Week in Review: December 9, 2015

by Muira McCammon

Australia: Bureau of Meteorology Experiences Cyberattack, Experts Blame Chinese Hackers

On Wednesday, December 2, the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology had recently experienced a cyberattack.  Sources suggest that the Chinese government might have been behind the operation. However, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed this concern with the following statement: "As we have reiterated on many occasions, the Chinese government is opposed to all forms of cyber attacks." In response to this incident, one cybersecurity expert noted that Australia was not taking the threat of cyber warfare seriously enough; he remarked, “In Australia we are of the opinion that we’re not that important, who would bother with us?” This is not the first time that the Chinese government has been accused of hacking weather-related government agencies; in November 2014, there was a report that the Chinese government had successfully hacked America's federal weather network, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Canada: British Columbian Town Loses Internet Access Briefly After NGO Leaves

Earlier this month, residents of a small town in British Columbia lost their primary Internet provider. Onewayout.net, a nonprofit organization providing wireless Internet to residents in Stewart, British Columbia, pulled the plug on its longtime local digital initiative; it had brought the town Internet access for two decades. "The infrastructure required to deliver Internet and possibly cell service is extremely expensive—to do it effectively, Stewart needs a tower that can serve the entire community," Onewayout, a nonprofit organization, said on its website. In a statement, Stewart Mayor Galina Durant expressed great concern: "For me, personally, it's like my life stopped right now. My community, including my house and my office, will be without an internet connection." Shortly after Onewayout.net shut down their Internet, a Canadian political official, Mike Morris, announced that companies in the northwest region had come together and planned to restore Internet access to Stewart and its environs.

Turkey: Court Appoints "Lord of the the Rings" Panel to Determine Offensiveness of Tweet

Turkish doctor Bilgin Çiftçi was fired from his job at Public Health Institution of Turkey in October after sharing a meme comparing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Gollum, a character from “The Lord of the Rings.” Now, a Turkish judge of the Aydın 3rd Criminal Court of First Instance has decided to use an expert panel (of two academics, two behavioral scientists/psychologists, an a cinema specialist) to determine whether Çiftçi’s meme violated Article 229 of the Turkish Penal Code. Article 229 of the Turkish Penal Code makes it a crime to insult the President of Turkey; individuals accused of violating Article 229 can face up to two years in jail.

United States: Civic Beat and the Museum of the Moving Image Ask for Animal Memes

Civic Beat, a research group focusing on civic technology, is working with the Museum of the Moving Image (MMI) to create a global map of animal-oriented memes. The project is an extension of How Cats Took Over the Internet, an MMI exhibition. Civic Beat and the MMI are actively seeking meme submissions from internet researchers in a wide variety of countries, as they hope to examine the intriguing link between animals and Internet cultures.