Week in Review: April 29, 2015

by Rebekah Heacock Jones

Australia: Parliamentary web filter accidentally blocks former PM's website

The Australian Parliament's internal web filter mistakenly categorized former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's website as related to "weapons" and blocked it for parliamentary staff. The mistake came to light this Monday when a political advisor pointed out the mistake on Twitter. The likely cause of the block is the transcript of a speech Rudd gave on "new weapons of mass destruction." Members of Parliament have apparently struggled with the filter, which has blocked gay and lesbian news websites and a government website related to industrial hemp production, before.

Ethiopia: Jailed Zone9 bloggers mark one year in prison without trial

On, April 24, 2014, nine Ethiopian bloggers were detained. In July, they were charged with using open source software intended to help protect against surveillance to "overthrow, modify or suspend the Federal or State Constitution; or by violence, threats, or conspiracy." A year later, they are still in prison, awaiting trial. Collectively known as Zone9, those arrested had written about social and economic issues, art, literature, and culture. They had also written about Ethiopia's constitution, attempting to bring some transparency to the country's government and to educate citizens about their rights. In a country where less than 2% of the population has Internet access and offline media are tightly controlled, the Zone9 bloggers are among many other journalists and activists who have been sentenced to years-long prison terms for criticizing the government.

India: Telecom Regulatory Authority DDoS-ed after exposing 1 million email addresses

On Monday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released over 1 million email addresses belonging to people who had submitted comments regarding net neutrality, exposing them to potential spam or malicious attacks. India's Congress responded by demanding an inquiry, while hacking group AnonOpsIndia launched a DDoS attack that took down the TRAI website. TRAI denied that hackers were responsible for the interruption in service, blaming it instead on "technical glitches," while AnonOpsIndia claimed responsibility through their Twitter account.

Nepal: Facebook, Google offer "check-in" registries in wake of earthquake

A massive earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday, causing avalanches, flattening buildings, and resulting in as many as 10,000 casualties. As rescuers continue to search for survivors, a number of tech firms have offered help in the form of communications support, pathways for donations, and registries, both for missing persons and for those known to be safe. Google's Person Finder, developed after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, lets people ask for and provide information about missing persons. Facebook's Safety Check, launched last October, lets users identify themselves and others as "safe." While many have made use of these services, some commenters have pointed out that they require Internet access, a service that is often hard to come by in the aftermath of large-scale natural disasters.

The Internet Monitor Week in Review is a weekly round-up of news about Internet content controls and online activity around the world. You may also be interested in weekly editions of our previous round-up, IMWeekly.