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Internet Censorship During COVID-19 Is Threat To Cryptocurrencies And Liberty – Forbes

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During the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many economic and political measures. One of the most unfortunate ones is censorship of the Internet.

NetBlocks, a civil society group working at the intersection of digital rights, cyber-security and internet governance, reported on strange Internet outages in Wuhan during certain nights when the COVID-19 epidemic was starting to gather steam. The Farsi version ofWikipedia was blocked for about 24 hours in Iran.

VPN company Surfshark reported that its VPN infrastructure in Iran was seeing a dropoff of 50% in connection rate after the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 13th. Their cybersecurity advisor Naomi Hedges claims that since 13 March - when [COVID-19] was labeled as a pandemic - Surfshark's connection rates inIranhave dropped by 50%. Meanwhile, our website traffic fromIranhas decreased fivefold of its usual rate. Before the announcement, we haven't experienced notable fluctuations inIran's connectivity rates, so the numbers indicate the increased attempts to censor the internet.

It comes amid reports that China too is clamping on access to the Internet outside the Great Firewall, with VPN providers and connections under strain. Chinese social media networks such as WeChat have also been reported to have censored COVID-19 related terms since December 31st in a notable incident, Dr. Li Wenliang was censured by the Wuhan police for posting about COVID-19 in a private WeChat group.

This is a threat that many cryptocurrency and Bitcoin advocates are aware of. The Internet itself is a protocol Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies depend on in order to communicate data. If the Internet is shut down or content within it is filtered/blocked, peers within a certain country would not be able to communicate with one another effectively.

If content is being censored or tracked, cryptocurrency miners and peers within a country could see their connectivity attempts to the global network be denied, effectively shuttering their ability to transact and to get the global status of the Bitcoin network.

Its why Blockstream has tried to diversify away Bitcoin from its dependency on an uncensored Internet by launching a satellite network that broadcasts data from the Bitcoin blockchain and any other data people choose to pay to upload through the Lightning Network.

This makes the cost of censoring Bitcoin and other information more expensive: nation-states go from needing to cut off domestic broadband communications to having to deploy kinetic force in space an option few countries have access to, and which would be politically unenvious even for the boldest of political leaders.

Beyond just the blunt question of on/off censorship however, cryptocurrencies and their relationship to the Internet at large pose interesting dilemmas. As central banks look more and more at digitizing their currencies and the legal attitude towards digital privacy is being redefined by COVID-19, broad changes may threaten

Centralized digital currencies will have access to lots of metadata associated per each account, including possible location data, that can be tracked and compiled.

This may be necessary in a pandemic, but in general, governments who gain hard-fought emergency powers are loath to return them. The post-9/11 period saw a spate of renewals of the authorization of military force and Patriot Act, stretched to give cover to different government powers until reform only came more than a decade later. This fact led Edward Snowden to warn that temporary surveillance powers may well outlast the COVID-19 pandemic.

As governments look to respond to COVID-19, some will look to censor the Internet and some will look to use digital tools to track their population during the crisis period, perhaps with long-lasting consequences. Both have the potential for abuse, and both pose different but ever-present threats for cryptocurrencies and our liberty at large.

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Internet Censorship During COVID-19 Is Threat To Cryptocurrencies And Liberty - Forbes

The Coronavirus Has Started a Censorship Pandemic in Turkey, Hungary, Thailand, and Around the World – Foreign Policy

The coronavirus pandemic has caused governments all over the world to introduce drastic emergency measures, suspending many of the freedoms that citizens normally take for granted. Many of these measures are necessary in order to save lives. To flatten the curve through social distancing, we must be willing to sacrifice certain liberties for the safety of our colleagues, friends, and family.

However, an increasing number of governments are also using the current health emergency to suppress criticism and undesirable information through the proliferation of laws against disinformation. Free speech advocates have long warned against so-called fake news bans, fearing that they would prove to be, at best, a well-intended but ill-conceived effort to address a real problem and, at worst, another weapon in the authoritarians arsenal. Examples abound of these laws applied as a weapon against critics and dissidents, rather than a balm for misinformation. In countries such as Egypt and Singapore, applications of fake news restrictions have led to troubling prosecutions oflawyers,anti-harassment activists,opposition politicians, andwatchdog groups.

The current coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly resulted in the viral spread of misinformation, a veritable infodemic that poses a challenge to containment efforts. Yet the fears that fake news laws are an antidote whose side effects may be worse than the disease are being borne out. Across the globe, illiberal leadersfacing questions about their preparedness to deal with a pandemic that has killed nearly 45,000 people, at a time when too few states appear to be equipped for the challengesee fake news bans as convenient tools to suppress criticism and accurate information just as readily as misinformation.

In Cambodia,Human Rights Watch foundthat at least 17 people have been arrested on fake news charges for comments they made about the coronavirus. The detainees include four members or supporters of the dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), all of whom remain in pretrial detention, as well as a teenage girl who was arrested and subjected to police questioning about her social media posts expressing fear about potential positive diagnoses in her area.

[Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak: Get daily updates on the pandemic and learn how its affecting countries around the world.]

In Thailand, aman was arrestedafter complaining on Facebook about a lack of preventative measures at Bangkoks Suvarnabhumi Airport. He wrote that the airport did not enforce any coronavirus screening against him or his fellow passengers returning from Barcelona, even though Spain now has more coronavirus cases than China, the original epicenter. His arrest is part of a larger effort to crack down on alleged misinformation, which happens to include criticism of Thailands response to the outbreak. These efforts include threats of lawsuits, firings, and punishment against journalists and medical staff who have pointed out the strain that the coronavirus is placing on the countrys public health system.

Turkey has unfortunately become infamous for its suppression of criticism under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. So its unsurprising that, as of a March 16report, authorities had identified at least 93 suspects allegedly responsible for unfounded and provocative social media comments about the coronavirus, and they had arrested 19 of them. Reuterswritesthat the Turkish interior ministry was acting to arrest social media users whose posts were targeting officials and spreading panic and fear by suggesting that the virus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures. But, only 10 days later, the New York Timesreporteda marked surge in Turkish coronavirus cases, outstripping rates in most other countries. While this is obviously politically inconvenient for the Turkish government, it might not be false, then, to suggest that Turkey, like the United States, Italy, and Spain, is insufficiently prepared for the threat of the coronavirus.

A number of other authoritarian and illiberal states such as Egypt, Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, the Philippines, Honduras, and Singapore are taking similar steps byharassing journalists,adopting new lawsspecifically aimed at suppressing fake news, or using existing onesto targetundesirable content on social media.

A new podcast from Foreign Policy covering all aspects of the coronavirus pandemic

However, even countries formally committed to democracy have been infected with the irresistible urge to fight the coronavirus with censorship. On its officialhome page,the South African government warns: Anyone that creates or spreads fake news about the Coronavirus COVID-19 is liable for prosecution. In Indias Himachal Pradesh state, a journalist was arrested on charges of spreading fake news about COVID-19 on social media.

And in Hungary, where democracy has long been in decline under the illiberal government of Prime MinisterViktor Orban, the coronavirus outbreak has offered Orban another opportunity to cement and drastically expand his authority. On March 30, the countrys parliament passedan emergency bill that gives Orban sweeping powers to rule by decree, without a clear cut-off date, according to the Guardian. One terrifying provision of the law? Theintroductionof prison terms of up to five years for anyone publicising false information that alarms the public or impedes government efforts to protect people, the Guardian reports. This bill, with its vague and broad definitions, is a gift to a proven authoritarian who has already made clear his distaste for journalists and critics.

The censorship bug has spread to social media platforms themselves. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter walk a tight line between ensuring the spread of vital information to affected populations and limiting the virality of potentially harmful disinformationsome of it state-sponsored. But due to lockdown measures, the use of automated content moderation has increased on social media platforms where algorithms, rather than humans, have removed well-researched journalistic coronavirus stories from media outlets including the Atlantic and the New York Times. This unintended consequence vividly demonstrates the dangers of erring on the side of censorship in times of even real emergencies.

Its true that many social media postsand even government statementsabout the coronavirus have been unwittingly inaccurate or, worse, intentionally false and intended to spread panic or bigotry. All may be deserving of responses, whether to ensure dangerous medical disinformation is countered with facts or to show support for groups that have been targeted with racist rhetoric. But fake news bans, and the harm they inflict upon civil society and aid they provide to authoritarians, are too tough a pill to swallow.

At a time when information and transparency are necessary to combat this pandemic, it is vital that government-led censorship be identified, exposed, and rejected. The devastating effects of censorship during Chinas initial outbreak make this clear. Had China not engaged in censorship of information it claimed to be false in nearly every step of the outbreakthreatening or silencingdoctors, whistleblowers, journalists, and social media usersits possible that its citizens wouldve been more prepared and taken better precautions that wouldve limited the spread. (This, of course, does not absolve such leaders as U.S. President Donald Trump who are responsible for their own failures to sufficiently prepare for the outbreak or warn their citizens about its dangers.)

The idea that governments should tolerate even false and misleading information is deeply counterintuitive at a time when people around the world are desperate for certainty and reliable information about an outbreak threatening millions of lives. In such times it is tempting to demand prompt and urgent action to combat those who undermine national and global efforts through disinformation. However, the feedback loop of informationmuch of which will be unreliable or wrongis critical in efforts to identify the most efficient responses and communicate them to the public.

Harsh and unprecedented measures are needed to combat the coronavirus. But censorship is not part of the cure, and the more authoritarians use it, the more well see that its a symptom of another disease.

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The Coronavirus Has Started a Censorship Pandemic in Turkey, Hungary, Thailand, and Around the World - Foreign Policy

Social media censorship in the time of coronavirus – Telecoms.com

Every day new initiatives are being announced to ensure people have the correct information on the COVID-19 pandemic, but who watches the watchers?

The BBC reported today that the UK government is cracking down on misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. This is taking the form of a rapid response unit within the Cabinet Office [that] is working with social media firms to remove fake news and harmful content. As ever harmful is undefined, but the government seems worried that people could die as a result of being misinformed.

Meanwhile an initiative started by the BBC, among others, called the Trusted News Initiative, has announced plans to tackle potentially harmful coronavirus disinformation. Most things are potentially harmful, surely, and theres something distinctly sinister about an organisation designating itself trusted. Surely thats for other people to decide.

During emergencies of this magnitude, the need for trusted, factual, evidence-based reporting is more crucial than ever, said Noel Curran, Director-General of the European Broadcasting Union, which calls itself the worlds leading alliance of public service media and is a member of the TNI.

Yet there is a tide of misinformation and bad information, driven mainly through online social platforms, which is threatening to undermine public trust and cause further anxiety for people. This initiative underlines the role of public service media in tackling misinformation head-on and delivering accurate content that audiences can safely rely on.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all members of the TNI too and on top of this, they seem to be constantly rolling out initiatives of their own. Last week Nick Clegg, Facebooks VP of Global Affairs and Communications wrote about what the company is doing to ensure purity of information across all its platforms.

The most untainted source of COVID-19 information, according to Clegg, is the World Health Organization. So Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are now all spamming their users with top tips from the WHO, in many cases whether they like it or not. Until recently not many people would have contested claim that the WHO is the ultimate global authority on such matters the clue is in the name, right? but the tendency of its senior leadership to overtly kowtow to China, as in the clip below, is undermining trust in it.

Speaking of Twitter, it seems to be taking a strong position on the matter of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that also seems to have at least some positive medical effect on COVID-19. Twitter apparently doesnt like people bigging the drug up too much on its platform, even going so far as to take down posts from President Trumps Lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, for extolling its virtues.

However, as Axios points out, Twitter is inconsistent in its implementation of this new rule, having recently permitted a tweet of clear misinformation from tech entrepreneur Elon Musk to stay up. This highlights the problem with this latest attempt at censorship, one shared with all others. The censorship decisions ultimately have to be made by humans and will therefore always be flawed.

Until recently very few people expected Twitter to be expert on the therapeutic qualities of hydroxychloroquine, yet now we do. Meanwhile Facebook has unilaterally anointed the WHO the Oracle of Healthy, despite its refusal to acknowledge Taiwan and many questions about its effectiveness in mitigating the catastrophe the world is now having to endure.

As for trusted sources, how much of the mainstream media can really be trusted? Very few publications dont have some kind of bias, with the US especially egregious in that respect. If President Trump suggested a new course of action, how sure can we be that CNN or the New York Times wouldnt dismiss it out of hand or that Fox News would subject it to proper scrutiny?

The thing is, Journalists are human too and no less prone to biases and prejudices than anyone else. At Telecoms.com we never expect our audience to unquestioningly accept everything we say and encourage stress-testing of our stories by investigating what else has been written on the matter. In fact, the more trusted a source of information claims to be, the more we would urge you to seek a second opinion.

As we have said previously, censorship is at best a game of whack-a-mole because you cant perfect speech. You cant have good speech without bad speech and attempts to eradicate the latter lead to no speech at all, at least none that you can hear in public. In practice censorship just drives banned speech underground, where it gains prominence and is subject to far less scrutiny.

There is currently an abundance of official information on the coronavirus pandemic, meaning supposed misinformation can easily be fact-checked by anyone with an internet connection. Nothing can be done about those who choose not to and attempting to protect such people from themselves through blanket censorship and culling of information sources is both futile and repressive.

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Social media censorship in the time of coronavirus - Telecoms.com

Landmarks in law: the controversial 80s play that defied gay censorship – The Guardian

It is 40 years since Howard Brentons play The Romans in Britain, directed by Michael Bogdanov, opened at Londons National Theatre. Set in ancient Rome, it deals with themes of imperialism and abuse of power, and became infamous for a brief episode in its first act when actors Peter Sproule and Greg Hicks portrayed an act of male rape.

The play made legal and political history when morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse tried to prosecute Bogdanov using the Sexual Offences Act 1956, alleging that he had procured an act of gross indecency between two men by directing the two actors.

The controversy reflected the cultural wars of the time. Thirteen years before the play had opened, the Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men. Yet as Geoffrey Robertson QC, who was a junior barrister for the defence, says, the attitude of the law was that it was not to be encouraged or legitimised.

Theatre censorship became less common after the Theatres Act abolished the lord chamberlains historic role of censor in 1968, but homophobic attitudes were still the norm. In 1976, Whitehouse, described by Robertson as the self-appointed conscience of the nation, sent her solicitor Graham Ross-Cornes to see The Romans in Britain, and then sought to bring her case.

The director of public prosecutions, Thomas Hetherington, advised the attorney general, Michael Havers, that the play did not contravene the Theatres Act. So Whitehouse tried another route and sought to prosecute Bogdanov under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. The legislation was designed to prevent men soliciting in public lavatories which is why, according to Robertson, the prosecution treated the National Theatre as a large public toilet.

Defence barrister Jeremy Hutchinson compiled a list of actors who were willing to give evidence for Bogdanov, while the prosecution only planned to call Ross-Cornes.

His evidence in the trial at the Old Bailey, Robertson says, prompted one of the most amazing piece of cross-examination ever heard. Giving his evidence, Ross-Cornes had not said where in the theatre he had been sitting.

Barristers are reluctant ever to ask a question in court to which they do not know the answer, and Hutchinson had to be persuaded to ask Ross-Cornes to mark on a map of the theatre where he had watched the production from.

The plan came back showing he had been sitting in the back row of the upper circle, 90 yards from the action. This exchange followed:

Hutchinson: You know that theatre is the art of illusion?

Ross-Cornes: If you say so, Lord Hutchinson.

Hutchinson: And as part of that illusion actors use physical gestures to convey impressions to an audience?

Ross-Cornes: Yes, I would accept that.

Hutchinson: And from the back row, 90 yards from the stage, you can be certain that what you saw was the tip of the actors penis?

Ross-Cornes: Well, if you put it that way, I cant be absolutely certain. But what else could it have been?

At this point Hutchinson balled up his fist, placed his hand by his groin and his gown over his hand, stuck out his thumb and made a thrusting action. He then asked: Are you sure you did not see the tip of the actors thumb? Ross-Corness subsequent admission that he might have been mistaken halted the trial.

As Robertson says, the case put an end to Whitehouses courtroom crusades. Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, meanwhile, says the cases impact went beyond the play itself: The failure of the prosecution was a huge victory, not just for LGBT+ people and the theatre world, but also against censorship and for liberal Britain. It struck a blow for gay visibility, against the homophobes and puritans.

But Lord Michael Cashman, the actor who played Colin Russell on Eastenders and portrayed the first ever gay kiss in a UK soap opera, says: The case was a very clear indicator that homosexuality would not even be tolerated, let alone expressed on a theatre stage.

He is unsure that the case accelerated the campaign for equality but says it was a vivid reminder that our rights were non-existent.

He says the support that the defence received from senior figures across the creative industries was heartening and encouraging, but adds: It must be remembered that they were defending not particularly homosexual issues but the right to artistic independence, as well as challenging the notion of censorship via the imposition of anothers perspective on morality.

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Landmarks in law: the controversial 80s play that defied gay censorship - The Guardian

Turkey among several countries censoring their coronavirus critics – Ahval

An increasing number of governments - including Turkey - are using emergency measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic to suppress criticism and undesirable information, said analysts writing in the magazine Foreign Policy.

Many freedoms that citizens take for granted have been suspended in order to save lives during the pandemic, and misinformation poses a challenge to containment of the virus. But the proliferation of laws and censorship against supposed fake news, or disinformation, in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Singapore has led to troubling prosecutions and harassment of lawyers, anti-harassment activists, opposition politicians, and watchdog groups, said FP on Wednesday.

Across the globe, illiberal leaders - facing questions about their preparedness to deal with a pandemic that has killed nearly 45,000 people, at a time when too few states appear to be equipped for the challenge - see fake news bans as convenient tools to suppress criticism and accurate information just as readily as misinformation, said FP.

The FP said that, as Turkey has become infamous for its suppression of criticism under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoan, it is unsurprising that the authorities had identified at least 93 suspects allegedly responsible for unfounded and provocative social media comments about the coronavirus, and had arrested 19 of them.

The Turkish Interior Ministry has been arresting social media users whose posts were targeting officials and spreading panic and fear by suggesting that the virus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures, said FP, citing a Reuters report.

But Turkey on Wednesday confirmed 63 new deaths of people who contracted the coronavirus, marking the second consecutive deadliest day in the battle against COVID-19.With the new numbers, the total number of coronavirus deaths in Turkey have reached 277, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Another 2,148 people have tested positive for the deadly virus, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 15,679, he added.

While this is obviously politically inconvenient for the Turkish government, it might not be false, then, to suggest that Turkey, like the United States, Italy, and Spain, is insufficiently prepared for the threat of the coronavirus, said the FP.

The FP also detailed a range of similar prosecutions and harassment under the guise of tacking disinformation in Cambodia, Thailand, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Russia, Iran, the Philippines, Honduras, Singapore, South Africa, India, and Hungary. Many social media platforms have also taken down well-researched coronavirus content.

The FP said that censorship in China by threatening or silencing doctors, whistleblowers, journalists, and social media users during the outbreak has demonstrated the harm in such an approachas its citizens would have been more prepared and taken better precautions to limit the spread of the virus.

At a time when information and transparency are necessary to combat this pandemic, it is vital that government-led censorship be identified, exposed, and rejected, said FP.

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Turkey among several countries censoring their coronavirus critics - Ahval

It’s a bad idea for journalists to censor Trump instead, they can help the public identify what’s true or false – The Conversation US

In times of mortal strife, humans crave information more than ever, and its journalists responsibility to deliver it.

But what if that information is inaccurate, or could even kill people?

Thats the quandary journalists have found themselves in as they decide whether to cover President Donald J. Trumps press briefings live.

Some television networks have started cutting away from the briefings, saying the events are no more than campaign rallies, and that the president is spreading falsehoods that endanger the public.

If Trump is going to keep lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us, stop broadcasting it, MSNBCs Rachel Maddow tweeted. Honestly, its going to cost lives.

News decisions and ethical dilemmas arent simple, but withholding information from the public is inconsistent with journalistic norms, and while well-meaning, could actually cause more harm than good in the long run. Keeping the presidents statements from the public prevents the public from being able to evaluate his performance, for example.

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, updated in 2014 during my term as president, states that the press must seek truth and report it, while also minimizing harm.

When the president of the United States speaks, it matters it is newsworthy, its history in the making. Relaying that event to the public as it plays out is critical for citizens, who can see and hear for themselves what their leader is saying, and evaluate the facts for themselves so that they may adequately self-govern.

Thats true even if leaders lie. Actually, its even more important when leaders lie.

Think of libertarian philosopher John Miltons plea for the free flow of information and end of censorship in 1600s England. Put it all out there and let people sort the lies from the truth, Milton urged: Let her and Falsehood grapple.

If a president spreads lies and disinformation, or minimizes health risks, then the electorate needs to know that to make informed decisions at the polls, perhaps to vote the person out to prevent future missteps.

Likewise, theres a chance the president could be correct in his representation of at least some of the facts.

Its not up to journalists to decide, but simply report what is said while providing additional context and facts that may or may not support what the president said.

Maddow is correct that journalists should not simply parrot information spoon fed by those in power to readers and viewers who might struggle to make sense of it in a vacuum. That is why its imperative journalists continuously challenge false and misleading statements, and trust the public to figure it out.

Those who would urge the medias censorship of the presidents speeches may feel they are protecting citizens from being duped, because they believe the average person cant distinguish fact from fiction. Communication scholars call this third-person effect, where we feel ourselves savvy enough to identify lies, but think other more vulnerable, gullible and impressionable minds cannot.

It is understandable why journalists would try to protect the public from lies. Thats the minimizing harm part in the SPJ code of ethics, which is critical in these times, when inaccurate information can put a persons health at risk or cause them to make a fatal decision.

So how do journalists report the days events while minimizing harm and tamping down the spread of disinformation? Perhaps this can be accomplished through techniques already in use during this unorthodox presidential period:

Report the press briefings live for all to see, while providing live commentary and fact-checking, as PolitiFact and others have done for live presidential debates.

Fact-check the president after his talks, through contextual stories that provide the public accurate information, in the media and through websites such as FactCheck.org.

Call intentional mistruths what they are: Lies. With this administration, journalists have become more willing to call intentional falsehoods lies, and that needs to continue, if not even more bluntly.

Develop a deep list of independent experts that can be on hand to counter misinformation as it is communicated.

Report transparently and openly, clearly identifying sources, providing supplemental documents online, and acknowledging limitations of information.

The coronavirus pandemic is a critical time for the nations health and its democracy. Now, more than ever, we need information. As humans, we crave knowing what is going on around us, a basic awareness instinct, as termed by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in their foundational book, The Elements of Journalism.

Sometimes people dont even realize they need information until after they have lost it.

In his autobiography, the late Sen. John McCain wrote that upon his release after five years as a Vietnamese prisoner of war, the first thing he did when he got to a Philippines military base was order a steak dinner and stack of newspapers.

I wanted to know what was going on in the world, and I grasped anything I could find that might offer a little enlightenment, McCain wrote. The thing I missed most was information free, uncensored, undistorted, abundant information.

People arent dummies. They can decipher good information from bad, as long as they have all the facts at their disposal.

And journalists are the ones best positioned to deliver it.

[You need to understand the coronavirus pandemic, and we can help. Read our newsletter.]

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It's a bad idea for journalists to censor Trump instead, they can help the public identify what's true or false - The Conversation US

Bitcoin Core shifts to dark web to resist censorship – Decrypt

In brief

The Bitcoin Core website is now reachable through the dark web, according to a statement on March 27. It will provide a greater level of resistance against censorship.

The Bitcoin Core website posts the latest updates to the open-source Bitcoin software. Bitcoin Core is maintained by a large group of developers.

The darknet or dark web is a part of the Internet that's hidden from Google. Image: Shutterstock.

After frequent requests, this site is now reachable as a Tor hidden service through an onion address, the post stated, adding, As well as adding another means of censorship resistance, a hidden service gives an alternative trust path that doesnt rely on certificate authorities nor DNS infrastructure.

Certificate authorities check that websites are genuine while the DNS infrastructure is what connects IP addresses to domain names, such as http://www.bitcoincore.org. By making the site accessible via the dark web, it becomes less reliant on these technologies.

The dark web is a segment of the Internet not indexed by traditional search engines. On the most basic level, this means that you cant find or visit a dark web site unless you know its exact URL-address. The dark web can be accessed via the Tor browser.

While the dark web is most commonly associated with illegal activities, such as buying and selling drugs, it can be used for legitimate reasons.

In October 2019, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) made its website available to Tor users last October by providing a dark web copy. This made its content available in Vietnam, China and Iran, where it was being censored.

However, the dark web can be risky to use. As Decrypt reported last year, malicious actors have used the onion network to steal Bitcoin funds from unsuspecting users.

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Bitcoin Core shifts to dark web to resist censorship - Decrypt

The mounting human cost of Chinas coronavirus censorship – Reclaim The Net

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Covid-19, the condition that first rose from a wet market in Wuhan, is now crippling a better part of the world. While China says that it is recovering and is returning to normalcy, it is worth noting that the country has time and again wiped evidence, manipulated the state media, and blatantly lied.

This has been the same way the country tackled the SARS outbreak hiding facts and silencing whistleblowers.

A leader of the WHO that recently visited China was in awe of the countrys miraculous recovery from the outbreak. I think the key learning from China is speed its all about the speed, said Dr. Bruce Aylward.

That has been true indeed. Whether it was building an emergency hospital in ten days or suppressing the news of the mysterious infection from December till January, the Chinese Communist Party was indeed swift.

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Heres a brief account of all the activity that took place prior to China officially acknowledging the fact that it was hit with an epidemic disease:

First, the government workers and officials of Wuhan kept mum when several people were falling sick and suffered from a set of common symptoms. Not a single official divulged the dire situation to any media personnel within the country.

Secondly, by December 25, Dr. Lu Xiaohong, who first recognized that some catastrophic was about to occur, hesitated to speak up to the authorities or media persons.

In China, journalists and their sources face a harsh action for speaking up about any concerning happenings in the country.

Had it not been so risky, Lu would have revealed the facts to at least one media outlet, if not higher authorities, who should have probably made the news public.

MORE:Viral video shows Police in China arriving at womans door, telling her to delete coronavirus post

Finally, when a group of whistleblowers tried to make it public knowledge that there was an infection ravaging the masses, they were arrested on grounds of circulating false rumors.

Whats more, eight of these whistleblowers have passed away from coronavirus infection. Finally, by December 31, China broke its silence and intimated the WHO about the to-be pandemic.

Four days after China revealed the Coronavirus outbreak to the WHO, it ended up sequencing the virus, and yet again, chose not to reveal the information immediately. So despite sequencing the virus on January 5th, the information was not out till January 11th, when the first coronavirus-related death surfaced.

MORE:Dr. Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded for warning people of coronavirus on Weibo, has died

Now, despite publicly declaring the news of coronavirus infections, China went on to censor several keywords related to the outbreak on its highly controlled platform, WeChat.

According to an analysis by the University of South Hampton, it was revealed that China could have potentially manipulated the statistics of the number of coronavirus-infected people by as much as 67%.

The study estimates that by the end of February 2020 there was a total of 114, 325 COVID-19 cases in China. It shows that without non-pharmaceutical interventions such as early detection, isolation of cases, travel restrictions and cordon sanitaire the number of infected people would have been 67 times larger than that which actually occurred, reads an excerpt taken from the analysis.

MORE:China tells citizens to only share coronavirus news from state-run media, or face up to seven years in jail

The leading international NGO Reporters Without Borders also claims that Chinas lackadaisical attitude when it came to revealing the growth and spread of the Coronavirus could cost millions of lives around the globe.

Without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier of the severity of the coronavirus epidemic, sparing thousands of lives and perhaps avoiding the current pandemic, argued the RSF.

Sadly, most social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are also blocked in China, meaning that the citizens cant even reach out to social media and share their angst with their fellow countrymen.

While tech-savvy individuals still browse the social media networks with the help of VPNs, they still remain silent about the surrounding happenings. Because in China, expressing dissent from the governments actions can end up causing costly repercussions.

Cut to a decade earlier, there was another epidemic, much like the coronavirus, that the Chinese government ended up successfully dealing with: The SARS pandemic.

China got away with manipulating the figures, consequences, and every possible detail of the epidemic; back then, the internet was still in its nascent stages, meaning that people did not have social media and other similar outlets to spread information.

While the WHO is simply blowing the trumpet of the Chinese government and its excellent measures in tackling the coronavirus outbreak, it must account for the blatant censorship and manipulation of the truth that takes place behind the scenes and the lives that it cost.

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The mounting human cost of Chinas coronavirus censorship - Reclaim The Net

Turkmenistan bans the word Coronavirus, wearing of masks, in a major censorship move – The Statesman

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 42,000 people worldwide according to Johns Hopkins University, but the figure may be far from reality as countries like Turkmenistan take drastic steps to suppress information about the spread of pandemic.

A recent report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reveals that the central Asian country has banned the word Coronavirus as the country continues to deny any information on the spread of virus.

According to Turkmenistan Chronicle, one of the few sources of independent news, the state-controlled media are no longer allowed to use the word and it has even been removed from health information brochures distributed in schools, hospitals and workplaces.

There is no data available on the number of coronavirus patients in the country. A correspondent of Chronicles of Turkmenistan reports from the infectious diseases hospital in Ashgabat that a lot of patients with respiratory infections have been admitted to the hospital but all of them are officially diagnosed with acute respiratory viral infection.

According to journalists based in the capital, Ashgabat, who report for Radio Azatlyk, the Turkmen language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, people wearing face masks or talking about the coronavirus on the street, at bus stops or in lines outside shops are liable to be arrested by plainclothes police.

The Turkmen authorities have lived up to their reputation by adopting this extreme method for eradicating all information about the coronavirus, said Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSFs Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

However, a report by Turkmenistan Chronicle says, despite the official statements about no confirmed cases, large-scale prevention measures are underway in the country. In public places and bank officers people are provided with sanitizers to wipe their hands and are requested to use a mouth spray; at the train stations and at entry checkpoints in Ashgabat residents get their temperature taken; the municipal buses are disinfected with a chlorine solution. Even bus stops are washed with an unidentified sanitizer.

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Turkmenistan bans the word Coronavirus, wearing of masks, in a major censorship move - The Statesman

Society’s Dependence on the Internet: 5 Cyber Issues the Coronavirus Lays Bare – Nextgov

As more and more U.S. schools and businesses shutter their doors, the rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic is helping to expose societys dependencegood and badon the digital world.

Entire swaths of society, including classes we teach at American University, have moved online until the coast is clear. As vast segments of society are temporarily forced into isolation to achieve social distancing, the internet is their window into the world. Online social events like virtual happy hours foster a sense of connectedness amid social distancing. While the online world is often portrayed as a societal ill, this pandemic is a reminder of how much the digital world has to offer.

The pandemic also lays bare the many vulnerabilities created by societys dependence on the internet. These include the dangerous consequences of censorship, the constantly morphing spread of disinformation, supply chain vulnerabilities and the risks of weak cybersecurity.

1. Chinas censorship affects us all.

The global pandemic reminds us that even local censorship can have global ramifications. Chinas early suppression of coronavirus information likely contributed to what is now a worldwide pandemic. Had the doctor in Wuhan who spotted the outbreak been able to speak freely, public health authorities might have been able to do more to contain it early.

China is not alone. Much of the world lives in countries that impose controls on what can and cannot be said about their governments online. Such censorship is not just a free speech issue, but a public health issue as well. Technologies that circumvent censorship are increasingly a matter of life and death.

2. Disinformation online isnt just speechits also a matter of health and safety.

During a public health emergency, sharing accurate information rapidly is critical. Social media can be an effective tool for doing just that. But its also a source of disinformation and manipulation in ways that can threaten global health and personal safety something tech companies are desperately, yet imperfectly, trying to combat.

Facebook, for example, has banned ads selling face masks or promising false preventions or cures, while giving the World Health Organization unlimited ad space. Twitter is placing links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other reliable information sources atop search returns. Meanwhile, Russia and others reportedly are spreading rumors about the coronaviruss origins. Others are using the coronavirus to spread racist vitriol, in ways that put individuals at risk.

Not only does COVID-19 warn us of the costs and geopolitics of disinformation, it highlights the roles and responsibilities of the private sector in confronting these risks. Figuring out how to do so effectively, without suppressing legitimate critics, is one of the greatest challenges for the next decade.

3. Cyber resiliency and security matter more than ever.

Our university has moved our work online. We are holding meetings by video chat and conducting virtual courses. While many dont have this luxury, including those on the front lines of health and public safety or newly unemployed, thousands of other universities, businesses and other institutions also moved online a testament to the benefits of technological innovation.

At the same time, these moves remind us of the importance of strong encryption, reliable networks and effective cyber defenses. Today network outages are not just about losing access to Netflix but about losing livelihoods. Cyber insecurity is also a threat to public health, such as when ransomware attacks disrupt entire medical facilities.

4. Smart technologies as a lifeline.

The virus also exposes the promise and risks of the internet of things, the globe-spanning web of always-on, always-connected cameras, thermostats, alarm systems and other physical objects. Smart thermometers, blood pressure monitors and other medical devices are increasingly connected to the web. This makes it easier for people with pre-existing conditions to manage their health at home, rather than having to seek treatment in a medical facility where they are at much greater risk of exposure to the disease.

Yet this reliance on the internet of things carries risks. Insecure smart devices can be co-opted to disrupt democracy and society, such as when the Mirai botnet hijacked home appliances to disrupt critical news and information sites in the fall of 2016. When digitally interconnected devices are attacked, their benefits suddenly disappear adding to the sense of crisis and sending those dependent on connected home diagnostic tools into already overcrowded hospitals.

5. Tech supply chain is a point of vulnerability.

The shutdown of Chinese factories in the wake of the pandemic interrupted the supply of critical parts to many industries, including the U.S. tech sector. Even Apple had to temporarily halt production of the iPhone. Had China not begun to recover, the toll on the global economy could have been even greater than it is now.

This interdependence of our supply chain is neither new nor tech-specific. Manufacturing medical and otherwise has long depended on parts from all over the world. The crisis serves as a reminder of the global, complex interactions of the many companies that produce gadgets, phones, computers and many other products on which the economy and society as a whole depend. Even if the virus had never traveled outside of China, the effects would have reverberated highlighting ways in which even local crises have global ramifications.

Cyber Policy in Everything

As the next phase of the pandemic response unfolds, society will be grappling with more and more difficult questions. Among the many challenges are complex choices about how to curb the spread of the disease while preserving core freedoms. How much tracking and surveillance are people willing to accept as a means of protecting public health?

As Laura explains in The Internet in Everything, cyber policy is now entangled with everything, including health, the environment and consumer safety. Choices that we make now, about cybersecurity, speech online, encryption policies and product design will have dramatic ramifications for health, security and basic human flourishing.

Laura DeNardis is a professor of communication studies at American University School of Communication and Jennifer Daskal is a professor of law and faculty director of the Technology, Law & Security Program at American University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Society's Dependence on the Internet: 5 Cyber Issues the Coronavirus Lays Bare - Nextgov

Indias government wants to censor the media to fight Covid-19 but transparency is a better weapon – Scroll.in

On Tuesday, it emerged that the Indian government had asked the Supreme Court to legalise censorship. Claiming that there is a high chance of panicked reactions based on any deliberate or unintended fake or inaccurate reporting, it urged the court to issue orders that would not allow any news to be published or broadcast without media organisations first ascertaining the true factual position meaning whatever the government says.

The Supreme Court ultimately chose not to institute a system of censorship, but accepted the governments dubious claim that the mass exodus of migrant workers over the last week was due to fake news. We do not intend to interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic, but direct the media refer to and publish the official version about the developments, the court said in its verdict.

The problem with these contentions is that they miss the actual reason for panic in the country over the last two weeks.

First there was a wave of panic buying in Indias markets even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a self-imposed janata curfew, simply because of his reputation for political unpredictability.

There was even more panic buying after Modis second speech, because he did not clearly explain to people how they could get food and medicines during the three-week shutdown, prompting the prime minister to tweet in all caps, THERE IS NO NEED TO PANIC.

Finally, the migrant labour exodus began as soon as it became clear that lockdowns were being considered and that work and wages would dry up. In Delhi, as the Bharatiya Janata Party sought to wriggle out of responsibility for the masses of workers heading out of the city, it floated the theory that the flight had been caused by the actions of the Aam Aadmi Party government. It did not identify the media as the villain.

It is clear thaat the panic and rumours have come about not because of the media but because of the lack of information from the government. The courts directions to the media that it must take the official version are a problem because, in many cases, the government has simply not been forthcoming.

The government has made it difficult to access most information whether it is data on the number of people who have been confirmed with Covid-19, how much testing India is doing, whether the government has sufficient stockpiles of safety equipment, what the spread of the disease looks like, why there were major delays in sourcing of gear for healthcare workers, the technical specifications for testing kits approved for use in India, and much more.

In many cases, it was only after repeated questioning that the government issued the information at all. In fact, there has been so much stone-walling that a collective of health reporters across various news organisations decided to publish this list of 10 questions that the government needs to answer.

This lack of transparency is short-sighted. By refusing to give information, or not creating the systems for easy dissemination, the government may believe it can better control the narrative. But diseases cannot be beaten by winning the narrative.

Here are three reasons why the government should be much more transparent.

In this age of social media and a 24-hour news cycle, a limited amount of information from the government will only lead to more speculation about the situation. The best way to combat this is by providing precise, detailed information and to disseminate it widely.

There is undoubtedly fake news going around but the best way to defeat it would be for the government to answer all the questions that journalists pose and ensure that any citizen can easily access information. Hiding data, delaying numbers and refusing to answer questions does not inspire any confidence. It will only inspire more rumours.

For India to effectively battle the pandemic, officials from the local level up to the Central as well as many in the private sector must be focused on taking on Covid-19 right now. Yet the government has not even been transparent about which testing kits for the coronavirus have been approved for use by private companies and state governments.

This may just have been an oversight. But it is only when the media is free to ask questions that the governments attention will be drawn to such crucial gaps in information that could have a direct bearing on how successful India is in its fight against Covid-19.

This is not just about looking bad under media questioning. This is about having all the information to address the Coronavirus crisis.

No one criticises the government for not already having a vaccine to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Why? Because people understand that this is a new phenomenon that has precipitated a global crisis and will take all the best efforts of governments and individuals all over the world to combat.

Indeed, we need to look far beyond the capabilities of just the Indian state. The Principal Scientific Adviser to the government of India has called on the countryslarge pool of scientists and companies working in the field of science to help take on this challenge. The NITI Aayog has called for doctors to volunteer to tackle the outbreak. Many in Indias Information Technology sector organsed a hackathon to develop apps that can assist in the battle.

Indeed, much of the worlds responses to Covid-19 have been aided by involvement of private individuals, whether researchers or coders or medical professionals.

But for government to enlist the public in this battle whether it is a medical scholar in a small town that needs to know which testing kits are approved or an I-T professional who needs more data about testing to design better analytics or a high-net-worth individual who wants to source and distribute protective equipment but doesnt know whether India is lacking them and which part of the country has insufficient stockpiles it will only be possible if authorities are forthcoming with information.

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Indias government wants to censor the media to fight Covid-19 but transparency is a better weapon - Scroll.in

YouTube continues to ban crypto content; None knows the reason – iNVEZZ

Apart from the devastating crash that Bitcoin is currently facing, another potential threat to the pioneer cryptocurrency and the entire crypto industry at large is censorship from giant tech companies like YouTube.

In a recent bout of censorship, two separate crypto YouTube channels had videos deleted temporarily.

The two YouTubers who had their videos deleted include Ivan on Tech (a crypto programmer) and The Moon (a crypto reporter and technical analyst).

Both responded to the matter via twitter saying that they had received several strikes from YouTube about Bitcoin being harmful content.

YouTube has a long history of censoring crypto content.

At the tail end of 2019, many crypto YouTubers including seasoned content creators like Nicholas Merten received content strikes from YouTube despite not uploading videos for days.

In a tweet, Merten said,

In response, The MoonCarl also replied in a tweet that acknowledged a similar move by YouTube on his channel.

Other channels like Nugget News received up to two content strikes in a single day with 50 videos being removed from the channel.

Saunders, the owner of Nugget News, expressed fears of the channel getting deleted from YouTube in a tweet that read,

Also affected was a Canadian Bitcoin educator with a channel called BTCSessions and Chriss Dunn a crypto and finance reporter.

Following the crypto purge of 2019 on YouTube, an outrage emerged on twitter to which YouTube replied saying that the decision to ban Bitcoin and cryptocurrency videos from its site was an error and the removed videos would be reinstated.

It might be argued that the move was meant to protect consumers from scams.

However, for most onlookers as well as the entire crypto community, the move does not make any sense especially since Google and Facebook already lifted the crypto advertising ban in 2018.

Invezz asked Mati Greenspan, the founder of Quantum Economics, about his opinion on whether the current bout of crypto censorship is as a result of the companys hidden agenda or the result of an internal error.

In his reply, Greenspan said that it is difficult to know for sure but many in the community feel that the censorship is international.

He adds,

We could only speculate on why they might want to censor crypto content, perhaps it threatens their current future business model in some way.

While speaking to Decrypt, a YouTube spokesman said,

With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call.When its brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.

However, with recent reports indicating a continuation of the crypto ban on YouTube, the reasons for deletion crypto-related videos remains to be anyones guess.

While YouTube hasnt responded to the recent bout of censorship and why its still affecting crypto-related channels, some on twitter have suggested moving crypto content to decentralized platforms that are censorship-resistant.

In reaction to last years crypto purge on YouTube, Greenspan together with several crypto YouTubers moved to boycott YouTube.

This time around, when asked whether there are any other viable decentralized alternatives for crypto YouTubers, Greenspan replied,

Im not sure there are any viable decentralized options at this point. For myself though, Ive preferred not to stream on YouTube for the time being and instead am hosting live streams on Periscope and Twitter.

Weighing in on the matter, Chris Burniske, a renowned crypto influencer, tweeted that such violations by companies like YouTube, will push suppliers and consumers away from platforms and towards protocols.

Burniske also added that since platforms like YouTube are owned by shareholders and give no governance rights to suppliers and consumers and further centralize economic resources over time, the violations crypto YouTubers are facing currently are bound to repeatedly occur.

Censorship on platforms like YouTube has existed for a long time. While there are many theories on twitter explaining the reasons for the latest censorship bout, it is clear to most like Burniske that this will not be the end of it. Platforms like YouTube face pressure from different governments, advertisers, and organizations to remove a wide range of content. Perhaps its time for the crypto community to create their decentralized alternatives much like how Everipedia is disrupting the Wikipedia formula without the use of advertisement.

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YouTube continues to ban crypto content; None knows the reason - iNVEZZ

How Authoritarians Are Exploiting the Covid-19 Crisis to Grab Power – The New York Review of Books

Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty ImagesPro-democracy activists holding pictures of missing citizen journalist Fang Bin and anti-corruption activistXu Zhiyong, who had been interrogating President Xi Jinpings handling of the Covid-19 crisis, at a protest outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, February 19, 2020

For authoritarian-minded leaders, the coronavirus crisis is offering a convenient pretext to silence critics and consolidate power. Censorship in China and elsewhere has fed the pandemic, helping to turn a potentially containable threat into a global calamity. The health crisis will inevitably subside, but autocratic governments dangerous expansion of power may be one of the pandemics most enduring legacies.

In times of crisis, peoples health depends at minimum on free access to timely, accurate information. The Chinese government illustrated the disastrous consequence of ignoring that reality. When doctors in Wuhan tried to sound the alarm in December about the new coronavirus, authorities silenced and reprimanded them. The failure to heed their warnings gave Covid-19 a devastating three-week head start. As millions of travelers left or passed through Wuhan, the virus spread across China and around the world.

Even now, the Chinese government is placing its political goals above public health. It claims that the coronavirus has been tamed but wont allow independent verification. It is expelling journalists from several leading US publications, including those that have produced incisive reporting, and has detained independent Chinese reporters who venture to Wuhan. Meanwhile, Beijing is pushing wild conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus, hoping to deflect attention from the tragic results of its early cover-up.

Others are following Chinas example. In Thailand, Cambodia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, and Turkey, governments are detaining journalists, opposition activists, healthcare workers, and anyone else who dares to criticize the official response to the coronavirus. Needless to say, ignorance-is-bliss is not an effective public health strategy.

When independent media is silenced, governments are able to promote self-serving propaganda rather than facts. Egypts President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, for example, downplayed the coronavirus threat for weeks, apparently wanting to avoid harming Egypts tourist industry. His government expelled a Guardian correspondent and warned a New York Times journalist after their articles questioned government figures on the number of coronavirus cases.

The government of Turkeys President Recep Tayyip Erdogan implausibly denies that there are any Covid-19 cases in its prisons, and a prosecutor is investigating a member of parliamenthimself a doctorwho says that a seventy-year-old inmate and a member of the prison staff have tested positive. Thailands Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-ocha warned journalists to report on government press conferences only and not to interview medical personnel in the field.

Of course, a free media is not a certain antidote. Responsible government is also needed. US President Donald Trump initially called the coronavirus a hoax. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called the virus a fantasy and preventive measures hysterical. Before belatedly telling people to stay home, Mexican President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador ostentatiously held rallies, and hugged, kissed, and shook hands with supporters. But at least a free media can highlight such irresponsibility; a silenced media allows it to proceed unchallenged.

Recognizing that the public is more willing to accept government power grabs in times of crisis, some leaders see the coronavirus as an opportunity not only to censor criticism but also to undermine checks and balances on their power. Much as the war on terrorism was used to justify certain long-lasting restrictions on civil liberties, so the fight against the coronavirus threatens longer-term damage to democratic rule.

Although Hungary has reported Covid-19 infections only in the hundreds to date, Prime Minister Viktor Orbn used his partys parliamentary majority to secure an indefinite state of emergency that enables him to rule by decree and imprison for up to five years any journalist who disseminates news that is deemed false. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has also awarded himself emergency powers to silence fake news.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces corruption charges, his justice minister cited the coronavirus to suspend courts for most cases, as did a close parliamentary ally as he attempted to prevent the oppositions new majority from ousting him as Knesset speakera move that the Israeli Supreme Court said undermin[ed] the foundations of the democratic process. The Trump administration has cited the coronavirus to discourage requests under the Freedom of Information Act, suddenly insisting they be made by only traditional mail, in spite of the greater public health safety of electronic communication.

Some governments are breathing a sigh of relief that the coronavirus has provided a convenient reason to limit political demonstrations. The Algerian government has halted regular protests seeking genuine democratic reform that have been under way for more than a year. The Russian government has stopped even single-person protests against Vladimir Putins plans to rip up term limits on his presidency. The Indian governments recently announced three-week lockdown conveniently ends the running protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modis anti-Muslim citizenship policies. It remains to be seen whether such restrictions outlive the coronavirus threat.

Other governments are using the coronavirus to intensify digital surveillance. China has deepened and extended the surveillance state that is most developed in Xinjiang, where it was used to identify some of the one million Uighur and other Turkic Muslims for detention and forced indoctrination. South Korea has broadcast detailed and highly revealing information about peoples movements to anyone who might have had contact with them. Israels government has cited the coronavirus to authorize its Shin Bet internal security agency to use vast amounts of location-tracking data from the cellphones of ordinary Israelis. In Moscow, Russia is installing one of the worlds largest surveillance camera systems equipped with facial recognition technology. As occurred after September 11, 2001, it may be difficult to put the surveillance genie back in the bottle after the crisis fades.

There is no question these are extraordinary times. International human rights law permits restrictions on liberty in times of national emergency that are necessary and proportionate. But we should be very wary of leaders who exploit this crisis to serve their political ends. They are jeopardizing both democracy and our health.

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How Authoritarians Are Exploiting the Covid-19 Crisis to Grab Power - The New York Review of Books

Corona Cover-Up? Videos The Chinese Government Would Rather You Don’t See Surface on The Internet – Talent Recap

Months after the Coronavirus outbreak began in the city of Wuhan, residents have only just been given the chance to collect the ashes of loved ones. In these recently released photos that have been censored, residents can be seen queuing for hours on end to collect the remains of lost family members.

Residents of Wuhan were seen queuing this week to collect the ashes of their close family members that have died to the Coronavirus. This is the first time residents have been able to collect ashes due to a past ban on operating cremation facilities. The city of Wuhan has been on lockdown for months ever since it was reported that it was the epicenter for the worlds first cases of Coronavirus.

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A similar practice has occurred at Wuhans Wuchang Funeral Home. The video below shows staff members calling out the names of those that have passed as ashes are given out. Audio in the video also claims that Cremation is free and that the government is giving out free urns to all those that visit. The validity of these statements is unknown.

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These photos were originally posted on social media site, Weibo. However, according to new claims, these photos have been censored from the site. In the past, it has been reported that Weibo works closely with the Chinese government to censor content. According to a whistleblower that worked at the site for 2 years, there are over 160 censorship employees working for Weibo.

Heres what the whistleblower told the CPJ about Weibos censorship program:

The Communist Party was terrified by Weibo, staring at it with fear and the determination to tame it The core of Weibo censorship is the lack of clear rules that users can follow. You dont know whether you will be the next target of censorship. Such tactics instill fear in you, then you start to behave yourself. Gradually, it becomes natural not to speak your mind. Over time, you lose the ability to express yourself as a normal person would do in a free society. That is the effect of censorship in the longrun.

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Corona Cover-Up? Videos The Chinese Government Would Rather You Don't See Surface on The Internet - Talent Recap

Under the pretext of combating coronavirus States trying to crush the opposition and to tighten censorship – The KXAN 36 News

Police checks on the observance of quarantine measuresAzrbaycan Respublikas Daxili Nazirliyi Ilr / Twitter Turkish Police checks on the observance of quarantine measuresTrk Polis Tekilat / / Twitter

human rights activists around the world pay attention to the fact that some governments are trying to use combat coronavirus as a pretext to increase pressure on the opposition and uncontrolled media. Officials also tend to give extremely broad powers.

Examples of this policy, particularly in the post-Soviet space, leads to BBC Russian service. So, on March 19 the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev stated that the fifth column and national traitors can use the pandemic coronavirus to commit provocations. He accused the opposition of trying to sow confusion and panic. After that, the country has carried out arrests of opposition leaders.

In Armenia government ordered the media to publish information only from official sources. In the end, the Public television of Armenia was forced to remove an article which quoted the CNN report that Irans average every 10 minutes someone dies from itarenavirus.

the actions of the authorities of Armenia criticized the OSCE and the international organization reporters without borders. Shortly after this the Yerevan partially backed down. Authorities allowed to publish information on the topic of coronavirus, obtained from official international sources.

However, all restrictions applied only to publications related to the coronavirus. Materials on other topics are not censored.

In Belarus 152 cases of coronavirus, 1 died. Restrictions are not imposed and the authorities clearly underestimate the threat. But the proliferation of information on the coronavirus is in full swing.

a Week ago the countrys President Alexander Lukashenko ordered the KGB to deal with the sources of information that sow panic about the outbreak of coronavirus. Already enough to look at it. Should be a good go to these sites, channels. You need to understand the villains who throw these fakes. Why are people bullied? Lukashenka said.

the President also said that he sees no reason for postponing the elections of the heads of Belarus, scheduled for August 2020. The opposition has canceled a meeting with voters in the regions due to the threat of the spread of coronavirus.

In Turkey coronavirus has infected more than 10 thousand people, 168 died, in 18 provinces has been quarantined. More than 300 people were arrested for publishing in social networks related to the coronavirus.

was recently arrested driver of the truck that issued your account a video criticizing the actions of the authorities to contain the epidemic.

In Hungarian coronavirus were detected in 492 people, of whom 15 died. The country has a regime of emergency. The Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, referring to special circumstances in connection with pandasAMIA, on Monday held a law through Parliament, giving his government extraordinary powers for an indefinite period, during which the government will actually govern without Parliament, only informing the speaker and faction leaders about the measures taken.

the law, among other things, provides for the punishment for the spread of what the government considers misinformation about the pandemic from one year to five years in prison. The opposition believes this is another attempt by Orban to freedom of the press.

In China more than 81 thousand people fell ill COVID-19. 3 305 sick died, the quarantine regime was introduced in several provinces.The study of human rights organization Citizen Lab showed that Chinas censor even messages in social networks. The authorities tried to prevent the dissemination of information about the coronavirus even in the medical community since its introduction. Thus, they only exacerbated the situation.

One of those who first raised the alarm, was the doctor If Vanillan, which informed the colleagues about the new virus. Soon after that, Lee called the police and demanded an end to panic and make a public apology. A little later the doctor himself contracted the coronavirus died 7 Feb.

According to the research organization Citizen Lab, working on issues of Internet censorship under pressure from the government censored information and the most popular instant messenger of China WeChat. The researchers found that is now banned over 500 phrases associated with the theme of the coronavirus.

Among them Wuhan Communist party of China, crisis Beijing, Western medicine is a coronavirus, as well as the critics of the government to contain the epidemic. Some accounts were completely blocked, and their authors were put under surveillance.

the authorities of the Chinese province HangOU require citizens to use a special app Ant on smartphones for access to public places. It assigns each user to Hangzhou QR code green, yellow or red. It must be shown at the entrance to office buildings, residential buildings, shopping centres and public transport.

Code green means that the user can move freely in the province. The owners of the yellow code needs to spend a week at home in isolation. But those who have flashed code red, send to a mandatory two-week quarantine.

By the end of February codes were almost 90% of the provinces population (50 million people). More than one million of them received a yellow or red code. On what principle are assigned to the codes is unclear.

According to the Ant, the program automatically sinhroniziruete and analyzes large amounts of data, including on the movement of users, and then draws conclusions about the state of their health.

the Developer Ant is a system Alipay, which is Chinas 900 million users. According to the New York Times, with each scan code app records the location and reports it to the police.

According to journalists, in the future, a new application can become a tool of surveillance of the state over citizens. In Chinas state media write that the system will help the work of checkpoints at train stations and highways.

Digital concentration camp, in the words of the oppositionist Leonid Volkov, and prepares the city for Muscovites. Officials in a hurry to implement a massive system of spying on residents who are required to comply with the quarantine. On every exit from the house, including taking out the garbage, citizens will have to obtain special permission, in the form of a QR code, as in China. Special privilege bespreadtively to move will receive only security forces and other officials.

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Under the pretext of combating coronavirus States trying to crush the opposition and to tighten censorship - The KXAN 36 News

Reporters Without Borders: If the Chinese press were free, the coronavirus might not be a pandemic – Hong Kong Free Press

In ananalysispublished on March 13th, researchers from the University of Southampton suggest that the number of cases of coronavirus in China could have been reduced by 86% if the first measures, which were taken on January 20th, had been implemented two weeks earlier. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) demonstrates, based on the events in the early days of the crisis, that without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier of the seriousness of the epidemic, saving thousands of lives and possibly avoiding the current pandemic.

Photojournalists at the National Peoples Congress. Photo: Lukas Messmer/HKFP.

October 18: Chinese press could have reported the chilling results of a pandemic simulation

The John Hopkins Center for Health Security, in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, carries out asimulatedcoronavirus pandemic onOctober 18th, 2019, andalertsthe international community to the chilling results: 65million deaths in 18months.

If the Chinese internet were not isolated by an elaborate system of electronic censorship and the media were not forced to follow the instructions of the Communist Party, the public and the authorities would have undoubtedly been interested in this informationcoming from the United States, which echoed the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic of 2003. SARS infected 8,000 people and caused more than 800 deaths, mostly in China.

December 20: the Wuhan city authorities could have informed journalists

One month after thefirst documented case, the city of Wuhan already has 60patients with an unknown SARS-like pneumonia, several of whom havefrequentedthe Huanan fish market. Despite the situation, the authorities do not see fit to communicate this information to the media.

If the authorities had not hidden from the media the existence of an epidemic outbreak linkedto a very popular market, the public would have stopped visiting this place long before its official closure on January 1st.

December 25: Doctor Lu Xiaohong could have expressed fears to the press

Doctor Lu Xiaohong, the head of gastroenterology at Wuhan City Hospital No. 5, beginshearingcases ofinfectionaffecting medical staff on December 25 and suspects from the first week of January that the infection is transmissible between humans.

If journalists sources in China did not face severe penalties ranging from professional reprimand to heavy prison terms, Doctor Lu Xiaohong would have taken responsibility for alerting the media, forcing the authorities to take action, which only happened three weeks later.

Dr. Li Wenliang.

December 30: whistleblowers early warning would have been picked up by the media

The director of the emergency department at Wuhan Central Hospital, Ai Fen, and a group of doctors launch an alert regarding a SARS-like coronavirus. Eight of them, including DoctorLi Wenliang, who later died from the illness, will bearrestedby Wuhan police on January 3rd for circulatingfalse rumors.

If the press and social media had been able to freely relay the information transmitted by whistleblowers on December 30th, the public would have realised the danger and put pressure on the authorities to take measures limiting expansion of the virus.

December 31: social media would have relayed the official alert in China

Chinaofficially alertsthe World Health Organisation (WHO) on December 31st but at the same time forces the WeChat discussion platform tocensora large number of keywords referring to the epidemic.

Without censorship, the social network WeChat, which has a billion active users in China, could have enabled journalists to broadcast reports and precautionary advice contributing to better compliance with the rules recommended by the health authorities.

World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: U.S. Mission Geneva/Eric Bridiers.

January 5: the scientific media would have disseminated the coronavirus genome earlier

Professor Zhang Yongzhens team at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre manages to sequence the virus onJanuary 5th, but the authorities seem reluctant to make the genome public. On January 11th, the day China confirms its firstdeathfrom the virus, the researchers leak information on open source platforms, which will result in the punitive closure of their laboratory.

If the Chinese authorities were transparent, they would have immediately communicated the coronavirus genome sequence to the scientific media, saving the international community precious time in their research for the development of a vaccine.

January 13: the international community would have anticipated the risk of a pandemic

The first case of coronavirus infection outside of China, a tourist from Wuhan, is reported in Thailand.

If the international media had had full access to information held by the Chinese authorities on the scale of the epidemic before January 13th, it is likely that the international community would have taken stock of the crisis and better anticipated it, reducing the risk of the epidemic spreading outside China and possibly avoiding its transformation into a pandemic.

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Reporters Without Borders: If the Chinese press were free, the coronavirus might not be a pandemic - Hong Kong Free Press

Apple Helps China Censor Citizens By Pulling The Plug On A Keyboard App That Encrypted Text Messages – Techdirt

from the don't-be-Big-Brother's-little-brother dept

China keeps being China, despite all the problems it has at home. The coronavirus traces back to Wuhan, China, and it has become clear the Chinese government is doing what it can to suppress reporting on the outbreak.

The country has a fine-tuned censorship machine that works in concert with its overbearing surveillance apparatus to ensure the government maintains control of the narrative. "Ensures" is perhaps too strong a term because, despite its best efforts, information always leaks out around the edges.

Citizens of China have found numerous ways to dodge censorship and surveillance over the years. But they're not being helped much by American companies, which have more often than not complied with government demands for apologies, takedowns, and other efforts that ensure access to the Chinese market at the expense of their Chinese users.

The latest news is more of the same. A clever keyboard app that encrypted messages has been nuked from the Chinese app store by Apple following a takedown demand from the Chinese government.

Apple yesterday removed Boom the Encryption Keyboard, an app that allowed Chinese internet users to bypass censorship, from the China app store, according to its developer.

[...]

According to an email sent by Apple to [app developer] Wang Huiyu, the app was removed because it contained content that is illegal in China. The app is still available in other regions, including Hong Kong, he said.

Boom encrypted messages by changing the originating English or Chinese to a blend of emoji, Japanese, and Korean characters. To decrypt the messages, users simply copied the characters sent to them, which were reverted to their original state on the keyboard below. Not enough to thwart targeted surveillance, but more than enough to dodge blanket censorship efforts like keyword blacklists.

The app's developer suspects Boom was targeted by the Chinese government because it was being used to spread an article about the virus that was censored by the government shortly after its publication.

The article in question is an interview with Ai Fen, a Wuhan doctor who said she was reprimanded for alerting other people about the novel coronavirus. The article, published on March 10 by Chinas Ren Wu magazine, was deleted within hours of its publication. Various versions of the article, including those reproduced in emoji, English, and even Hebrew, emerged after the deletion as people scrambled to save Ais story

This is the sort of information American companies should be helping to spread, not shutting down at the behest of the parties who want to see this information buried. If this were a one-off, it would be worrying. But it's just another data point in a long string of incidents where American tech companies have endangered users in foreign countries, seemingly for the single purpose of maintaining market share.

Filed Under: app store, boom, censorship, china, codes, content moderation, emoji, encryption, keyboardCompanies: apple

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Apple Helps China Censor Citizens By Pulling The Plug On A Keyboard App That Encrypted Text Messages - Techdirt

It’s a bad idea for journalists to censor Trump instead, they can help the public identify what’s true or false – goskagit.com

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

David Cuillier, University of Arizona

(THE CONVERSATION) In times of mortal strife, humans crave information more than ever, and its journalists responsibility to deliver it.

But what if that information is inaccurate, or could even kill people?

Thats the quandary journalists have found themselves in as they decide whether to cover President Donald J. Trumps press briefings live.

Some television networks have started cutting away from the briefings, saying the events are no more than campaign rallies, and that the president is spreading falsehoods that endanger the public.

If Trump is going to keep lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us, stop broadcasting it, MSNBCs Rachel Maddow tweeted. Honestly, its going to cost lives.

News decisions and ethical dilemmas arent simple, but withholding information from the public is inconsistent with journalistic norms, and while well-meaning, could actually cause more harm than good in the long run. Keeping the presidents statements from the public prevents the public from being able to evaluate his performance, for example.

Truth and falsehood can fight it out

The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, updated in 2014 during my term as president, states that the press must seek truth and report it, while also minimizing harm.

When the president of the United States speaks, it matters it is newsworthy, its history in the making. Relaying that event to the public as it plays out is critical for citizens, who can see and hear for themselves what their leader is saying, and evaluate the facts for themselves so that they may adequately self-govern.

Thats true even if leaders lie. Actually, its even more important when leaders lie.

Think of libertarian philosopher John Miltons plea for the free flow of information and end of censorship in 1600s England. Put it all out there and let people sort the lies from the truth, Milton urged: Let her and Falsehood grapple.

If a president spreads lies and disinformation, or minimizes health risks, then the electorate needs to know that to make informed decisions at the polls, perhaps to vote the person out to prevent future missteps.

Likewise, theres a chance the president could be correct in his representation of at least some of the facts.

Its not up to journalists to decide, but simply report what is said while providing additional context and facts that may or may not support what the president said.

Maddow is correct that journalists should not simply parrot information spoon fed by those in power to readers and viewers who might struggle to make sense of it in a vacuum. That is why its imperative journalists continuously challenge false and misleading statements, and trust the public to figure it out.

Craving information

Those who would urge the medias censorship of the presidents speeches may feel they are protecting citizens from being duped, because they believe the average person cant distinguish fact from fiction. Communication scholars call this third-person effect, where we feel ourselves savvy enough to identify lies, but think other more vulnerable, gullible and impressionable minds cannot.

It is understandable why journalists would try to protect the public from lies. Thats the minimizing harm part in the SPJ code of ethics, which is critical in these times, when inaccurate information can put a persons health at risk or cause them to make a fatal decision.

So how do journalists report the days events while minimizing harm and tamping down the spread of disinformation? Perhaps this can be accomplished through techniques already in use during this unorthodox presidential period:

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Report the press briefings live for all to see, while providing live commentary and fact-checking, as PolitiFact and others have done for live presidential debates.

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Fact-check the president after his talks, through contextual stories that provide the public accurate information, in the media and through websites such as FactCheck.org.

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Call intentional mistruths what they are: Lies. With this administration, journalists have become more willing to call intentional falsehoods lies, and that needs to continue, if not even more bluntly.

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Develop a deep list of independent experts that can be on hand to counter misinformation as it is communicated.

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Report transparently and openly, clearly identifying sources, providing supplemental documents online, and acknowledging limitations of information.

The coronavirus pandemic is a critical time for the nations health and its democracy. Now, more than ever, we need information. As humans, we crave knowing what is going on around us, a basic awareness instinct, as termed by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in their foundational book, The Elements of Journalism.

People arent dummies

Sometimes people dont even realize they need information until after they have lost it.

In his autobiography, the late Sen. John McCain wrote that upon his release after five years as a Vietnamese prisoner of war, the first thing he did when he got to a Philippines military base was order a steak dinner and stack of newspapers.

I wanted to know what was going on in the world, and I grasped anything I could find that might offer a little enlightenment, McCain wrote. The thing I missed most was information free, uncensored, undistorted, abundant information.

People arent dummies. They can decipher good information from bad, as long as they have all the facts at their disposal.

And journalists are the ones best positioned to deliver it.

[You need to understand the coronavirus pandemic, and we can help. Read our newsletter.]

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: https://theconversation.com/its-a-bad-idea-for-journalists-to-censor-trump-instead-they-can-help-the-public-identify-whats-true-or-false-134962.

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It's a bad idea for journalists to censor Trump instead, they can help the public identify what's true or false - goskagit.com

China’s Media Censorship Could Cost Thousands of Lives: Journalism Watchdog – Newsweek

Thousands of lives could have been saved if China allowed its media freedom to operate independently, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organization has claimed.

RSF published a statement Tuesday detailing how Chinese authorities suppressed whistle blowers and early warnings of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, which has since spread across the globe and killed more than 19,000 people.

"Without the control and censorship imposed by the authorities, the Chinese media would have informed the public much earlier of the severity of the coronavirus epidemic, sparing thousands of lives and perhaps avoiding the current pandemic," the RSF statement argued.

The pandemic originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, likely at a so-called "wet market" where live and dead animals are sold.

The Chinese Communist Party was accusedby President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and othersof silencing whistleblowers and hiding the severity of the outbreak, which soon spread beyond its borders.

Tight restrictions appear to have stemmed the spread of COVID-19 in China, and officials have said that the peak of the outbreak has passed. There have now been more cases and deaths outside China than inside.

But RSF cited a University of Southampton analysis published earlier this month that argued the number of coronavirus cases in Chinawhich is rated 177th out of 180 in the 2019 RSF World Press Freedom Indexcould have been reduced by 86 percent if the restrictive measures implemented on January 20 had been put in place two weeks earlier.

RSF argued that the first red flag was missed in October, when the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security ran a simulated coronavirus pandemic alongside the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The simulation produced 65 million deaths in 18 months, a result RSF argued would have sparked interest and concern in China if media organizations were able to cover it or citizens were able to see it online.

Local Wuhan officials failed to inform the media of the outbreak, even when there were dozens of patients suffering the same mysterious illness and symptomsseveral of whom had visited the Huanan fish market where the virus is believed to have originated. The market was closed on January 1.

Dr. Lu Xiaohong was among the first medical workers to suspect that something seismic was occurring, having been told of multiple infections among staff at Wuhan City Hospital as early as December 25.

RSF argued that if journalists' sources did not face such strict punishments for speaking out, Lu may have raised the alarm and forced officials to acknowledge the problem.

A group of whistleblowers tried to do exactly that, but were arrested for circulating "false rumors" on January 3. Eight of these whistleblowers have since died of coronavirus.

Though China officially alerted the World Health Organization to the situation on December 31, officials moved to censor a number of related keywords on the country's tightly-controlled billion-user WeChat platform.

By January 5, a team at the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre had sequenced the virus, but the vital information was not released publicly. Only on January 11the day the first coronavirus death was confirmeddid researchers leak the genome to open source platforms, handing the international community a priceless element in their nascent hunt for a vaccine.

The first case outside China was confirmed on January 13. RSF argued that the international community "would have taken stock of the crisis and better anticipated it" if Chinese media had been able to cover the issue since December. This may have slowed its spread and avoided "its transformation into a pandemic," the organization argued.

Newsweek has contacted the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. for a response to RSF's assertions.

Continued here:

China's Media Censorship Could Cost Thousands of Lives: Journalism Watchdog - Newsweek

Bored with the First Amendment | Scales on Censorship – School Library Journal

Enliven lessons by discussing Supreme Court cases and challenged books.

How common is it for someone to challenge all library materials on a topic? This hasnt happened in the public library where I work, but local churches are urging members to challenge materials in schools on the occult and witchcraft.Individuals and groups have been trying to challenge all materials on specific content areas since ALAs Office for Intellectual Freedom began tracking challenges to books and materials. Childrens books about witchcraft and the occult have always been problematic to some people, but the first Harry Potter book in 1997 brought the topic front and center. Now, LGBTQ+ content is the latest area targeted by churches, community organizations, and individuals wishing to control what children read. Their rationale: Children will be warped by the topic.

Since school and public libraries make their catalogs available online, its easy for censors to list materials they deem inappropriate for children. This can be controlled with a good materials reconsideration policy. It should make clear that individual materials may be challenged and reconsidered, but not entire topics. This may halt broad efforts to ban materials dealing with a specific issue.

An eighth grade teacher wants to develop a different approach to teaching the First Amendment to her students. She says they are bored with the textbook analysis.Students need to understand the First Amendment in its historical context, and they also need to know how to apply it to their own lives. Suggest that the teacher assign them to read about Supreme Court cases where students have fought for First Amendment rights:

1. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District(1969)

2. Board of Education v. Pico(1982)

3. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier(1988)

Debating both sides of an issue helps students understand how complicated free speech is today. Have them discuss how Morse v. Frederick (2007)is different from Tinker v. Des Moines. It appears to be a similar issue about students right to free speech in school, but the Supreme Court ruled against the former while ruling in favor of Tinker.

Book censorship is still a major problem in schools. Give students a list of challenged titles and ask them to check ones theyve read. Discuss why each has been challenged. Divide the class into three groups and have each read a challenged book. I suggest The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas,American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and The House of Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.

Each group should then conduct a mock Reconsideration Committee meeting, an opportunity for students to listen to all sides of an issue.

I encourage the teacher to include a discussion about rights and responsibilities. This should include appropriate behavior on social media sites. Most students dont realize how inflammatory speech or bullying on social media can get them in trouble at school.

The internet is like the historical public square where anyone can speak about any topic and slant it to their own bias. Its increasingly important that teachers help students recognize such biases and encourage them to read about topics from many viewpoints before they form an opinion. All Americans have the right to express themselves, but their thoughts will be better heard if they back their ideas with relevant information.

I work in a large public library system. All materials are selected by the collection development staff. I asked why so few graphic novels were bought for the childrens collection and was told that most graphic novels arent appropriate.This is simply not true. Reviews show just how many graphic novels are available for children. Someone in that department is interjecting their own bias. Arrange a meeting with the collection development staff. If that doesnt work, speak to the director.

Pat Scales is the former chair of ALAs Intellectual Freedom Committee. Send questions to pscales@bellsouth.net.

Libraries are always evolving. Stay ahead. Log In.

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Bored with the First Amendment | Scales on Censorship - School Library Journal


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