Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

China Blocks Instagram as Reality of Police Action in Hong Kong Gets Global Attention

September 29, 2014
A protester raises his arms as police officers try to disperse the crowd near the government headquarters in Hong Kong, September 29, 2014. REUTERS-Carlos Barria
A protester raises his arms as police officers try to disperse the crowd near the government headquarters in Hong Kong, Monday, September 29, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

NEW YORK Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:45pm EDT

(Reuters) – Instagram, the popular photo-sharing service owned by Facebook Inc (FB.O), has been blocked in China, according to numerous reports, including from Hong Kong-based reporters with the New York Times.

The company did not immediately return requests for confirmation.

The reports came amid pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, where many have posted photos and videos, including of Hong Kong police firing tear gas at demonstrators.

Many of the photos were labeled with the hash tag “Occupy Central,” a phrase that was blocked on Sunday on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. It had been allowed earlier in the day.

The website also indicated that Instagram was blocked across China, including in Beijing and Shenzhen.

If the site was blocked in China, that would not prevent users in Hong Kong from posting on social media, nor users in other countries viewing the images.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica)

Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters, during clashes after thousands of protesters blocked the main street to the financial Central district (background) outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong September 28, 2014. REUTERS-Stringer

Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters after thousands of demonstrators blocked the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong September
Credit: REUTERS/Stringer

 Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters after thousands of demonstrators blocked the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong September 29, 2014.  REUTERS-Stringer
 Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters after thousands of demonstrators blocked the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong September 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer
Protesters flee from teargas fired by riot police, during clashes after thousands of protesters blocked the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong September 28, 2014. REUTERS-Stringer

Protesters flee from teargas fired by riot police, during clashes after thousands of protesters blocked the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong September 28, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer

Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters, during clashes after thousands of protesters blocked the main street to the financial Central district (background) outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong September 28, 2014. REUTERS-Stringer

Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters after thousands of demonstrators blocked the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong.  Credit: REUTERS/Stringer


Internet, Users Needs Bill of Rights, Protections Against Governments and Corporations

September 28, 2014


London (AFP) – The British inventor of the World Wide Web warned on Saturday that the freedom of the internet is under threat by governments and corporations interested in controlling the web.

Photo: Internet inventor Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee, a computer scientist who invented the web 25 years ago, called for a bill of rights that would guarantee the independence of the internet and ensure users’ privacy.

“If a company can control your access to the internet, if they can control which websites they go to, then they have tremendous control over your life,” Berners-Lee said at the London “Web We Want” festival on the future of the internet.

“If a Government can block you going to, for example, the opposition’s political pages, then they can give you a blinkered view of reality to keep themselves in power.”

“Suddenly the power to abuse the open internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies.”

Berners-Lee, 59, is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a body which develops guidelines for the development of the internet.

He called for an internet version of the “Magna Carta”, the 13th century English charter credited with guaranteeing basic rights and freedoms.

Concerns over privacy and freedom on the internet have increased in the wake of the revelation of mass government monitoring of online activity following leaks by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

A ruling by the European Union to allow individuals to ask search engines such as Google to remove links to information about them, called the “right to be forgotten”, has also raised concerns over the potential for censorship.

“There have been lots of times that it has been abused, so now the Magna Carta is about saying…I want a web where I’m not spied on, where there’s no censorship,” Berners-Lee said.

The scientist added that in order to be a “neutral medium”, the internet had to reflect all of humanity, including “some ghastly stuff”.

“Now some things are of course just illegal, child pornography, fraud, telling someone how to rob a bank, that’s illegal before the web and it’s illegal after the web,” Berners-Lee added.


Russia Steps Up New Law to Control Foreign Internet Companies

Move Seen as Part of Drive to Curtail Freedom of Information

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, attending a Moscow forum on Internet entrepreneurship in June. Reuters

MOSCOW—Russia’s parliament sped up measures to tighten control over foreign Internet companies such as Google Inc., Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., raising concerns over state pressure on social networks that have become one of the country’s few remaining spaces for dissent.

The DumaRussia’s lower chamber of parliament, passed a bill Wednesday that would move up the deadline of a law requiring foreign Internet companies to store the personal data of users from Russia within the country’s borders. The deadline, moved to Jan. 1, 2015, from Sept. 1, 2016, would create a near-impossible challenge for U.S.-based firms that have millions of Russian users but generally store data on servers outside the country.

Russian authorities have presented the personal-data law as a necessary security measure to protect against foreign threats and U.S. spying. But rights advocates say the Kremlin is pursuing the measure as part of a broader drive to curtail freedom of information and intensify scrutiny of Internet activity.

The accelerated effort comes amid Moscow’s increasing distrust of the Internet and a hardening of anti-Western policies. Authorities are separately proceeding with legislation to limit foreign firms to 20% ownership of Russian media outlets, a move that risks curbing press freedoms in a country already dominated by state-controlled media.

The bill that would move up the personal-data law’s implementation passed Wednesday after its second reading, making the new deadline all but certain to come into effect. The Duma must vote once more before sending the bill to Russia’s upper chamber of parliament and the Kremlin for approval. The remaining steps are largely a formality. The bill is likely to become law in weeks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the new personal-data measures into law in July. This month, though, Russian lawmakers proposed speeding up their enactment, citing ever-present hacking threats and an “information war” being waged against Russia by foreign powers over the crisis in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Fyodorov, a Duma deputy from the ruling United Russia party and co-author of the bill that passed Wednesday, warned this month that the Internet was an instrument of what he described as “orange interventions,” or Western-backed antigovernment uprisings.

“That’s where the censorship and revision of the events taking place in Russia come from,” Mr. Fyodorov said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper this month. “All the information is stored there and used against Russia. To avoid this and protect the country, we have to take these objects under national control,” he said, referring to the foreign firms’ storage servers.

Russia’s largest social network, Vkontakte, could benefit from the state’s crackdown on foreign Internet companies such as Google and Facebook. Bloomberg News

Russian lawmakers acknowledge that it would be near impossible for companies such as Google to build their own data-storage centers in Russia in just over three months.

“But if a company wants to operate on the territory of the Russian Federation, there are a wide range of rental opportunities,” Alexander Yushchenko, a Communist Party deputy in the Duma and co-author of the bill, said this month. Mr. Yushchenko said foreign Internet firms could rent storage from Russian companies such as state-controlled telecom provider OAO Rostelecom    


Spokeswomen for Google and Twitter declined to comment Wednesday. Facebook didn’t respond to a request to comment.

Karen Kazaryan, chief analyst at the Russian Association for Electronic Communications, a Russian trade body, described the law as impossible to implement in its current form. He said it would be difficult for global Internet companies to track which personal data is coming from Russia.

“Foreign companies will continue to exercise a wait-and-see approach to this law because it is unenforceable,” Mr. Kazaryan said. He predicted foreign Internet firms would buy some server space in Russia to save face but avoid moving any main storage facilities.

Russia has tightened the screws on Internet freedoms ever since mass demonstrations erupted in Moscow in late 2011 and posed the biggest-ever public threat to Mr. Putin’s rule. Led by an anticorruption blogger and organized in part over social-media networks, the protests rattled the Kremlin with the possibility that a street uprising could take place in Russia.

As tensions between the U.S. and Russia mounted this year over the crisis in Ukraine, Mr. Putin warned that Western powers were trying to weaken and undermine the Russian state. In April, he described the Internet as a special project of the Central Intelligence Agency that has continued to develop as such.

In the wake of Western sanctions, the Russian government has begun exploring what to do if Russia were to find itself cut off from the global Internet.

Meanwhile, it has implemented a law requiring bloggers with more than 3,000 daily readers to register with state authorities, calling into question the feasibility of anonymous authorship. A tycoon allied with Mr. Putin also has cemented control of the country’s largest social network, VKontakte, over the course of this year.

The proposed law limiting foreign ownership of Russian media assets is expected to pass its second reading in the Duma later this month. The measure would require ownership changes at Vedomosti, a Russian business newspaper owned by Finland’s Sanoma Independent Media, Pearson, PLC’s Financial Times and News Corp‘s  Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

It would also force ownership changes at the Russian edition of Forbes, controlled by Germany’s Axel Springer , and an array of other publications and television channels.

Write to Paul Sonne at and Olga Razumovskaya at



Russia plans state controls in case of internet crisis

September 22, 2014

From the BBC

Internet cafe in Yekaterinburg

Internet cafe in Yekaterinburg: Russians rely on many foreign servers and website hosts

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Russia is making plans to ensure state control over the country’s internet traffic in a national emergency, Russian media report.

War or an Arab Spring-style uprising would class as such an emergency.

Plans for boosting cyber security are reported to be under discussion in Russia’s Security Council. They include a back-up in case Russia is cut off from the internet, Vedomosti news says.

Russia currently relies heavily on foreign hosting of websites.

When asked about the special meeting a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said US and European actions recently “have been marked by a fair degree of unpredictability, and we have to be ready for anything”.

Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine conflict now target many senior Russian officials, as well as Russia’s oil industry, arms manufacturers and state banks.

Western leaders accuse Russia of destabilising Ukraine by supplying soldiers and heavy weapons to separatist forces there.

Russia’s Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said that “recently Russia has come up against the one-sided language of sanctions.

“In these conditions we are working on scenarios in which our respected partners suddenly decide to cut us off from the internet.”

In January 2011 the Egyptian state blocked internet traffic inside the country after opposition groups organised protests through social media, especially on Facebook and Twitter.

Infrastructure changes

Experts interviewed by Vedomosti said a Russian federal body such as Rossvyaz, in charge of communications, could take over as administrator of internet domains.

Rossvyaz would then have direct control over the country’s domains such as those ending in .ru or .rf and service providers in Russia’s regions would be subordinate to it.

It is not clear how tighter state control over the web infrastructure in Russia would affect relations with US-based Icann, the organisation that governs internet domains internationally.

Mr Nikiforov said his ministry had held exercises with the defence ministry and FSB intelligence service to prepare for a scenario in which Russia was deprived of internet connections.

Keir Giles, a London-based expert on Russian cyber security, says the FSB has been given new internet surveillance powers since American whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the scale of secret US monitoring of internet traffic.

According to the news website, the Russian authorities are also considering bundling the country’s internet connections into big nodes which can be monitored more easily.

More on This Story

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Freedom of information: Chinese man sues China firm over Google block

September 8, 2014


Paramilitary policemen stand guard on a city square in Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang region on May 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)


BEIJING — A Chinese man threw a rare official spotlight on the country’s Internet controls when he sued a state-owned telecom operator for denying him access to US search engine Google, documents and reports showed Friday.

Authorities in China impose strict limits on the Internet, censoring domestic content and blocking foreign websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube using a system known as the “Great Firewall”.

Google partially withdrew from mainland China in 2010 and moved its servers to Hong Kong after a fallout with Chinese officialdom. Access to its services has been blocked or disrupted since shortly before June’s 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Wang Long, who describes himself as a “law worker”, sued China Unicom over his lack of access to Google at the Futian People’s Court in the southern boom town of Shenzhen, which neighbours Hong Kong.

The hearing took place on Thursday, a document on the city’s official litigation service website showed.

On his account on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo, Wang said that China Unicom’s lawyer hesitated to answer when the judge asked whether Google’s websites can normally be accessed.

Eventually, the advocate said that he was “not sure whether he can tell (the court) or not”, sparking laughter from the gallery, Wang said.

He added that the judge ordered the clerk to record that the websites were not accessible, but it had nothing to do with China Unicom.

Court officials were not available to comment when contacted by Agence France-Presse on Friday.

A ruling is expected to be made before October, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.

It quoted Wang, 25, as saying that he had a contractual relationship with China Unicom. “They should offer me telecom services, yet they still failed to provide access. They should be held responsible for this failure,” he said.

Wang has also sued China Mobile, another state-owned telecom carrier, and the court agreed last week to hear the case, another document on the Shenzhen website showed, without giving details.

The Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, quoted what it described as a “Beijing-based expert in cyber security, who requested anonymity” as saying Wang had sued the wrong opponent.

“It is Google that should be blamed, since it does not operate its business in China,” the “expert” was cited as saying. “I call on companies like Google or Twitter or Facebook to offer services in China and accept [proper supervision].”

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U.S. In Propaganda War With ISIL

September 8, 2014


Islamic State Page on Facebook and Twitter

By Anne Gearan
The Washington Post

The stunning rise of the ­Islamic State militant group as both a battlefield force and an Internet juggernaut over the summer has given new urgency to a State Department effort to counter online militant propaganda with a U.S. messaging campaign.

A U.S.-government-made video that recently made the rounds on social media — with graphic images of Islamic State executions and a beheaded body — is the best-known example of the attempt to expose the brutality of the Islamist group and undermine its ­online recruitment appeals.

The Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS, has supplanted al-Qaeda as the main object of U.S. efforts to understand and counter militant activity online, U.S. officials said. Intelligence agencies covertly monitor and sometimes try to disrupt militant Web sites, but the smaller, $6 million State Department effort is intended for public consumption. Videos, tweets and other online content in Arabic, Urdu, English and other languages are identified as coming from the U.S. government.

The short video titled “Welcome to ISIL-Land” and others like it aim to counter militant propaganda by producing eye-catching online material that uses the militants’ own words or images against them.

That’s a tricky line to walk, since by repurposing provocative or grisly images to discredit the groups behind them, the State Department also gives them wider distribution.

“The point, obviously, of this is to target potential recruits, potential sympathizers, to show the brutality” of the organization, said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. “To point out the fallacies, point out the inconsistencies.”

“Welcome to ISIL-Land” generated news stories and negative comments on Twitter about its extremely violent content and mocking tone. YouTube requires viewers to be 21 to watch it.

The Islamic State “is the gold standard of terrorist propaganda in terms of quality and quantity,” said a senior State Department official involved in the countermessage effort. “They put into practice what al-Qaeda has ­always said and could never do,” in promoting themselves effectively in the news media and online. The official, like others, spoke on the condition of ­anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the U.S. campaign on the record.

Sharpening and broadening a political-style message campaign against the Islamic State is a feature of the emerging Obama administration strategy to line up Arab and other partners to counter Islamic State on the ground and online. The group has seized territory in Syria and Iraq and become a magnet for aspiring jihadists across the globe.

President Obama began outlining a counteroffensive at the NATO summit last week in Wales. In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama said it was time for the United States to “start going on some offense” against the Islamic State, and he plans to meet with lawmakers this week before delivering a speech to the public Wednesday on the U.S. strategy. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and others will be in the Mideast this week to ask for Sunni Arab help in support of the new Shiite Iraqi government as it fights the Sunni militants.

“They can provide physical space and locations for training, and they can agree to work with us on training and equipping and advising” Iraqi and moderate Syrian rebel forces fighting Islamic State, a senior administration official said. “They can be a voice and galvanize the moderate Sunni voices in their communities to — on the countermessaging point — to push back against . . . what’s a very empty narrative” from the militants.

Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met Friday with officials from several nations likely to join the new coalition. “There is no time to waste in building a broad international coalition to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy the threat posed by ISIL,” Kerry and Hagel said in a statement issued in Wales.

The campaign would provide military support to Iraq, stem the flow of foreign fighters coming to join the Islamic State and go after the organization’s financing, while also “delegitimizing” the group’s ideology, the statement said.

In a speech last week at the Brookings Institution, Matt ­Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the Islamic State operates “the most significant global propaganda machine of any Islamist extremist group. . . . No group is as successful and effective as ISIL is at using propaganda, particularly social media.”

Islamic State routinely releases scenes of carnage designed to intimidate adversaries and bolster its ruthless reputation. But it also seeks to appeal to recruits with images of its fighters cradling kittens and its religious enforcers patrolling neighborhoods and smiling affably as they warn residents to wear proper Islamic attire.

The video that became prominent last week is one of several on a new State Department YouTube channel in English aimed at disaffected young Western Muslims who may be wowed by the Islamic State’s battlefield momentum. The countermessage is simple: These guys are lying to you, and if you go to Syria to fight Western oppression you’ll just end up killing innocent Muslims.

The 50-employee Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications is the State Department office behind the video. The organization was launched in 2011 to analyze and answer militant activity on social media and does most of its work in languages other than English.

The English-language YouTube channel was created in a rush in July as part of an expanded online message campaign following the fall of the strategic Iraqi city of Mosul to Islamic State militants, the senior State Department official said.

The same video was first posted in Arabic in July, and that version has more than 42,000 views on YouTube. The English-language version was also posted in July. It is part of a campaign called “Think Again, Turn Away,” that also tweets with the motto “some truths about terrorism.”

By contrast, the Islamic State video showing the killing of American journalist James Foley has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, if not more, despite attempts to remove it from mainstream video sites.

U.S. government-branded efforts to interject online often go awry, either because the message falls flat or the Americans fail to reach real militants or their ­sympathizers, said Evan F. Kohlmann, chief information officer of Flashpoint Global Partners, a New York security consulting firm that tracks militant Web sites.

“The problem with this video is the same problem that seems to happen over and over again with these type of initiatives,” he said. “They don’t seem to have a clear picture of what audience they are trying to reach, or how to influence them.”

He added that “someone at the State Department has failed to recognize that most of the Westerners trying to join ISIS are actually enthused by videos of executions and suicide bombings, not deterred by them.”

State Department officials said they recognize the limits of the program.

The United States understands that the lure of the Islamic State’s jihadist message is strong, and fueled by grievance and history that no quick online American answer can fully address, the senior State Department official said.

“So we poke holes in their narrative, try to turn the tables,” the official continued. “You’re not going to get a knockout blow.”

Greg Miller, Karen DeYoung and David Nakamura contributed to this report.


Democratic Candidate Calls Republican “Worse than ISIS”

September 3, 2014


A man holds up a knife as he rides on the back of a motorcycle touring the streets of Tabqa city with others in celebration after Islamic State militants took over Tabqa air base, in nearby Raqqa city August 24, 2014. Reuters

Congressional candidate J.T. Smith of Phenix City is upset with the Republicans in Congress — so much that he compared Republicans to the terrorist group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the the Levant, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Smith, the Democratic nominee in Alabama’s District 3, made the comparison on Labor Day, taking to Twitter to vent.

JT Smith

JT Smith, Democratic candidate for Congress in Alabama’s Third District

And Smith’s timing will likely get his tweet more attention than it has already garnered on social media, as ISIL-ISIS reportedly beheaded a second American journalist on Tuesday. ISIS militants previously beheaded American journalist James Foley, on Aug. 19.

Smith wrote: “The greatest country on earth is being bullied from within. Actions of Republicans in congress are worse than .” (The tweet is below.)

It wasn’t the first potentially incendiary tweet from Smith, who faces U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, in November.

On Sunday, Smith, an Iraq War veteran, tweeted that the fact that the GOP wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, proves that the Republicans see “seniors, women and children as prey.”

Smith later took to Facebook to explain his Tweet.

“Twitter does not allow for context, but this does,” Smith wrote on Facebook. “I am not saying that the republican party is beheading people in the streets, obviously. Here in America, because we are a civilized democracy, we do not use violence against each other as a means of control. The republicans have used the economy as a means to terrorize the people of this country.”


– The Washington Times – Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Democratic candidate running against Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers shocked Twitter users Monday when he compared Republicans in Congress to Islamic State militants.

J.T. Smith, of Phenix City, is the Democratic nominee to represent Alabama’s District 3, The Birmingham News reported.

“The greatest country on earth is being bullied from within. Actions of Republicans in congress are worse than #ISIL,” he tweeted on Labor Day to more than 3,000 followers.

The tweet was still active as of Tuesday afternoon.

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Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Experts Expect Employers To Increasing Monitoring of Workers’ Social Media

August 19, 2014
PwC study suggests third of young people would be happy for employer to see social media profiles in return for job security

The Guardian, Sunday 17 August 2014

Worker using a laptop

A worker using a laptop. Photograph: PhotoAlto/Alamy

A third of young people would be happy for their employer to have access to their social media profiles in return for job security, according to a report that claims such personal data monitoring will become more commonplace.

The report, written by consultants from PwC using a survey of 10,000 workers worldwide and 500 human resources (HR) professionals, suggests personal data from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites could be used by employers to understand what motivates their workforce, reasons why people might move jobs and to improve employee wellbeing.

PwC predicts that online monitoring by employers will rise over the next decade. By 2020, people currently aged 18-32 will form half of the global workforce, bringing with them different attitudes to technology and personal data.

The research claims that younger people are more open to sharing their personal data with their employers, with 36% of Generation Y workers saying they would be happy to do so.

John Harding, human resource services partner at PwC in Manchester, said: “Just as advertisers and retailers are using data from customers’ online and social media activity to tailor their shopping experience, organisations could soon start using workers’ personal data (with their permission) to measure and anticipate performance and retention issues.

“This sort of data profiling could also extend to real-time monitoring of employees’ health, with proactive health guidance to help reduce sick leave. Key to the success of organisations being able to use employee data will be developing measurable benefits for those who hand over their data and building trust through clear rules about how data is acquired, used and shared.”

Cary Cooper, distinguished professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said there were obvious pitfalls. “First of all, it is naive to think that if you trade off your privacy rights (eg access to one’s social media) that an employer can ever guarantee job security,” he said.

“Second, I can’t see, if an employer had access to an employee’s social media, how this could possibly lead to greater employee motivation or wellbeing. This seems a plain case of trying to find out what employees are doing and thinking – clearly an intrusion into their private life. I see no HR justification for it whatsoever.”

China continues to tighten control and monitoring of the Internet, social-networking, messaging apps

July 5, 2014


By Jonathan Cheng and Paul Mozur
The Wall Street Journal

Updated July 4, 2014
A number of popular social-networking applications reported Thursday their services were impaired in mainland China, two days after a massive pro-democracy demonstration in neighboring Hong Kong.
Users of mobile messaging applications Line and KakaoTalk in mainland China have been unable to access many of the features on the popular services since Tuesday, in the first major service disruption in the country for the companies.
Yahoo Inc. ‘s Flickr was also inaccessible on Thursday.
Line Corp. and Kakao Corp. said they didn’t know what caused several services available on their platforms to be unavailable to users in China. In an emailed statement, a Yahoo spokeswoman said: “We are aware of reports that Flickr is blocked for users in China and our team is investigating this now.”
The timing of the outage, which began on the evening of July 1 during the pro-democracy march in Hong Kong, could indicate that the Chinese government took steps to limit usage. China’s government often blocks foreign websites and smartphone services during sensitive times, like the recent 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

WSJD is the Journal’s home for tech news, analysis and product reviews.

Officials at China’s State Council Information Office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A Line spokeswoman said she didn’t know when the app would become available again in China. Last month, a Line executive said the Japanese company is planning to expand its presence in China because of the hundreds of millions of potential users in the market.

Sonia Im, a spokeswoman for Kakao Corp., based in Pangyo, South Korea, said that while some features of the messaging platform still worked in China, users there couldn’t add new friends, use certain emoticons or check notices. Ms. Im said the company began receiving user complaints Tuesday evening, but that the stoppage affected the bulk of its Chinese users on Wednesday.

She said the company hoped to restore full functionality to its users as soon as possible, adding that she didn’t know what caused the disruption in service. Kakao has about 140 million registered users, but doesn’t break out its user base by country.

In China, users of Line could see that they had received a message, but couldn’t access the message itself. Mobile-phone users also could download the KakaoTalk app, but couldn’t register.

An application icon for Line’s Internet messaging and calling service. Bloomberg News

While Line isn’t widely used in China, it has proved popular with younger users, many of whom were attracted to the app because of its emoticons, which are called stickers. In Hong Kong, the app is very popular and could have easily been used to share news of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong across the border to China. Line said it has more than 400 million registered users, but doesn’t give a breakdown for China.

On local social media, censorship of references to the Hong Kong protests has been severe, even eclipsing blockages carried out during the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, according to WeiboScope, a service provided by the University of Hong Kong that tracks censorship.

Many of Google Inc.’s services remain completely inaccessible in China since they were fully blocked last month in what analysts have described as an escalation of China’s attempts to control the flow of information over the Internet and put restrictions on foreign companies.

Since rising to power in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken steps to tighten government control over the Internet. Under his leadership, the government has created a new high-profile committee to increase cybersecurity, has warned Internet celebrities with large numbers of followers about spreading rumors online, and has instituted a particularly strong antipornography campaign.

Other popular messaging services, such as WhatsApp, which Facebook Inc. recently agreed to buy, and WeChat, the popular service created by Shenzhen, China-based Tencent Holdings Ltd.  , were working. Viber, which Japan’s Rakuten Inc. agreed to acquire earlier this year, is working as usual in China, with no reports of connection problems, said a Rakuten spokeswoman.

—Juro Osawa
contributed to this article.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at and Paul Mozur at


  (From the BBC)

See also The New York Times

An Online Shift in China Muffles an Open Forum

In May, though, the government announced that WeChat would be more heavily monitored. Saying that instant messaging services were being used to spread “violence, terrorism and pornography,” the agency charged with policing the Internet said it would “firmly fight infiltration from hostile forces at home and abroad,” according to a government statement.

In its heyday, Weibo promised much more. It came to prominence in 2011 after a high-speed rail crash killed 40 people. Weibo users detailed the mayhem and government shortcomings that led to the accident, part of a surge of criticism that prompted the resignation of the railway minister. It was a signal moment in the Internet’s coming of age in China, a reminder of how the medium could challenge even a formidable authoritarian government and one of its most powerful leaders.

China’s Internet, Social Media Services Disrupted — “More Like a Black Out”

July 4, 2014



Screenshot of Line's Weibo account on 4 July at 3pm.
Thousands of Chinese users of messaging app Line have taken to the app’s Weibo account to complain
July 4, 2014

From the BBC

Thousands of Chinese users of messaging app Line have taken to the app’s Weibo account to complain

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Several popular messaging applications and file-sharing services appear to have been blocked in mainland China this week.

These include mobile messaging apps Line, which is widely used in Asia, and Kakaotalk.

Yahoo’s photo-sharing service Flickr and Microsoft’s file storage service OneDrive have also been affected.

The move appears to have taken place ahead of a major pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

China already blocks popular social media services Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Yahoo told agencies that it was investigating the situation, while Line said on its Weibo account that it was working to fix the problem.

The disruption has affected users of Line in particular. The service has more than 400 million users, mostly in Asia. Thousands of Chinese users have flooded Line’s Weibo account with complaints.

People march on a street during the annual pro-democracy protest on 1 July 2014 in Hong Kong.
Organisers estimate 510,000 protesters took part in Hong Kong’s rally; police put the number much lower

A Line spokesman told Bloomberg that its users in China had not been able to access all services since 1 July, which was the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to the mainland.

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Hong Kong that day in a major pro-democracy protest.

A representative of anti-censorship site told Reuters news agency this was not a technical malfunction, suggesting the services were blocked because they allowed users to share photos.

Checks by BBC Chinese found that Hong Kong and Taiwan Line users appeared to have been unaffected.

In May, some Line users in China complained that the app had started to censor sensitive terms related to the 4 June anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, according to BBC Chinese.

At that time, Line’s spokesman said the China version of the app was being “optimised”.



Thailand’s coup, martial law not planned as conspiracy with protest leaders, General says

June 28, 2014


Thailand’s General Prayuth Chan-ocha

Thailand’s junta-leading Army Chief has dismissed allegations he plotted to seize power for years before May’s coup, issuing an apparent rebuke to the leader of the protests that crippled the former government.

“It is not true” General Prayut Chan-O-Cha said, addressing accusations that he had discussed uprooting the divisive Shinawatra clan from politics with firebrand protest chief Suthep Thaugsuban.


Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban speaks to supporters in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.  (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

“I did not join any process or take part with any side,” Prayut said late Friday in a weekly television address to the nation.

While Prayut did not directly reference Suthep, he was prodded into the denial after reports that the protest figurehead told a charity dinner that he had been in talks with the army chief since 2010.

Shortly after Prayut’s comments, Suthep took to Facebook to say he would cancel all future fundraisers — starting on Saturday.

Supporters of ousted premier Yingluck Shinawatra have blamed a coalition of establishment-linked forces — including the army and judiciary — for colluding to overthrow the government, the second such army putsch in eight years.

But Prayut has been at pains to package his power grab as a necessary evil to restore peace and order after several months of protests by Suthep’s supporters paralysed the government.

Twenty-eight people died and hundreds more were wounded in political violence linked to the protests, which also deflated the kingdom’s once-buoyant economy.

The stern-faced general toppled the government on May 22, a fortnight after Yingluck was booted out off office by a controversial court ruling.

He has imposed martial law on the kingdom, suspended the constitution, muzzled dissent and detained or arrested hundreds of people — mainly supporters of the former government.

“Political talks, fund-raising (activities) are forbidden…. it is a violation of martial law,” Prayut warned in his regular Friday television speech.

Two senior members of the anti-government protests contacted by AFP refused to comment.

Yingluck’s billionaire brother — also a former premier — Thaksin Shinawatra sits at the heart of Thailand’s trenchant political divide.

He was toppled in a 2006 army coup and now lives in self-exile to avoid a corruption conviction he contends was politically motivated.

The Shinawatras draw loyalty from the populous and poor northern part of the country, but are loathed by a Bangkok-based elite, their affiliates in the army and royalist allies in the kingdom’s south.


Army commander Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha in Bangkok. 13 June 2014
Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha says democracy will only return after reforms are put in place

Fleshing out his roadmap for Thailand’s political future, Prayut also confirmed that an interim constitution had been drafted and will likely take effect next month.

A national assembly will be appointed in September to select a new premier, while a reform council stacked with hand-picked ‘wise men’ from across the country will be established to craft a new, binding constitution to come into effect in July, 2015.

New elections “will come after the permanent constitution” around three months later, Prayut added.

From the start of his street rallies Suthep, a former deputy prime minister, called for widespread reforms to “root out the Thaksin regime” before elections.

Observers say the reforms are likely to take aim at the electoral dominance of the Shinawatra clan, who have won every Thai poll since 2001.



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