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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

Twitter Developing Technology To Thwart Censorship 144

SHMG writes "Micro-blogging site Twitter is developing technology that will prevent government censorship, after Iran and China moved to censor its users. Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Twitter CEO and co-founder Evan Williams said the company was working on 'hacks' to stop any blocking by foreign governments. 'We are partially blocked in China and other places and we were in Iran as well,' he said. 'The most productive way to fight that is not by trying to engage China and other governments whose very being is against what we are about.'"
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Twitter Developing Technology To Thwart Censorship

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  • Central Choke Points (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @09:59PM (#30928666) Journal

    In Iran, moreso than China from what I understand, the Internet and telephones go thru central choke points that are controlled by the gov't. They can effectively just turn the whole damn Internet off in their country, if they like. Ditto for cell phones and text messaging.

    My first question would be is peer-to-peer traffic regulated, and if so, how? While the gov't might be able to cut off the main Internet egress points, all it would take is one person with a covert satellite link and a good p2p network. Or, maybe, a covert side channel on a bank leased line that runs to Switzerland, for example? How about packet radio? Twitter isn't exactly super bandwidth intensive.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @10:01PM (#30928680)

    I think we can all agree that censorship is a bad thing, but how far should such social responsibility reach? Should companies be concerned about social responsibility in countries which are not their own? Should they help criminals violate the laws of their own countries? Is aiding and abetting in the name of freedom something that companies should really be doing?

    Take for example Bob Barker, a major donor to the Sea Shepherds. The Sea Shepherds practice terrorism on the high seas in an effort to eliminate practices which they see as abhorrent, namely whaling and drag net trawling. Barker, with his name and money, support these actions which are in violation of international law. Likewise, New Zealand and Australia also provide shelter for the group by refusing to prosecute them for illegal actions taken in their waters. These supporters and harborers of the terrorist organization are just as responsible as the terrorist organization itself.

    However, it would be somewhat odd if a completely unrelated country like, say, Armenia got involved and tried to sink the Sea Shepherd's ships or arrested Bob Barker for international terrorism. It's just not their problem.

  • by PurpleCarrot ( 892888 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @10:14PM (#30928780) Homepage

    There are many users of Twitter, Facebook, and LiveJournal that use Tor and other anonymizing proxies to get around constricting and censoring firewalls. If Twitter thinks they can do it better, by all means, but have they even reached out to some of the existing communities working on this problem before diving headlong into it themselves?

    I know for a fact that LiveJournal has a cordial relationship with the Tor project, and, when abuse from Tor spikes, has always worked with the project to ensure access from Tor users is quickly restored. I would be surprised if Twitter didn't have similar issues and that they wouldn't know about Tor, what with the Iran dissidents and Chinese users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @10:19PM (#30928836)

    Strange, I lived in USSR and I can not recall a single coup except of revolutions of 1905 and 1917. But those were in Russian Empire, not USSR. Are you inventing a history to support your point?

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @10:24PM (#30928876)
    You watched the censored media in the USSR. There were frequent reports of coup attempts in the 80s/90s in the form of attacks in attempt to take over the broadcasters reported on by the American media... you wouldn't have heard about it there, because the government controlled the media.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @10:34PM (#30928956)

    Aren't you implicitly trusting that the news you were presented by the American media during the Cold War wasn't designed to manipulate your opinions of the Soviet government?

    Consider how today's American media presents the Chinese government. Who is it actually being mind-controlled?

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @11:38PM (#30929314)

    Hypothetically speaking, if there is a way to freely share copyrighted content on twitter, will the US government tries to censor this information? Or more likely, will the US government pressure Twitter CEO and co-founder Evan Williams to censor these postings and would Evan give in? Just to point out that hypocrisy works both ways.

  • by wjc_25 ( 1686272 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @11:42PM (#30929340)
    The entire point of having more than one government, of having national rather than global governments, is so that governments and citizens of other nations can step in when a national government has oppressed its bounds. We can argue about where the appropriate boundary is (for example, if it came to violence, I certainly wouldn't approve of a corporation like Twitter arming revolutionaries or lending its support to dissident groups), but I would argue that a group of people working to make means of communication available among repressed people is clearly within its bounds, regardless of whether the repressive government in question approves of this communication.

    This is, of course, leaving aside the possibility (if not likelihood) that for Twitter this is as much about image and self-promotion as activism. But if it is, so what? No one does anything for just one reason, and I approve of their action whatever the reasoning behind it may be.
  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @11:43PM (#30929346) Homepage

    Really? Monks under siege in monasteries as protest ends in a hail of gunfire [timesonline.co.uk]


    Front Line was pleased to receive confirmation today that human rights defender Aminatou Haidar has finally been allowed to return home to her family after 32 days on hunger strike. According to BBC sources Ms Haidar was able to speak to members of the media before boarding the flight. "This is a triumph for international law, for human rights, for international justice and for the cause of the Western Sahara" said Ms Haidar.

    http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/2300 [frontlinedefenders.org]

  • by Monsuco ( 998964 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:01AM (#30930344) Homepage

    Nixon drew a nice retirement package. The power structure remains intact. A triumph indeed.

    Yes, a triamph indeed. Nixon abused his powers and a free press caught him. He was forced to resign and there was a peaceful transfer of power. As an ex-President he did more than just "draw a nice retirement package", he would go on to do a great deal to ease US relations with the USSR and China serving as something of a negotiator. In fact he was considered one of the most respected foreign policy experts in the world. He also was a prominent speaker at universities, but ironically unlike most ex-Presidents, he generally didn't charge for speaking since he felt it was a corrupt abuse of the title of President.

  • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:05AM (#30930358) Homepage

    Look at for example Singapore: Average GDP per capita is higher than in US, but still the country is not democracy by any definition.

    On paper, Singapore is a fine democracy.

    The two things that get in the way are (A) the willingness of the courts to indulge politically-motivated libel suits, and (B) the lack of an effective press. Between these two, the ruling PAP has been able to sidestep a lot of what would be healthy competition, with the result that most serious politicians and aspiring technocrats just take the path of least resistance and work within the party rather than running against it.

    Over the years, it has been getting more democratic, though, and the trend seems to be continuing.

    Many people seem to overlook the degree to which Singapore is a model for the slow but steady emergence of democracy in east Asia.

  • by hellop2 ( 1271166 ) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @03:52AM (#30930586)
    "Witnesses described violent clashes between monks and police on the outskirts of Lhasa on Monday afternoon and reported hearing as many as 60 gunshots as troops forced the monks to return to their quarters early yesterday."

    "They said that about 60 monks from Drepung monastery were detained".

    I wonder if "detained" means, "never heard from again."

    “It’s really nothing. Everything is great,” said the Tibetan Governor.

    Sometimes, you're glad you live in America. Since we're talking about censorship, I think this is on-topic. Quoted from your first link.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982