2012 in review

January 1, 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

In partnership with the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions, a global union federation representing 20 million workers organized in 355 industrial trade unions in 115 countries

SIGN THE PETITION!

http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1383

 

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a trade unionist, activist and journalist in Thailand has been in jail since April 2011 on charges of lèse majesté. The charges allege that he has defamed the King by publishing two articles in the magazine he edited, The Voice of Thaksin. Somyot is innocent of these charges, a position supported by expert witnesses and human rights organisations. An international campaign has been underway for the last 12 months to secure his release, which has included demonstrations across the region and a hunger strike by Somyot’s son, Tai, for 122 hours earlier this year. The campaign is supported by a number of international and national trade unions and human rights organisations, including the IFJ, ICEM, Article 19 and the National Human Rights Commission in Thailand.

Somyot is now in the last week of hearings and we are concerned that a fair trial takes place. He has been denied bail nine times and is experiencing extraordinarily harsh conditions. Thai trade unions will hold a demonstration outside Parliament and the UN delegation in Bangkok on the 30th April.

In advance of Independence Day, a host of groups and individuals have launched the Declaration of Internet Freedom, fighting for a free and open Internet.

Lance Whitney

CNET News: July 2, 2012

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57464995-38/will-you-sign-the-declaration-of-internet-freedom/

SIGN THE PETITION!:

Individuals: https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8750

Civil society: http://www.internetdeclaration.org/freedom

 

[Lance Whitney/CNET]

Do you believe the Internet needs protection against censorship and other threats? If so, then you may want to join in on the new Declaration of Internet Freedom.

Launched by a large coalition of privacy groups, Web sites, and individuals, the Declaration of Internet Freedom is the start of a process striving to keep the Internet free and open. The organizations and people who kicked off this process are looking for other Internet users to discuss the ideas, share their own thoughts, and sign the declaration.

“We’ve seen how the Internet has been under attack from various directions, and we recognize that it’s time to make that stop,” said TechDirt, one of the Web sites involved in the new movement. “The Internet is an incredible platform that we want to grow and to thrive, and thus, a very large coalition got together to produce the following document as a starting point, hoping to kick off a much larger discussion which we hope you’ll join in.”

At this point, the Declaration of Internet Freedom advocates five basic principles:

  1. Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.
  2. Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
  3. Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create, and innovate.
  4. Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.
  5. Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.

People who want to sign the petition or share their opinions can do so at any number of Web sites, including TechDirt, Freepress, Accessnow, and the declaration’s own site.

For now, the declaration and its principles are still in the discussion stage, inviting people to debate the issues and offer their own opinions.

But the groups behind this cause are clearly hoping the power of Internet users and Web sites can have an effect on Washington, especially in light of the defeat of the SOPA bill earlier this year.

Lee Yoo Eun

Global Voices: June 27, 2012

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/06/27/japan-korean-comfort-women-photo-exhibit-sabotaged/

Ahn Se-Hong, a South Korean photographer was harassed leading up to and during his exhibition in Japan, where he displayed pictures of aging ‘Comfort Women,’ a term used for Korean women that were drafted as sex slaves by the Japanese during World War II. Ahn disclosed that he is facing threats from Japanese right wing groups, who held protests against the photo exhibition.

On his Facebook page [ko] photographer Ahn Se-Hong (ahnsehong) revealed that during his exhibition, he was closely watched, placed under surveillance and his visitors were thoroughly searched by security hired by Nikon, the Japanese camera maker, who also owned the building where the exhibit was on display.

Nikon first refused to sponsor the location and abruptly cancelled the event a month ago. However, Nikon eventually succumbed to the Tokyo District Court order to sponsor the location. News media speculated Nikon’s abrupt canceling of the exhibit was an attempt to fend off the controversy and pressure from conservative groups.

The South Korean online space erupted with rage and countless users accused Japanese extremist right-wing groups of not only refusing to admit their war crimes, but attempting to sabotage the art exhibition.

Ahn’s show “Layer by Layer: Korean women left behind in China who were comfort women of the Japanese military,” shows faces of innocent victims who were dragged into inexplicably horrid situations in their teens or early twenties, now wrinkled and crippled. During Japanese colonization, approximately 50,000 to 200,000 Korean women were kidnapped and forced to leave their homes to become military sex slaves. Less than 70 percent of these women managed to return home.

 [Ahn’s Exhibition on Comfort Women]

Ahn wrote [ko] on his Facebook page on June 26, 2012 with the photo above. The post has been shared for over 900 times:

오늘 사진설치를 하기 위해 기쁜 마음으로 니콘살롱에 왔으나. 도착해서 들어가 보니 실상을 달랐습니다. 니콘은 전시장을 빌려주는것 외에 아무것도 안한다고 했지만,외부 언론의 출입 통제및 개인이 사진 찍는 것 조차 못하게 하고 있으며, 심지어는 니콘측 변호사 3명이 저에게 붙어 일거수 일투족을 감시하며, 대화를 엿듣가하면 촬영을 하고 있습니다. 보러올 관객들을 위해 참고 있지만, 일제시대가 따로 없습니다. 니콘은 전시기간 내내 변호사를 상주 시켜 저를 감시하고 꼬투리를 잡아 전시를 중단시킬 계획입니다.

I arrived at the Nikon exhibit salon today happy, to prepare for the photo exhibit, but as I entered the place, I realized this is not the picture I had in my mind. Nikon claimed that they will be merely renting out their space without doing anything, but no, they’ve done far more than that: They blocked media’s entrance and forbid media coverage and even individual’s from taking photos. Furthermore, Nikon dispatched three lawyers who closely followed and watched me. These lawyers kept overhearing my conversations and recorded me. I’ve suppressed (my anger) just for my visitors. But I felt as if I were living under the past Japanese Imperialist rule. The reason Nikon let their lawyers stay with me throughout the entire exhibition was to find an excuse to halt my exhibition.

[A regular visitor (supposedly Japanese National) being searched by security hired by Nikon upon entering the photo exhibit.]

He added this comment [ko] with the photo above.

이건 분명 인권 침해입니다. 오시는 모든분께 죄송할 따름입니다.

This is a clear violation of human rights. I am so sorry for everyone who came to see my exhibit.

There were small rallies of right-wing groups held in front of the exhibit. Ahn wrote he was expecting such pressure from the start. Last week, Ahn wrote [ko]:

다음주부터 전시에 들어갑니다. 지금 일본에서는 우익들의 강한 반발이 시작 되었습니다. 조심하라는 등 지난번보다 협박의 수위가 높아지고 있습니다.

I will be starting the photo exhibit from next week. Now in Japan, right-wing groups’ strong attacks have already started. Someone threatened me and said/wrote I should take care of myself and the severity of their threat has moved up a notch.

Another user Ahn Hyun shared [ko] her experience on Ahn’s Facebook wall.

건물 입구와 니콘의 홈페에지에는 할머니의 사진전에 관한 정보가 하나도 없습니다. 니콘 살롱 문을 을 여는 순간 니콘 경비원들은 관람자들의 가방을 열어 확인하고, 금속탐지기로 몸을 검사합니다. 오전중에는 여러 우익 단체들이 데모를 하고 전시장으로 찾아와 소란을 피우며 저에게 항의 서한을 전달 하여 했으나 실패하자, 더욱 거세게 소란을 피웁니다. 많은 언론매체가 취재를 위해 왔지만, 니콘의 건물전체 에서의 취재불가라는 이유로 기자와의 대화조차 가로막고 있습니다.결국엔 니콘의 시선을 피해 갤러리 건물을 벗어나는 순간에도 니콘관계자 둘은 건물밖까지 쫒아나와 감시하였습니더. […] 관람객 몇분이 할머니에게 꽃을 가져다 놓았지만, 니콘은 그것 마져 하지 못하게 저지하였고, 좋은일에 쓰라며 주는 기부금도 문제가 된다며 니콘의 변호사가 보관하고 있습니다. – 모든것이 상식밖의 일이고 저의 분노 또한 한계에 다다르는 순간이었습니다.

I could not find any information about the exhibit at the building entrance nor on the Nikon website. When I opened the door to the Nikon salon exhibit, security came to me and they started opening our bags and we were searched with a metal detector. In the morning, several right-wing groups held protests and created commotion. When they tried to hand me a complaint pamphlet but failed, they stirred up even more commotion. Many news outlets came to cover the story, but Nikon blocked us from even having a conversation with journalists, claiming it is forbidden to cover news inside the building. When I fled from the building to escape the eyes of securities, two Nikon personnel followed us outside the building and watched us. Several people endowed flowers to those old ladies [note: referring to comfort women, not clear whether it was given to the women or endowed in front of the photo of the ladies]. But Nikon blocked people from giving flowers. Some donations were made by people— Nikon’s lawyers are keeping that, saying those are problematic. Everything was so irrational and pushed me to the verge of anger.

But there was support from [ko] Japanese citizens:

오늘 셀 수 없을 정도의 많은 분들이 다녀 가셨습니다. […]  저에게 많은 응원을 하시고, 할머니들을 위로하는 일본분들이 많았습니다. 혼란과 뿌듯함이 함께한 하루였습니다. 내일도 우익들의 집회가 예정되어 있습니다. 또 어떠한 난동을 피울지, 니콘의 감시는 어디까지 이어질지, 이 모든것이 할머니를 응원하는 이들을 이길 수 없습니다.

Countless people visited the exhibit. Some of them showed support for me and many Japanese people showed condolences to these old ladies. I feel both confused and rewarded throughout today. However, another right-wing protest is planned  tomorrow. I don’t know how much commotion they will stir up and how long Nikon’s surveillance will continue, but neither of these tactics can beat  the people supporting these old ladies.

Many users, such as @iron_heel, tweeted [ko] said that they will start boycotting Nikon.

This is not the first time extremist Japanese  right-wing groups have enraged Koreans, Chinese and other Asians, who suffered prior and during the World War II, when Japan colonized Korea and occupied parts of China. On June 21, this Youtube video of some of right-wing members driving a stake into the statue of Comfort Women sparked controversy. They referred to the women as ‘prostitutes’.

These groups are also gathering signatures for a petition [ko] to remove a monument commemorating Comfort Women in the United States, fueling an old animosity between Japan and South Korea once again.

Wikipedia’s founder calls for halt to Richard O’Dwyer extradition to U.S.

James Ball

The Guardian: June 24, 2012

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/24/wikipedias-founder-calls-for-halt-to-richard-odwyer-extradition-to-u-s/

SIGN THE PETITION: http://www.change.org/petitions/ukhomeoffice-stop-the-extradition-of-richard-o-dwyer-to-the-usa-saverichard

Do you really want to gaol this kid???

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has made a rare political intervention to call on Theresa May to stop the extradition of British student Richard O’Dwyer to the US for alleged copyright offences.

Launching an online campaign, Wales said O’Dwyer, 24, was the “human face” of a global battle over the interests of the film and TV industries and the wider public, which came to a head in the global outcry against proposed US legislation, Sopa and Pipa, cracking down on copyright infringement.

O’Dwyer, a multimedia student at Sheffield Hallam University, faces up to 10 years in a US prison for founding TVShack.net, a crowdsourced site linking to places to watch full TV shows and movies online.

“When I met Richard, he struck me as a clean-cut, geeky kid. Still a university student, he is precisely the kind of person we can imagine launching the next big thing on the internet,” Wales wrote in a comment article for the Guardian.

“Given the thin case against him, it is an outrage that he is being extradited to the US to face felony charges for something that he is not being prosecuted for here. No US citizen has ever been brought to the UK for alleged criminal activity that took place on US soil.

“From the beginning of the internet, we have seen a struggle between the interests of the ‘content industry’ and the interests of the general public. Due to heavy lobbying and much money lavished on politicians, until very recently the content industry has won every battle.

“We, the users of the internet, handed them their first major defeat earlier this year with the epic Sopa/Pipa protests which culminated in a widespread internet blackout and 10 million people contacting the US Congress to voice their opposition. Together, we won the battle against Sopa and Pipa. Together, we can win this one, too.”

Wales was at the forefront of the campaign against the Sopa and Pipa bills aimed at enforcing online copyright more vigorously, which many warned would threaten sites at the core of the internet: Google, Wikipedia and others. With other senior editors, Wales set aside for the first time Wikipedia’s vaunted principle of neutrality, blacking out the online encyclopedia for a day as a warning of the consequences of too-strict copyright enforcement.

On Sunday, he launched a petition on change.org, an international campaigning website which garnered 2.2m signatures for a campaign to prosecute the killer of Trayvon Martin in the US. Wales’s petition called on May, the home secretary, to stop O’Dwyer’s extradition.

Under UK law, May must grant permission for extraditions to proceed, so she is able to stop extraditions without recourse to the courts.

O’Dwyer’s cause has already attracted cross-party support in the UK from prominent MPs, including the Liberal Democrat party’s president, Tim Farron, the chair of the home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz, and liberal Conservatives such as David Davis and Dominic Raab.

Other US extraditions, such as those of alleged computer hacker Gary McKinnon and the NatWest Three, have led to calls for reform of the US/UK extradition treaty, which campaigners say is biased against UK interests.

O’Dwyer was arrested by City of London police, accompanied by US customs officials, in his student room in November 2010. Six months later, he was informed that the UK investigation into him would not be pursued, but that he faced extradition to the US.

O’Dwyer, a UK citizen who has not travelled to America since early childhood, faces two charges of copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, each carrying a maximum of five years in prison. Under UK law, the comparable offences carry a maximum sentence of six months.

In his first major interview since his arrest, O’Dwyer told the Guardian of his efforts to ignore his potential fate in order to try to complete his degree and start his career of choice.

“It does get in the way, it distracts you … if you thought about extradition all day, you’d never get any work done. It’d be a horrible mess. It’s quite difficult but I think I’m managing quite well.

“I think about it sometimes during the day, but I try to think about other things that are more important. I don’t let their extradition warrant ruin my life. Otherwise you’d fail university, just sit in your room all day moaning. They’d be winning if I let it do that.”

Jimmy Wales likened O’Dwyer’s website to Google – as TVShack.net only hosted links to videos hosted elsewhere, it worked much like the search engine. And like Google, O’Dwyer says he complied with the small number of takedown notices from copyright owners he received.

Previous court cases in America have argued that linking to other websites is protected speech under the first amendment. Website owners such as O’Dwyer should also receive protection for content submitted by their users – whether comment or links – under safe harbour provisions.

May has given her permission for O’Dwyer to be extradited, but he remains in the UK pending an appeal to the high court, to be heard later this year.

Agence France-Presse: June 8, 2012

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/08/amazon-tribe-appeals-for-eviction-of-loggers-from-its-land/

SEND A LETTER: http://www.survivalinternational.org/actnow/writealetter/awa

 [AFP/File, Lunae Parracho]

A tribe that calls the Amazon rainforest home is urging the Brazilian government to stop the illegal logging of its land, a watchdog said Friday.

In a statement, Survival International said the Awa tribe has made a “desperate appeal” to Brazil’s justice minister to “evict loggers from our land immediately… before they come back and destroy everything.”

Consisting of just 450 people, the Awa tribe suffers the fastest rate of deforestation in the Amazon, according to the group.

The appeal is part of a campaign launched on April 25 with the help of British actor Colin Firth, who won an Academy Award in 2011 for his performance in “The King’s Speech.”

It calls on the public to show their support for the Awa by sending protest messages to the justice minister, Jose Eduardo Cardozo. So far, more than 27,000 people have done so, Survival said.

“Brazil’s government must stop ignoring the Awa, and put them at the top of its agenda,” said Survival’s director, Stephen Corry. “The start of the logging season is a critical time. Pressure must not cease.”

Brazil’s indigenous population makes up less than one percent of the country’s 191 million people and lives on 12 percent of the country’s territory, mostly in the Amazon rainforest.

Later this month, more than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of participants from governments, the private sector and NGOs will converge on the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Ahead of the June 20-22 gathering, Brazil announced this week it planned to preserve an additional 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) of land and pledged not to let economic woes stop it from implementing other measures to protect the environment.

SIGN THE PETITION: https://www.accessnow.org/page/s/itu

 

The internet we’ve come to know and love — one that’s open, decentralized, and governed by many stakeholders — is threatened.

Right now, several countries, including China and Russia, are proposing to expand the powers of a non-transparent global institution, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), allowing it to change the rules on how our internet is used and governed. And what’s worse, the ITU won’t even release their negotiating documents to the public or give internet users a seat at the table.

The ITU isn’t used to public accountability, but together we can change that. Let’s tell the ITU that we don’t want a secretive body where only governments have a vote deciding the future of our internet!

Click here to sign the petition demanding the ITU makes its plans public and we’ll work on delivering the petition at their next planning meeting.

The ITU gives every country one vote — that’s why it’s crucial we call upon our individual governments to support our cause. Multi-stakeholder governance of the internet is one of the reasons we can so easily access sites around the world, share with our friends on social networks, and participate in a global community.

Now, with the ITU renegotiating a new treaty this year, China, Russia, and others are pushing proposals that would give governments greater control over how you access the internet. Imagine how that might impact your privacy, security, and freedom of speech online.

The ITU has played an important role in telecommunications and spectrum management and its use for development, but this is not cause for expanding its mandate. While an evolution of internet governance is needed (including an examination of the role of the US), it should evolve in the same way that it was originally designed — in an open, decentralized, and inclusive manner.

Civil society needs a voice in the ITU negotiations. We’ve cosigned a letter with other organizations including the CDT (USA), CIS (India), FGV (Brazil), EFF (USA), and EIPR (Egypt) urging all stakeholders to be a part of this process and for the ITU to be transparent in their negotiations.

Click here to join us in our call to keep the ITU from regulating the internet, publicly release its plans, and respect our role in the internet’s future by signing the petition below. 

In solidarity,
The Access Team

For more information:
Civil Society urges openness, multi-stakeholder process for WCIT
ITU Move to Expand Powers Threatens the Internet
Hey ITU Member States: No More Secrecy, Release the Treaty Proposals

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