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).


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.

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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.


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.


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

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.


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


When you hear that there is to be new legislation to combat cybercrime, it does sound like a positive step. After all any legislation which stops criminal act, hacking and identity theft has got to be a good thing. It could also included child pornography, online bullying and just about any crime which could be committed or abetted online.

That has to be good, right?

Unfortunately, experience shows that it’s rarely as straight forward as that and cybercrime legislation is often used as a justification for censorship and curtailing free speech online. The usual method is to prepare something sufficiently vague and confusing that can be used whenever a government feels like it.


It looks like this classic tactic is being adopted by the St Vincent and Grenadine government who have just authorised a new Cybercrime bill. Now legislation involving such crimes should really dovetail existing criminal legislation ensuring protection for individuals and companies who are being potentially investigated. That means things like obtaining warrants and due cause before seizing or searching property and computers, yet so often these niceties seem to be bypassed when implementing any sort of cyber bill.

This legislation looks like it’s following the same path favored by despotic governments and states – ensure there are minimal protections and allow a huge amount of leeway for any investigation to basically make up the rules as they go along.

The worst aspect of this was highlighted by RSF

Defamation in print, written and broadcast media is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment under Saint Vincent’s penal code, pre-dating the adoption of the Cybercrime Law, but the new legislation extends criminal defamation to online content.

It also broadens the already worrying criminal defamation laws to include anything said online, complete with very vague definitions of cyber bullying and harassment which could really be used to justify pretty much anything with a little artistic license.

Such laws almost certainly will negatively impact free speech and will possibly end up spreading across other Caribbean islands, there is little need for this part of the legislation. For anyone wishing to genuinely avoid this detection it is simple to do, in fact half my friends use a working Netflix VPN which will also create anonymity online. This is what real cyber criminals will do, protect themselves and certainly won’t be subject to being caught with online defamation. The people who will likely be subject will be newspapers, online media and ordinary individuals simply engaged in expressing opinions or debate. Who’s to guess that the first people prosecuted will be in some senses be critical of the government or someone with wealth and power.

We urge the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to remove this legislation or at least revise it urgently.

Joe Simpson
Video Blogger

If you look at world leaders, it would suggest that there is little bias in the corridors of power at least in Western based economies.   Hillary Clinton is pushing back the barriers to that huge last block – a female president of the USA.  The UK has it’s second female Prime-Minister and of course the most powerful leader in Europe is also a woman.

However there is still a huge battle going on for equality in many other areas of life.    If you take Fortune 500 companies, the biggest ones in the USA only 4% are run by women.  There are lots of statistics to support women are under- represented in board rooms or paid less than men, plus many suggest that women face huge bias in the media too.

It’s sometimes difficult to see, if I take my own experience I generally watch BBC World News streaming over my laptop using a VPN if travelling.

On first glance, there’s little here to suggest a media bias against women. In fact it almost seems that women are overly represented in some of the most visible roles. Many of the war correspondents are women, news readers are women and the reporters in charge of important sectors often are female too.

However if you start looking across the British and US media it’s not always who reports the news which is a problem but rather how it is reported. Take for example many of the interest stories regarding when Theresa May became Prime Minister – a lot focused on her preference of ‘kitten heels’. Huge sections of the UK tabloids covered this story, with many pictures and features on her footwear.

In the USA, many media outlets routinely cover Hillary Clinton and are critical of her fashion sense. Her ‘pant suits’ cover many column inches in the US media, certainly something that would look bizarre if directed at a male candidate. There is an obvious feeling that women are not only judged on their abilities and opinions but on their appearance too.

The reality is that although it looks like politics is an area which women have succeeded in obtaining parity that is rarely the case. In the UK, the British Parliament is less than 30% female while in US Congress that’s under 20%. There is still an imbalance and it’s almost certainly the way the media portrays and analyses women, certainly has some impact. After all a male politician is unlikely to be too concerned about fashion, where as women might realize it’s an issue that would effect them.

BBC News and Online Media, James Burrows, Panda Press, 2016.

Turkey already has a poor reputation for free speech and democracy but things looked to have got even worse on March 4. The country already is ranked 139th in the Press Freedom index surrounded by countries with a less than stellar reputation like Russia, Iraq and Egypt to name but a few. This is likely to fall even further following the events of last week – one of the Government’s biggest critics the daily newspaper – the Zaman was effectively shut down.

This was no subtle, political move but a forceful military style closure amid rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. The police stormed the newspaper and arrested or dispersed the newspaper’s employees – all part of a major crackdown against anyone who dares to criticize Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president.

A couple of days it re-opened with a startling new editorial policy which is simply to be a Government mouthpiece. It’s a shameful way for an alleged democracy to behave and is just another example of how the Turkish Government have absolutely no respect for the freedom of the press. If you need any example of the despotic rule of Erdogan you only need to look towards the law courts where 1845 people now are being prosecuted since August 2014 – the charges are all about insulting the president.

The Government has of course, a long track record of arresting and persecuting journalists however they seem to have moved up a notch with the closure of Turkey’s most popular daily newspaper on spurious claims of protecting national security (a favorite cause of despotic leaders across the world).

There is hope for the newspaper and hopefully for the press to continue to publish news in Turkey. The Zaman is hoping to continue to exist through it’s German edition – Sueleyman Bag, effectively forced into publishing in exile.

Further moves are expected against other anti-government media – the Cihan news agency had been similarly targeted. All this comes against many other attacks on individual freedoms and liberties – much of which will be difficult for Europe to ignore as Erdogan attempts to negotiate fast track European status using the immigration crisis as leverage.

Most Turks now rely on nes sources from outside the country, VPns and proxies are widely used whilst most have access to a UK or American IP address to bypass the many filters deployed on Turkish ISPs.

Netflix Wages War on VPNs

February 5th, 2016

There has been some alarm from Netflix watchers across the web over the last few weeks.  In tandem with their global rollout to 139 countries worldwide, Netflix has announced that it will cracking down on the use of virtual private networks which are used to watch it’s service.

Until the last few weeks, the vast majority of the world has had to live without Netflix and it’s vast collection of media and streaming services.    The reason that Netflix was only available in a select few countries wasn’t because of any deliberate censorship merely the result of licensing agreements for the vast majority of content available under the Netflix subscription.


Although you can potentially access a Netflix account in a variety of countries,  what is available varies greatly depending on your current location.  For example if I log on to my British based Netflix account in France, I will actually receive the French version of the service.  Netflix determines my location using geolocation techniques and redirects me automatically, worse if I’m in a country with no Netflix service I’ll simply get blocked.

For several years though, users in ineligible countries have been using VPNs to hide their real location in order to be able to access the Netflix service.  So I could sit in a country like Australia (which previously had no Netflix access) and use an English VPN or proxy like this to fool Netflix and connect to the UK.   The situation was rather bizarre with Netflix actually having over a quarter of a million subscribers in a country where their service wasn’t actually available.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for the media giant, many people used to buy IP addresses from these services even when they were in a valid Netflix region.  The problem was that for example the Canadian Netflix subscriber would gaze enviously at the US version of Netflix which had thousands more movies and TV shows for the same subscription, switching to a US IP address gave them access to all these movies.

It’s basically the licensing which is to blame for these problems – the media owners are still licensing their content as if it can be physically restricted and controlled.  The reality is that it can’t and the only feasible method – geo-restrictions are easily bypassed using these VPN services.  The problem is that people who use these services are at least paying for a legitimate subscription. those who don’t bother are simply re-streaming or downloading from illegal torrent and warez sites.

So is Netflix about to block all the VPN services that allow people to access their sites from different countries?  Well there a quite a few problems with this – the first is that it is technically very difficult with the only real method to black list specific IP addresses from the VPN providers.  The second problem is even more problematic – these ‘illegal viewers’ actually pay a huge amount to Netflix in subscription payments for example in China it is estimated that there are over 20 million subscribers of Netflix using VPNs.

Technically if the Chinese can’t block the VPN services properly then Netflix has no chance at all.  The losers will probably be the Smart DNS proxy service which are much easier to detect because their IP addresses don’t match the exact countries, but merely relay specific parts of the connection.

Further Reading

Turkish Journalist Jailed

December 3rd, 2015

Do democratic nations imprison journalists for making news reports which they don’t like?  Unfortunately this is what’s happening in Turkey at the moment as two journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul have been jailed after producing a report on Turkish Intelligence trucks being used to send arms to Islamist rebels in Syria.

The alleged crime is revealing ‘state secrets’ yet it is telling that this actually involves revealing allegations of corruption.  The stories detailed how the Syrian rebels were being supported with trucks and ammunition,  included with the reports were video footage of events too.


The arrest of the journalists took place after, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan filed charges of espionage against the journalist – if found guilty they face a life in prison.  It increasingly becomes obvious that Turkey is involved in some sort of war by proxy in Syria, worryingly with Russia doing something similar on the other side.

Turkish and Syrian relations have rapidly deteriorated over the last few years, yet surprisingly they were actually close allies before the civil war begun mainly fueled through a mutual hate of Israel.

It is a worrying time in Turkey with the Government instigating seevre clamp downs of civil freedoms and liberties. Certainly there is little freedom of the press with journalists likely to face a similar fate if they publish anything critical of the government.  Many web sites and social media sites are blocked and the authoritarian stance is being expanded to ordinary citizens who express themselves online on blogs or using video making software like this.

There are many journalists and bloggers in jail facing a variety of charges simply criticising Mr Erdogan is enough to get several years in jail.  The committee to Protect Journalists have been calling on Turkey to release various journalists including Mohammed Ismael Rasool who was arrested with two British journalist earlier in the year.  Virtually all the journalists who are in Turkish prisons are there on some sort of made up ‘anti-state’ charge.

Further Information on producing Video Slideshows available on this video.

When the internet was in it’s infancy, then we were all pretty much equal online. Of course initially it was only the lucky ones who could get connected mainly through schools, Universities and colleges. Then the technology started to appear to allow some basic home access and we all started saving up for 14.4k modems to connect our home pcs. In the mid-90s things started to snowball and more and more people became connected. The average user was still likely to be an academic or computer geek but even that profile was changing quickly.

Nowadays of course, it’s unusual to find someone who hasn’t been online at some point. Many of us arrange our lives and research crucial decisions by using the internet. Those of us living abroad, use it to stay connected with family and friends. There is no doubt that it’s the most incredible advance in communication since we learnt to speak and write. The world has become so much smaller due to the internet, and it’s common today to have virtual friends from all across the planet.


But things have also changed for the worse online in some aspects too. As I mentioned when the internet first appeared, everyone who could get online would find pretty much the same thing. That however is rapidly changing and most of us experience a rather customised version of the internet. Across the world many countries are implementing their own filters and restrictions on their internet access. From the Chinese who filter anything pretty much anything they deem to be unsuitable, usually anything critical of the state, to rulers following a more religious than political agenda. Many supposedly enlightened democracies are also following this route. Australian have already tested an extensive content filter (which fortunately didn’t go that well) and the Icelandic Government are intending to block all internet pornography – read about it here.

Whether or not you agree with these various blocks and filters, everyone should be aware of the dangers that this presents. The internet has developed because it is a vast open network accessible to all, the more people block, restrict and filter it’s content – we will be left with our own personal, edited version of the internet. Slowly and surely across the world, more and more sites will become accessible and lines of communications will be closed. We will no longer have access to everything but merely the sites that our particular country feel is suitable. Of course you’ll always be able to access more of the web in the USA than Iran, but there the risk is more commercial than pure ideology.

It is sad to see now that many countries who’s citizens could benefit most from the internet are already trying to shackle it. The internet could be one of the great economic miracles of Africa, but even now many countries are monitoring and filtering what you can do online. Equality on the internet was what we expected for all, but slowly it seems to be slipping away from us.

There is hope of course, as mentioned there are many, many ways to bypass such restrictions such as using an England Proxy..

Of course everyone knows that the internet is based on communication and cooperation. In fact the infrastructure itself is built up on a huge network of shared routers, switches and hardware – your web requests can take a huge variety of routes to reach their destination. As for bringing people together, probably nothing in human history has had such a profound effect particularly on geographic boundaries. It sounds a cliche to say that the ’world is a much smaller place’ but it is also a very true saying!

We all probably know people who speak regularly using the internet, my own mother speaks using Skype and video chat to my sister who now lives on the other side of the planet. They chat like people meeting in a coffee shop not in the sense of mother and daughter who haven’t seen each other for many months. Distances are not really as important, you can chat with a friend in minutes using a variety of inexpensive and instant methods. Decades ago a phone call to Australia would have to be planned and booked in advance, it would also have been very expensive.

However with all the positive news, it is unfortunate that there’s another side that’s growing on the internet primarily due to commercialism. The problem is that although the internet fits neatly into a nice open global model of no restrictions, no boundaries – commerce doesn’t quite work like that. Multinational companies rarely have a single price for a global market, instead varying their prices in order to maximise profits. Charging a high price in country’s who are able to support those levels and lowering in less affluent countries. This works fine where physical boundaries are in place, I might know that goods are much cheaper in China but I can’t go and buy them there very easily. The internet removes many of these boundaries particularly when combined with a reliable and inexpensive international delivery service.

Many people buy from a web site based in one country and get the goods delivered by courier to their home country. I bought several Nintendo Wiis from the French Amazon many years ago when you couldn’t buy them in the UK. But the companies don’t like this, especially when they’re supplying a service or digital product. Why would I care if I download an electronic book from New York or London? It wouldn’t matter to me, I’d go for price – which is why the company is likely to restrict access in another way in order to protect it’s margins.

So what is happening is that if I need access to a product like Pandora which is based in the United States or the BBC Iplayer from the United Kingdom. It will only be accessible if I’m actually based in the same country otherwise I’ll get blocked. So I need to change my iPad’s IP address to a UK one to watch the BBC and then back again to listen to Pandora. Slowly but surely electronic walls are being built to keep us back in our place.

Fortunately the internet’s fundamental structure makes this difficult, ideas are shared and walls are there to be torn down or avoided. If anyone find’s a route around these blocks the information soon finds itself into the public domain. Currently there are numerous methods available for bypassing these restrictions – most simply by using a proxy or British VPN server. Therefore if I was based in the United States and I wanted to watch the Hurling on Ireland’s national broadcasting company – all I need to do is connect via an Irish proxy to watch RTE.

For those of us of a certain age, the web represented something pretty exciting. Sure the technology was incredible, I can still remember the moment I used IRC (Internet Realy Chat) for the first time. I spoke for about 10 minutes with a welder from Detroit, mostly rubbish and stuff about the weather but it did blow my mind. Of course now only a few decades later, that really does sound kind of pathetic – people speak to each other all over the world without a second thought. Perhaps some of the magic has gone, but communication has to be a good thing – we will hopefully learn that there’s not much difference between us all.

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In those early days, the web was controlled by geeks – it wasn’t easy to use. You could search for stuff sure, but you needed Archie to search for files, in fact it’s often cited as the Internet’s first search engine. Or if we wanted document we’d fire up Gophur, which kinda worked pretty well when there were only a few thousand sites to search. It was quirky, exciting, controlled and developed by Geeks – and to be honest a wonderful place to be.

The internet now, is much more accessible, in a way that our young people probably can’t comprehend. You don’t have to fire up a Telnet session with the right parameters to do anything anymore. Video and multimedia streams content to any devices you require – it’s all interconnected like this. Switch on your mobile phone, click or press a few buttons and you’re sorted. It’s called progress and it’s of course no bad thing. What is worrying is the way the internet is being segmented on your location, your ability to pay or even your politics or religion.

Now big business is moving in, and they are starting to implement various economic profit maximisation techniques. Your location will control what you can see, want to watch the BBC News? Well you can’t unless you’re in the UK or use a proxy.  One of the most annoying is price discrimination where a company will try and maximizes profits by segmenting it’s markets. So a company will not offer a single product but a specific one to each individual market. Which is why you’ll find people asking – how to get netflix outside US – here by the way – simply because the version of Netflix they get is vastly inferior!

Further Information:

Quick IP Address changer –
Further Information – UK proxy service

My Egyptian Saviour

June 14th, 2015

I’ve been travelling for just over 8 months now, some two thirds of the way through my year of travelling. I promised myself this trip, I wanted to see something of the world before the responsibilities of growing up finally caught up with me. I had seen siblings and older friends postpone such trips and then the sadness that it might after all not be possible when jobs, kids and mortgages started to create their barriers.

It’s not that I didn’t want those things too, but I have always been pragmatic and realised that I was no different – I wouldn’t be able to run away from my responsibilities – the trick was to run away before I got too many. There have been many times in my trip that I thought to cut short my trips, stories of misfortune, worries about money, frustration and tiredness have all tempted me to go home. But of course, the main danger has been homesickness, normally when faced with some extreme alien scence and experience.  This was probably my lowest point, my nadir.

The scene is from the main train station in Cairo, where I arrived fed up, hot and utterly bewildered.  The day had started badly when I got on the wrong bus and found myself in the middle of nowhere, my fellow passengers seemingly gloating at my misfortune and inability to decipher the arabic numerals on the buses.  Then at the station it got worse, normally there was a friendly face around who could speak English but the station was devoid of such help.

Nearly half an hour was wasted standing in completely the wrong queue for obtaining a ticket down to Luxor.  It was then I stood there confused thinking why was I bothering, why didn’t I just get a cab to the airport and grab myself a flight home.  I’m not sure how far I was from it, but I suspect pretty close when a friendly English speaking voice brought me back from my day dream.  Mohammed was a star, he wasted an hour of his day assisting me, just a really good guy, even refusing an offer of ‘baksheesh’ after it was all over.  He came into my life, saved my trip and then dashed off to his lectures at the local university – hopefully he wasn’t late !!

From that point things started to get better, reclining in the lounge of the Winter Palace in Cairo with my laptop and there wifi connection I got more help.   I found this video on Youtube which showed me this IP address changing software

It sounds fairly trivial but after purchasing a trial account, I was able to access my online banking (previously blocked due to my location), watch an episode of the Simpsons using my Hulu account and watch my local news from back in Colorado. In truth between Mohammed’s kindness and a piece of geeky computer software my resolve was fortified and my trip was back on. From that evening strolling through the stunning temple of Karnak I never really felt lonely again.

Further Information

There’s a story in the press released last year of a truly horrible crime which in some senses defies belief. In Syria, a young girl has been stoned to death for a crime which in the civilised world is an everyday part of life.

The girl reportedly called Fatoum Al-Jassem was found guilty of opening a Facebook account, which was deemed immoral behaviour. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria were responsible for this atrocity, ruling that joining the social networking site should be classed as the same as adultery – which carries the death penalty.

The social networking site is actually banned from most of the areas like Syria and Iran anyway by the ruling governments. Their objections to the site are not so much moral but because they are used to communicate, organise and protest. Many young people still do use the site though by using proxies or other similar methods as a facebook unblocker , just like this video demonstrates.

The ISIS is a pro-Al Qaida jihadist group that lots of people are worried is taking an iron grasp over parts of Syria.
The group was formed in April 2013 and grew out of Al Qaeda’s affiliate organisation in Iraq. It has since grown into among the principal jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria.
It took over AlReqqa after rebels overran the city in March 2013. It was the very first provincial capital to fall under rebel control.

You can read more about this story here.