Tag Archives: media

Telegram Ban and Internet Freedom in Russia

I did an in-depth interview with Slate‘s Future Tense about the banning of Telegram messenger in Russia and the ensuing chaos after state censors blocked millions of IP-addresses in an attempt to prevent Telegram’s circumvention of the ban, severely damaging the RuNet’s health in the process. I discuss the messenger’s role in Russians’ online lives and the broader implications of the Kremlin’s crackdown on encrypted communications:

This decision banning Telegram is also threatening other similar platforms that protect communications with end-to-end encryption. We’re talking about Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and potentially any other encrypted communication services. All of those could also be banned in Russia using the same principles. Telegram sets a precedent here.

And if that were the case, then that really narrows down the space for private and secure communications. If you aren’t sure that your communications are encrypted, or whether the encryption keys have been shared, that basically means there is very little space for privacy and security for Russian users on the internet. That’s ultimately the danger: It’s not just one platform, it’s the whole principle of encrypted communication that’s under threat.

Read the whole interview here!

 

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

New article on public networked discourses in the Ukraine-Russia conflict

My new article ‘Public Networked Discourses in the Ukraine-Russia Conflict: ‘Patriotic Hackers’ and Digital Populism’ for Irish Studies in International Affairs has been published online and is now available on JSTOR. This article is based on a paper I presented at the annual conference of the International Affairs Standing Committee of the Royal Irish Academy, titled ‘Retreat from Globalisation? Brexit, Trump and the New Populism’, which took place at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin on 31 May 2017.

The study explores the self-presentation and online discursive practices of grassroots hacker collectives on both sides of the Ukraine-Russia conflict within a larger geopolitical climate of a contested globalisation agenda and a growing fear of cyber warfare. Both pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian hacker groups engage in DDoS attacks, malware distribution and leaking stolen information from the opposing side. They also use social media to enter the broader political discourse around the conflict. The article analyses the Twitter posts of both collectives to reveal key modes of online practices and key discursive themes in the context of the conflict, such as political activism, information warfare, hacker ethics and patriotism. The study elucidates how these groups use their social media presence to construct a ‘patriotic hacker’ identity for themselves, to delegitimise their opponents and ultimately, to connect to the broader populist discourse, where issues of patriotism, sovereignty and nationhood are contested.

Read the whole article here.

 

 

Tagged , , ,

BBC Radio 4 Doc on Protests

I recently contributed to Long Road to Change, a great BBC Radio 4 documentary on the history of protests questioning the role of technology and other factors in how dissent might bring about change. Check out the whole piece, featuring many thoughtful voices, on the BBC website here.

Tagged , , ,

Visible Protests in the Hybrid Media Era: Social Media, Live Streaming and Witnessing

russia_protests_livestream.jpeg

I’ve got a new blog post up on the FuJoMedia website, where I reflect on this Sunday’s anti-corruption protests in Russia and consider the risks and benefits of live streaming and networked social media for protest visibility.

How do protestors make themselves visible? One could argue that the whole point of a protest – a public, uncomfortable act of dissent often exemplified by occupying space and blocking streets – is to capture people’s (and governments’) attention to the point where they cannot look away. The difficulty, of course, comes when protest events and actions are mediated by mainstream news outlets who decide which frame to apply to the protests and which parts and angles of them to make visible – or invisible – to their audience. Not an ideal setup.

But in the hybrid media system, where according to Chadwick, old and new media co-exist and entangle with technologies and actors using them, visibility becomes a more complex concept. The mainstream media no longer hold a monopoly over visibility, as connected mobile devices and social media platforms afford citizens the power to capture, share and consume their own versions of what they see and experience during a protest.

Read more at the link.

 

Tagged , , ,

New Ranking Digital Rights Index Is Out

img-bannerThe Ranking Digital Rights Project has published their 2017 Corporate Accountability Index, which evaluates 22 of the world’s most powerful telecommunications, internet, and mobile companies on their public commitments and disclosed policies affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy.

This year’s report finds that company disclosure remains inadequate across the board, and users are given little information to make choices about their security and privacy and have little control over what happens to their data. Further, most companies seem to disclose even less information about their freedom of expression policies and practices than about privacy-related ones.

I am proud to have contributed to the research for the Index and to have been a part of an important effort to increase accountability and transparency of corporations who control a large chunk of the world’s “privately owned” digital public spaces and networks.

Read a summary of the 2017 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, see the report data and infographics, or download the complete report.

Tagged , , , , ,

Two Recent Stories on Ukraine: YanukovychLeaks and Fact-Checking Crimea

Linking to two recent stories I did for Global Voices on the developments in Ukraine:

Ukrainian Journalists Take Regime’s Corruption Public With YanukovychLeaks: Journalists deep dive for drowned documents left behind by ousted President Yanukovych at his lavish estate, and create a public online database of regime corruption.

Ukraine’s Activists Debunk Russian Myths on Crimea: As tensions escalate with Ukraine accusing Russia of invading its autonomous southern region Crimea, Ukrainian activists are busy debunking false news in Russian media by sifting fact from propaganda online.

Follow more Global Voices coverage of Ukraine, Russia and Euromaidan protests.

Tagged , , , ,

Draconian Laws Passed by Ukraine’s Parliament Limit Freedom of Speech and Expression

This morning the Ukrainian Parliament spent about 20 minutes violently voting for a set of new measures which are aimed at limiting freedom of speech and expression in Ukraine, throttling the peaceful protests, introducing new means of control over the independent media, the internet, the civic organisations and NGOs and cracking down on Euromaidan in any way possible. The main law #3879 (Full text here in Ukrainian, comparative table of changes here, also in Ukrainian) was introduced by Vadym Kolesnichenko and Volodymyr Oliynyk, members of the Party of Regions faction, and adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on Jan. 16. The main provisions of the law are very well recapped in this post by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (in English).

The Facebook group Euromaidan SOS, which unites activists posting about the latest developments of Euromaidan and offering legal advice to protesters, summarised some of the new punishments that come with the laws:

Meet the innovations whose adoption the bandits today in parliament ( all readings once a show of hands and naming “the number” of votes cast ):

1. Driving in an organized group of more than 5 cars – confiscation of your car and drivers license for 2 YEARS (!!!)
2. If an information agency doesn’t have a special license from the government – all of their servers , computers and information will be confiscated and they will have to pay a big fine
3. Disturbing peaceful meetings – up to 10 days in jail
4. Taking part in peaceful protests while wearing a hard hat, any uniform or carrying fire – up to 10 days in jail
5. Setting up tents, a stage, or even a sound system (!) without the permission of the police – up to 15 days in jail
7. Not obeying with the request/order to limit access to the internet – fine of 6800 UAH (a little bit over 800$)
8. Not obeying the “lawful orders” of SBU (Ukrainian Security Department) – a fine of up to 2000UAH (around 250$)
9. The protocol of administrative law infringement doesn’t have to be presented to the person accused anymore (a testimony from “witnesses” is enough)
10. The confirmation that you have been “served” with court papers now is not only your signature, but “other data of any kind” (!)
11. Blocking the access to someone’s residence (a brand spanking new law) – 6 YEARS in jail (!!!)
12. Slander (Has been returned to the Criminal Code!!!!) – 2 YEARS in jail
13. Distribution of extremist materials (!!!!) – 3 years in jail
14. “Group disturbance of peace” – 2 years
15. Mass Disruptions/protests – 10 and even 15 YEARS IN JAIL (!) – ANY and ALL participants of the protests on Maidan can be sent to jail via this law!!!
16. Collecting information about “Berkut” police special forces employees, judges and other similar government workers – 3 years in jail
17. Threatening a policeman and other similar government workers – 7 YEARS in jail
18. Collecting information about judges – 2 years in jail
19. NGO (non-government organizations) that receive money from abroad, are now considered “foreign agents”, and will have to pay taxes on their “revenues” and will officially be called/known as “foreign agents”.
20. NGO cannot take part in “extremist activities”
21. Churches cannot take part in “extremist activities”
22. The “government” can decide to PROHIBIT ACCESS TO THE INTERNET
23. A civil organization is considered to be one that: takes part in political activities, and if that said organization wants to influence the decisions that the “government” makes – it needs to first ask the “government” for permission to function and the permission to be financed.
24. A person can be persecuted and ruled guilty or not guilty (including sending someone to prison for many many years) without the presence of the person being persecuted in court.
25. From now on, for traffic offences, instead of the person who was actually driving and who violated the rules, the owner of the vehicle can be prosecuted if the violation was registered by automatic means.
26. A national deputy (Member of Parliament) can be stripped of immunity from legal persecution and be arrested without an assessment by a specialized committee – immediately, during a parliamentary session.
27. “Berkut” police special forces and government employees that have acted with criminal intent towards Maidan activists, are freed from persecution for their crimes (!!!!!)

So, a quick recap: more control over the internet and independent media, virtually complete abolition of any kind of peaceful protest observed during Euromaidan, criminalising libel, SIM-cards can only be bought with a passport, default judgement in courts, increased surveillance, labelling NGOs as foreign agents and more. To say this is a step back is to say nothing. This vote has nothing to do with European values, democratic development or any kind of progress towards a peaceful resolution of the current stalemate.

Hope to write more on this and other laws, as we wait with bated breath to see if President Yanukovych actually signs the proposed laws into being – his signature and the signature of the Speaker of Parliament are the last things required for the laws to come into force.

UPDATE: The President has signed all of the laws, including the 3879 one. Ukrainians’ reaction online so far is mostly wondering what country we’re turning into: Russia, Belarus or North Korea.

Here’s a great visual from Chesno.org, depicting all of the consequences of the harsh new anti-protest legislation for Ukrainians:

dictatorship-en

 

Tagged , , , , , ,