Social media censorship in Egypt targets women on TikTok – The World

Looking at Haneen Hossams TikTok account, one might wonder why her content landed the Egyptian social media user in jail. In one post, she explains for her followers the Greek mythological story of Venus and Adonis, which is also a Shakespeare poem.

Mawada al-Adham does similarly anodyne things that are familiar to anyone who observes such social influencers, like giving away iPhones and driving a fancy car.

They are just two of the nine women arrested in Egypt this past year for what they posted on TikTok. Mostly, their videos are full of dancing to Arabic songs, usuallya genre of electro-pop, Egyptian shaabi folk music called mahraganat, or festivaltunes. The clips feature a typically TikTok style with feet planted, hands gesticulating and eyebrows emoting.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has put TikTok and its Chinese parent company,ByteDance, in its sights with another escalation against Beijing. The US Commerce Department announced Friday that TikTok, and another Chinese-owned app, WeChat, would be blocked from US app stores.

In Egypt, the arrests are about dictating morality rather than any kind of geopolitical struggle or international tech rivalry. But what exactly the government finds legally objectionable about these womens online content is ambiguous.

They themselves would have never imagined that they would go to jail and be sentenced for what they were doing, because what they're doing is basically what everyone else does on social media.

They themselves would have never imagined that they would go to jail and be sentenced for what they were doing because what they're doing is basically what everyone else does on social media, said Salma El Hosseiny of the International Service for Human Rights, a nongovernmental organizationbased in Geneva. Singing and dancing as if you would at an Egyptian wedding, for example.

Hosseiny said that these women were likely targeted because theyre from middle- or working-class backgrounds and dance to a style of music shunned by the bourgeoisie for scandalous lyrics that touch on taboo topics.

You have social media influencers who come from elite backgrounds, or upper-middle class, or rich classes in Egypt, who would post the same type of content. These women are working-class women, she added. They have stepped out of what is permitted for them.

They were charged under a cybercrime law passed in 2018, as well as existing laws in the Egyptian Penal Code that have been employed against women in the past.

Yasmin Omar, a researcher at The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, said the cybercrime law is vague when it comes to defining whats legal and what isnt.

It was written using very broad terms that could be very widely interpreted and criminalizing a lot of acts that are originally considered as personal freedom, she said. Looking at it, you would see that anything you might post on social media, anything that you may use [on] the internet could be criminalized under this very wide umbrella.

Egypts cybercrime law is part of a larger effort by the government to increase surveillance of online activities. As TikTok became much more popular during the pandemic, prosecutors started looking there too, Omar said.

When I write anything on my social media accounts, I know that it could be seen by an official whose job it is to watch the internet and media platforms, said Omar, who added that that surveillance often leads to widespread repression.

The state is simply arresting whoever says anything that criticizes its policy, its laws, its practices ... even if it's just joking. It's not even allowed.

Related: One woman's story highlights national wave of repression and sexual violence

The arrests of TikTokers shows that this law isnt just about monitoring and controlling political dissent, but is used to police conservative social norms.

Menna Abdel Aziz, 17, made a live video on Facebook. Her face was bruised and she told viewers that she had been raped and was asking for help.

The police asked her to come in, and when she did, Omar said, they looked at her TikTok account and decided she was inciting debauchery and harming family values in Egypt essentially blaming the victim for what had occurred.

This past summer, there were a number of particularly shocking allegations involving rape and sexual assault in Egypt. First, dozens of women accused a young man at the American University in Cairo (AUC) of sexual violence ranging from blackmail to rape. And in another case, a group of well-connected men were accused of gang-raping a young woman in Cairos Fairmont Hotel in 2014 and circulating a video of the act.

The cases garnered a lot of attention within Egypt. Many Egyptian women were shocked by the horrible details of the cases but not surprised about the allegations or that the details had been kept under wraps for so long.

In Egypt, sexual violence and violence against women is systematic, Hosseiny said. It's part of the daily life of women to be sexually harassed.

A UN Women report in 2014 said that 99.3% of Egyptian women reported being victims of sexual harassment. Yet, women are often culturally discouraged from reporting sexual harassment in the traditional society.

They are investing state resources to go after women who are singing and dancing on social media, and trying to control their bodies, and thinking that this is what's going to make society better and a safer place, Hosseiny said, by locking up women, rather than by changing and investing in making Egypt a safe place for women and girls.

When prosecutors started investigating the accused in that high-profile Fairmont case, it looked like real progress and a victory for online campaigning by women. The state-run National Council for Women even encouraged the victim and witnesses to come forward, promising the women protection. But that pledge by the state did not materialize.

Somehow, the prosecution decided to charge the witnesses, said Omar, the researcher. Witnesses who made themselves available, made their information about their lives, about what they know about the case all this information was used against them.

Witnesses who made themselves available, made their information about their lives, about what they know about the case all this information was used against them.

Once again, Egyptian authorities looked at the womens social media accounts, and then investigated the women for promoting homosexuality, drug use, debauchery and publication of false news. One of the witnesses arrested is an American citizen.

When pro-state media outlets weighed in on the TikTok cases, they also had a message about blame, Hosseiny said. The coverage used sensational headlines and showed photos of the women framed in a sexual way. This contrasted with the depictions in rape cases in which the accused mens photos were blurred andonly their initials printed.

Social media has played an important role in Egyptian politics during the last decade. In 2011, crowds toppled the regime of military dictator Hosni Mubarak. That uprising was in part organized online with Twitter andFacebook. In 2018, the former army general, and current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said he would maintain stability in Egypt.

Beware! What happened seven years ago is never going to happen again in Egypt, he swore to a large auditorium full of officials.

Related: Five years of Sisi's crackdown has left 'no form of opposition' in Egypt

Samer Shehata, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, said Egypts military-backed regime is wary of the implications of anything posted online, even if it's just dancing.

I think there has been a heightened paranoia as a result of hysteria ... about the possible political consequences of social media, he said. I think that they certainly have those kinds of concerns in the back of their minds as well.

Of the nine women charged with TikTok crimes, four have been convicted and three have appeals set for October.

Menna Abdel Aziz, the young woman who called for help online, was just released from detainment Wednesday and is being dismissed with no charges.

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Social media censorship in Egypt targets women on TikTok - The World

Barcelona members strike back vs. Bartomeu: What does ‘motion of censorship’ mean, and what’s next? – ESPN

4:43 PM ET

Sid LoweSpain writer

Next time you pop into the FC Barcelona boutique to buy blaugrana pants or more than a pencil, go past the ticket window by the museum or order a coffee at the caf in the shadow of Kubala and Cruyff, look carefully at the guy behind the register. It that face looks familiar, that could be because it is. It might be Eder Sarabia, the former assistant coach taking up a new role.

Well, they've got to employ him somewhere.

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On Thursday evening, at the end of a day when Luis Surez had been in Italy, doing a language exam in Perugia to get an Italian passport, engaging in 10 minutes of conversation about family but not football, Quique Setin released a statement. In it, he revealed that he had been informed that he been sacked as Barcelona manager only the night before, on Wednesday -- a month after it had been announced to the world, and almost three weeks since his lawyers had written to the club to ask what was going on.

What's more, Setin said, there had still been no settlement on the 2-year contract he'd signed eight months earlier. More money poured away, and yet to be paid. As for his staff -- Sarabia, Jon Pascua and Fran Soto -- they hadn't been sacked at all. Instead, he had now been told that they would be "repositioned" at the club, which was news to them.

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It had been that kind of day, another one only somehow even sillier, sadder and, as it turned out, more significant. It was the eve of the 20th anniversary of Lionel Messi's arrival at Barcelona, which should have been cause for celebration, but this is a club in constant crisis, and even the fact that he is still there feels a bit odd. Above all, it was another one of those days for a president whose case for being the worst in club history gets more watertight by the hour.

It was a day in which more supposed transfer targets slipped away because -- just in case you didn't know, and somehow there still seem to be people who don't -- there is no money to buy them with. A day when 98m in losses over the past year were confirmed. One in which they still couldn't get rid of the players they publicly said they wanted to get rid of ... and, now it seemed, they couldn't get rid of the manager, either. Not properly, anyway.

Still, at least Setin's statement fit on one piece of paper. The bigger statement was delivered on thousands and thousands of them. And while on the face of it, it deepened the crisis, maybe it actually offered a way out of it -- or, at least, handed back some sense of control to those who care, a little light cast over the club, a glimpse of hope.


Lionel Messi is back to his sterling best, scoring an absolute stunner in Barcelona's 3-1 win vs. Girona.

A little before 7 o'clock in the evening local time, a dozen people turned up at the Camp Nou. They wore masks, and they brought with them boxes, bags and containers, absolutely full of pieces of paper. On them, over 20,000 people had officially declared their desire that a motion of censure be brought against team president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board of directors -- a motion that might finally force them out.

They stood, clapped a bit, and then the boxes were taken inside. For an hour or so, they were checked -- someone turned up with coffee -- and officially received, the papers counted. This was the climax (or maybe it was just the beginning?) of a popular movement to push the president out.

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While you might not have been aware of it, this had been building for a while. It had begun with Jordi Farr, who will stand at the next elections, and other opposition candidates who joined him; it became a broad movement, a united front in defence of the club. Vctor Font and Lluis Fernndez Ala came on board. Fans groups supported them. At the head of one of them, a group called "Manifest Blaugrana," was Marc Duch, with his ponytail and beard.

Together they drove the campaign on and chased signatures all over Catalonia and beyond, under the slogan: "More than a moci" ("motion"). And, somehow, they had done it too. In a time of pandemic, when people can't meet, they had managed to gather enough signatures from socis (fans who are club members) to force a vote, effectively a referendum against the president. More than enough, in fact. They'd needed only 16,521, 15% of the members. They were 4,000 over that, backed by more than a fifth of the club's membership.

A handful of the papers were not admissible, but a club statement confirmed they had received 20,867, a number that was everywhere the next day, like a winning lottery ticket. The figures were a new record -- this was twice as many signatures as had ever been gathered before (in far more favourable conditions). "Unprecedented," Font called it.

"If I was the president, I would have met the 20,000 socis," Farr said. "Honestly, Bartomeu should resign today."

Duch said: "I'd be trembling in my office and I would resign."

Bartomeu might not do that. In fact, if anyone has learnt anything about him over the past few years and the past months especially, it is that he is a survivor. Holding on is what he does, whatever the cost.


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So. The signatures have been received and counted. What happens next?

-- First, Barcelona have to participate in putting together the body that runs and oversees the process. (The "table," as it's called.) That's made up of the two first signatories on the move to propose a no-confidence motion -- Farr is one of them -- two members of the board of directors, and a representative of the Catalan football federation. They have 10 working days to do that: in other words, by Sept. 29.

-- Then the "table" has to validate the signatures, which they must do within another 10 days. That takes us to Oct. 10.

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest highlights and debate the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).

-- If there are more than 16,521 valid signatures (which there will be), Barcelona will have to set up and arrange a vote of no confidence for the board of directors. It will be a referendum that basically asks: Do you want this president and his board to be sacked, yes or no? That will have to happen within 10 working days as well. All of which takes us to November, though all these things could happen quicker.

Then what?

If two-thirds (officially 66.7%) of them are in favour, Bartomeu will have to step down with immediate effect.

And once he's gone ... ?

A commission would be put in place while presidential elections are organised and held. Given the timing, those would be held in January or February. Some of the candidates -- Toni Freixa, Joan Laporta, Farr, Font, in all likelihood someone from within the current administration -- are clear, but some are not confirmed yet.

The socis will vote against Bartomeu, won't they?

Not necessarily, and 67% is of a lot of people to convince. After all, Barca have been in this situation before, and it has not always got over the line. In 1998, only 33.5% voted to kick out Josep Nuez out (although the damage it did his presidency was decisive). In 2008, Laporta survived, but only just: 60.6% wanted him pushed out. A moci brought against Bartomeu in 2017 didn't get sufficient signatures to reach the referendum stage.

That said ... yes, you would think so now. There are already over 20,000 people who will vote against him, and it's hard to imagine him being able to mobilise sufficient support to survive, even if there will be some members who might not want to push through the no-confidence motion. Not least because there is little point trying to prop him up, as it would be only a temporary reprieve: presidential elections were set to be held on March 15 anyway and he was unable to stand, his term already over.

Why vote to keep him in for what would be barely a couple of months?

Well, then, why vote against him either? What was the point of all this? If he was going anyway, why do this now? And doesn't it create a vacuum?

Yes, it does, up to a point. But why do it? Well, because they can, which sounds flippant, but isn't.

Simply, they're doing this because it gets rid of Bartomeu faster. It could, although it is unlikely, even remove him before the next transfer window begins and probably will remove him before it ends. (Caveat alert: The consequences of all this in terms of whether he is eventually held accountable for any budgetary shortfall would depend on the general assembly in October, on the final financial figures and on the next administration, all of which remains to be seen.)

They're doing this because it means that he does not get to see out his presidency "normally," or on his terms. Because it holds him accountable, symbolically at least. Because, well, to repeat: because they can; because this is an expression, a rebellion, a statement, a taking back of power by the people, a way of exercising their rights, a sign that while there is only so much they can do, those mechanisms that allow supporters to safeguard Barcelona still stand and, even in the midst of a pandemic, can be applied. That they really do have say in the destiny of their club, that democracy is not dead yet. As the name suggests, it is a censorship motion -- and that matters. It's the chance to censor those who are not worthy of their club.

There will be trouble ahead, for sure, and the situation remains dramatic at the Camp Nou. The new administration will inherit a mess when they arrive, but for all that went wrong, for all the increased embarrassment, Thursday was a day when Barcelona -- as a club, not a board of directors -- recovered some of its dignity. And that is something to celebrate at last. Lord knows, it has taken long enough.

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Barcelona members strike back vs. Bartomeu: What does 'motion of censorship' mean, and what's next? - ESPN

What the *, Nintendo? This in-game censorship is * terrible. – EFF

While many are staying at home and escaping into virtual worlds, it's natural to discuss what's going on in the physical world. But Nintendo is shutting down those conversations with its latest Switch system update (Sep. 14, 2020) by adding new terms like COVID, coronavirus and ACAB to its censorship list for usernames, in-game messages, and search terms for in-game custom designs (but not the designs themselves).

While we understand the urge to prevent abuse and misinformation about COVID-19, censoring certain strings of characters is a blunderbuss approach unlikely to substantially improve the conversation. As an initial matter, it is easily circumvented: while our testing, shown above, confirmed that Nintendo censored coronavirus, COVID and ACAB, but does not restrict substitutes like c0vid or a.c.a.b., nor corona and virus, when written individually.

More importantly, its a bad idea, because these terms can be part of important conversations about politics or public health. Video games are not just for gaming and escapism, but are part of the fabric of our lives as a platform for political speech and expression. As the world went into pandemic lockdown, Hong Kong democracy activists took to Nintendos hit Animal Crossing to keep their pro-democracy protest going online (and Animal Crossing was banned in China shortly after). Just as many Black Lives Matter protests took to the streets, other protesters voiced their support in-game. Earlier this month, the Biden campaign introduced Animal Crossing yard signs which other players can download and place in front of their in-game home. EFF is part of this tooyou can show your support for EFF with in-game hoodies and hats.

Nevertheless, Nintendo seems uncomfortable with political speech on its platform. The Japanese Terms of Use prohibit in-game political advocacy ( or seijitekina shuchou), which led to a candidate for Japans Prime Minister canceling an in-game campaign event. But it has not expanded this blanket ban to the Terms for Nintendo of America or Nintendo of Europe.

Nintendo has the right to host the platform as it sees fit. But just because they can do this, doesnt mean they should. Nintendo needs to also recognize that it has provided a platform for political and social expression, and allow people to use words that are part of important conversations about our world, whether about the pandemic, protests against police violence, or democracy in Hong Kong.

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What the *, Nintendo? This in-game censorship is * terrible. - EFF

Trumps Partial TikTok And WeChat Ban Tip-Toes Into Chinese-Style Censorship – Forbes

A close-up shows the TikTok sharing application on a smartphone and personal pc on September 14, ... [+] 2020, in Rome, Italy. According to the statement released by Microsoft, the Chinese company ByteDance has refused to sell its US TikTok business to the US technology giant. (Photo Illustration by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Trump administrations enemies list now officially includes two apps. Friday morning, the Commerce Department released details of a partial ban on the TikTok and WeChat apps, fulfilling a Trump pledge August 6 to prevent the Chinese government from collecting and controlling the information of Americans via those Android and iOS programs.

Where the executive orders issued then about the video-clip social network TikTok and the messaging-and-transactions platform WeChat left some mystery about which transactions might be forbidden, Fridays developments make things official and specific.

Starting Sunday, Sept. 20, app stores cannot host these two apps or updates to them. That may itself goose downloads fromApples AAPL App Store and Googles GOOGL Play Store.

I do expect an uptick (no idea how much) in downloads today and tomorrow before the ban starts on Sunday, emailed Adam Blacker, vice president for insights and global alliances at Boston-based app-analytics firm Apptopia.

Internet infrastructure firms also cannot enable these apps via hosting, content-delivery, or efficient-routing deals. And other developers cant include TikTok or WeChat code in their apps.

Those additional provisions apply to WeChat Sunday but dont hit TikTok until Nov. 12, a delay that would let Oracle ORCL complete a still vaguely-defined transaction meant to ordain it as TikToks U.S. partner.

These regulations do not, however, ban you from using either app. Regulations now on the Federal Register for TikTok and WeChat specify that users can still exchange personal or business information in them.

They also dont specify that basic internet routing, such as domain-name-system lookups to connect users to sites, fall under their definitions of internet hosting services.

But the sight of the Trump administration moving even farther to regulate the internet has digital-rights advocates outragedand unsettled by how this resembles Chinas own Great Firewall online.

Were getting there, said Rebecca MacKinnon, director of Ranking Digital Rights initiative, a group hosted by the Washington think tank New America. Her forecast in a call Friday: Welcome to the Great Firewall of America.

MacKinnon, who has spent years decrying Chinas attempts to lock down information, called a government ban on one apps distribution unprecedented in a democratic society.

This certainly isnt the Great Firewall, but I think you could quite reasonably call it the first brick, wrote Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, in an email.

While the order doesnt require internet providers to block traffic to these apps, he noted that banning common measures to manage traffic at widely-used apps will make them harder to use.

American content creators are going to lose access to the audiences theyve built up, and American users are going to lose access to speech, both domestic and foreign, on these platforms, he predicted.

The ban of TikTok and WeChat announced today is an extreme measure that fundamentally undermines the foundation of the Internet, said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, senior vice president for a strong internet at the Internet Society, in an emailed statement.

Hall, MacKinnon and Sanchez all questioned the security arguments behind the Trump administrations move.

There are all kinds of ways that you could be taking action to protect American users in a way that does not bring First Amendment concerns, MacKinnon said. For example, passing effective privacy legislation could help curb the widespread collection of data by apps that then gets resold to any willing party.

(The New Yorkers Sue Halpern reported Sunday that the Trump campaign spent $4 million buying mobile data from a broker called Phunware.)

Thats a much larger risk than that posed by TikTok in particular. That appears relatively meek in its info appetites compared to WeChat and its wide range of capabilities.

Sanchez called the administrations security rationales totally unpersuasive handwaving and said it can always ban these apps from government devices if it thinks there are real risks without telling other Americans how to live their digital lives.

MacKinnon wasnt willing to trust these apps that much: I dont use TikTok, I would never put WeChat on my phone for security reasons.

Ranking Digital Rights assessments of how internet and telecom firms protect their users regularly put WeChat developer Tencent near the bottom. There is no evidence of Tencent standing up to the government, she said.

The Internet Societys Hall also noted the direct effects of cutting WeChat and TikTok users off from bug fixes.

This ban is dangerous if only for the security vulnerabilities that will be created for American users, Hall said. Given that apps upgrades and patches will be unavailable from Sunday onwards, this poses significant security concerns.

Since the ban doesnt affect either companys web site, both could also offer direct downloads of their apps to Android users. Google, in distinct contrast to Apples tight control, lets users sideload apps outside of its app storebut going that route risksleaving an Android phone open to malware.

Both the Commerce Departments announcement and the enabling regulations allow for further steps by the administration to police use of these apps.

Worry about that, advised Catos Sanchez: I think theres a good case that what the Commerce Department is ordering already exceeds the limits of statutory authority as well, so I dont think we can be too sure what extraordinary powers this administration might suddenly discover it enjoys.

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Trumps Partial TikTok And WeChat Ban Tip-Toes Into Chinese-Style Censorship - Forbes

Judd Apatow Criticizes Hollywood’s Censorship For International Market: China Has Bought Our Silence With Their Money – Deadline

According to Judd Apatow, Hollywoods desire to bring home major box office wins in China and Saudi Arabia comes at the cost of meaningful and truthful content.

The director, comedian and producer sat down with MSNBCs Ari Melber to talk comedy and the industrys content censorship when catering to international markets. During the Mavericks with Ari Melber conversation, The King of Staten Island helmer said that people should turn their attention to the corporate type of censorship that happens to films when presented in content-strict countries including China, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

A lot of these giant corporate entities have business with countries around the world, Saudi Arabia or China, and theyre just not going to criticize them and theyre not going to let their shows criticize them or theyre not going to air documentaries that go deep into truthful areas because they make so much money, Apatow told the MSNBC host.

Apatow added that such censorship completely shut(s) down critical content about important stories including those spotlighting human rights issues in aforementioned countries. He went on to single out China, noting that the countrys ability to block off investigative documentaries and films criticizing the nation and its leadership warrants concern.

He said that larger content corporations, who may care more about making money, are more likely to reject stories about human rights abuses in China, such as those regarding Muslim concentration camps, in the pitch process.

No one would buy the pitch, he said. Instead of us doing business with China and that leading to China being more free, what has happened is that China has bought our silence with their money.

The director voiced the need for movies that shine a light on human rights issues, challenge the actions of elected officials and inform the worldwide audience. Without them, the entertainment market may face consequences far greater than box office losses, he said.

What is a result of that is that we never wake up our country or the world, through art or satire, that people are being mistreated in our country or other countries and thats very dangerous, he said.

Apatows comments come after Disneys Mulan faced backlash for filming in the Xinjiang province, where Uighur Muslims have been detained in mass internment camps. U.S. Senator Josh Hawley accused Disneys movie of whitewashing the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities during the production of Mulan.

Watch the full clip above.

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Judd Apatow Criticizes Hollywood's Censorship For International Market: China Has Bought Our Silence With Their Money - Deadline

Bangladesh in the Shadow of Censorship The Diplomat – The Diplomat


Independent Bangladesh has witnessed both military rule and the establishment of democratic institutions; throughout, the press have continued to suffer at the hands of not only various censorship laws, but also a number of sedition and criminal libel laws. With increasing use of social media in the recent decade, one of the most draconian laws, the Digital Security Act 2018, allows for conducting searches and arresting individuals without a warrant, and criminalizes various forms of speech.

Bangladesh now ranks 151st among 180 countries, with the lowest score for press freedom among all South Asian countries, according to Reporters without Borders (RSF). In the two years since the Digital Security Act was passed, Bangladesh has dropped five places.

In the article, we reflect on how freedom of speech in Bangladesh has evolved since the countrys birth.

Liberation and the Ensuing Chaos

After Bangladeshs brutal fight for independence from Pakistan in 1971, the country witnessed a period of intense upheaval as it rose from the ashes of war. The countrys constitution, designed in 1972, upheld secular ideals. However, with the assassination of the countrys founding father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 1975, secularism slowly started eroding. A significant development can be noted in the fact that the phrase Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate) was introduced into the constitution during Ziaur Rahmans era, indicating Islams superiority over other religions.

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Also while Rahman was in power, the country saw strict rules imposed on the press. Naeem Mohaiemen, a political analyst, writes that it became an offense in that period to criticize the martial law in any way. Press reports about attacks on journalists were focused on non-state actors, he writes further.

In 1982, General Hussain Muhammad Ershad rose to power through a bloodless coup. His regime had a troubled relationship with the press, as observed by Mohaiemen and many others who lived through that period.

His era was marked by a continuous cat and mouse game between the press and the regime, with newspapers and magazines getting censured for reports, and then immediately committing the same offense. The period was also marked by the use of coded signals in the press (e.g., romance stories that were actually about a corruption scandal) as well as a thriving parallel press of underground leaflets and pamphlets, writes Mohaiemen.

One journalistic platform, Ittehad, was banned shortly after publishing the first criticism about the regime.

The decade following Ershads rise saw the frequent usage of issuing Press Advice to outlets, guiding them about what not to print. It was during his regime that Islam was formally introduced as the state religion of Bangladesh, setting a stage for extremism to exercise its influence (notably, through charges of blasphemy) in the coming years. Veteran journalist Syed Badrul Ahsan writes, General Hussein Muhammad Ershad did lasting damage to the Bangladesh idea through imposing the concept of a state religion.

As the regimes grip on dissent was slowly weakening, martial law was re-imposed in 1985 following political protests. The government became careful about international publications. In 1986, a London-based Bengali weekly, Janomat, was banned, among other publications like The Hindu from India. We see from Mohaiemens analysis how seven journalists were arrested during that time under the 1974 Special Powers Act. After a state of emergency was declared in November 1987, a martial law regulation ordered that reports opposing the upcoming elections and covering the protests remain prohibited. In 1988, a national press ban on reporting about election violence (which claimed at least 13 lives, as seen from Mohaiemens analysis) was declared. Censorship coupled with a turbulent political climate continued until the regime fell owing to a pro-democracy mass uprising backed by students and members of civil society, among others who sought democracy in December 1990.

Turbulence and Democracy

Get first-read access to major articles yet to be released, as well as links to thought-provoking commentaries and in-depth articles from our Asia-Pacific correspondents.

With the advent of democracy in the political arena of Bangladesh in 1991, power mostly alternated between the two political parties the Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Both leaders of the parties had a similar approach toward media censorship; the only difference lay in the subjects that were monitored more heavily, which were simultaneously used to target critical voices.

BNP leader Khaleda Zia was the first democratically appointed prime minister of the nation; it was during her rule that blasphemy cases and politics of religion skyrocketed. Possibly one of the most infamous cases in the history of independent Bangladesh was that of Taslima Nasreen. In 1993, in an increasingly Muslim (rather than secular) Bangladesh, Nasreen published her novel titled Lajja (or Shame) set in the mise-en-scene of the anti-Hindu riots in the country as a consequence of the Babri Masjid demolition the year before. The government immediately banned the book. What aggravated the situation was a gravely misquoted interview in The Statesman newspaper of India, where, as Nasreen later clarified, her call for a reassessment of Shariah was incorrectly stated as the need to revise the Quran to ensure womens rights. Although there had been noteworthy blasphemy cases in the past, Nasreens indictment roused Islamists in the country in a whole new way, allowing groups such as Touhidi Janata Jamat to come to the national limelight. Lawsuits, death threats, a bounty announced on Nasreens head in Sylhet forced her to ultimately flee into exile. In the years to come, debates surrounding her surfaced a number of times, especially when new books were published, or because of any statement she might have passed that did not go well with religious fundamentalists.

Another topic that Awami League and BNP leaders regularly engaged in conflict over involved ownership of the political legacy of the independence war. During the BNPs regime, creative expressions and works of art that popularized the role of Sheikh Mujib in the independence struggle were banned, such as Tanvir Mokammels documentary Sreeti Ekattor (Remembrance of 1971) and Tareque Masuds Muktir Gaan (Song of Freedom).

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Similarly, conversations involving India became one particularly sensitive issue. As learned from a senior newspaper editor of the time, all licensed publications had to agree to a set of conditions, including one that instructed to not publish any news that could potentially harm relations with national allies. The ICT Act, which came into effect in 2006, was aimed to monitor information on online platforms and regulate e-commerce; the law grew to impose more serious effects in later years when social media starts to play a greater role in the lives of people.

As tensions between the Awami League and BNP flared, a caretaker government was installed for a brief period between 2007 and 2008. Local media played a big role in ending the tenure of the military during these years, defying censorship laws and not succumbing to the threats or cajoling by the authorities. Regardless, journalists during this time faced immense difficulties and were routinely picked up for interrogation. One such case involved Forum, a monthly magazine published by the countrys largest circulating English newspaper The Daily Star. In one of its issues, a cover story titled Prince of Bogra elaborated on the involvement of intelligence agencies with militant Islamist groups during the BNP era. Tasneem Khalil, the author of the report, was abducted and allegedly tortured while in custody, according to reports by Human Rights Watch (HRW). As he was also involved with international media, Khalils case caused a mass outcry globally, which finally allowed for his release. He eventually fled into exile in Sweden as a political refugee, from where he now runs an independent investigative journalism news platform called Netra News. Criticism was also stirred globally as censorship extended to international media; issues of the Economist magazine containing negative reports about the regime entered Dhaka with the relevant pages torn out.

As elections drew near, the military regime started to become increasingly unsteady, and religion once again entered the political periphery of the country. Attacks were launched on writers and students for any alleged blasphemous reference, such as when Islami Chatra Shibir threatened members of the group Udichi for staging the drama Mandar at Rajshahi University. Jamaat e Islami also announced its manifesto during this time, which included a section calling for a blasphemy law. However, the events backfired, leading to a large anti-Islamist vote bloc to emerge during the national polls.

The Rise of a Crackdown on Dissent

Journalists expected the 2009 return to democracy to be accompanied with new appreciation for the press, whose voices had made the [caretaker governments] tenure increasingly difficult. But perversely, government interference has now increased to the point that by 2012 there are regular reports of actions against a blog, blogger, or even Facebook accounts, writes Mohaiemen. He further explores how press freedoms landscape has been dotted with censorship from the start of the 2010s. Aside from press freedom, this was a time when social media and new films and exhibitions also came under the watchful gaze of censorship.

Fast forward to 2013, and the country saw a spate of assaults against writers, artists, and publishers by the forces of Islamic extremism. That year was tied to a raw nerve in Bangladeshs history the liberation war of 1971. The country came alive with protests demanding the capital punishment of an influential war criminal, Abdul Quader Mollah. A blogger and one of the organizers of the protests, Ahmed Rajib Haider was hacked to death outside his house during the protests, allegedly because he was an atheist. A group named Hefazat-e-Islam came into the spotlight during that period as it demanded the government enact blasphemy laws against atheist bloggers. It rose to prominence by harnessing the extremist Islamic ideals of its followers.

In 2015, a hit-list containing 84 names was circulated on the internet by a militant group called Ansar Bangla. Following a series of attacks and killings (the murder of Avijit Roy at the national bookfair a particularly horrific episode of the series), international writers including Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood urged the government to take stringent measures to ensure a space for free thinking. With the rise of a crackdown on dissent by machete-wielding extremists, it was upon the writers to ensure their own safety. After all, the Information and Communications Technology Act 2006 (amended in 2013) could be used to prosecute anyone who publishes anything on or offline that hurts religious sentiment or prejudices the image of the state, as Lit Hub noted.

As killings relatively abated and more traditional censorship grew, a hostile climate for freethinking rolled in over the years. Shahidul Alams arrest in 2018 for covering the road safety movement and speaking to Al Jazeera about what he witnessed on the ground garnered relentless criticism internationally. In the same year, the Digital Security Act came into play.

Shahidul Alams niece, Sofia Karim, an activist and architect who staunchly advocated for his release back in 2018, said:

My uncle (who always spoke out regardless of which party was in power) is one of countless citizens targeted for what should be part and parcel of every democracy: the right to criticize those who rule us through art, satire, reportage, music, poetry and human expression in all its forms. When these collapse, the void is filled with a culture of fear driven by power that operates without checks and balances. Bangladesh was created as a democracy, through pain, courage and sacrifice on the part of the people. To dismantle that is a betrayal. Repression, arbitrary arrests, torture, enforced disappearances, and extra judicial killings should not occur in Bangladesh, under this government or any other. The country deserves better.

Since the Digital Security Act was passed, 1,000 cases have been filed under the law. According to Odhikar, a Bangladeshi human rights monitor, it has been used largely by politicians and businessmen.

The latest controversy surrounding the act came as Shafiqul Islam Kajol, a photo-journalist, was arrested under the act, 53 days after his mysterious disappearance on March 10 this year. Ever since his arrest, hashtags like #freekajol and #RepealDSA have gone viral. An upsurge has also been noted in cases surrounding this act during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dhaka Tribune reports that 327 cases were filed under the Digital Security Act in the first three months of this year with the Cyber Crime Tribunal. Odhikar further claims that 59 journalists have been harassed for their work in the first three months of 2020.

A journalist, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Diplomat, We have to think twice before writing about some influential figure and alter our language. And when we are dealing with sensitive assignments, we have to be extra-alert in terms of physical safety and legal aspects. My career has been overshadowed by the hands of censorship.

Azeez Intizar and Sabrina Majed are freelance journalists focusing on South Asia.

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Bangladesh in the Shadow of Censorship The Diplomat - The Diplomat

Why is the government pushing unprecedented online censorship? – Telegraph.co.uk

Our governments proposals describe disinformation as harmful, and will make content which has been disputed by reputable fact-checking services less visible to users, forcing companies to promote authoritative news sources. The Chinese Government has pushed online influencers to counter disinformation, holding education sessions like the Responsibility Forum for Online Personalities; our government urges Adult [internet] users [to] act in an acceptable manner, which contradicts its claim that the regulator will not be responsible for policing truth and accuracy online.

In support of the plans, the government quotes studies that lack proper evidence. One claims to have uncovered organised social media manipulation campaigns in 48 countries. But its claims about the UK were generally unfalsifiable, and implied that North Koreans, allowed virtually no internet access, were less vulnerable to online manipulation.

Britons faced pro-government or party messages [and] attacks on the opposition, without evidence or explanation why pro-government or party messages and attacks on the opposition do not simply mean robust democratic debate. Unlike the UK, the people of Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe did not suffer trolling or harassment online. Such is the evidence the government has compiled to justify interventions against disinformation.

Many voters who backed the government to get Brexit done will also be surprised to see it copying the EUs new digital censorship. The EUs 2018 Code of Practice on Disinformation also requires fact checkers to identify authoritative content. Some online disinformation, like various conspiracy theories, is clearly harmful, but as Judge Louis Brandeis said: If there be time to expose through discussion, the falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.

Sadly, the governments plans will even fail in their aim of making the UK the best place to start an online business. Given the resources firms will need to comply with the new regulations, the government will simply entrench the US tech giants monopoly. The authors of the plans believe they will create more tolerance and help rid the internet of hate, but in reality will achieve the opposite, giving conspiracy theorists and hate-merchants the glamour of being banned by the state.

Later this year, the Free Speech Union will propose the outline of simplified legislation to deal with genuine harms, without censoring our freedom of speech. But the Governments plans are an authoritarian threat to our freedom of speech. They would prove a nasty surprise to most internet users and should never be put into effect.

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Why is the government pushing unprecedented online censorship? - Telegraph.co.uk

New Alliance to Track and Fight Censoring of Conservatives – CBN News

Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google may deny it, but its becoming obvious to many that conservatives are facing censorship. Now, though,the conservative Media Research Center(MRC) has announced a new alliance thats going to fight the Big Tech companies over this censoring of conservative speech, websites and people, all the way up to the president, who recently saw even his input knocked off the web.

If they can do it to the president of the United States, they can do it to anyone. And in fact, thats exactly whats happening, said MRCs Brent Bozell.

This new effort, Free Speech America, will track and report this censoring on its website CensorTrack.org. Across the top of that websites opening page is a video that features many snippets of famous Americans talking about this trend.

Both Donald & Donald Jr. have been Targeted

It includes Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz saying, Mother Teresa is now deemed hate speech. Is this hate speech?

If youre religious, if youre pro-life, if youre pro-Second Amendment, you watch your metrics and you watch them get destroyed, says Donald Trump Jr. in the same video, speaking of how the tech giants will strip conservatives viewership and make their sites harder to find.

Even the president of the United States has been targeted, Bozell says in the video. And if he isnt safe online, how can you be?

Working All the Levers of Power

The new alliance will work in the halls of power for change with lawmakers like Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, who has also been censored by Big Tech social media for a pro-life ad her last senatorial campaign released.

She said of these companies,We are no longer giving them the benefit of the doubt; what we are doing is holding them to account.

Who do the social media giants hit the worst?

STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE FREE CBN NEWS APPClick Here Get the App with Special Alerts on Breaking News and Top Stories

Theyre Definitely Not Pro Pro-Life

Abortion is Ground Zero for the Far Left, and the Right to Life movement has no home in Silicon Valley, Bozell stated. The pro-life movement couldnt advertise the Right to Life March.

That march happens to be the worlds largest annual demonstration.

One voice just censored in recent days by Facebook said his groups $4 million ad campaign to keep womens sports free of transgendered men, had been censored, and not because its ads werent factual.

Even if Youre Factual, You May be Censored for Missing Context

American Principles Projects Jon Schweppe said of those at Facebook,They had been removing ads for being fact-checked to false or mostly false. A new rating that they created was missing contextwhatever that means.

These social media juggernauts also actively use their power to aid the Left-wing. One critic Dr. Robert Epstein -- pointed to what Facebooks Mark Zuckerberg might well deliver for Joe Biden on Election Day: An additional 450,000 votes that day just by sending out Go Vote reminders just to people who lean Left.

Maybe Take em to Court?

Attorney Kelly Shackelford of First Liberty Institute sees one effort on the part of the new alliance might be possibly steering victims to come down hard on these tech giants with crushing lawsuits.All it takes is an Attorney General in a number of these states, said Shackelford. And there are fines per incident per citizen. And so, this could be a huge way to really get them under control.

Speaking of the social media giants efforts to squelch the Right, Bozell warned, When you have this kind of censorship, you really are threatening the democratic process in this country.

And thats why we need conservative individuals and organizations to reach out to us and let us know when theyve encountered problems with tech companies, said MRC Vice PresidentDan Gainor, wholl be working with CensorTrack.org.

Bozell asserted the censorship is so widespread it will take years, maybe decades to wage this war with the tech giants.

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New Alliance to Track and Fight Censoring of Conservatives - CBN News

Not Content to Censor Conservatives, Zuckerberg Now Seeks to Meddle in Election – National Legal and Policy Center

It didnt take long afterMark Zuckerberg proclaimed thatfree speech would reign onFacebook and specifically that political candidates would not have their posts removed or altered ahead of the 2020 elections for him to renege.

The companyannounced earlier this month it would ban any new political ads during the week leading up to the Nov. 3rd election. But Facebook has continued its censorship throughout the year, despite Zuckerbergs declaration last fall.

And Zuckerberg seems more-than-prepared to meddle in the election and its results before, during, and after the results come in. While he does not appear to support any political candidates or PACs this cycle (his name doesnt show up in campaign finance reports, unlike in the past), he and the Silicon Valley leftists in his employ wield Facebooks potent platform to amplify messages they want to give wider attention to, and mute the ones they dont. Thats far more powerful than any amount of campaign contributions.

Its near impossible to compile an exhaustive list of censorship examples in light of Zuckerberg famouslysaying that social media platforms shouldnt be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online, and specifically that politicians shouldnt be censored because of their public positions. But the stakes over the election have heightened with the Lefts obsession to rid the White House of Donald Trump, much of which has been exposed in reporting and treatment of the two major news developments of 2020: COVID-19 and widespread riots following alleged systemic racism incidents in which black suspects have died in confrontations with police.

Here are a few examples of Facebook and its monitors censoring messages by conservatives:

Those are just a handful of examples.

But its not even debatable that Facebooks moderation practices are in the grip of leftists. Thanks to whistleblowers who captured colleagues on video, Project Veritas revealed the companys conduct in their own words. One moderatorsaid, If someone is wearing a MAGA hat, I am going to delete them for terrorism and that I think we are all doing that. Another, asked if she deleted Republican posts, replied, Yes! I dont give no f*cks, Ill delete it.

As for Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, even though they show no campaign contributions, that doesnt mean they are staying on the sidelines for November. The coupledonated $300 million to a pair of nonprofit groups to promote safe voting.

The Center for Tech and Civic Life will receive $250 million which it says it will distribute to local election jurisdictions for staffing, training and equipment, Business Insider reported. The Center for Election Innovation and Research will receive the remaining $50 million, which will be spent on helping local jurisdictions secure their voting data.

Unsurprisingly, the groups sit on the left side of the political spectrum. CTCLis funded by several liberal-leaning foundations, and according to the Capital Research Center, The organization pushes for left-of-center voting policies and election administration and it has a wide reach into local elections offices across the nation.

CTCL is already being accused of violating Wisconsin election laws due to its involvement, and is thetarget of a lawsuit.

This initiative by CTCL is clearly designed to provide a boost in registered voters, limited only to traditional leftist strongholds, in a critical swing state that is likely to determine the outcome of the presidential election on November 3, 2020, said a representative for the plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Facebook is also trying torecruit more poll workers for the election. Should voters be concerned about the handling of their ballots on November 3rd?

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Not Content to Censor Conservatives, Zuckerberg Now Seeks to Meddle in Election - National Legal and Policy Center

Reading the Evolution of Censorship and Sedition in India – The Wire

Censorship, usually understood as repressive state power, has often been considered a theoretically dull subject even if a politically vital one.

Scholars saw their task as ensuring that such activity does not pass without historical accounting and would, therefore, catalogue the instances, discern motivations and assess the implications of censorship.

But, as three recent books on India demonstrate, the state is no longer the sole agent engaged in censorial activity. Demands for censorship, as well as practices of censorship, come from and are practised in all realms of society. Censorship then is often a collaborative venture between the state and society.

This shift in understanding from censorship as a unilateral exercise of coercive and monolithic state power to its more complex, motivated and collaborative dimension has political implications. For, if the traditional liberal concern was to protect the individual from the state, an additional question is now being posed: how does one respond when the clamour for censorship comes from the public groups that utilise a plethora of laws, and at times resort to vigilante action to achieve their aims?

If one is to diagnose contemporary democracy, and how the postcolonial present has been shaped by an infrastructure of colonial law and regulation, then expanding our understanding of the modalities and varieties of contemporary censorship is an urgent matter.

Watch | For Those Charged With Sedition, the Process Itself Is the Punishment

Devika SethiWar over Words: Censorship in India, 1930-1960Cambridge University Press (2019)

All three authors have examined the legacy of colonial censorship, which Devika Sethi, a historian, notes demarcated three broad categories: sedition (political speech regarded as illegitimate), obscenity (the transgression of perceived moral norms) and hate literature (incitement to communal or ethnic disharmony).

Sethis central concerns are, topically, an interest in the long history of censoring texts that have caused religious hurt, and practically, the informalization of censorship, that is, a shift from regulation to persuasion, incentives and collaboration. She examines the periods immediately preceding and succeeding independence (1930-1960) to assess the continuities and changes from the colonial to the post-colonial state.

While the overarching themes of all three books are similar, Anushka Singh fleshes out the category of sedition, whereas Malvika Maheswaris focus is on the offence caused by artists. She, therefore, concentrates on obscenity and hate literature. Singh and Maheswari, both political scientists, bring us up to contemporary events, trying to explain how charges of sedition, and the alacrity with which offence is taken, have become a pervasive feature of our times. All three writers underscore how individuals and groups use various laws to press the state into action.

Sethi examines the long history of individual and religious associations petitioning the colonial government, often successfully, to prohibit publications offensive to religious sensibilities. She notes that success often depended on the political context and that for the colonial authorities, considerations of public order usually trumped concerns over the restriction of free speech. The colonial state also sought co-operation and collaboration from its colonial subjects; in particular, from the Indian nationalist press during the second world war years.

Sethi details a variety of techniques through which the nationalist press was co-opted into exercising voluntary censorship as state officials sought to enlist them against a purported common enemy. After independence, this informalisation, Sethi argues, continued although the motivations may have changed. Informalisation was now, in part, a response to the conundrums of censorship faced by the Congress government.

Indian nationalists suffering from colonial censorship, had developed a commitment to free speech. Once in government, however, they faced the problems of hate speech, communalist violence and ideological challenges from both the right and the left. While attempts during the constituent assembly debates to add a new sedition law were defeated, additional restrictions on speech and expression were realised with the passing of the first constitutional amendment in 1951.

Also read: Book Review: Chronicling the (Mis)use of Sedition Law in India

Sethi argues that the focus on constitutional legality obscures the informal mechanisms of control that were elaborated and favoured in the initial post-independence years and which continued through the first decade of independence. That is, while the first amendment to the Indian constitution imposed further restrictions on free speech, Nehrus reluctance to institute formal censorship meant that the government did not initially resort to these new restrictions but preferred to use extra-legal means of controlling the press.

The informalization of censorship was consolidated by a shared outlook (the post-independence Nehruvian consensus) of the major press barons and encouraged by their developing business interests, which relied on state patronage, and so ensured criticism was further muted.

Anushka SinghSedition in Liberal DemocraciesOUP India (2018)

In Sedition in Liberal Democracies, Anushka Singh, explores the tension in liberal democracies between free speech commitments and imperatives of state security through a focus on sedition. Although Singhs book has a comparative dimension, in that she assesses the status of sedition laws in India against developments in other liberal democracies such as the US, the UK and Australia, and a theoretical interest in speech act theory, which she uses to determine if Indian jurisprudence on sedition can be considered coherent, the principal value of the book is its historical delineation of sedition. Singh provides a useful account of the law, introduced in 1870 as section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, and its subsequent additions and amendments, which have expanded the scope and manner of use, in both the colonial and post-colonial periods.

Unsurprisingly, its initial use and subsequent expansion was by the colonial authorities against the nationalist press and politicians, most notably, with the charges against Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who was tried on three separate occasions, in 1897, 1908 and 1916. Tilak contested the charges from within the law by pleading that his statements did not legally amount to sedition. He was convicted on the first two occasions but on the third set of charges in 1916, his defence lawyer, one M.A. Jinnah, succeeded in obtaining an acquittal.

Trials against nationalists only furthered discontent with the sedition law and strengthened their commitment to free speech. To be charged became a badge of ones patriotism and honour. The transvaluation of sedition, however, was most forcefully brought about by Mahatma Gandhi who, when charged as a result of the civil disobedience campaign of 1922, accepted that, within the terms of the law, he was guilty. Gandhi, however, made a larger argument against the law in toto, stating that it was designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen. Noting that Indian patriots had been convicted under it, he said, I consider it a privilege, therefore, to be charged under that section.

Despite the anti-colonial nationalist critique, attempts were made, during the constituent assembly debates, to include sedition as a constitutional limitation on fundamental rights. However, this was unacceptable to many nationalists who saw it as criminalising legitimate dissent and successfully defeated its inclusion. Nevertheless, anxieties about the security of the state ensured that Section 124-A was retained in the penal code. This, Singh suggests, was a contradiction that was subsequently exacerbated by executive actions, which, emphasising state security, brought actions against opponents from the left and the right. The courts, however, emphasising constitutional freedoms reasserted the scope of free speech.

The first constitutional amendment of 1951 can be seen as an attempt to limit the judiciarys strong commitment to freedom of expression by expanding the grounds on which to restrict speech while simultaneously continuing to eschew sedition as a constitutional offence. The first amendments inclusion of public order, in particular, opened up an avenue for emphasising considerations of state security and revived the validity of sedition as a category.

Also read: A Short Summary of the Law of Sedition in India

But the vexed question of the constitutionality of sedition continued until the Kedar Nath Singh judgment of 1962 where the Supreme Court, whilst allowing for dissent, and narrowing the scope of sedition, nonetheless upheld it as constitutionally valid through a public order rationale. The balance in favour of state security over freedom of expression was further consolidated by the 16th constitutional amendment of 1963, which added that the sovereignty and integrity of India be considered in assessing political speech.

These developments were indicative of the shift away from anti-colonial nationalisms positive evaluation of seditious speech. The road towards interpreting critical comments as anti-national and therefore, subject to sedition charges was, despite judicial ring-fencing, opened. It was a road that gradually widened over the decades, and with the slew of anti-terror laws in the 1990s, led to the increasingly casual use of sedition charges.

As the scope of nationalism has been narrowed by a majoritarian Hindu religiosity, charges of sedition have proliferated and become commonplace. While the higher judiciary, Singh notes, has tried to impose limits of what constitutes sedition, this is often ignored by the executive branches of government, whose political discourse increasingly marks dissent, and difference as seditious.

It, is, especially the police and the lower judiciarys low threshold for what is considered anti-national and seditious that has meant the charge has had profound consequences for individuals, as well as the political causes they espouse, leading to an effective criminalisation of political activity. Singhs case studies detail some of the many, diverse and bewildering arrays of persons and organizations who have been charged in recent years, which under the present dispensation can only continue to expand.

Singh compares the continued existence of Indias sedition laws with other liberal democracies, which, she notes, have repealed or rarely use sedition laws. Prosecutions based on the expression of dissenting political opinions is now regarded as embarrassing. Sedition is considered a decidedly archaic19th century provision. However, she notes these western liberal democracies have instead resorted to anti-terror legislation to curtail speech. But if the argument is to replace sedition with anti-terror legislation then one should pause for sedition has the advantage of highlighting the political nature of the offence, as Gandhi so clearly recognised.

Malvika MaheshwariArt Attacks: Violence and Offence-Taking in IndiaOxford University Press (2018)

The charge of terror on the other hand depoliticises. Rather than dispensing with sedition and resorting to anti-terror legislation then, perhaps sedition ought to be retained albeit it needs to be re-defined and its scope and usage restricted. Only then can political differences be recuperated and the process of decoupling, what is considered as anti-nationalism from sedition, begin. The present conflation of the political with the national has reduced the scope of genuine democratic politics, from one where disagreement, dissent and difference are no longer held as values but are taken as signs of subversion, betrayal and foreignness.

Maheswaris book investigates the politics of offence, of offence perceived to moral norms and religious sensibilities by artistic representations. Here, colonial laws against obscenity and harm to religious sentiments are mobilised by censorial publics and Maheswaris focus is on the motivations, politics and responses to these attacks on artists.

She argues that protests against Rushdies Satanic Verses (1988) and the murder of the playwright Safdar Hashmi (1989) marked the moment when violent politics and demands on regulating speech led to a transformation in the Indian state from the privileging of freedom of expression to the privileging of offended sentiments.

By the 1990s, the successful hounding of the artist M.F. Hussain by Hindu nationalists was indicative of this sea-change. Yet she does not rehearse an account of the rise and fall of liberal-secularism, the Nehruvian consensus and the modern state by simply and exclusively pointing to the machinations of power politics linked to a majoritarian religiosity.

While these factors are undoubtedly important in her analysis, she is also attentive to how such a framing conveniently constructs a binary of liberal-secular civility and reason against religious irrationalism and violence. She argues that rather than placing these as exterior and external, and hence aberrations, they are better understood as emerging from within, from the multifarious and at times conflictual aspects of both liberalism, on the one hand, and democracy, on the other.

Violence against artists should not be regarded as aberrations against democracy in India, she says, but its very condition. Within liberalism, the commitment to individual free speech can be countered by equally liberal principles of equal respect, dignity and public order as enshrined in the law. Maheswari investigates the motivations of those who employ the language of the law to register cases and organise protests and argues that their primary motivation is not only to realise personal ambitions but to gain the recognition and respect that a liberal-democratic polity ought to afford but often denies them.

Perhaps most interesting in her account is why artists became the focus of ire since the 1980s. She suggests that they mark a particular figure within one strand of liberalism of the self-actualising, creative individual the ideal citizen in one imaginary of progressive liberal-secular modernity. Noting that whilst cases had been brought against them in earlier decades, the judiciary tended to treat artists as ideal citizen-subjects and did not, therefore, subject them to the same constraints imposed on other members of society.

Also read: How Bal Gangadhar Tilaks 1897 Trial Marked the Criminalisation of Dissent

It is this unequal and protected status, she suggests, that only further encouraged mobilisations against artists. Protestors deployed laws on obscenity and harming religious sentiments to bring cases against them and resorted to violence if state officials were reluctant or the judiciary disappointed them. Vigilante violence can then be understood as upholding certain perceived moral norms that the law failed to uphold, and is consequently regarded as legitimate in the eyes of the perpetrators.

As a political scientist, Maheswaris methodological emphasis is on the individual and through her micro-case studies she examines the personal motivations, forms of self-interest and competitive politics of claim-making, that is, the competition to hold a monopoly on outrage in mobilising agitations and attacks. Whilst valuable and important, this emphasis on instrumental politics tends analytically to neglect the role of emotion and sentiment.

Taken together, these three books excavate, and highlight, the tensions within a liberal political order. Liberalism has always hedged its promises of freedom and rights with constraints and limitations. As the latter have increased, the scope of freedom seems narrow and precarious. But the solution cannot simply be a politically innocent call for the return of liberal principles, one that imagines that censorship can end within a progressive polity backed by state power.

On the contrary, a pragmatic recognition that censorship is, and will always, be exercised has to be acknowledged. The task, then, is to produce a new infrastructure of censorship, one that recognises that there are limits to expression while at the same time pushing rights of expression to its limits. Crucial to this is the continual reassessment of these laws and the introduction of mechanisms that reduce the ease with which the current laws are used to make accusations and register cases.

This ease of use has meant adversarial legal action has replaced social practices of debate, disagreement and the scope for mutual respect, review and contrition. The review and repeal of colonial laws that invite and incite accusatory practices laws that intensify conflict rather than redress injustice could be the start of a new conception of the relations of speech, dissent, harm and at the same time an acknowledgement of social and political differences.

Asad Ahmed is social-cultural anthropologist who works on the law, language and colonialism. He has taught at various North American universities including Harvard.

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Reading the Evolution of Censorship and Sedition in India - The Wire

China’s Influence on the Global Human Rights System – Human Rights Watch

Is the Chinese governments greater engagement with international institutions a gain for the global human rights system? A close examination of its interactions with United Nations human rights mechanisms, pursuit of rights-free development, and threats to the freedom of expression worldwide suggests it is not. At the United Nations, Chinese authorities are trying to rewrite norms and manipulate existing procedures not only to minimize scrutiny of the Chinese governments conduct, but also to achieve the same for all governments. Emerging norms on respecting human rights in development could have informed the Chinese governments approach to the Belt and Road Initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and national development banks, but they have not. Chinese authorities now extend domestic censorship to communities around the work, ranging from academia to diaspora communities to global businesses.

This paper details the ways Chinese authorities seekto shape norms and practices globally, and sets out steps governments and institutions can take to reverse these trends, including forming multilateral, multi-year coalitions to serve as a counterweight to Chinese government influence. Academic institutions should not just pursue better disclosure policies about interactions with Chinese government actors, they should also urgently prioritize the academic freedom of students and scholars from and of China. Companies have human rights obligations and should reject censorship.

Equally important, strategies to reject the Chinese governments threats to human rights should not penalize people from across China or of Chinese descent around the world, and securing human rights gains inside China should be a priority. The paper argues that many actors failure to take these and other steps allows Chinese authorities to further erode the existing universal human rights system and to enjoy a growing sense of impunity.

In recent years, the Chinese government has become considerably more active in a wide range of United Nations and other multilateral institutions, including in the global human rights system. It has ratified several core U.N. human rights treaties,[1]served as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC), and seconded Chinese diplomats to positions within the U.N. human rights system. China has launched a number of initiatives that can affect human rights: It has created the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) under the mantra of promoting economic development, and it has become a significant global actor in social media platforms and academia.

This new activism on issues from economics to information by one of the most consequential actors in the international system, if underpinned by a serious (albeit unlikely) commitment among senior Chinese leaders to uphold human rights, could have been transformative. But the opposite has happened.[2] Particularly under President Xi Jinpings leadership,the Chinese government does not merely seek to neutralize U.N. human rights mechanisms scrutiny of China, it also aspires to neutralize the ability of that system to hold any government accountable for serious human rights violations.[3] Increasingly Beijing pursues rights-free development worldwide, and tries to exploit the openness of institutions in democracies to impose its world view and silence its critics.

It is crucial particularly for people who live in democracies and enjoy the rights to political participation, an independent judiciary, a free media, and other functioning institutions to recall why the international human rights system exists. Quite simply, it is because often states fail to protect and violate human rights, particularly in countries that lack systems for redress and accountability. People need to appeal to institutions beyond their governments immediate control.

Beijing is no longer content simply denying people accountability inside China: It now seeks to bolster other countries ability to do so even in the international bodies designed to deliver some semblance of justice internationally when it is blocked domestically.[4] Within academia and journalism, the Chinese Communist Party seeks not only to deny the ability to conduct research or report from inside China, it increasingly seeks to do so at universities and publications around the world, punishing those who study or write on sensitive topics. The rights-free development the state has sanctioned inside China is now a foreign policy tool being deployed around the world.

Beijings resistance to complying with global public health needs and institutions in the COVID-19 crisis,[5] and its blatant violation of international law with respect to Hong Kong,[6] should not be seen as anomalies. They are clear and concerning examples of the consequences for people worldwide not only of a Chinese government disdainful of international human rights obligations but, increasingly, also seeking to rewrite those rules in ways that may affect the exercise of human rights around much of the world. Chinese authorities fear that the exercise of these rights abroad can directly threaten the partys hold on power, whether through criticism of the party itself or as a result of holding Beijing accountable under established human rights commitments.

In June, Human Rights Council member states adopted Chinas proposed resolution on mutually beneficial cooperation by avoteof 23-16, with eight abstentions.[7] This vote capped a two-year effort that is indicative of Beijings goals and tactics of slowly undermining norms through established procedures and rhetoric, which have had significant consequences on accountability for human rights violations. The effort became visible in 2018 when the Chinese government proposed what is now known as its win-win resolution,[8] which set out to replace the idea of holding states accountable with a commitment to dialogue, and which omitted a role for independent civil society in HRC proceedings. When it was introduced, some member states expressed concern at its contents. Beijing made minor improvements and, along with the perception at the time that the resolution had no real consequences, it was adopted 28-1. The United States was the only government to vote against it.

Chinas June resolution seeks to reposition international human rights law as a matter of state-to-state relations, ignores the responsibility of states to protect the rights of the individual, treats fundamental human rights as subject to negotiation and compromise, and foresees no meaningful role for civil society. Chinas March 2018 resolution involved using the councils Advisory Committee, which China expected would produce a study supporting the resolution. Many delegations expressed concern, but gave the resolution the benefit of the doubt, abstaining so they could wait to see what the Advisory Committee produced.

Chinas intentions soon became clear: Its submission [9] to the Advisory Committee hailed its own resolution as heralding the construction of a new type of international relations.[10] The submission claims that human rights are used to interfere in other countries internal affairs, poisoning the global atmosphere of human rights governance.

This is hardly a coincidence: China has routinely opposed efforts at the council to hold states responsible for even the gravest rights violations, and the submission alarmingly speaks of so-called universal human rights. It is nonetheless encouraging that 16 states voted against this harmful resolution in June 2020, compared with only one vote against in 2018, signaling increasing global concern with Chinas heavy-handed and aggressive approach to cooperation.

That the resolution nonetheless passed reflects the threat China poses to the U.N. human rights system. In 2017, Human Rights Watch documented Chinas manipulation of U.N. review processes, harassment, and intimidation of not only human rights defenders from China but also U.N. human rights experts and staff, and its successful efforts to block the participation of independent civil society groups, including organizations that do not work on China.[11]

In 2018, China underwent its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the process for reviewing all U.N. member states human rights records. Despite or perhaps because Chinese authorities had since Chinas previous review opened an extraordinary assault on human rights, Chinese diplomats did not just resort to some of its past practices. These had included providing blatantly false information at the review, flooding the speakers list with friendly states and government-organized civil society groups, and urging other governments to speak positively about China.

This time around China also pressured U.N. officials to remove a U.N. country team submission from the UPR materials (ironically that report was reasonably positive about the governments track record),[12] pressured Organisation of Islamic Cooperation member states to speak positively about Chinas treatment of Uyghur Muslims, and warned other governments not to attend a panel event about Xinjiang.

China has so far fended off calls by the high commissioner for human rights and several HRC member states for an independent investigation into gross human rights abuses in Xinjiang, the region in China where an estimated one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims remain arbitrarily detained.[13] Typically, violations of this magnitude would have already yielded actual accountability proceedings, but Chinas power is such that three years into the Xinjiang crisis there is little forward movement.

In July 2019, two dozen governments sent a letter to the Human Rights Council president though they were unwilling to make the call orally on the floor of the HRC urging an investigation.[14] China responded with a letter signed by 37 countries, mostly developing states with poor human rights records. In November, a similar group of governments delivered a similar statement at the Third Committee of the U.N.;[15] China responded with a letter signed by 54 countries.[16]

Beijing also seeks to ensure that discussions about human rights more broadly take place only through the human rights bodies in Geneva, and not other

U.N. bodies, particularly the Security Council. China contends that only the HRC has a mandate to examine them a convenient way of trying to limit discussions even on the gravest atrocities. In March 2018, it opposed a briefing by then-High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al Hussein to the Security Council on Syria,[17] and in February 2020 it blocked a resolution at the Security Council on the plight of Myanmars ethnic Rohingya.[18]

U.N. human rights experts, typically referred to as special rapporteurs, are key to reviews and accountability of U.N. member states on human rights issues. One of their common tools is to visit states, but China has declined to schedule visits by numerous special rapporteurs, including those with mandates on arbitrary detention, executions, or freedom of expression.[19]

It has allowed visits by experts on issues where it thought it would fare well: the right to food in 2012, a working group on discrimination against women in 2014, and an independent expert on the effects of foreign debt in 2016.[20] In 2016, China allowed a visit by Philip Alston, then the special rapporteur onextreme poverty and human rights, who ended his visit early when authorities followed him and intimidated people he had spoken to.[21 ] Since that time, China has only allowed a visit by the independent expert on the rights of older people in late 2019.

China also continues to block the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from having a presence in China. While there are two dozen other U.N. agencies in China, they have rarely invoked their mandate to promote human rights.

In late June, 50 U.N. current and former special procedures the most prominent group of independent experts in the U.N. human rights system issued a searing indictment of Chinas human rights record and call for urgent action.[22] The experts denounced the Chinese governments collective repression of religious and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, the repression of protest and impunity for excessive use of force by police in Hong Kong, censorship and retaliation against journalists, medical workers, and others who sought to speak out following the COVID-19 outbreak, and the targeting of human rights defenders across the country. The experts called for convening a special session on China, creating a dedicated expert on China, and asking U.N. agencies and governments to press China to meet its human rights obligations.It remains to be seen whether and how the U.N. secretary-general, the high commissioner for human rights, and the Human Rights Council will respond.

Despite its poor human rights record at home, and a serious threat to the U.N. human rights system, China is expected to be reelected to the Human Rights Council in October. Absent a critical mass of concerned states committed to serving as a counterweight to both problems, people across China and people who depend on this system for redress and accountability are at serious risk.

For the last several decades, activists, development experts, and economists have made gains in creating legal and normative obligations to ensure respect and accountability for human rights in economic development. By the time China became the worlds second-largest economy in 2010, major multilateral institutions including the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund had already adopted standards and safeguards policies on community consultation, transparency, and other key human rights issues. In 2011, the United Nations adopted the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Taken together, these emerging global norms should have afforded Beijing a template to pursue development with clear respect for human rights, but neither Chinas development banks nor BRI shows signs of doing so.[23]

Beijings trillion-dollar BRI infrastructure and investment program facilitates Chinese access to markets and natural resources across 70 countries. Aided by the frequent absence of alternative investors, the BRI has secured the Chinese government considerable good- will among developing countries, even though Beijing has been able to foist many of the costs onto the countries that it is purporting to help.

Chinas methods of operation appear to have the effect of bolstering authoritarianism in beneficiary countries, even if both democracies and autocracies alike avail themselves of Chinas BRI investments or surveillance exports.[24] BRI projects known for their no strings loans largely ignore human rights and environmental standards.[25] They allow little if any input from people who might be harmed, allowing for no popular consultation methods. There have been numerous violations associated with the Souapiti Dam in Guinea and the Lower Sesan II Dam in Cambodia, both financed and constructed mainly by Chinese state-owned banks and companies.[26]

To build the dams, thousands of villagers were forced out of their ancestral homes and farmlands, losing access to food and their livelihoods. Many resettled families are not adequately compensated and do not receive legal title to their new land. Residents have written numerous letters about their situation to local and national authorities, largely to no avail. Some projects are negotiated in backroom deals that are prone to corruption. At times they benefit and entrench ruling elites while burying the people of the country under mountains of debt.

Some BRI projects are notorious: Sri Lankas Hambantota port, which China repossessed for 99 years when debt repayment became impossible, or the loan to build Kenyas Mombasa-Nairobi railroad, which the government is trying to repay by forcing cargo transporters to use it despite cheaper alternatives. Some governments including those of Bangladesh, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone have begun backing away from BRI projects because they do not look economically sensible.[27] In most cases, the struggling debtor is eager to stay in Beijings good graces. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, China has made some pronouncements on debt relief, yet it remains unclear on how that will actually work in practice.[28]

BRI loans also provide Beijing another financial leverto ensure support for Chinas anti-rights agenda in key international forums, with recipient states sometimes votingalongsideBeijing in key forums. The result is at best silence, at worst applause, in the face of Chinas domestic repression, as well as assistance to Beijing as it undermines international human rights institutions. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, for example, whose government is a major BRI recipient, said nothing about his fellow Muslims in Xinjiang as he visited Beijing, while his diplomats offered over-the- top praise for Chinas efforts in providing care to its Muslim citizens.[29]

Similarly, Cameroon delivered fawning statements of praise for China shortly after Beijing forgave it millions in debt: Referencing Xinjiang, it lauded Beijing for fully protect[ing] the exercise of lawful rights of ethnic minority populations including normal religious activities and beliefs.[30] Chinas national development banks, such as the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, have a growing global reach but lack critical human rights safeguards. The China-founded multilateral AIIB is not much better. Itspoliciescallfortransparencyandaccountabilityintheprojectsit finances and include social and environmental standards, but do not require the bank to identify and address human rights risks.[31] Among the banks 74 members are many governments that claim to respect rights: much of the European Union including France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, along with and the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Beijings censorship inside China is well documented, and its efforts to disseminate propaganda through state media worldwide are well known. But Chinese authorities no longer appear content with these efforts and are expanding their ambitions. Under Xi Jinpings leadership, Chinese authorities increasingly seek to limit or silence discussions about China that are perceived to be critical, and to ensure that their views and analyses are accepted by various constituencies around the world, even when that entails censoring through global platforms.

Chinese authorities have long monitored and conducted surveillance on students and academics from China and those studying China on campuses around the world. Chinese diplomats have also complained to university officials about hosting speakers such as the Dalai Lama whom the Chinese government considers sensitive. Over the past decade, as a result of decreasing state funding to higher education in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, universities are increasingly financially dependent on the large number of fee-paying students from China, and on Chinese government and corporate entities. This has made universities susceptible to Chinese government influence.

The net result? In 2019, a series of rigorous reports documented censorship of and self-censorship by some administrators and academics who did not want to irk Chinese authorities.[32] Students from China have reported threats to their families in China in response to what those students had said in the classroom.

Scholars from China detailed being directly threatened outside the country by Chinese officials to refrain from criticizing the Chinese government in classroom lectures or other talks.

Others described students from China remaining silent in their classrooms, fearful that their speech was being monitored and reported to Chinese authorities by other students from China. One student from China at a university in the United States summed up his concerns about classroom surveillance, noting: This isnt a free space. Drew Pavlou, a student at the University of Queensland who has been critical of the schools ties to the Chinese government, is facing suspension on the grounds that his activism breached the universitys code of conduct.[33]

Some universities in the United States are now under pressure from federal authorities to disclose any ties between the schools or individual scholars and Chinese government agencies, with the stated objective of countering Peoples Republic of China influence efforts and harassment as well as the theft of technology. Universities and scholars in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have been embarrassed by revelations over their ties to Chinese technology firms or government agencies implicated in human rights abuses. In April 2020 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology broke off a relationship with Chinese voice recognition firm iFlytek whose complicity in human rights violations Human Rights Watch documented after adopting tighter guidelines on partnerships.[34]

Other schools have grappled with tensions between students who are critical of the Chinese government and those who defend it. Students from the mainland tried to shout down speakers at a March 2019 event at the University of California at Berkeley who were addressing the human rights crisis in Xinjiang, or in September when unidentified individuals threatened the Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law as he arrived for graduate studies at Yale.[35]

But few if any universities have taken steps to guarantee students and scholars from China the same access to academic freedom as others.[36] The failure to address these problems means that for some debates and research about China are arbitrarily curtailed.

Surveillance and harassment of diaspora communities by Chinese authorities is also not a new problem, but it is clear that securing a foreign passport does not guarantee the right to freedom of expression. Even leaving China has become more difficult: Beijing has worked hard in recent years to prevent certain communities from leaving the country through tactics such as denying or confiscating their passports, tightening border security to prevent Tibetans and Turkic Muslims from fleeing, and pressuring other governments from Cambodia to Turkey to forcibly return asylum seekers in violation of their obligations under international law.[37]

Since early 2017, some Uyghurs who have traveled outside China and returned, or simply remained in contact with family and friends outside the country, have found that Chinese authorities deem that conduct criminal.[38]

As a result, even individualswhohavemanaged to leave China and obtain citizenship in rights- respecting democracies report that they are cut off from family members still inside China, are monitored and harassed byChinesegovernmentofficials,and are reluctant to criticize Chinese policies or authorities for fear of reprisals. Some feel they cannot attend public gatherings, such as talks on Chinese politics or Congressional hearings, for fear of being photographed or otherwise having their presence at those events noted. Others describe being called or receiving WhatsApp or text messages from authorities inside China telling them that if they publicly criticize the Chinese government their family members inside China will suffer.

One Uyghur who had obtained citizenship in Europe said: It doesnt matter where I am, or what passport I hold. [Chinese authorities] will terrorize me anywhere, and I have no way to fight that. Even Han Chinese immigrants to countries like Canada described deep fear of the Chinese government, saying that while they are outraged by the human rights abuses in China, they worry that if they criticize the government openly, their job prospects, business opportunities, and chances of going back to China would be affected or that their family members who remain in China would be in danger.[39]

Governments have relatively weak means to push back against this kind of harassment, given that it originates largely in China. In 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation stepped up its outreach to Uyghurs in the United States who had been targets of Chinese government harassment, and the Uyghur Human Rights Act, adopted in June 2020, expands that work across various diaspora communities from China.[40]

Chinese authorities also seek to limit freedom of expression beyond Chinas borders by censoring conversations on global platforms. In June, Zoom, a California-based company, admitted that it had at the request of Chinese authorities suspended the accounts of U.S.-based activists who had organized online discussions about the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.[41] While the company reinstated the accounts of people based in the United States, it said it could not refuse Chinese authorities demands that it obey local law.

Other global platforms have also enabled censorship. WeChat, a Chinese social media platform with about one billion users worldwide, 100 million of them outside China, is owned by the Chinese company Tencent.[42] The Chinese government and Tencent regularly censor content on the platform, skewing what viewers can see. Posts with the words Liu Xiaobo or Tiananmen massacre cannot be uploaded, and criticisms of the Chinese government are swiftly removed even if those trying to post such messages are outside the country. WeChat is wildly popular for its easy functionality, but it is also a highly effective way for Chinese authorities to control what its users worldwide can see.

It also affects what politicians outside China can say to their own constituents. Politicians around the world increasingly use WeChat to communicate with Chinese speakers in their electorates. In September 2017, Jenny Kwan, a member of the Canadian parliament, made a statement regarding the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in which she praised the young protesters who stood up and fought for what they believe in, and for the betterment of their society; that statement was subsequently posted on her WeChat account only to be deleted.[43]

It is unclear whether or how politicians in democracies are tracking Beijings efforts to censor their speech. As China plays an ever-more prominent role in global affairs, governments need to move swiftly to ensure that elected representatives ability to communicate with their constituents is not subject to Beijings whims.

Finally, Beijing also leverages access to its market to censor companies ranging from Marriott to Mercedes Benz.[44] Chinese state television, CCTV, and Tencent, a media partner of the National Basketball Association with a five-year streaming deal worth $1.5 billion, said they would not broadcast Houston Rockets games after the teams general manager tweeted in support of Hong Kongs pro-democracy protesters.[45] Under pressure from Beijing, major international companies have censored themselves or staff members. Others have fired employees who have expressed views the companies perceive as critical of Beijing.Itisbad enough for companies to abide by censorship restrictions when operating inside China. It is much worse to impose that censorship on their employees and customers around the world. One can no longer pretend that Chinas suppression of independent voices stops at its borders.


The consequences for failing to stop Chinas assault on the international human rights system, and on law and practice around rights-respecting development and on the freedom of expression are simple and stark. If these trends continue unabated, the U.N. Security Council will become even less likely to take action on grave human rights crises; the fundamental underpinnings of a universal human rights system with room for independent actors will further erode; and Chinese authorities (and their allies) impunity will only grow.

Serious rights-violating governments will know they can rely on Beijing for investment and loans with no conditions. People around the world will increasingly have to be careful whether they criticize Chinese authorities, even if they are citizens of rights-respecting democracies or in environments like academia, where debate is meant to be encouraged.

Chinese government conduct over the first half of 2020 its stalling into an independent investigations into the COVID-19 pandemic, its blatant rejection of international law in deciding to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong, even its manipulation of Tiananmen commemorations for people in the United States appears to have galvanized momentum to push back. Members of parliaments from numerous countries are calling for the appointment of a U.N. special envoy on Hong Kong, governments are pressuring Beijing over a COVID-19 cover up, and companies capitulation to Chinese pressure to censor are regular news items.

But this is far from creating the kind of counterweight necessary to curb Beijings agenda, whose threat can now be seen clearly. To protect the U.N. human rights system from Chinese government erosions, rights-respecting governments should urgently form a multi-year coalition not only to ensure that they are tracking these threats, but also to prepare themselves to respond to them at every opportunity to push back. This means nominating candidates for U.N. expert positions and calling out obstructions in the accreditation system.

This means canvassing and organizing objections to norm-eroding resolutions, and mobilizingalliestoput themselves forwardascandidatesfortheHRCor other selectionsmadebyregionalblocs.Chinahas the advantages of deep pockets and no periodic changes in government to encumber its ability to plan; democracies will struggle with both. But here the stakes could not be higher not just for the 1.4 billion people in China, but for people around the world.

Governments,especiallythosethathavejoined the AIIB, should use their joint leverage to push the institution to adoptwell-established human rights and environmental principles and practices to ensure abuse-free development. And governments entering into BRI partnerships should carefully consider the consequences and ensure that they do what China will not: provide adequate public consultation, and full transparency about the financial implications for the country, and the ability of affected populations to reject these development projects.

Governments should urgently consider Beijings threats to the freedom of expression in their own countries. They should track threats to citizens, and pursue accountability to the fullest extent through tools like targeted sanctions. Academic institutions should not content themselves merely with better disclosure policies about interactions with Chinese government actors, they need urgently to ensure that everyone on their campuses has equal access to freedom of expression any less is a gross rejection of their responsibilities.

Companies have a role to play in rejecting censorship. They should recognize that they cannot win playing Beijings game, especially given their responsibility to respect human rights under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. They should draft and promote codes of conduct for dealing with China that prohibit participation in or facilitation of infringements of the right to free expression, information, privacy, association, or other internationally recognized human rights. Strong common standards would make it more difficult for Beijing to ostracize those who stand up for basic rights and freedoms. Consumers and shareholders would also be better placed to insist that the companies not succumb to censorship as the price of doing business in China, and that they should never benefit from or contribute to abuses.

Finally, it is critical that none of these efforts to limit the Chinese governments threats to human rights rebound on people across China or of Chinese descent around the world. The rapid spread of COVID-19 triggered a wave of racist anti-Asian harassment and assaults, and an alarming number of governments, politicians, and policies are falling into Beijings trap of conflating the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, and people from China.[46] They are not the same, and the human rights of people in China should remain at the core of future policies.

of the High Commissioner, August 23, 2016, https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews. aspx?NewsID=20402&LangID=E.

Newsweek, April 17, 2019, https://www.newsweek.com/china-muslims-pakistan-imran-khan-1399044.

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China's Influence on the Global Human Rights System - Human Rights Watch

China Isn’t Hiding the Border Tensions With India From Its Public Anymore – The Diplomat

China Power|Society|East Asia

China has loosened its restrictions on reporting about the border standoff, while still practicing heavy-handed opinion shaping tactics.

Chinese central government doesnt need to even lead public opinion: it just selectively stops censorship. In other words, just as censorship is a political tool, so is the absence of censorship, Chinese journalist and blogger Michael Anti has said. Antis now popular quote is emblematic of the process of censorship of news media and social media in China.

This has salience in the ongoing border tensions between China and India. Experts commenting on the events at the Line of Actual Control have previously noted that the Chinese language state-media hasnt given much attention to the story. But there has been growing interest in the story in China.

There was an intriguing silence in the Chinese language media narrative following the clash between the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and the Indian Army. Chinese language state-run news media agencies such as Xinhua and Peoples Daily largely ignored the June 15 clash between the two sides. Besides some debate around who instigated the aggression and the number of causalities in the Galwan Valley on Sina Weibo, Chinese language media remained silent.

Indias ban on Chinese-owned apps was a turning point in the tone of the Chinese language media narrative. On June 29, India bans 59 Chinese apps was the second most searched hashtag on Twitter-like Chinese social media platform, Sina Weibo. It was also the second most searched phrase on Baidu search engine, the Chinese equivalent of Google. Indias second wave ban on China-owned apps generated widespread interest a hashtag based on the story was viewed 300 million times on Weibo. The news about the app bans was prominently reported by major Chinese language state-media outlets such as Beijing News, Peoples Daily, and Xinhua.

The rhetoric trumpeted by Chinese state-media after India imposed the ban indirectly brought attention to escalation of military tensions along the border. Indias move to impose punitive measures through the app ban was seen as an attack on Chinas economic interests. One of the results of the ban has been growing interest in China to track the developments at the border with India.

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The recent developments at the Line of Actual Control have featured in Chinese language state media publications such as Xinhua. On August 31, the phrase Western Theater Commands statement on China-India border situation trended as the number one searched term on Baidu. The hashtag #Western Theatre Command responded to Indias illegal crossing of line and firing threats# was viewed 260 million times on Weibo. The search phrase Chinese and Indian Defense Ministers meet in Moscow topped Baidu search results on September 4.

More than that, a story about the meeting between Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh in Moscow was on the home page of the Chinese language web edition of Xinhua. On June 25, the Chinese edition of Peoples Daily also reported the Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokespersons statement on the border conflict.

On September 10, a hashtag based on the news about the meeting between Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was the top search term on Baidu. The #China and India reach a five-point consensus# hashtag was the second top searched term on Weibo on September 10. The hashtag remained among the top three trends on Weibo for 12 hours after it began trending. The censors in China tend to focus on highlighting positive news stories. Therefore, it wasnt surprising that news about the agreement reached between the foreign ministers in Moscow of the two countries trended across various platforms. A news article titled The Chinese and Indian foreign ministers issued a joint press release, and the two sides reached a five-point consensus was on the homepage of Xinhuas Chinese language web edition.

Less directly, Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the importance of border security and border defenses in his remarks made at the recent Tibet Works Conference in Beijing. Experts believe that Xis remarks were targeted at India.

Outside of official channels, prominent media commentators on military affairs with large social media followings in China such as Hu Xijin and Zhang Zhaozhong have steered the debate by posting long commentaries in mandarin on Weibo and calling India the aggressor.

The censorship on Sina Weibo is well documented. Direct censorship of public social media posts, public shaming of Weibo users on CCTV, and detention by police for making false claims are strategies China has used to shape public opinion on the border issue. One WeChat user was detained for spreading a rumor that the poor quality of steel used for Dongfeng Mengshi military vehicles resulted in causalities among PLA soldiers at the border with India. There is an ongoing investigation into violation of the law by senior management at the Dongfeng Motor Corporation. Meanwhile, Sina Weibo is now censoring the hashtag #China-India border conflict# as observed on September 3.

The Chinese publics attention on the events at the border with India will add pressure on the party leadership to find a narrative that can be presented as a victory for China. The military escalation may have been an easy decision by Central Military Commission, but the de-escalation process will be a complicated process amid public interest in the developments at the Line of Actual Control.

Get first-read access to major articles yet to be released, as well as links to thought-provoking commentaries and in-depth articles from our Asia-Pacific correspondents.

Aadil Brar is a freelance journalist. His work has appeared in the BBC, The Quint, The Wire India, Devex and other publications.

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China Isn't Hiding the Border Tensions With India From Its Public Anymore - The Diplomat

Censorship – Wikipedia

The practice of suppressing information

Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient."[2][3][4] Censorship can be conducted by governments,[5] private institutions, and other controlling bodies.

Governments[5] and private organizations may engage in censorship. Other groups or institutions may propose and petition for censorship.[6] When an individual such as an author or other creator engages in censorship of their own works or speech, it is referred to as self-censorship. General censorship occurs in a variety of different media, including speech, books, music, films, and other arts, the press, radio, television, and the Internet for a variety of claimed reasons including national security, to control obscenity, child pornography, and hate speech, to protect children or other vulnerable groups, to promote or restrict political or religious views, and to prevent slander and libel.

Direct censorship may or may not be legal, depending on the type, location, and content. Many countries provide strong protections against censorship by law, but none of these protections are absolute and frequently a claim of necessity to balance conflicting rights is made, in order to determine what could and could not be censored. There are no laws against self-censorship.

In 399 BC, Greek philosopher, Socrates, while defying attempts by the Greek state to censor his philosophical teachings, was accused of collateral charges related to the corruption of Athenian youth and sentenced to death by drinking a poison, hemlock.

The details of Socrates's conviction are recorded by Plato as follows. In 399BC, Socrates went on trial[8] and was subsequently found guilty of both corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens and of impiety (asebeia,[9] "not believing in the gods of the state"),[10] and as a punishment sentenced to death, caused by the drinking of a mixture containing hemlock.[11][12][13][14]

Socrates' student, Plato, is said to have advocated censorship in his essay on The Republic, which opposed the existence of democracy. In contrast to Plato, Greek playwright Euripides (480406BC) defended the true liberty of freeborn men, including the right to speak freely. In 1766, Sweden became the first country to abolish censorship by law.[15]

Censorship has been criticized throughout history for being unfair and hindering progress. In a 1997 essay on Internet censorship, social commentator Michael Landier claims that censorship is counterproductive as it prevents the censored topic from being discussed. Landier expands his argument by claiming that those who impose censorship must consider what they censor to be true, as individuals believing themselves to be correct would welcome the opportunity to disprove those with opposing views.[16]

Censorship is often used to impose moral values on society, as in the censorship of material considered obscene. English novelist E. M. Forster was a staunch opponent of censoring material on the grounds that it was obscene or immoral, raising the issue of moral subjectivity and the constant changing of moral values. When the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover was put on trial in 1960, Forster wrote:[17]

Lady Chatterley's Lover is a literary work of importance...I do not think that it could be held obscene, but am in a difficulty here, for the reason that I have never been able to follow the legal definition of obscenity. The law tells me that obscenity may deprave and corrupt, but as far as I know, it offers no definition of depravity or corruption.

Proponents have sought to justify it using different rationales for various types of information censored:

In wartime, explicit censorship is carried out with the intent of preventing the release of information that might be useful to an enemy. Typically it involves keeping times or locations secret, or delaying the release of information (e.g., an operational objective) until it is of no possible use to enemy forces. The moral issues here are often seen as somewhat different, as the proponents of this form of censorship argues that release of tactical information usually presents a greater risk of casualties among one's own forces and could possibly lead to loss of the overall conflict.

During World War I letters written by British soldiers would have to go through censorship. This consisted of officers going through letters with a black marker and crossing out anything which might compromise operational secrecy before the letter was sent.[23] The World War II catchphrase "Loose lips sink ships" was used as a common justification to exercise official wartime censorship and encourage individual restraint when sharing potentially sensitive information.

An example of "sanitization" policies comes from the USSR under Joseph Stalin, where publicly used photographs were often altered to remove people whom Stalin had condemned to execution. Though past photographs may have been remembered or kept, this deliberate and systematic alteration to all of history in the public mind is seen as one of the central themes of Stalinism and totalitarianism.

Censorship is occasionally carried out to aid authorities or to protect an individual, as with some kidnappings when attention and media coverage of the victim can sometimes be seen as unhelpful.[24][25]

Censorship by religion is a form of censorship where freedom of expression is controlled or limited using religious authority or on the basis of the teachings of the religion.[26] This form of censorship has a long history and is practiced in many societies and by many religions. Examples include the Galileo affair, Edict of Compigne, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (list of prohibited books) and the condemnation of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Images of the Islamic figure Muhammad are also regularly censored. In some secular countries, this is sometimes done to prevent hurting religious sentiments.[27]

The content of school textbooks is often an issue of debate, since their target audience is young people. The term whitewashing is commonly used to refer to revisionism aimed at glossing over difficult or questionable historical events, or a biased presentation thereof. The reporting of military atrocities in history is extremely controversial, as in the case of The Holocaust (or Holocaust denial), Bombing of Dresden, the Nanking Massacre as found with Japanese history textbook controversies, the Armenian Genocide, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and the Winter Soldier Investigation of the Vietnam War.

In the context of secondary school education, the way facts and history are presented greatly influences the interpretation of contemporary thought, opinion and socialization. One argument for censoring the type of information disseminated is based on the inappropriate quality of such material for the younger public. The use of the "inappropriate" distinction is in itself controversial, as it changed heavily. A Ballantine Books version of the book Fahrenheit 451 which is the version used by most school classes[28] contained approximately 75 separate edits, omissions, and changes from the original Bradbury manuscript.

In February 2006, a National Geographic cover was censored by the Nashravaran Journalistic Institute. The offending cover was about the subject of love and a picture of an embracing couple was hidden beneath a white sticker.[29][29]

Economic induced censorship, is a type of censorship enacted by economic markets, to favor, and disregard types of information. Economic induced censorship, is also caused, by market forces which privatize and establish commodification of certain information that is not accessible by the general public, primarily because of the cost associated with commodified information such as academic journals, industry reports and pay to use repositories.[30]

The concept was illustrated as a censorship pyramid[31] that was conceptualized by primarily Julian Assange, along with Andy Mller-Maguhn, Jacob Appelbaum and Jrmie Zimmermann, in the Cypherpunks (book).

Self-censorship is the act of censoring or classifying one's own discourse. This is done out of fear of, or deference to, the sensibilities or preferences (actual or perceived) of others and without overt pressure from any specific party or institution of authority. Self-censorship is often practiced by film producers, film directors, publishers, news anchors, journalists, musicians, and other kinds of authors including individuals who use social media.[33]

According to a Pew Research Center and the Columbia Journalism Review survey, "About one-quarter of the local and national journalists say they have purposely avoided newsworthy stories, while nearly as many acknowledge they have softened the tone of stories to benefit the interests of their news organizations. Fully four-in-ten (41%) admit they have engaged in either or both of these practices."[34]

Threats to media freedom have shown a significant increase in Europe in recent years, according to a study published in April 2017 by the Council of Europe.This results in a fear of physical or psychological violence, and the ultimate result is self-censorship by journalists.[35]

Copy approval is the right to read and amend an article, usually an interview, before publication. Many publications refuse to give copy approval but it is increasingly becoming common practice when dealing with publicity anxious celebrities.[36] Picture approval is the right given to an individual to choose which photos will be published and which will not. Robert Redford is well known for insisting upon picture approval.[37] Writer approval is when writers are chosen based on whether they will write flattering articles or not. Hollywood publicist Pat Kingsley is known for banning certain writers who wrote undesirably about one of her clients from interviewing any of her other clients.[citation needed]

Flooding the public, often through online social networks, with false or misleading information is sometimes called "reverse censorship." American legal scholar Tim Wu has explained that this type of information control, sometimes by state actors, can "distort or drown out disfavored speech through the creation and dissemination of fake news, the payment of fake commentators, and the deployment of propaganda robots."[38]

Book censorship can be enacted at the national or sub-national level, and can carry legal penalties for their infraction. Books may also be challenged at a local, community level. As a result, books can be removed from schools or libraries, although these bans do not extend outside of that area.

Aside from the usual justifications of pornography and obscenity, some films are censored due to changing racial attitudes or political correctness in order to avoid ethnic stereotyping and/or ethnic offense despite its historical or artistic value. One example is the still withdrawn "Censored Eleven" series of animated cartoons, which may have been innocent then, but are "incorrect" now.[citation needed]

Film censorship is carried out by various countries to differing degrees. For example, only 34 foreign films a year are approved for official distribution in China's strictly controlled film market.[39]

Music censorship has been implemented by states, religions, educational systems, families, retailers and lobbying groups and in most cases they violate international conventions of human rights.[40]

Censorship of maps is often employed for military purposes. For example, the technique was used in former East Germany, especially for the areas near the border to West Germany in order to make attempts of defection more difficult. Censorship of maps is also applied by Google Maps, where certain areas are grayed out or blacked or areas are purposely left outdated with old imagery.[41]

Art is loved and feared because of its evocative power. Destroying or oppressing art can potentially justify its meaning even more.[42]

British photographer and visual artist Graham Ovenden's photos and paintings were ordered to be destroyed by a London's magistrate court in 2015 for being "indecent"[43] and their copies had been removed from the online Tate gallery.[44]

A 1980 Israeli law forbade banned artwork composed of the four colours of the Palestinian flag,[45] and Palestinians were arrested for displaying such artwork or even for carrying sliced melons with the same pattern.[46][47][48]

Moath al-Alwi is a Guantanamo Bay Prisoner who creates model ships as an expression of art. Alwi does so with the few tools he has at his disposal such as floss and shampoo bottles, and he is also allowed to use a small pair of scissors with rounded edges. A few of Alwi's pieces are on display at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. There are also other artworks on display at the College that were created by other inmates. The artwork that is being displayed might be the only way for some of the inmates to communicate with the outside. Recently things have changed though. The military has come up with a new policy that won't allow the artwork at Guantanamo Bay Military Prison to leave the prison. The art work created by Alwi and other prisoners is now government property and can be destroyed by them or disposed in whatever way they choose, making it no longer the artist's property. [49]

Around 300 artists in Cuba are fighting for their artistic freedom due to new censorship rules Cuba's government has in place for artists. Recently, Tania Bruguera, a musician was detained upon arriving to Havana and released after four days because of these new censorships restrains Cuba has on artists there.[50]

An example of extreme state censorship was the Nazis requirements of using art as propaganda. Art was only allowed to be used as a political instrument to control people and failure to act in accordance with the censors was punishable by law, even fatal. The Degenerate Art Exhibition is a historical instance that's goal was to advertise Nazi values and slander others.[51]

Internet censorship is control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations either at the behest of government or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship on their own or due to intimidation and fear.

The issues associated with Internet censorship are similar to those for offline censorship of more traditional media. One difference is that national borders are more permeable online: residents of a country that bans certain information can find it on websites hosted outside the country. Thus censors must work to prevent access to information even though they lack physical or legal control over the websites themselves. This in turn requires the use of technical censorship methods that are unique to the Internet, such as site blocking and content filtering.[57]

Furthermore, the Domain Name System (DNS) a critical component of the Internet is dominated by centralized and few entities. The most widely used DNS root is administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).[58][59] As an administrator they have rights to shut down and seize domain names when they deem necessary to do so and at most times the direction is from governments. This has been the case with Wikileaks shutdowns[60] and name seizure events such as the ones executed by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) managed by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).[61] This makes it easy for internet censorship by authorities as they have control over what should or should not be on the Internet. Some activists and researchers have started opting for alternative DNS roots, though the Internet Architecture Board[62] (IAB) does not support these DNS root providers.

Unless the censor has total control over all Internet-connected computers, such as in North Korea or Cuba, total censorship of information is very difficult or impossible to achieve due to the underlying distributed technology of the Internet. Pseudonymity and data havens (such as Freenet) protect free speech using technologies that guarantee material cannot be removed and prevents the identification of authors. Technologically savvy users can often find ways to access blocked content. Nevertheless, blocking remains an effective means of limiting access to sensitive information for most users when censors, such as those in China, are able to devote significant resources to building and maintaining a comprehensive censorship system.[57]

Views about the feasibility and effectiveness of Internet censorship have evolved in parallel with the development of the Internet and censorship technologies:

A BBC World Service poll of 27,973 adults in 26 countries, including 14,306 Internet users,[66] was conducted between 30 November 2009 and 7 February 2010. The head of the polling organization felt, overall, that the poll showed that:

The poll found that nearly four in five (78%) Internet users felt that the Internet had brought them greater freedom, that most Internet users (53%) felt that "the internet should never be regulated by any level of government anywhere", and almost four in five Internet users and non-users around the world felt that access to the Internet was a fundamental right (50% strongly agreed, 29% somewhat agreed, 9% somewhat disagreed, 6% strongly disagreed, and 6% gave no opinion).[68]

The rising usages of social media in many nations has led to the emergence of citizens organizing protests through social media, sometimes called "Twitter Revolutions". The most notable of these social media led protests were parts Arab Spring uprisings, starting in 2010. In response to the use of social media in these protests, the Tunisian government began a hack of Tunisian citizens' Facebook accounts, and reports arose of accounts being deleted.[69]

Automated systems can be used to censor social media posts, and therefore limit what citizens can say online. This most notably occurs in China, where social media posts are automatically censored depending on content. In 2013, Harvard political science professor Gary King led a study to determine what caused social media posts to be censored and found that posts mentioning the government were not more or less likely to be deleted if they were supportive or critical of the government. Posts mentioning collective action were more likely to be deleted than those that had not mentioned collective action.[70] Currently, social media censorship appears primarily as a way to restrict Internet users' ability to organize protests. For the Chinese government, seeing citizens unhappy with local governance is beneficial as state and national leaders can replace unpopular officials. King and his researchers were able to predict when certain officials would be removed based on the number of unfavorable social media posts.[71]

Research has proved that criticism is tolerable on social media sites, therefore it is not censored unless it has a higher chance of collective action. It isn't important whether the criticism is supportive or unsupportive of the states' leaders, the main priority of censoring certain social media posts is to make sure that no big actions are being made due to something that was said on the internet. Posts that challenge the Party's political leading role in the Chinese government are more likely to be censored due to the challenges it poses to the Chinese Communist Party.[72]

Since the early 1980s, advocates of video games have emphasized their use as an expressive medium, arguing for their protection under the laws governing freedom of speech and also as an educational tool. Detractors argue that video games are harmful and therefore should be subject to legislative oversight and restrictions. Many video games have certain elements removed or edited due to regional rating standards.[73][74]For example, in the Japanese and PAL Versions of No More Heroes, blood splatter and gore is removed from the gameplay. Decapitation scenes are implied, but not shown. Scenes of missing body parts after having been cut off, are replaced with the same scene, but showing the body parts fully intact.[75]

Surveillance and censorship are different. Surveillance can be performed without censorship, but it is harder to engage in censorship without some form of surveillance.[76] Even when surveillance does not lead directly to censorship, the widespread knowledge or belief that a person, their computer, or their use of the Internet is under surveillance can have a "chilling effect" and lead to self-censorship.[77]

The former Soviet Union maintained a particularly extensive program of state-imposed censorship. The main organ for official censorship in the Soviet Union was the Chief Agency for Protection of Military and State Secrets generally known as the Glavlit, its Russian acronym. The Glavlit handled censorship matters arising from domestic writings of just about any kind even beer and vodka labels. Glavlit censorship personnel were present in every large Soviet publishing house or newspaper; the agency employed some 70,000 censors to review information before it was disseminated by publishing houses, editorial offices, and broadcasting studios. No mass medium escaped Glavlit's control. All press agencies and radio and television stations had Glavlit representatives on their editorial staffs.[78]

Sometimes, public knowledge of the existence of a specific document is subtly suppressed, a situation resembling censorship. The authorities taking such action will justify it by declaring the work to be "subversive" or "inconvenient". An example is Michel Foucault's 1978 text Sexual Morality and the Law (later republished as The Danger of Child Sexuality), originally published as La loi de la pudeur [literally, "the law of decency"]. This work defends the decriminalization of statutory rape and the abolition of age of consent laws.[citation needed]

When a publisher comes under pressure to suppress a book, but has already entered into a contract with the author, they will sometimes effectively censor the book by deliberately ordering a small print run and making minimal, if any, attempts to publicize it. This practice became known in the early 2000s as privishing (private publishing).[79]

Censorship by country collects information on censorship, internet censorship, press freedom, freedom of speech, and human rights by country and presents it in a sortable table, together with links to articles with more information. In addition to countries, the table includes information on former countries, disputed countries, political sub-units within countries, and regional organizations.

Cuban media used to be operated under the supervision of the Communist Party's Department of Revolutionary Orientation, which "develops and coordinates propaganda strategies".[80] Connection to the Internet is restricted and censored.[81]

The People's Republic of China employs sophisticated censorship mechanisms, referred to as the Golden Shield Project, to monitor the internet. Popular search engines such as Baidu also remove politically sensitive search results.[82][83][84]

Strict censorship existed in the Eastern Bloc.[85] Throughout the bloc, the various ministries of culture held a tight rein on their writers.[86] Cultural products there reflected the propaganda needs of the state.[86] Party-approved censors exercised strict control in the early years.[87] In the Stalinist period, even the weather forecasts were changed if they suggested that the sun might not shine on May Day.[87] Under Nicolae Ceauescu in Romania, weather reports were doctored so that the temperatures were not seen to rise above or fall below the levels which dictated that work must stop.[87]

Possession and use of copying machines was tightly controlled in order to hinder production and distribution of samizdat, illegal self-published books and magazines. Possession of even a single samizdat manuscript such as a book by Andrei Sinyavsky was a serious crime which might involve a visit from the KGB. Another outlet for works which did not find favor with the authorities was publishing abroad.

Amid declining car sales in 2020, France banned a television ad by a Dutch bike company, saying the ad "unfairly discredited the automobile industry".[88]

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression, but places certain restrictions on content, with a view towards maintaining communal and religious harmony, given the history of communal tension in the nation.[89] According to the Information Technology Rules 2011, objectionable content includes anything that "threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order".[90]

Iraq under Baathist Saddam Hussein had much the same techniques of press censorship as did Romania under Nicolae Ceauescu but with greater potential violence.[91]

Under subsection 48(3) and (4) of the Penang Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2004, non-Muslims in Malaysia are penalized for using the following words, or to write or publish them, in any form, version or translation in any language or for use in any publicity material in any medium:"Allah", "Firman Allah", "Ulama", "Hadith", "Ibadah", "Kaabah", "Qadhi'", "Illahi", "Wahyu", "Mubaligh", "Syariah", "Qiblat", "Haji", "Mufti", "Rasul", "Iman", "Dakwah", "Wali", "Fatwa", "Imam", "Nabi", "Sheikh", "Khutbah", "Tabligh", "Akhirat", "Azan", "Al Quran", "As Sunnah", "Auliya'", "Karamah", "False Moon God", "Syahadah", "Baitullah", "Musolla", "Zakat Fitrah", "Hajjah", "Taqwa" and "Soleh".[92][93][94]

According to Christian Mihr, executive director of Reporters Without Borders, "censorship in Serbia is neither direct nor transparent, but is easy to prove." [95] According to Mihr there are numerous examples of censorship and self-censorship in Serbia [96] According to Mihr, Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vui has proved "very sensitive to criticism, even on critical questions," as was the case with Natalija Miletic, correspondent for Deutsche Welle Radio, who questioned him in Berlin about the media situation in Serbia and about allegations that some ministers in the Serbian government had plagiarized their diplomas, and who later received threats and offensive articles on the Serbian press.[96]

Multiple news outlets have accused Vui of anti-democratic strongman tendencies.[97][98][99][100][101] In July 2014, journalists associations were concerned about the freedom of the media in Serbia, in which Vui came under criticism.[102][103]

In September 2015 five members of United States Congress (Edie Bernice Johnson, Carlos Curbelo, Scott Perry, Adam Kinzinger, and Zoe Lofgren) have informed Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden that Aleksandar's brother, Andrej Vui, is leading a group responsible for deteriorating media freedom in Serbia.[104]

In the Republic of Singapore, Section 33 of the Films Act originally banned the making, distribution and exhibition of "party political films", at pain of a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years. The Act further defines a "party political film" as any film or video

In 2001, the short documentary called A Vision of Persistence on opposition politician J. B. Jeyaretnam was also banned for being a "party political film". The makers of the documentary, all lecturers at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, later submitted written apologies and withdrew the documentary from being screened at the 2001 Singapore International Film Festival in April, having been told they could be charged in court. Another short documentary called Singapore Rebel by Martyn See, which documented Singapore Democratic Party leader Dr Chee Soon Juan's acts of civil disobedience, was banned from the 2005 Singapore International Film Festival on the same grounds and See is being investigated for possible violations of the Films Act.

This law, however, is often disregarded when such political films are made supporting the ruling People's Action Party (PAP). Channel NewsAsia's five-part documentary series on Singapore's PAP ministers in 2005, for example, was not considered a party political film.

Exceptions are also made when political films are made concerning political parties of other nations. Films such as Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 are thus allowed to screen regardless of the law.

Since March 2009, the Films Act has been amended to allow party political films as long as they were deemed factual and objective by a consultative committee. Some months later, this committee lifted the ban on Singapore Rebel.

Independent journalism did not exist in the Soviet Union until Mikhail Gorbachev became its leader; all reporting was directed by the Communist Party or related organizations. Pravda, the predominant newspaper in the Soviet Union, had a monopoly. Foreign newspapers were available only if they were published by communist parties sympathetic to the Soviet Union.

Online access to all language versions of Wikipedia was blocked in Turkey on 29 April 2017 by Erdoan's government.[105]

In the United States, censorship occurs through books, film festivals, politics, and public schools.[106] See banned books for more information. Additionally, critics of campaign finance reform in the United States say this reform imposes widespread restrictions on political speech.[107][108]

Censorship also takes place in capitalist nations, such as Uruguay. In 1973, a military coup took power in Uruguay, and the State practiced censorship. For example, writer Eduardo Galeano was imprisoned and later was forced to flee. His book Open Veins of Latin America was banned by the right-wing military government, not only in Uruguay, but also in Chile and Argentina.[109]

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Censorship - Wikipedia

What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union

Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

In contrast, when private individuals or groups organize boycotts against stores that sell magazines of which they disapprove, their actions are protected by the First Amendment, although they can become dangerous in the extreme. Private pressure groups, not the government, promulgated and enforced the infamous Hollywood blacklists during the McCarthy period. But these private censorship campaigns are best countered by groups and individuals speaking out and organizing in defense of the threatened expression.

American society has always been deeply ambivalent about these questions. On the one hand, our history is filled with examples of overt government censorship, from the 1873 Comstock Law to the 1996 Communications Decency Act. On the other hand, the commitment to freedom of imagination and expression is deeply embedded in our national psyche, buttressed by the First Amendment, and supported by a long line of Supreme Court decisions.

The Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment's protection of artistic expression very broadly. It extends not only to books, theatrical works and paintings, but also to posters, television, music videos and comic books -- whatever the human creative impulse produces.

Two fundamental principles come into play whenever a court must decide a case involving freedom of expression. The first is "content neutrality"-- the government cannot limit expression just because any listener, or even the majority of a community, is offended by its content. In the context of art and entertainment, this means tolerating some works that we might find offensive, insulting, outrageous -- or just plain bad.

The second principle is that expression may be restricted only if it will clearly cause direct and imminent harm to an important societal interest. The classic example is falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater and causing a stampede. Even then, the speech may be silenced or punished only if there is no other way to avert the harm.

SEXSEXUAL SPEECHSex in art and entertainment is the most frequent target of censorship crusades. Many examples come to mind. A painting of the classical statue of Venus de Milo was removed from a store because the managers of the shopping mall found its semi-nudity "too shocking." Hundreds of works of literature, from Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, have been banned from public schools based on their sexual content.

A museum director was charged with a crime for including sexually explicit photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in an art exhibit.

American law is, on the whole, the most speech-protective in the world -- but sexual expression is treated as a second-class citizen. No causal link between exposure to sexually explicit material and anti-social or violent behavior has ever been scientifically established, in spite of many efforts to do so. Rather, the Supreme Court has allowed censorship of sexual speech on moral grounds -- a remnant of our nation's Puritan heritage.

This does not mean that all sexual expression can be censored, however. Only a narrow range of "obscene" material can be suppressed; a term like "pornography" has no legal meaning . Nevertheless, even the relatively narrow obscenity exception serves as a vehicle for abuse by government authorities as well as pressure groups who want to impose their personal moral views on other people.

PORNOGRAPHIC! INDECENT! OBSCENE!Justice John Marshall Harlan's line, "one man's vulgarity is another's lyric," sums up the impossibility of developing a definition of obscenity that isn't hopelessly vague and subjective. And Justice Potter Stewart's famous assurance, "I know it when I see it," is of small comfort to artists, writers, movie directors and lyricists who must navigate the murky waters of obscenity law trying to figure out what police, prosecutors, judges and juries will think.

The Supreme Court's current definition of constitutionally unprotected Obscenity, first announced in a 1973 case called Miller v. California, has three requirements. The work must 1) appeal to the average person's prurient (shameful, morbid) interest in sex; 2) depict sexual conduct in a "patently offensive way" as defined by community standards; and 3) taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

The Supreme Court has held that Indecent expression -- in contrast with "obscenity" -- is entitled to some constitutional protection, but that indecency in some media (broadcasting, cable, and telephone) may be regulated. In its 1978 decision in Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica, the Court ruled that the government could require radio and television stations to air "indecent" material only during those hours when children would be unlikely listeners or viewers. Broadcast indecency was defined as: "language that describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs." This vague concept continues to baffle both the public and the courts.

PORNOGRAPHY is not a legal term at all. Its dictionary definition is "writing or pictures intended to arouse sexual desire." Pornography comes in as many varieties as the human sexual impulse and is protected by the First Amendment unless it meets the definition for illegal obscenity.

VIOLENCEIS MEDIA VIOLENCE A THREAT TO SOCIETY?Today's calls for censorship are not motivated solely by morality and taste, but also by the widespread belief that exposure to images of violence causes people to act in destructive ways. Pro-censorship forces, including many politicians, often cite a multitude of "scientific studies" that allegedly prove fictional violence leads to real-life violence.

There is, in fact, virtually no evidence that fictional violence causes otherwise stable people to become violent. And if we suppressed material based on the actions of unstable people, no work of fiction or art would be safe from censorship. Serial killer Theodore Bundy collected cheerleading magazines. And the work most often cited by psychopaths as justification for their acts of violence is the Bible.

But what about the rest of us? Does exposure to media violence actually lead to criminal or anti-social conduct by otherwise stable people, including children, who spend an average of 28 hours watching television each week? These are important questions. If there really were a clear cause-and-effect relationship between what normal children see on TV and harmful actions, then limits on such expression might arguably be warranted.

WHAT THE STUDIES SHOWStudies on the relationship between media violence and real violence are the subject of considerable debate. Children have been shown TV programs with violent episodes in a laboratory setting and then tested for "aggressive" behavior. Some of these studies suggest that watching TV violence may temporarily induce "object aggression" in some children (such as popping balloons or hitting dolls or playing sports more aggressively) but not actual criminal violence against another person.

CORRELATIONAL STUDIES that seek to explain why some aggressive people have a history of watching a lot of violent TV suffer from the chicken-and-egg dilemma: does violent TV cause such people to behave aggressively, or do aggressive people simply prefer more violent entertainment? There is no definitive answer. But all scientists agree that statistical correlations between two phenomena do not mean that one causes the other.

INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS are no more helpful. Japanese TV and movies are famous for their extreme, graphic violence, but Japan has a very low crime rate -- much lower than many societies in which television watching is relatively rare. What the sudies reveal on the issue of fictional violence and real world aggression is -- not much.

The only clear assertion that can be made is that the relationship between art and human behavior is a very complex one. Violent and sexually explicit art and entertainment have been a staple of human cultures from time immemorial. Many human behavioralists believe that these themes have a useful and constructive societal role, serving as a vicarious outlet for individual aggression.

WHERE DO THE EXPERTS AGREE?Whatever influence fictional violence has on behavior, most expert believe its effects are marginal compared to other factors. Even small children know the difference between fiction and reality, and their attitudes and behavior are shaped more by their life circumstances than by the books they read or the TV they watch. In 1972, the U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior released a 200-page report, "Television and Growing Up: The Impact of Televised Violence," which concluded, "The effect [of television] is small compared with many other possible causes, such as parental attitudes or knowledge of and experience with the real violence of our society." Twenty-one years later, the American Psychological Association published its 1993 report, "Violence & Youth," and concluded, "The greatest predictor of future violent behavior is a previous history of violence." In 1995, the Center for Communication Policy at UCLA, which monitors TV violence, came to a similar conclusion in its yearly report: "It is known that television does not have a simple, direct stimulus-response effect on its audiences."

Blaming the media does not get us very far, and, to the extent that diverts the public's attention from the real causes of violence in society, it may do more harm than good.

WHICH MEDIA VIOLENCE WOULD YOU BAN?A pro-censorship member of Congress once attacked the following shows for being too violent: The Miracle Worker, Civil War Journal, Star Trek 9, The Untouchables, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What would be left if all these kinds of programs were purged from the airwaves? Is there good violence and bad violence? If so, who decides? Sports and the news are at least as violent as fiction, from the fights that erupt during every televised hockey game, to the videotaped beating of Rodney King by the LA Police Department, shown over and over gain on prime time TV. If we accept censorship of violence in the media, we will have to censor sports and news programs.

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What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union

Call Trumps Attacks On The 1619 Project What They Are Censorship of American History – Forbes

On Sunday morning, President Trump tweeted an attack on the 1619 Project, threatening to withhold funding from California schools teaching the popular journalism project focused on the rise and impact of slavery in the United States.With his newest tweet, the Presidents actions raise a troubling question:

Why is the Trump administration threatening to censor the way schools teach about the history of slavery and racism in the United States?

The Presidents assertion came in response to a tweet from an unverified account stating that California schools were teaching the 1619 Project curriculum. In response, Trump tweeted: Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!

Engraving shows the arrival of a Dutch slave ship with a group of African slaves for sale, ... [+] Jamestown, Virginia, 1619. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The 1619 Projectis a long-form journalism and multimedia initiative ofThe New York Times Magazine,started in August of 2019, 400 years after African slaves first landed on the shores of America. In its own words, the project aims to reframe the countrys history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative. Recently, the 1619 Project teamed up with the Pulitzer Center todevelop school curriculumto use 1619 Project content in classrooms.

Trumps Sunday morning tweet continues a trend of his administrations provocative actions regarding educational approaches to racial injustice in America.

For example, on Friday, the Trump administration announced that it was planning to cease diversity training that it deemed anti-American.In a two-page memo addressed to the leadership of federal agencies, Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought specifically directed federal executives to begin the process of identifying contracts with race-related content that it finds offensive.

All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on critical race theory, white privilege, or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil, the memo states.

Despite the timing, Trumps tweet isnt the first instance the Trump administration and its allies targeted the 1619 Project. InJuly, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introducedcongressional legislation, titled the Saving American History Act of 2020, with the stated purpose of preventing federal funds from being made available to teach the 1619 Project curriculum in elementary schools and secondary schools.

The proposed legislation claims that an activist movement is now gaining momentum to deny or obfuscate this history by claiming that America was not founded on the ideals of the Declaration [of Independence] but rather on slavery and oppression. It goes on to state that the 1619 Project is a racially divisive and revisionist account of history that threatens the integrity of the Union by denying the true principles on which it was founded.

Both Trumps tweet, as well as Cottons proposed legislation, beg a troubling question: why are Republican leaders trying to censor the teaching about the history of slavery and racism in the United States, and why now?

During a time when the United States is engaged in an emotional, and increasingly confrontational, dialogue over the legacy of its racist past,educators across the United States are also exploring waysto better teach the narratives of racial privilege and injustice that have led to the pervasiveness of institutional racism in America. By threatening to censor content that it finds objectionable, the Trump administration is not only treading dangerously on the underlying principles of a free and democratic society; it is also acting in a deeply hypocritical manner, as it otherwise generally endorses local autonomy on issues of education and school choice.

But perhaps most troubling of all, Trumps tweet and the arguments of his administration and allies demonstrate a belief that history should be taught in a a way that limits criticism of the United States. Further, Trump himself has shown that his is willing to take actions to constructively censor those whose views of history conflict with those of the administration.

Thats not teaching history, that is shaping national propaganda.

For a president who proudly proclaims that he has done more for the Black community than any other President in American history, his efforts to censor the painful story of the Black experience in America are a slap in the face of every Black person who lived that history from the past to the present.

American descendants of slavery deserve more than patronizing claims of support from Trump or any politician.The deserve recognition, justice, and reparations. And at the very least, they deserve to have their story told...

Starting with 1619.

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Call Trumps Attacks On The 1619 Project What They Are Censorship of American History - Forbes

Facebook is bringing an updated content censorship term for its users from October 1st – Digital Information World

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook is often seen advocating and making tall claims about providing complete freedom of speech on the platform. However, time and again his claims have been found in complete contradiction to what Facebook actually does.

Recently, Facebook has announced that it is bringing an update in its terms of service. This update is more like a censorship warning which entails that Facebook will remove or restrict access to any content on the platform that can bring legal or regulatory risks for the company all over the globe. This term will come in effect from October 1st, 2020.

Many users in Australia,India and the US have reported that they have received notification updates from Facebook in which the company has warned the users of its changed policy. And the notification further reads that this action will come under section 3.2 of Facebooks terms of service and will start from 1st October.

The company has recently indicated that they are planning to block people and news publishers in Australia from sharing news. This plan has come into existence after Australia proposed an anti-trust law that asked tech giants like Facebook to pay a fair share of money to Australian media outlets for the news they provide to the platform.

However, now this new change in content moderation and policing is not going to be limited to Australia only, as Facebook has said that this update is going to be global, and it will give more flexibility to the company to change their services in Australia and rest of the world so that the companys operation is not hampered.

Now also, the timing of this update is crucial and people all over the world are just joining the dots to connect this move with the upcoming US Presidential Election in November. This change will give authorities in the US and India the power to police content on a greater scale now, and all of this seems to be well-planned and staged for the upcoming election where everyone knows that Facebook would play a pivotal role!

This update is facing a lot of opposition from users all over the world.

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket / Getty Images

Read next: Facebook announces a new research partnership to examine the impact of both Facebook and Instagram on key political trends in the upcoming elections

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Facebook is bringing an updated content censorship term for its users from October 1st - Digital Information World

Will Joe Rogan Have The Guts To Call Out Spotify For ‘Censorship’? – CCN.com

It looks like Joe Rogan has been censored.

Rogan, who has a history of denouncing social media censorship, as seen below, just found his most controversial episodes omitted from the Spotify platform.

After a ground-breaking $100 million deal with the streaming giant, one has to wonder if Rogan has that same energy for his new bossesor if its enough to shut him up.

In the past, Joe Rogan interviewed some people that didnt deserve to have a platform. Milo Yiannopoulos, Chris DElia, and Stefan Molyneux were just a few of the many awful people that Rogan gave a platform to while hiding behind the guise of free speech to legitimize their disgusting philosophies.

And lets not forget the time that Joey Diaz bragged about coercing female comics to have oral sex with him.

These episodes and more are missing from Spotifys library, though its unclear if its due to Joe Rogans choice, Spotifys choice, or just a technical oversight. And thus far, neither Rogan nor Spotify has commented on the matter.

But that hasnt stopped people from wrongly crying about censorship.

Its shocking how few people including Joe Rogan understand what the First Amendmentreallyentails.

Far too many people believe that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution says that people can say what they want, when they want, without fear of recourse or consequence.

But thats not true.

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individuals religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.

The emphasis is mine, but notice the keyword in the phrase: Congress. That means thegovernmentcannot arrest you for speaking out against it, nor can thegovernmentthrow members of the press in jail for writing dissenting opinions against it (as often happens in other countries).

The First Amendment doesnotapply to private companies which means that Spotify is under no obligation to host episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience that goes against its corporate policy. And lest you think this is a political move, and Spotify is a leftist liberal company, the company has also excluded episodes of the show that featured left-leaning heroes like Tommy Chong.

This fun little webtoon about the First Amendment sums it up.

Joe Rogan isnt going to speak up against Spotifys alleged censorship of his show because evenheknows that theyre well within their rights.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

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Will Joe Rogan Have The Guts To Call Out Spotify For 'Censorship'? - CCN.com

Joe Rogans Spotify move condemned by fans over right-wing censorship claims – The Independent

Joe Rogans arrival on Spotify has sparked a backlash among fans, after episodes featuring controversial right-wing guests appeared unavailable on the platform.

However, fans have claimed that a number of past episodes have not been added to Spotify, many of which feature appearances from far-right figures including Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones.

One Rogan fan tweeted that Spotify 86d the Alex Jones episodes, plus more controversial guests in the early hours of 1 September, leading to many other right-wing fans claiming that episodes had been censored.

The apparent missing episodes have led many of Rogans fans to demand answers, with some threatening to abandon the show altogether.

Joe is dead to me if he doesnt address this, wrote one Reddit commentator. This goes against his we need to talk to everybody shtick. Im not interested in listening to curated podcasts by his employer.

Another added: Joe sold out. Its coming to us as a surprise, but this had to be part of the plan. He can talk the talk as a free speech advocate all he wants, but when push came to shove, he took the money and agreed to be censored. Pretty disappointed, but whatever.

As part of Rogans Spotify deal, the radio personality will produce podcasts and accompanying videos for the platform.

Towards the end of 2020, his show will be made exclusive to Spotify, meaning that listeners will no longer be able to tune in on platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Stitcher. Rogans YouTube channel will remain intact, albeit will no longer publish full episodes of his programme.

In a statement in May, Rogan said: It will be the exact show. Im not going to be an employee of Spotify, were going to be working with the same crew, doing the exact same show. The only difference will be it will now be available on the largest audio platform in the world. Nothing else will change.

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Joe Rogans Spotify move condemned by fans over right-wing censorship claims - The Independent

Apple reacts to censorship censure – Mobile World Live

Apple hit back at criticism over moves to comply with government censorship, emphasising its backing for freedom of information and expression in a statement outlining its human rights policy.

The company stated it believes in the critical importance of an open society in which information flows freely, which it explained sometimes results in conflict with government bodies.

With dialogue, and a belief in the power of engagement, we try to find the solution that best serves our users, their privacy, their ability to express themselves, and their access to reliable information and helpful technology.

In February, investors pushed Apple to respond to concerns related to its decision to remove VPN services from its App Store in China, calling for a public commitment to freedom of expression.

Apple faced further backlash in the middle of the year when it reportedly removed thousands more apps from its marketplace in China to comply with local laws.

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Apple reacts to censorship censure - Mobile World Live

Shadow banning and its role in modern day censorship – Cherwell Online

It is no secret algorithms dominate our online social lives it is not as if we arent making our own decisions when it comes to who we talk to or what media we consume, but it would be wilfully ignorant to ignore how systems have been programmed to categorise, collect, and suggest data just based on our likes and follows. This exposes us to content, people and ideas that we just would not have found on our own but it begs the questions of how much control do these systems have in restricting what we see?

This brings us to shadow banning.

Shadow banning is the decision of a social media platform to partially or wholly obstruct a persons content from being interacted with preventing new people from searching for your content, ensuring you do not appear under hashtags or even limiting how often you are suggested as a person to follow are just a few ways this can be achived. Platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok rarely acknowledge the claims of this nature but rather point to their right to remove posts that do not align with their Community Guidelines and how agreeing to use the platform is consenting to their power to do so.

In the grand scheme of things, having your videos taken down or fewer people finding and engaging content is not the greatest detriment to the world, but there is a significant pattern to who is being shadow banned. If I refer back to Tiktoks community guidelines, they claim to scrap videos created to facilitate harm onto others but within the guidelines, they make an effort to reiterate that they allow educational, historical, satirical, artistic, and other content that can be clearly identified as counterspeech or aims to raise awareness of the harm caused by dangerous individuals and/or organisations. This quote and their statement to show support of the Black Lives Matter movement will come as surprise especially to the number of black creators that have seen their engagement rates fall and their videos be taken down on their app.

Instagram has shown itself to be just as complicit in this there has been significant backlash from sex workers, sex educators and often queer inclusive sex-positive spaces on the app. Chante Joseph in her Guardian piece exposed the grey area that is not as clearly defined as Instagrams no nudity policy where the administrators can flag content as sexually suggestive; many people argue that this is necessary to ensure children are not exposed to inappropriate content rather than parents taking accountability or social media platforms at least attempting to introduce any form of age restriction, the onus is placed on creators. But consider, for example, LGBTQIA+ creators; their accounts are providing information that young people who may not have even come out to themselves would otherwise be able to access so they can process and understand their feelings in a healthy space that wasnt available to them just a decade ago. In essence, these guidelines about what a person is allowed to share is being defined by some arbitrary moral standard where discussions of sex specifically those outside the realm of the heteronormative are something to be protected from, even though there are very few spaces that allow for them in real life either.

Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook all are often steeped in their reputation of being superficial and resting on the self-gratification of people wanting to be seen (which isnt even itself a bad thing), but besides that they can be used to share ideas, political thoughts and knowledge. So when black creators attempting to inform the masses are restricted from sharing information or when sex workers messages on misogyny are inaccessible because their page is considered too sexually suggestive (a term not defined so therefore difficult to avoid), the silence is deafening. Shadowbanning is a threat to us because it maintains for us the illusion of control. Yet the whole idea is synonymous with censorship and the obstruction of information. Further, this obstruction is dictated by what platforms see as appropriate so the power we assumed we had in our voices can still be silenced.

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Shadow banning and its role in modern day censorship - Cherwell Online