Tag: censor

Why did Minecraft get the works?

turkTurkey has been fast becoming a place where anything can get banned from the internet for the lamest excuses.

You can be banned for insulting the dead hero Atatürk, you can be blocked for revealing tapes proving government corruption and not it seems you can be censored for playing Minecraft.

A Turkish ministry claims that the game is “too violent” after a report from Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Ministry.

The decision whether or not to band Minecraft is currently in the hands of the Turkish courts as the ministry has submitted their report of the game being too violent to the legal affairs department, as well as instructions for the legal process to begin the ban.

A portion of the report was said to say:  “Although the game can be seen as encouraging creativity in children by letting them build houses, farmlands and bridges, mobs [hostile creatures] must be killed in order to protect these structures. In short, the game is based on violence.”

It seems that the Ministry is little concerned that kids might grow up confusing the game world and reality, possibly even “going as far as torturing animals without knowing what kind of pain they’re causing the creature”.

We guess that like other countries concerned about game violence, Turkey is a peaceful place which does not have any violence at all. Any that happens of course is not born out of a frustration with a corrupt, increasingly autocratic government, but Angry Birds or Tetris which were never banned.

Anti-censorship killings mean more censorship

GodSilence It appears that all those European leaders standing against censorship moves of the Parisian terrorists have decided that the way to deal with them is by using more censorship.

In the wake of this week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which began with the killing of 12 people at the offices of satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, the interior ministers of 12 EU countries have called for an increase in internet censorship.

France, Germany, Latvia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the U.K. said ISPs need to help “create the conditions of a swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing, where appropriate/possible”.

In other words, adopt a similar line to what has been agreed in the UK where ISPs use filters to stop citizens seeing “extremist” online content.

What this is supposed to do is not actually clear, governments have proved themselves unable to define what is a site designed to incite hatred and terror.  After all you would think that a site which calls for the dismantling of the European Union and for immigration to stop would be classed as hate speech but it is UKIP it is considered safe along with the comments section of the Daily Mail site.

Ironically the left wing Charlie Hebdo has itself frequently been accused of hate speech for its portrayal of Muslims and others. It has also been sued by the Roman Catholic Church several times for its anti-religion stance.

Ironically, this could mean that the newspaper which literally lost lives to anti-censorship could be closed as western governments try to protect themselves from Muslim censorship.


Sony sues for hacker leak

leakSony has been sending out  legal notices to those publishing its leaked e-mails.

Over the holidays Sony threatened Twitter with legal action if they allow users to publish the leaked e-mails Sony calls “stolen”.

A DMCA notice was sent to Twitter demanding that the tweets be taken down because the e-mails were copyrighted. Twitter so far has not done anything about the tweets.

Online media outlets and blogs such as Buzzfeed and Torrentfreak have been publishing leaked information too, and it is possible that Sony is testing the legal waters of stopping the spread of embarrassing information by going after a soft target.

Of course, that has not worked and Twitter has kept the accounts of its users up and running.

It is a moot point if Sony will stop any more embarrassing details from the hack coming to light. After all the US Government could not stop embarrassing information being leaked online via Wikileaks and other news sites.

Tories blame ISPs for Sony hack

Mike_WeatherleyEver willing to blame ISPs for any problems in the world, the UK’s Tory government say ISPs are behind the Sony hack.

The Tories are trying to get ISPs to act as unpaid censors to stop anything that someone with a blue rinse might not want to see on the internet.  The ISPs have told them that they can’t be responsible for everything that appears on the internet, so the Tories are trying to convince the world that they really are.

Last week Prime Minster David Cameron claimed that the ISPs were responsible for terrorism because websites from terror groups could be found online.  Before that he claimed they were responsible for child porn, for similar reasons.

Now as the fallout from the Sony hack continues, the UK Prime Minister’s former IP advisor, as “facilitators” web-hosts and ISPs must step up and take some blame.

You would think that someone who advises a Prime Minister about the internet might actually know a little bit about it, but clearly Mike Weatherley MP does not have a clue.

He claims that the ISPs are encouraging internet piracy by allowing stolen films to go down their tubes.

“Piracy is a huge international problem. The recent cyber-attack on Sony and subsequent release of films to illegal websites is just one high-profile example of how criminals exploit others’ Intellectual Property,” Weatherley wrote.

“Unfortunately, the theft of these films – and their subsequent downloads – has been facilitated by web-hosting companies and, ultimately, ISPs who do have to step-up and take some responsibility.”

Of course Cameron’s internet adviser can’t provide detail on precisely why web hosts and ISPs should take responsibility for the work of malicious hackers.  Particularly when these ones appear to be state sponsored.

His theory is that something must be done and it is the ISPs who must do it. Of course he could equally have blamed the Prime Minister’s cat and come up with a more viable reason.

It is also tricky because in the UK almost every major torrent site is already blocked by ISPs.  So in this case it is just Weatherley opening his mouth and letting the wind blow his tongue around.

BT censors sites without court order

russian censorsBT has started blocking access to 24 torrent sites this past weekend, including IPTorrents and TorrentDay.

It is the first time that a UK ISP has blocked private torrent sites, without a court order demanding it does it.

The High Court has ordered six UK ISPs to block subscriber access to dozens of the world’s largest torrent sites. The latest order was issued last month after a complaint from the major record labels. It expands the UK blocklist by 21 torrent sites, including limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me and torlock.com.

Over the weekend, BT and Sky implemented the new changes, making it harder for their subscribers to reach these sites. But BT appears to have gone above and beyond the court order, limiting access to various other sites.

According to TorrentFreak several users of private torrent sites get an “error blocked” message instead of their favourite sites. These include the popular IPTorrents.com and TorrentDay.com trackers, as well as scene release site Scnsrc.me.

The fact that BT has targeted IPTorrents and Torrentday is significant. Both sites require prospective users to obtain an invite from a current member they have over a hundred thousand active users.

BT used the same error message that is returned when users to try access sites covered by High Court injunctions. It is also the first time that a UK ISP has ever blocked a private torrent site. It is also significant because it indicates that ISPs are now starting to accept that they are not safe havens and have to censor the web.

IPTorrents is still accessible via https and via the site’s alternative .me and .ru domains. In addition, VPNs and proxy servers are often cited among suggested workaround techniques.

Apple censors unsightly bulge in iPhone 6

blue-appleIt seems that the fruity cargo cult Apple has been taking a leaf from the Stalinist handbook and is re-touching pictures that are a little difficult for its fanboys to swallow.

The iPhone 6 has an unsightly bulge which breaks the streamlining of the design.  It is caused by the fact that Apple had to put in a camera. While many think this is no big deal, Apple is deeply embarrassed, knowing that it would not have gotten away with that sort of thing under Steve Jobs.

But rather than send its designers back to the drawing board, Apple decided on an easier route.  Figuring out that once its fanboys actually owned the gadget they would not return it, Apple decided to simply airbrush the unsightly bulge from history.

You will not see the bulging rear camera if you were browsing Apple’s website though. While some images display the bulge clearly, there’s a number where it has simply vanished from sight.  If this sort of thing keeps up Apple could sell its fanboys a brick but give them an artist’s impression of something sleek and shiny.

It would have got away with it had it not been for those people at the Verge.



Lantern leaps over the Great Wall

great wall A bunch of activists has developed a piece of software which is giving the Chinese censors a run for their money.

The program was created late last year by Adam Fisk, a former engineer at the pioneering file sharing service Limewire, which was shut down by a federal judge in 2010. However Fisk used his background in developing peer-to-peer technology to create a decentralised system of combatting censorship that governments are cannot block effectively.

Fisk told the Daily Dot  that until now censors have had the upper hand in being able to block these tools.

But peer-to-peer to get around that because it allows individuals in uncensored regions can download and install it really easily and become these instant access points.

Lantern has around 25,000 users mostly in China, but with a few thousand in Iran. Fisk expects that number to grow significantly as the company makes its first big push to increase the number of users in the “uncensored” world.

Downloading Lantern in an uncensored region connects you with someone in a censored region, who can then access whatever content he or she wants through you. It operates on trust.

To use Lantern, you have to sign in with Google, and then information about your computer trickles through your network of real-world friends who are also using Lantern.

A censor who wanted to shut down your IP address would have to convince you that you are their friend.

A government censor who downloads the software  can’t bring down the whole system because the network detects attempts to block information from passing through and seamlessly route around them.

Through a process called consistent routing, the amount of information any single Lantern user can learn about other users is limited to a small subset, making infiltration significantly more difficult.

Fisk said that the Chinese government is clearly worried about the software. Direct downloads of the program are already blocked and most Chinese users have obtained the program through virtual private networks.

The outfit disguises Lantern’s traffic to look like unassuming types of traffic that censoring governments do not block is actually a key part of its strategy. Lantern partners with other companies sympathetic to its mission to hide its traffic inside theirs.

The downside of the project is that Lantern is largely funded by the U.S. State Department. This funding arrangement has led to some fears that the NSA may have inserted backdoors into the system.

Fisk said that the people he worked with at the State Department are very different than the people across the river at the NSA in their agendas and their beliefs.

The project’s government backers have been very hands-off and, since the project is open source, anyone could go in and inspect the code themselves to see how it works and check for any backdoors that may have been put in place by government spooks.