classification of information and maintaining the center.

Palabra the Internet

Today, CIACH found a high level of activity. The interest aroused by the news of Chiapas and the future of the Zapatista rebellion abroad brought him new ways. And, more than ever, information literacy is one of the central issues of the imbroglio Chiapas, both in rural than in urban India and the rest of Mexico. The monthly Resumen Informativo the eighties has been replaced by La Palabra, shorter, more illustrated than its predecessor and still pulled a few thousand copies. Next to this periodical, the CIACH publishes from time to time, on its own initiative or on a proposal from the outside, various documents: a detailed chronology of the conflict in 1998, full text of the agreements on indigenous rights signed by the government and the Zapatista rebellion in 1996, assessing the impact of Chiapas in the Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), selection of news of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), etc..

Since 1996, the daily information, and analysis of cross CIACH is only intended only to residents of Chiapas. It is now the turn of Mexico or the world via the Internet.”It is also a way for us to qualify the idyllic image of the country that the government intends to promote outside our borders, confirms Elizabeth Polito Barrios. Many groups in Mexico and elsewhere are demanding of our synthesis and use it to weigh on some international decisions that affect the field. They also denounce their government to human rights violations which are daily victims in favor of the Indians Zapatista rebellion: intimidation, imprisonment, militarization, repression… These actions are very important to us.” They are about two thousand correspondents to receive direct or indirect in the world of synthesis CIACH – daily or weekly – via e-mail. In early 1999, a web page was opened on the Internet and allows permanent access to the information collected.

With civil society

The current activities of CIACH and its links with civil society in Chiapas vary the rhythm of the news. From early 1994, when the Zapatista Indian uprising in late 1996, when the suspension of negotiations between insurgents and authorities, the CIACH was an active member of the Coordination of civil associations in Chiapas for Peace (CONPAZ). Essentially representative of an urban population tends to favor the Chiapas indigenous rebellion and order to ensure a political solution to the conflict by peaceful means, the CONPAZ touched all areas dear to its members: humanitarian assistance to indigenous communities displaced by the conflict, community development projects in the rebel regions, organization of Indian women to voice their demands equality, etc…

Thanks to the means of international solidarity, important in the early years of the uprising, the CONPAZ also provides Much of the work of logistics related to different phases of the negotiation process between Zapatistas and government: accreditation of observers from civil society, protection of the delegation of the EZLN, oganisation of human chains (“cinturón los de la paz” ) as security cordons around the table of the negotiations…

Within the CONPAZ, staff CIACH specifically assumed responsibility for the work of information in pursuing its usual work of writing and editing, but also taking into support relations with the press. The CONPAZ but did not survive. Subject to internal wrangling over the distance to be against the leaders of the rebellion, a victim of its success, the news knocked and redoubled the curiosity of the authorities, the association, upon dissolution, gave way to to Other attempts at coordination point.

Today, CIACH regular contact with the association”Enlace Civil”, prozapatiste pressure group that gathers information from the native villages, about violations of human rights because of the federal army or paramilitary groups. On the occasion of the various elections in Chiapas (July 1997 parliamentary, municipal, October 1998), the CIACH also serves as a relay to the association”Alianza Civica”, specializing in the observation of elections and the reporting of irregularities within communities. Past two years, the staff of the Information Centre has also participated in the Commission’s efforts for community reconciliation (CORECO) which includes, besides the Centre, an organization of human rights, NGO development and Alianza Civica. The goal is to resolve conflicts within and between communities that divide the natives. Work is being done by the verbal confrontation between opposing parties and a flat common causes of social and political divisions.

Funding and perspectives

The problem of the functioning of CIACH remains crucial. The team needs resources to ensure its daily editorial (salaries, office rent…), purchase and maintenance of equipment, but also for printing the numbers La Palabra, dissemination and their discussion within organizations and independent villages of Chiapas.”At the moment, even if our international correspondents and local associations who can pay us in exchange for the palabra or information that we provide, our aim in the short term can not be profitability, says one member. If at the beginning, we have benefited from the logistical support of any local organization, today we depend almost exclusively on subsidies from foreign NGOs, Canada and Belgium… The urgency for us is the strength, peace in Chiapas, the improvement of living conditions of Indians and their participation in democracy building. Otherwise, we will see. I do not know of any independent media that have reached break even…”

Financially, it is clear that the CIACH directly benefits from the attention generated beyond the borders of Mexico by the news of Chiapas. But it could also be the victim. While in the past, there was no plethora of initiatives in the field of activity covered by the CIACH, the current conflict between the federal army and the Zapatista rebellion has attracted a lot of people in the south- is Mexican, many journalists and social workers… with their own projects in information. The result is confusion among the initiatives in the presence and, consequently, the potential weakening of CIACH. Its members know and are aware of the benefit that could draw the authorities. Fragile and financially dependent on the outside, the Centre has however decided to continue its choice: retain its independence vis-à-vis government authorities but also vis-à-vis the EZLN, and continue its”information work in favor of popular demands for Chiapas Mexico and a fairer, freer and more democratic.”

Bernard Duterme

Journalist and sociologist, he is currently responsible for relations with Mexico and Latin America within the NGO and Brotherhood Mutual. Author of”Indians and Zapatista. Myths and Realities of a rebellion on borrowed time” (1998).

Contact

CIACH – Centro de Informacion y Analisis de Chiapas, AC
Calle Comitan 6-B, El Barrio Cerrill
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas – Mexico
Tel / fax (967) 813-64. ciach@laneta.apc.org

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Chinese Tech Crackdown

July 22nd, 2017

If you’re a technology firm operating in China, you’re probably used to the State’s demands on censorship related matters.  However things are about to move up a notch with companies being told to actively upgrade their own censorship efforts.  It’s not like the internet hasn’t got enough restrictions already with most Chinese already using VPNs to stream things like the BBC News in order to get better news coverage.

China has ordered the nation’s largest technology companies to instantly “rectify” offenses and closed accounts that release “bad data”, in the most recent move by governments to tighten policing of the net. The Cyberspace Administration of China said it held a meeting this week with representatives from national tech giants Baidu, Sohu, Tencent, Netease and Phoenix to notify them of numerous offenses in articles published in their own platforms.

The offences recorded Wednesday from the government comprised misinterpreting policy directives, disseminating false information, distorting Chinese Communist Party background, plagiarising photographs, and hard public purchase.

The businesses need to “immediately … execute particular cleanup and rectification” to be able to adhere to regulations, the CAC stated in an announcement.

China tightly controls the net by means of a censorship system called the “Great Firewall” and closely tracks social networking networks for sensitive content.  Regulations in force since 2000 say sites are responsible for “ensuring that the legality of any data” submitted in their own platforms.   The CAC provided several examples of issues in articles printed by individual networking accounts on national social networking platforms.

This comprised a article on Baidu’s Baijia platform which stated the government’s policies on property were to blame for a rise in housing costs, and also the CAC known as an “reckless attack”.  The CAC also slammed Tencent for permitting the release of a post titled, “a Chinese warplane crashed to a US aircraft carrier, killing three US soldiers” , which was be a plot out of a tv series.  New regulations which came into force on June 1 demand online platforms to find a permit to post information reports or comment regarding the government, economy, army, foreign affairs, and social difficulties.

In other recent movements, police have shut dozens of star gossip sites and issued new guidelines about online video content to get rid of programmes deemed offensive.  Since the departure of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo past week, censors were working in overdrive to wash any tributes to the democracy activist.  Both key words and graphics related to Liu happen to be blocked across all significant social networking platforms in China, according to analysts.

The reach of censorship associated with Liu expanded significantly after his departure, a report from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto discovered.

“His departure (is) the very first time we see picture filtering one-to-one chat, along with image filtering class chats,” the report stated.

Nevertheless Chinese activists that have use of virtual private network (VPN) applications, allowing people to bypass the Great Firewall, have submitted tributes to Liu on Twitter and Facebook lately, such as photographs of memorials alongside bodies of water, even because his ashes were scattered at sea.

 

 

Yet more journalists have died in Iraq after a landmine exploded in the newly liberated city of Mosul.   The death toll continues to rise although ISIS has been largely defeated, it is hoped the remnants of it’s defeated army can be driven out of the city with the minimum number of casualties.  Once again it demonstrates the bravery of the war correspondents who cover these dangerous places of war.  They put their lives at risk every day to bring us the news in war torn places like Mosul.  You can see much of their work on French TV and through the BBC news channel using a BBC VPN for access.

Veronique Robert, a journalist with a French television channel has died from wounds she sustained in a landmine blast in Mosul last week.
Ms Robert, that was Swiss, was among three supporters to have expired as a consequence of past Monday’s explosion at the Iraqi town, the Local new agencies reported.

Stephan Villeneuve, a French journalist, along with Iraqi Kurdish reporter Bakhtiyar Addad were killed in the explosion.

A video journalist who had covered a number of conflicts across the world, Villeneuve was filming a piece together with Veronique Robert on the battle of Mosul for French news programme Envoye Special, aired on public television channel France 2.

They had been searching for the French press program, Envoyé spécial, which broadcasts on France 2, a public television station.

The journalists were on mission in Mosul for the France 2 television station’s popular current affairs programme, Envoyé Spécial.They were covering an improvement by Iraqi forces against Islamic Condition (ISIS) militants from the Ras al-Jadah district of western Mosul when the mine detonated together with them.”The staff and management in France Télévisions sympathise with the annoyance of Stephan Villeneuve’s spouse Sophie, his four children, his loved ones and those he had been near. They provide their sincere condolences,” the mind of France Télévisions’ news section stated.
The journalists had been reporting about the battle for Mosul, accompanying Iraqi special forces. As they attempted to recapture the town by the Islamic State. Jihadists had set numerous booby traps in the narrow roads of town.Robert, that had just two grown up sons, was a seasoned journalist and expert on the Middle East who’d worked for a range of big news outlets in the France and Switzerland such as Le Figaro, a French broadsheet and Paris Match magazine.

Francoise Nyssen, the French culture minister, paid tribute to some “great war correspondent”.According to the most recent estimate by Reporters without Borders, Robert was the 29th journalist to have been killed in Iraq because 2014.

Further Reading – http://www.uktv-online.com/online-british-tv-abroad/

It continues all over the world, but lately Egypt are taking to the front in digital censorship and oppressing basic human rights and liberties. Egyptian authorities lately have detained at least 50 peaceful political activists, blocked at least 62 sites, and opened a criminal violation against a former presidential candidate, ” Human Rights Watch said today. The activities are farther closure any remaining space for free expression.

The charges contrary to the activists seem to be dependent upon peaceful criticism of this government and a few nearby law provisions, like insulting the president, that apparently break the right to independence of saying. At least eight face potential five-year prison conditions under Egypt’s 2015 counterterrorism law due to their articles on social media websites. The site blocks influenced major Egyptian and global news organizations in addition to political circles.  Although of course, those with access to VPNs and proxies are easily able to circumvent these and watch these sites and news sources like teh BBC iPlayer which can be watched abroad like this.

“Egyptian government are utilizing the pretext of fighting with terrorism to conquer peaceful dissent,” explained Joe Stork, deputy Middle east manager in Human Rights Watch. “The government is not likely to create inroads contrary to extremists by closing down peaceful opposing voices”

One of those arrested has been a dominant human rights attorney, Khaled Ali, whom prosecutors known for questioning about May 23, 2017, and also afterwards sent to get a fast-track trial to the cost of “committing a scandalous act” in public. Ali ran for president in 2012, coming in seventh with approximately 134,000 votes. He’s indicated curiosity about hard President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi from the 2018 presidential election.

The wave of arrests through April and also May was documented by Freedom to your Brave, a independent Egyptian band that monitors such arrests.

On June 1, the team released a in depth collection of the 42 folks arrested, demonstrating that 29 stayed in custody, four whom’d been sent to trial. Several were active in motions critical of this government, including the nascent Bread and Freedom Party.

Prosecutors accused 17 of membership in illegal groups, for instance, Muslim Brotherhood as well as also the April 6 Youth Movement. On June 13, Interior Ministry forces arrested five additional activists and three journalists from across the Journalists Syndicate in downtown Cairo.

The government assassinated article 28 of Law 95/2015 for Confronting Terrorism to charge at least eight activists using “propagating notions or beliefs urging the commission of terrorist functions.” The charges stemmed from Facebook posts, according to a statement by six Egyptian rights groups. Mohamed Walid, a Bread and also Freedom Party member from Suez, had been detained following posting, “I’m neither pro-Mubarak nor do I ever belong to this Muslim Brotherhood, ” I only need to reside as an individual being,” as nicely as “down together with all the military rule” along with the motto of this Bread and also Freedom Party, “bread and independence to get many people.”

Further Reading on proxies.

A Turkish court officially arrested two opposition paper workers at the end of May. The state-run Anadolu news agency along with the paper reported the events, included in a media crackdown which has alerted rights groups along with Turkey’s Western allies. Last week, Turkey issued arrest warrants to its proprietor as well as also three workers of this Sozcu paper, accusing them of committing crimes on behalf of this network of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, attributed by Ankara to get masterminding past July’s neglected coup. Gulen denies the cost.

The 2 workers arrested were Mediha Olgun, Sozcu’s web editor, and also Gokmen Ulu, its own correspondent for its Aegean state of Izmir, stated Anadolu as well as the newspaper, that can be critical of President Tayyip Erdogan along with also his AK Party. Because the neglected coup, Turkish government have close over 130 media outlets and also a press marriage says over 150 journalists are jailed, raising concerns concerning networking independence within a nation that at one time aspired to join the European Union.  However nowadays free speech and thought is increasingly difficult and most people routinely use a VPN to access unbiased media from international sources like the BBC.

Meanwhile, the arrests of Sozcu’s team came days following a courtroom jailed the on-line editor of some other opposition paper, Cumhuriyet, pending trial, on a cost of spreading terrorist propaganda. Regarding a dozen journalists from Cumhuriyet, long a part of Turkey’s older secularist institution, happen to be in jail facing sentences of around 43 decades, accused of supporting Gulen’s network.

Both jailed Sozcu journalists confront costs including “knowingly helping and abetting that the FETO terrorist organisation with no being portion of its hierarchical construction”, and also “aiding the assassination effort of their president”, Anadolu as well as also the paper said. The Turkish government call Gulen’s network, which it labels a terrorist organisation, the “Gulenist Terror Organization (FETO)”. Sozcu’s financial manager, Yonca Yucekaleli, was freed late on Friday.

The newspaper’s owner, who’s abroad and whose home has been hunted a week ago, was charged with “extensive ties” with companies shut down following coup investigations, ” Anadolu explained. Anadolu reported a narrative along with photos from the newspaper revealing where Erdogan had been spending his holiday a day prior to the coup, and a crossword mystery with all the Navy’s title concealed in it, were expressly checked as part of this investigation.

Apart from the networking crackdown, Turkey has additionally suspended or discounted over 150,000 judges, educators, civil and police divers and contains arrested almost 50,000 others suspected of hyperlinks to this Gulen movement. While Turkish officials state the purges are essential on account of this gravity of their coup effort which killed 240 folks, critics in Turkey and overseas say Erdogan is utilizing the coup as a pretext into muzzle dissent and purge opponents.

Further Information on Using VPN for Privacy

One of the fabulous things about the internet is the ease in which you can keep up with the latest news.  You can sit in small cafe in downtown Lagos, Nigeria and get the latest on Brexit as if you were just outside the House of Commons.  News channels are available online from all over the globe, mostly free of charge although there are often some restrictions.    Most people will probably gravitate towards their home news channels, although there will be some major exceptions to that.

Most Western democracies have fairly accurate News reporting, although there is obviously some political bias for some channels.  The news though is a powerful form of communication and it’s no surprise that news channels are often the first part of the media to be targeted by politicians.  Whether it’s Trump banning selected media from News conferences or Erdogan in Turkey imprisoning and censuring journalists -they do so because they recognise the power and influence.

In the United Kingdom is amazing to see the power of newspapers actually manipulate public opinion.  A few months before the Brexit referendum, the idea that the UK would vote to leave was barely plausible.  However if you stood back and saw which side the majority of the UK press were on then it began to make sense.  Of course, a news paper or TV station will inevitably have some sort of opinion.  Even the national broadcasters in places like Ireland and UK are criticised for bias however hard they try.   For media companies owned by powerful people or organisations some opinion is inevitable.  Expats and people familiar with the companies will usually be aware of the political leanings though which is important.

The BBC is usually the media of choice for the UK expat and indeed you can often see people watch the BBC news abroad through internet connections.    Although many are increasingly turning to the excellent Sky News which is available free and without regional restrictions in most places.   The BBC of course has a long standing tradition for bringing news to all corners of the world.  The BBC World service has thousands of loyal listeners all across Africa for instance.

Unfortunately the vast majority of news channels broadcast over the internet are normally region locked.  This means that the online service is only accessible to those physically located in a specific country (usually the domestic country).  This is normally enforced by checking the locale assigned to your IP address when you connect.   It is obviously possible to bypass this, you normally can use a VPN or proxy.  It is important to use a server based in the right country though – so for the USA’s CNN you need a US proxy buy or rental.

Overall although a myriad of people and organisations try and control what goes in the news, there are options for other opinions.  The internet enables us to be able to seek out different opinions and points of view.  The Russian web surfer doesn’t need to rely on Russia Today, there are many international news companies online which cover global news.

There has been a lot of criticism over the last few months for a big change in the way that the UK teaches ICT. Everyone from Eric Schmidt from Google to the President of Eidos have been complaining about the lack of programming and digital skills our children have.

In some ways it’s the technology that is too blame, in my childhood we had the ZX81 and the BBC Micro.  Both of wish did very little out of the box, you needed some basic knowledge of programming to get anything working.  Nowadays you can unpack a laptop sign in to your version on Windows and start ’pointing and clicking within minutes. The digital world has expanded over the years but in some sense we have become distanced from how this stuff actually works.

My children use computers everyday, they do their homework, play games and basically live on them. However they both have little knowledge about how they work. ICT seems to cover stuff like Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Design but little technical content. If I ask my children about proxy sites, and how they can watch the BBC in Ireland on holiday using this or even what an IP address is and I’ll get a pretty blank look.

There is hope of course, educators seem to aware of the deficiencies and initiatives like the Raspberry Pi are bound to help. This little computer comes with an SD card a basic Linux operating system and two programming languages. It’s hoped this will help children engage with the underlying technology that makes our digital systems work. It’s being distributed to schools throughout the UK and maybe a generation of computer coders will follow in it’s path!

Time will tell but if it bridges that gap between the gadgets our children use everyday and actually understanding the underlying technology then it will be a great start.

Further Information:

Using a proxy program, Ken Fielding, 2016

There is a global truth that most people online simply don’t take security very seriously. Many of us simply fire up our browsers, web chats or smart phones to conduct our everyday business without giving it a second thought. It’s kind of an assumption that what we do on a computer or phone is private and accessible to only ourselves or the people we communicate with.


Unfortunately it’s simply not true, the vast majority of what we do in the digital world is although not quite in the public domain at least easily accessible for those with the desire to access that information. Our browsing history, emails, messaging are all easily accessible by default and using the mobile phone network is also by far from being secure.

In Turkey the Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son Bilal found out just how public these private conversations can be even over a supposedly encrypted phone line. The conversations were released which come from a series of wiretaps over the Prime Minister’s phone line. The consist of discussions about how to move or hide large sums of money in response to some high level corruption investigations.

The recordings have been released online via some social networking sites, and despite Turkey blocking access to these sites when it suits them, they have now gone viral so there’s no chance for the Government to restrict access. In reality although Turkey do block lots of websites, it only in affect makes them more difficult to access – even when they blocked Facebook a couple of years ago people used these sorts of programs to access the social networking site.

Now the situation in Turkey is far from clear, with the Government insisting that the recordings have been created using a series of recordings in order to incriminate the Prime Minister. Whether they are true or not, the Prime Minister has had many previous allegations and enough opponents to make them a real threat to his power. The scandal affected the Turkish Lira which fell heavily against both the dollar and the Euro. The reality is that although it was extremely damaging to Erdoğan internationally, domestically he seems to have managed to survive quite easily.

You can of course, maintain a reasonable standard of privacy, by protecting your internet connection and encrypting your web access so that it is not for instance recorded at your ISP among many other places. People are beginning to use privacy software like this computer program – not only for security but also for bypassing region blocks too such as those which stop people watching BBC iPlayer abroad.

Of course the Prime Minister of a fairly divided country will have a few more enemies that most of us. But the issue does demonstrate how our communications are extremely vulnerable, the history of what we do online for example is extremely easy to access. Every web site you visit, every message you send or video you download, it’s all part of our digital history and can be accessed very easily.

Further Reading:
On Watching BBC from Ireland – http://www.iplayerabroad.com/bbc-iplayer-ireland/ but works everywhere else too.

Watch Those Social Profiles

February 22nd, 2017

This has without doubt been going on for years in all sorts of environments, that is using social media sites like Facebook to research  individuals.  After all it makes sense, where better to find out more about someone than they’re social media profile.  Imagine an employer trying to whittle down a couple of close interviewees, the temptation to view their Facebook page is probably pretty strong.

People have begun to recognise the security risks about simply using the internet however these are still largely understated.  After all although millions of people now use VPNs more use them to change their Netflix country like this than to securely encrypt their data communications.

After all if you’re a small organisation and you want a specific type of person then it’s a simple way to research or even screen potential interviewees before you’ve even met them.   If they are a frequent poster you’re likely to find out thinks about their personal circumstances, lifestyle, political or religious views without even meeting them.   In the UK and the US with the huge political divisions, it’s likely there’s a little research being done on people’s political views all the time – don’t want to employ a ‘remainer’ or ‘Trump’ supporter then simply look at their Twitter or Facebook feed.

The security services have almost certainly been doing this for some time, but now we’re hearing some very solid reports of it becoming mainstream.  These are coming from the US where it is reported that US border agents are checking the Facebook pages of U.S Green card holders to evaluate their political views before letting them into the USA.    They were also interrogated about their views on President Trump in order to assess whether they were allowed into the country.

The new president has threatened to introduce higher levels of vetting and it seems likely this has been introduced as part of this measure.  It would be naive to expect that some of these checks are automated, it would be incredible if the security service in the UK and USA haven’t developed tools and methods for mining the data held on these publicly accessible social media sites.  It demonstrates how careful people should be about laying their life’s open on these sites, imagine how many ordinary people have expressed outrage on social media about President Trumps various comments.   Would this affect their next visit to the USA, obviously you’d hope not in the land of the free, but these are worrying times for the Western democracies.

Further Reading

How to get a US IP Address for Netflix

 

 

 

In the latest report by Freedom House, the ‘internet freedom’ score used to assess the status of internet access in a country fell slightly over the last twelve months.   India had been climbing the tables over the last few years, a positive outlook considering some of the other countries in the region – it’s score was reported as 41 (100 is the maximum).  This equates to a result of a status of ‘partly free’ for the period up to May 2016.

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The report tries to build an assessment of how open and unregulated the internet is in a particular country.  It is also based on the population and how many people have access to the internet which also will boost the rating

There are also ranks for the number of obstacles, content restrictions and filtering plus other more public events like press freedom and arrests based on online activity.   These are especially important because unbelievably there are still countries where a Facebook ‘like’ can earn you a prison sentence.

Much of these reports however don’t always take account of the sophistication of the internet users in a specific county.   For example countries like China and Turkey have high levels of filtering and blocks but the users have access to all sorts of proxies and VPNs to circumvent them – read here.  This in reality means that often the censorship is not always enforced properly.

The idea is that the score represents the control that the state is trying to enforce on internet freedom even if it’s not always that successful.   India has previously had something of a light touch but there are many reports of internet shutdowns in specific parts of the country like Kashmir and Jammu perhaps linking in with the instability in those areas.

Internet penetration in India is relatively low compared to Western standards but the figure is rising quickly particularly with regards to mobile phone access.  The main barrier to improved penetration however is not artificial control but  the lack of infrastructure that is available particularly in the more remote areas of the country.  Whilst it is common to see users in more affluent areas happily using a VPN or Smart DNS Netflix solution, if you move to the villages then very few have any internet access at all.

There are major efforts to remedy this though with some very large investments being made by the state in order to improve the infrastructure for both mobile and standard internet access. Many countries are realising that the digital economy is an important sector including within their own domestic markets.   In developed countries the number of people employed and running businesses online is rising fast and there is an obvious opportunity for countries like India to benefit from this market too.

It’s not much of a surprise any more, and if you speak to any Turkish people it’s becoming pretty routine.  The Turkish Government is imposing a variety of measure against popular social and sharing websites.  Mostly this is throttling access at the ISP which makes them unusable and messing with the DNS tables in order to make them inaccessible.  This month Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, YouTube and Instagram have all been affected at some point.

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Mostly it’s the larger ISPs which have been used for this control, so Tech savvy Turks usually try and use the smaller ones such as UyduNet.   So what’s the problem this time?  Well November 2016 has seen the arrest of several elected members of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) plus Erdogan has orders the raid of the group’s headquarters.  The group is well known for being both on the political left and supporters of the Kurds.  The Turkish government will normally hit the social media sites at these points in order to help restrict the flow of information and to prevent protests.

The scale seems to be increasing though, as in some areas there was actually a full internet shutdown not just the social media sites.    Several million people lost all internet access for almost 12 hours, a practice that would be unthinkable in proper democracies.  Most Turks though have become skilled in avoiding most of these restrictions partly because they are usually fairly easy to circumvent.

Turkey often uses DNS spoofing to restrict access, a fairly outdated censorship technique.  This involves modifying the DNS records of these popular sites so that uses get redirected to other sites (often a Government server).  It’s simple to implement but easy to bypass in fact many Turkish people already use other servers abroad in order to bypass the blocks or indeed lots use US DNS Netflix solutions which also bypass the filters.

These involve routing your connection through different locations depending on the DNS request, it’s an alternative to using a VPN and allows people to access websites normally blocked by region like Netflix, BBC and Hulu.

Access to the internet is increasingly becoming politicized and subject to the whims of extreme groups.  The children’s game Minecraft widely used as a teaching aid in many developed countries was almost banned by the Family and Social Policies Ministry in Turkey, their claim was it advocates brutality against children.  This comes in a country who have just backed down on a bill which would have allowed men to escape jail for having sex with underage girls if they married them – the stories here and fortunately the bill has been modified.

 

Is Facebook Censoring Journalists?

September 28th, 2016

When you create one of the world’s largest social networking sites, you probably don’t do it expecting to stop people talking yet that’s exactly what Facebook is being accused of.

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Over the last few weeks Facebook has disabled the personal accounts of several journalists based in Palestinian news publications. The social media company has since apologised stating that the accounts were accidentally suspended after community standard reports. This could well be true but it does sound rather suspicious, and the worry is that all you need to do to censor your opponents on Facebook is report them for breaking some guideline.

The accounts belonged to editors and executives at the Shehab News agency and the Qud News Network. Both these publications report largely on the occupied territories in Palestine. They both have significant presences on Facebook although it should be noted that the official pages were not affected just the personal pages of the particular employees.

No explanation of the suspension was given and Facebook didn’t make those involved aware of whatever guidelines they were supposed to have infringed. It is clear however that Facebook needs to tighten up these procedures if it wishes to remain a fair center for discussion and free speech.

Many organisations, countries and governments try and target social media sites simply because of their worldwide reach. It’s not the first time that Facebook has been accused of censorship in the past either. Their problem is that they are under pressure from all sides of the debates – Western Governments are keen for the extremist content from terrorists be removed from the site quickly.

Fortunately in this case it does seem as though it was a legitimate mistake, certainly Facebook has issued an apology and reinstated the accounts, stating that they do in fact process millions of these reports every week and sometimes make a mistake.

John Simpson

Online Anonymity

Rouhani now appears to be pushing back. Rouhani has promised to prepare a ministry for ladies. Rouhani believes that improving the financial states of the folks should be done by boosting the purchasing power of the folks, cutting back the wealth gap.

Iran has at all times denied that charge. It has the highest number of executions anywhere in the world, apart from China. The Iranian men and women are not searching for war with any nation. We have to carry on a significant battle against terrorism and place the fate of the country in the hands of the individuals of that nation. That isn’t likely, given the history of the previous 37 decades, butfor the very first timeit is not entirely impossible either. And there were some severe criticisms, vulgar occasionally, against the prior government, which we were able to set a stop to it.

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Our personal sector and the American private sector can enhance the environment. Enacting this deal in a decent way will make a new atmosphere. The growth of Tehran-Moscow relations would play an important role in keeping up the balance at the regional and global levels. Clearly, our success within this administration isn’t only restricted to the economy, and you’re conscious of a number of other successes that we’ve been in a position to achieve. In June 2017, he is going to have the chance to be re-elected.

With the latest announcements a deal was struck, it’s obvious this two-track negotiating strategy has paid back. So there’s a good deal of coordinating effort which goes into this, to move forward. It’s a miserable situation and quite a sad circumstance.”

There is additionally the chance of future cooperation in Syria. He added, We’ve got zero doubt that some excellent powers together with terrorists don’t want an Islamic country to have stability. You said you were planning to try. Obviously, for reaching trust between the U.S. and Iran, there’s need for many of time. Finding the global sanctions lifted is a crucial part of this. It is going to be solely dependent on the requirements of the country. We can’t believe there’s finally a shift.”

National security isn’t his brief. The Cuban policy looks mainly an answer to continued defections by top athletes. I am aware that the United States of america informed your government that these strikes were planning to take place. A very important issue in our colleges is the question of the way to stop the spread of inadequate web material because 90% of the world’s web content has become filth, and we have to think about an agenda in this aspect,” he explained. Naturally, there are a number of issues that aren’t in charge of the government. This shouldn’t be the situation, however. He’s also an attorney, academic and former diplomat.

The poll also indicated Rouhani has a difficult challenge in keeping the support as a result of fact people have high financial expectations from the deal, and it might become his Achilles’ heel. Rouhani’s election, Amirahmadi states, suggest that change might be afoot. All parties, but do agree the accord is an important development in comparison to the prior 12-year standoff. It was these very same men and women, these very same groups.

The other would be carried out in secret. People are not going to forget these things. Our individuals respect the American folks. Thus, the individual who seeks the maximum complains. Born in 1954, she isn’t politically active.

The ISIS State that Made it?

September 26th, 2016

Is Saudi Arabia the ISIS state that actually made it onto the legitimate world stage.   It sounds crazy but not so much when you think about it, you will get a similar life experience in Saudi Arabia than in an ISIS controlled area.

Here’s an interesting YouTube video on the subject –

Of course, it probably helps Saudi Arabia’s legitimacy that it controls a large part of the world’s oil supplies. Which is why it is listed as one of the USA’s allies in the area. Yet many experts agree that Wahhabism, the strict version of Islam which inspires ISIS was created and nurtured in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi leaders have actively promoted this ulta-strict doctrine simply because of the message at the heart of the theology – ‘obey your rulers’.

So while Saudi Arabia on one hand claim to fight against ISIS and what it stands for, the reality is that in many ways both religious states have sprung from the same source.

James Collins
www.proxyusa.com

The Wayback machine is the biggest internet archive on the planet and a fascinating insight into the development of the internet.  This enormous library is maintained by the San Francisco based Internet Archive and is one of the web’s most popular resources.

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For any of us who have accidentally deleted a blog page or site – it’s probably a familiar resource already, but it’s also a fascinating place for research and simple browsing.  The Wayback machine periodically crawls the entire web and stores dated versions of the web pages in it’s index.  You can not only see the version of a website that exists today but also 1, 5 and even ten years back.

For media journalists it’s also an important tool as it can be used to find deleted information, find data on past news events and research stories from long dead web sites.    It’s been used many times to embarrass public figures and expose lies that would have otherwise been long forgotten.

There has been some pressure for the owners of the Wayback Machine to remove and censor the content stored there.  It is not a direction they wish to take although it has in the past taken the decision to remove content which was deemed to be dangerous to people.   Whether removal means complete deletion or simply removing from the publicly accessible servers is also unclear.

The director is certain that there will be instances where they remove web pages in the future, but it will never be based on personal choice or censorship.  The small staff of 10 editors is dedicated to cultural preservation at the heart of their roles.

Content can be removed and made non-visible though, for example if the content is blocked by using a file called robots.txt then the Wayback Machine crawler will respect this decision.  They will crawl and archive the page if possible but that particular version will not be accessible for public viewing.   You will likely receive a message stating that the page has been excluded or removed from public viewing.

Most people in the media are completely against the censorship or filtering of any content from the internet.   After all if something is offensive then it’s easy enough to simply disregard the pages.  It is important to remember that something can be perfectly reasonable to some people and offensive to other – take for example science based articles which discredit biblical scriptures, it all depends on which side of the fence you are sitting.

The internet is already becoming very controlled and filtered, many web sites operate a system called region locking which blocks content based on their location.  Some of these are very sophisticated with large media sites like Netflix blocking VPN services too in order to stop people accessing their subscriptions from specific physical locations.

The concept is probably similar to that of a physical library, where it is possible to remove a book from a libraries shelves but only with some effort.   Librarians there would also be very reluctant to remove books based on individual requests, although obviously the scale would be much smaller than the digital archive.

John Henry

Video Blogger – Using a Proxy for Netflix