#IMWeekly: January 30, 2015

by adrienne debigare

Turkey: Facebook allegedly caves to Turkish government requests to block specific pages

After being threatened with a nationwide ban, social networking giant Facebook is reported to have agreed to block pages that the Turkish government deems critical of the Prophet Muhammed. This increased censorship is attributed to the recent attacks on French magazine Charlie Hebdo, as many of the banned images are cartoons from the magazine being shared on the social media site.

Thailand: Junta introducing cybersecurity laws that many believe infringe on free speech

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is simultaneously pushing for business and government integration with the Internet, introducing legislation that allows for greater Internet monitoring, and canceling a press freedom briefing scheduled in the country. The new legislation is rumored to circumvent the need for a warrant in cybersecurity matters.

France: President Hollande pressures Internet companies to censor terrorist groups

French President Francois Hollande will soon introduce a bill that would make Internet operators “‘accomplices’ of hate-speech offenses if they host extremist messages.” The measure comes in the wake of the recent attack on weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. France has strict laws against inciting violence and making racist statements, which have aided in the recent crackdown on online speech after the attacks.

China: Government unveils a newer, smarter Great Firewall capable of blocking VPNs

The Chinese government announced that improvements to its Internet censoring software, dubbed the “Great Firewall,” can detect Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and block their ability to access the Internet. Previously, Chinese Internet users would use these networks to access blocked content, such as Facebook or Google. However, the new technology is now able to automatically detect if a connection is a VPN without user input.

Canada: Latest Snowden leak reveals robust Canadian global surveillance program

In the latest of Snowden revelations, Canada has been intercepting 10 to 15 million file downloads a day as part of its surveillance program to combat extremism. The documents also show that Canada had its own surveillance program independent of the Five Eyes, or the international surveillance partnership between Great Britain, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

#imweekly is a weekly round-up of news about Internet content controls and activity around the world. To read more, click here.