Aida F. Akl writes in the Voice of America that the rapid spread of cell phones in the Middle East over the past decade has created a new space for young people in the closed societies of the Middle East to interact and express themselves while providing activists with more efficient ways to organize massive political campaigns. Middle Easterners from all age groups and walks of life, for example, use their mobile phones to vote for their favorite artist on Star Academy, the region's counterpart of American Idol. The cell phone has also broken down the barriers posed by gender segregation, curfews, and supervised dating by giving young people new ways to connect and allowed young people to access pornography, a big taboo in Middle Eastern societies. Middle Eastern activists have also used cell phones to organize pro-democracy protests. Kuwaiti women used mass text messaging to organize a successful campaign to gain voting rights. Shi’ite activists in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain used text messaging to campaign for political participation. As we've discussed before on the liberation technology blog, Iranian demonstrators also used cell phones to upload photos of clashes with security forces to social media web sites like Facebook and Twitter.
According to Victor Mair -- Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania and a blogger on the Language Log, F?is?bùk? ???? has become a popular way of transcribing the name "Facebook" in Chinese. And what does F?is?bùk? mean? "Absolutely must die." F?i means "not," s? means "die," and bùk? "impermissible, cannot." In other words, F?is?bùk? may be rendered as "cannot not die" (double negative), i.e., "absolutely must die." In any case, Facebook is usually blocked in China (as it is in Pakistan, Iran, and Syria; does North Korea have an Internet?), so Mair says that people can't use Facebook in China so it doesn't really matter what they call it. Nevertheless, Mair is sure the Chinese government must be pleased with the F?is?bùk? ("Absolutely Must Die") moniker.
Glenn Greenwald has an article in Salon.com that argues that the Obama administration is waging a war on whistleblowers, many of whom publish their stories online through sites such as Wikileaks. According to Greenwald, the DOJ last month announced it had obtained an indictment against NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who exposed serious waste, abuse and possible illegality. Then, the DOJ re-issued a Bush era subpoena to Jim Risen of The New York Times, demanding the identity of his source who revealed an extremely inept and damaging CIA effort to infiltrate the Iranian nuclear program.
Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.
Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location. Tor works with many of your existing applications, including web browsers, instant messaging clients, remote login, and other applications based on the TCP protocol.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world use Tor for a wide variety of reasons: journalists and bloggers, human rights workers, law enforcement officers, soldiers, corporations, citizens of repressive regimes, and just ordinary citizens. See the Who Uses Tor? page for examples of typical Tor users. See the overview page for a more detailed explanation of what Tor does, and why this diversity of users is important.
Tor doesn't magically encrypt all of your Internet activities, though. You should understand what Tor does and does not do for you.
May 17th, 3:00–5:30pm
Mendenhall Library, Building 120.
Free and Open to the Public
What happens when the values of these groups conflict? When we account for the sundry cultures of designers and users, what are the implications of these technologies for society and free expression? The 2010 Rebele First Amendment Panel will explore the ways in which the design and use of communication technologies can help or hinder freedom of expression. We will explore the process by which technologies come to embody and symbolize values, how values are negotiated by various groups as the technology goes into use, and the implications of these processes for free communication.
You may not have heard about the Technology Liberation Front (TLF), but you should. Despite having the words "technology liberation" in their title, however, they are not exactly like the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Our goal is to understand how information technology can be used to defend human rights, improve governance, empower the poor, promote economic development, and pursue a variety of other social goods. TLF's is to report on—and hopefully help to reverse—what they perceive as the "dangerous trend of over-regulation of the Internet, communications, media and high-technology in general." Thus, whereas we are non partisan, TLF has an overt libertarian point of view. (See, for example, TLF's statement on Cyber-Libertarianism.) Also, whereas we do academic research and design, TLF functions more as a libertarian filter for tech issues of the day. Nevertheless, we think our similarities provide fruitful areas for collaboration: We are both focused on elucidating the important role technology can play in promoting the public good. Thus, we encourage you to visit TLF from time to time for an interesting libertarian perspective that, while different from our own non partisan stance, is still motivated by a similar desire to use technology for social good. Here's a sampling of recent stories on TLF:
Noam Cohen writes in the New York Times that companies routinely compromise freedom for market share. According to Noam, the result of this trade-off begs us to ask whether new technologies — the personal computer, the World Wide Web, the all-powerful smartphone — will help set us free or merely give us that illusion. For every time that technology promises to help introduce democracy, the people's hopes are dashed. As an example, Noam cites the introduction of the Apple iPhone into Egypt:
Lowell Feld, a blogger at Blue Virginia and author of the book Netroots Rising, sends the link to an article written by Evgeny Morozov in Foreign Policy Magazine that attempts to dispel the "myths" that the Internet promotes freedom, political activism, and perpetual peace. Lowell does not take a position either way but finds the article relevant to the larger debate about liberation technologies. The purported myths listed by Morozov are the following: