'Sex Criminals' still under review at Apple

Censorship problems are nothing new to Apple and iOS' App Store, so the fact that a comic called "Sex Criminals" got even one issue into the App Store is something of a minor miracle.

The mature readers book, which publisher Image Comics describes as a "sex comedy," was not available from the iOS version of the Comixology comics bookstore app on Wednesday as expected. However, the comic was available from Comixology's Android app, the Comixology Web site store, and DRM-free from ImageComics.com.

"Sex Criminals" author Matt Fraction described the book's statusRead more

'Say no to Internet censorship' petition nears 100K signatures

The "Say no to Internet censorship" petition has tallied nearly 100,000 signatures in the past week -- showing that opposition to possible government proposals on stricter Internet laws is growing.

Launched by advocacy organization OpenMedia, the petition calls on world leaders to reject proposed controls on the Internet and protect citizens' rights to Web access.

OpenMedia started its campaign in order to target the leaders of the 12 countries involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement talks, which includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US.… Read more

China vows to shut down unapproved mobile news apps

The Chinese government is threatening to quash any mobile news app that doesn't follow its guidelines, Reuters reported on Monday.

This latest campaign is aimed at mobile apps that serve up news without the approval of the government. China's State Internet Information Office claimed that some of the news apps targeted in the crackdown provide "pornography and obscene information and harm the physical and mental health of youngsters," while others simply offer false information, Reuters said.

One app on China's radar is Zaker, which publishes information from newspapers, Web sites, and blogs. Another app is … Read more

Facebook, Twitter once again on the outs in Iran

Facebook and Twitter are back to being persona non grata in Iran.

The tap was turned on for both social networks on Monday, raising hopes that the government had decided to loosen its blockade on the popular sites. But Iranian officials claimed that a technical problem temporarily freed up both sites, The New York Times has reported.

As of Tuesday, the blockade is back on.

Was it really just a glitch? Insiders say the problem may have been the result of a battle between different groups inside Iran, the Times noted. One group seeks to free up access to the … Read more

Johns Hopkins apologizes for yanking prof's NSA blog

Johns Hopkins University is now aiming to prove it made a mistake in trying to censor a professor's blog post about the National Security Agency. After a back-and-forth on Monday, the dean of the university's Whiting School of Engineering wrote an apologetic letter to the professor.

"I write to apologize for any difficulty I caused you yesterday over the post on your blog. I realize now that I acted too quickly, on the basis of inadequate and -- as it turns out -- incorrect information," Dean Andrew Douglas wrote. "I requested that you take down … Read more

Say what? Iranian government ministers join Facebook

As tension simmers in the Middle East with the US deciding whether to use military force against Syria, a friendly initiative is starting up in the neighboring country of Iran.

Newly elected President Hasan Rouhani is encouraging his government staff and ministers to join Facebook in an endeavor called government-as-Facebook Friends, according to the Associated Press.

Since taking office last month, Rouhani has tried to distance himself from his hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Besides having his own Facebook page and urging his staff to follow suit, Rouhani also has been more open about Iran's presence on the Internet.

The … Read more

Pirate Bay's censor-thwarting browser snags 100,000 users

The Pirate Bay's new anticensor browser has proven even more popular than the site expected.

Launched on Saturday, PirateBrowser has sailed into the hands of more than 100,000 users via Pirate Bay's direct download link, says blog site TorrentFreak. The official torrent file itself has been shared by more than 5,000 people.

The browser has reached over 1,000 downloads per hour, TorrentFreak added, a volume that prompted The Pirate Bay to upgrade the connection for its downlink link.

PirateBrowser's quick appeal seems to have surprised even the folks at The Pirate Bay.

"I … Read more

Turkish users sneak past censorship of Facebook, Twitter

Many Turkish Internet users are staying connected to Facebook and Twitter despite reported government censorship of the two sites.

To get past the blockade of the two popular social networks, Turkish citizens have been using VPN software such as Hotspot Shield, which opens a tunnel through the Internet so the connection can't be detected. This past weekend, more than 120,000 people in Turkey downloaded the software, according to the Guardian, a huge leap from the 10,000 new users seen on an average day.

On Saturday, blog site TechCrunch said a number of sources told it that both … Read more

Twitter, hate speech, and the costs of keeping quiet

This is a guest column. See below for Greg Lukianoff's bio.

Last month was a bittersweet seventh birthday for Twitter. The Union of Jewish French Students sued the social-media giant for $50 million in a French court in light of anti-Semitic tweets that carried the hashtag #unbonjuif ("a good Jew"). In January, Twitter agreed to delete the tweets, but the student group now wants the identities of the users who sent the anti-Semitic messages so that they can be prosecuted under French law against hate speech. Twitter is resisting. It claims that as an American company protected … Read more

Russian government selectively blocks site access

The Russian government has turned to censorship on the Web.

According to the New York Times, the government is utilizing a new law, which the Russian parliament approved in July and which took effect in November, that allows the government to selectively censor Web pages within its borders because of content that it believes is illegal or harmful to children. The law's supporters have said that it protects against child pornography and other harmful content, but detractors say that it's giving the government too much power to block whatever it deems unfit for its citizens.

Although smaller sites … Read more