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Beijing Blocks Clubhouse App to Stop ‘Political’ Conversations

On Monday night, Clubhouse, the red-hot app where people can create chatrooms that disappear after use, became inaccessible in China, presumably blocked by the authorities. Many had expected this to happen, but some were still surprised by how fast…
Logos of social media platforms including Clubhouse, center, are seen on an iPhone 12.
News

Government Should Reform the Law and Police Response to Address Rising Tide of Abuse

Imagine discovering private – and perhaps intimate – photos of yourself online. Strangers are posting humiliating comments, with personal details, making you identifiable to the world. This is increasingly a reality for women and girls in…
Women hold placards during a protest against sexual violence in Kathmandu, Nepal
News

Refusal to Restore Communications Threatens Public Health

Every time you place a call in Ethiopia, you get an educational message about coronavirus prevention – but that only helps if you can make a call. Millions of Ethiopians living under a months-long government-imposed shutdown of internet and…
A volunteer provides hand sanitizer to passengers entering a bus
News

But Little Action Holding Beijing Accountable

“His wife wore veils.” “He has one more child than allowed by the family planning policy.” “He prayed after each meal.” These are some of the reasons people in Karakax County in Xinjiang, northwestern China, are being detained in “political…
Government social media post in April 2017 shows detainees in a political education camp in Lop County, Hotan Prefecture, Xinjiang.
News

Online Fraud Laws Used to Crack Down on Free Speech

The recent crackdown on journalists in Nepal is bad enough, but now the authorities have gone one step further and jailed a comedian for critiquing a film. Pranesh Gautam, 24, an architect and part-time comedian who posts on…
A journalist protests a set of laws that threaten to curb free speech, Kathmandu, Nepal, September 19, 2018.
News

Congress Should Press Sundar Pichai Over Project Dragonfly

Google CEO Sundar Pichai will be in the hot seat tomorrow when he testifies before the United States House Judiciary Committee following an outcry over its plans to re-enter the Chinese search market. A coalition of more than…
News

Criminalizing Speech Won’t Solve Problem

Hate and dangerous speech is a serious and growing problem in Ethiopia, both online and offline. It has contributed to the growing ethnic tensions and conflicts across the country that have created more than 1.4 million new internally…
Internet café in Lalibela, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.
News

Authorities Digitally Erase Even Past Critical Speech

Since early November, the Chinese government has been targeting Twitter users in China as part of a nationwide crackdown on social media – even though Twitter is blocked in the country. Authorities have detained or summoned dozens or…
201811freespeech_internet_twitter
News

Chongqing’s Ban on Circumvention Tools Could Set Dangerous Precedent

Chinese “netizens” are known for nimbly “scaling the Great Firewall” to get around government barriers that prevent them from accessing certain information abroad. Their interests are surprisingly diverse: Some look for news critical of the Chinese…
President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the 2nd annual World Internet Conference in Jiaxing, China on December 16, 2015.
News

How China’s Censorship Undermines its Own Goal

Within hours of the February 14 knife attack in Pishan county, Xinjiang, China’s state media released identical reports: Three assailants attacked people in a residential district, killing five while injuring another five, and the assailants were killed…
Han Chinese residents hold a Chinese national flag as paramilitary policemen in riot gear block a road at the centre of Urumqi in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region September 3, 2009.
News

Says Hostile to Privacy, Democratic Freedoms

This week, the European Union’s top court once again found that blanket data retention mandates are hostile to privacy and democratic freedoms, and incompatible with EU law. Such mandates require service providers to store data on all of the provider’s…
News
Last June, Facebook locked the account of “Happy Addis”, an Ethiopian LGBT activist who runs Facebook groups for gay Ethiopians. The reason? His Facebook profile does not list his real name. But Happy Addis had good reason not to want his real name…
Facebook real name
News
We know China’s President Xi Jinping loves pork buns and loves his wife, Peng Liyuan – state media has widely distributed images of him queuing to buy buns at a Beijing diner, and allowed the song “Xi Dada Loves Peng Mama” to go viral. So when a Shanghai…
News
An open Internet offers both benefits and risks for human rights. It has allowed activists anywhere to have global impact and hold institutions accountable. But digital technologies have enabled surveillance on an unprecedented scope and scale. When…
News
Today Julian Assange, the Wikileaks publisher, begins his third year confined in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He fled there, receiving political asylum, when Sweden sought his extradition to answer sexual assault allegations. Although both Assange…