Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Thailand student charged over anti-coup protest in Bangkok

June 24, 2015


Student Natchacha Kongudom flashes a three-finger salute inspired by the movie “The Hunger Games” in front of a billboard of the film outside the Siam Paragon cinema in Bangkok. (Reuters Photo)

BANGKOK (AFP) – A Thai student was on Wednesday charged over a peaceful anti-coup protest in Bangkok last month, her lawyer said, as dozens of activists gathered in support of other demonstrators summoned by the police.

The May 22 rally marking a year since Thailand’s generals seized power was a rare act of defiance against the junta, quashed when the police dragged away and held overnight dozens of students at the protest.

Supporters of seven activists expected to face charges over the protest gathered outside a police station in downtown Bangkok on Wednesday, cheering them on and holding up photos of the protesters being pulled away by the police last month. An eighth anti-coup protester was charged over the May rally at the city’s military court.

Natchacha Kongudom, 21, was charged for violating a junta order banning political gatherings of more than five people, said Mr Pawinee Chumsri, one of the lawyers representing the activists. “She was arrested this morning while at hospital, taken to the military court and charged,” Pawinee told AFP. The charge carries a penalty of up to six months in prison and a fine of 10,000 baht (S$400).

“She was arrested this morning while at hospital, taken to the military court and charged,” Pawinee told AFP. The charge carries a penalty of up to six months in prison and a fine of 10,000 baht ($300).

The communications arts student is being detained at a prison in Bangkok but has been granted bail and is expected to be released later today, Pawinee added.

Thai pro-democracy activists demonstrate outside Pathumwan Police Station in Bangkok as they mark the one-year anniversary of Thailand’s military coup on May 22, 2015. Photo by EPA
Meanwhile the seven other activists, including four students, were locked in a stand-off with authorities, refusing to enter the police station unless they could also press charges against police for their treatment at the rally last month.

Thailand’s military seized power in a May 2014 coup, ending months of sometimes violent protests against the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

It was the latest twist in nearly a decade of bitter political conflict pitting supporters of the Shinawatra family in the northern provinces against the largely Bangkok-based royalist elite, including large portions of the military.

Yingluck’s older brother Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup, but parties allied to the Shinawatras have won every election since 2001.

Earlier today, which marks 83 years since the end of an absolute monarchy in Thailand, police said three students were arrested and briefly detained for laying flowers at the capital’s Democracy Monument while another was arrested over a Facebook post marking the date.


European cyber police unit to take on Islamic State propaganda

June 22, 2015


The Islamic State group controls some 300,000 square kilometres (115,000 square miles), terrifying residents with a gruesome brutality that analysts say has become central to its existence

THE HAGUE (AFP) – European policeagencyEuropol said Monday it was launching acontinent-widecybercrime unit to combat social media accountspromotingjihadist propaganda, particularly those of the Islamic State (IS) group.The unit, set to start operating fromEuropol’s Hague-based headquarters next month, will comb tens of thousands of social media accounts connected with IS and report them to the companies behind the websites,Europol chief Rob Wainwright said.He declined to name Facebook and Twitter “for privacy reasons,” but said: “These are the leading social media companies. There’s only three or four, so that’s who we are talking about.”

The team “will focus on publicly-available material and combine what we see on social media with more traditional intelligence sources,” Wainwright told AFP in a telephone interview.

Initially consisting of some 15 to 20 members, the cyber squad will focus on key figures who put out thousands of tweets and run accounts used to lure would-be jihadists to Iraq and Syria, as well as to recruit jihadists’ brides.

A recent US study identified at least 46,000 Twitter accounts linked to supporters of the IS group, three-quarters of them tweeting in Arabic.

Since the IS group called on Muslims to come to the caliphate it declared a year ago, foreign fighter numbers have jumped, with the United Nations reporting a 71 percent spike in the nine months to April.

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation in London said the number of foreigners fighting in Syria and Iraq topped 20,000 by January — with nearly a fifth of them from western Europe.

“The IS is the most well-connected terrorist organisation that we’ve seen online,” Wainwright pointed out.

“They are manipulating the Internet and social media, which has become a cornerstone in the lives of many young people,” he said.

Europol will draw on a decade of experience in monitoring extremist websites and well as “deep knowledge of extremist content and good linguistic capabilities including our knowledge of Arabic,” to combat the problem.

Wainwright said once an extremist account had been detected, the companies would be informed and it would be taken down in “a matter of a few hours.”

Islamic State Seen Overtaking Al Qaeda in South Asia Social Media War

June 19, 2015


ISLAMABAD — Islamist militant propaganda websites and social media accounts in South Asia are promoting Islamic State at the expense of al Qaeda, analysts said on Friday, highlighting the rivalry between the two global militant groups.

Disaffected Taliban factions have started to look toward Islamic State, impressed by its rapid capture of territory in Syria and Iraq, though there is no evidence it is providing substantial material support to the Taliban.

The popularity of IS comes at the expense of al Qaeda, whose deep pockets and foreign fighters once readily attracted local commanders. But al Qaeda has been decimated by drone strikes and its traditional influence severely eroded.

“The Taliban and al Qaeda have almost been written out of the picture,” said Omar Hamid, the head of Asia analysis at IHS Country Risk. “Most of these sites have converted their content to an Islamic State (IS) platform.”

So far the IS social media campaign has not been matched by material support to South Asian groups such as the Taliban, he said, but it has helped gather dissatisfied splinter groups around Islamic State.

A few Afghan commanders have sworn allegiance to IS, saying they oppose peace talks between the government and Taliban. Others have questioned whether reclusive one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who has close ties to al Qaeda, is alive.

In Pakistan, home to a separate but allied Taliban insurgency, the leadership of the Taliban is hotly disputed. Some factions there also swore allegiance to Islamic State, cementing their vow by beheading a soldier and posting the video online.

This week, the Afghan Taliban sent a letter to Islamic State’s leader, urging the group to stop recruiting in Afghanistan.

“Twelve months ago, a majority of social media sites in Urdu or Pashto had around 70 percent (of content) related to South Asian jihadi groups,” Hamid said, referring to two languages commonly spoken in Pakistan and Afghanistan. “It changed to about 95 percent IS content by September last year.”

Hamid, a former Pakistani counter-terror police officer, analyzed dozens of militant Twitter and Facebook profiles and militant propaganda sites.

Pakistan’s government has repeatedly promised to ban jihadi websites but most remain online. A spokesman for the country’s telecoms authority could not say how many militant websites had been banned.

Islamic State is definitely gaining in popularity at the expense of al Qaeda, said Saifullah Mahsud, head of Islamabad-based thinktank the FATA Research Centre.

“Islamic State is the new poster boy,” he said. “But the ideology has been around a long time.”

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Apple iOS 9 may make it easier for iPhone users in China to bypass government internet censorship

June 9, 2015

By James Griffiths

South China Morning Post

An update to Apple’s mobile operating system could make it easier for users in China to bypass internet filtering and censorship.

The latest version of the operating system for iPhones and iPads, iOS 9, includes a change to how app developers can implement virtual private network (VPN) protocols on Apple devices. The update was released to developers on Monday, and will become widely available later this year.

READ MORE: Apple announces music streaming service, iOS 9, OS X El Capitan, and upgraded Siri

VPNs are the primary means by which internet users in China bypass the so-called Great Firewall (GFW), which blocks access to Twitter, Facebook, and the South China Morning Post among thousands of other websites.

At the beginning of this year, Beijing clamped down on VPN usage in mainland China, leading to complaints from many internet users and entrepreneurs and forcing VPN providers to find new ways of bypassing restrictions.

The primary means by which censors detect and block VPN traffic is by using deep packet inspection (DPI), which examines the data being sent across the network to see if it matches a certain profile, such as a VPN protocol.

VPN providers have gotten around this packet sniffing to a degree by adding another layer of encryption to their protocols to mask the traffic and ensure it is not recognisable via DPI.

“Before iOS 9, [Apple] only supported a few well known, standard VPN protocols in its built in app which are well known and easy for the GFW to detect, degrade and/or block,” he said.

The update means that custom VPN protocols designed to bypass Chinese internet blocking will now have “first class support” in iOS.

Salibra was quick to point out however, that the change was likely not motivated by a desire to help Chinese dissidents avoid the censors.

“Security and privacy have become a huge priority in the technology industry since the Snowden revelations,” he said. “It is entirely possible that Apple is offering this feature in response to security demands from their corporate customers.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

This technique has just received a boost from Apple, according to Larry Salibra, founder and chief executive of Hong Kong-based software testing platform Pay4Bugs.


Hong Kong: Flawed cyberlaw exploited to arrest political activist

June 2, 2015


By Samuel Chan
South China Morning Post

John Lee explains the law to legislators. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The government was accused yesterday of exploiting its cybersecurity law after the recent arrest of an activist for comments he made on social media.

Last Friday, police used section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance to arrest Tam Tak-chi, 43, a leading member of pan-democratic group People Power.

He posted on his Facebook page that the hearse carrying the body of a ringleader of the deadly 1967 leftist riots would be welcomed by “home-made pineapples” – a code that referred to bombs during the turmoil.

Tam says his arrest was politically motivated as he meant no harm.

However, police said his comment amounted to inciting others to commit illegal acts and its recently upgraded cybersecurity and technology crime bureau was investigating.

Speaking at the Legislative Council’s panel on security, undersecretary for security John Lee Ka-chiu said a high threshold was needed to charge a person under section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance.

“We have an 85 per cent conviction rate, and there have never been any negative comments made by judges,” Lee told lawmakers.

But some lawmakers said the government was exploiting flawed and outdated legislation.

Pan-democratic lawmakers said the legislation, when it was enacted in 1993, was intended to outlaw only unauthorised access or modification to computer systems to primarily fight deception. It was not meant to outlaw all possible criminal intents by the use of a computer that may already be covered under other existing laws, they said.

“It was suggested that [back in 1993], after the legislation was enacted, there should be a review,” said Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Ka-kit.

“How time flies. It has been 20-odd years since … and the administration doesn’t seem to have any intention of conducting a review of section 161.”

The government was also slammed for not disclosing details of the 293 prosecutions involving the same offence between 2008 and 2014. Lee responded that authorities “kept no such records”.

Meanwhile, pro-Beijing lawmakers urged the administration to extend the coverage of section 161 to more areas to “ensure public security”.

Experts Export Their Vision on the Internet — Russia, China and the Islamic State Lead the Way

June 2, 2015


Some call it salesmanship. Some call it propaganda. Some say its “a pack of lies.” How and by whom are organizations able to “spin” even the most evil of organizations like the Islamic State?


It has been the strangest kind of charm offensive.

China, the country that perfected breaking the Internet, has of late been on a campaign to convince the rest of the world that its approach to digital networks is worth spreading. It’s an effort led by Lu Wei, the man whose chief responsibilities include overseeing the Great Firewall of China, whose heavy veil of censorship is responsible for the damage China has done to the Internet inside its borders.

n November, Mr. Lu was among the headline speakers at China’s first-ever World Internet Conference, which featured corporate guests from around the globe. In December, he flew to Silicon Valley and visited Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos. He appeared at a Washington Internet forum co-hosted by Microsoft and attended by senior U.S. officials. A few days later, he published an article in the Huffington Post that, in a tidy 1,397 words, laid out China’s vision for what the Internet should look like.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief, meeting with Lu Wei, China’s top Internet regulator, last week in a photo posted on the state-run China Network agency.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief, meeting with Lu Wei, China’s top Internet regulator, last week in a photo posted on the state-run China Network agency. Credit China Network

It’s a dramatic change from China’s historically favoured way of expressing its Internet views: the silent display of error messages instead of websites it doesn’t like, the deletion of social media posts it considers improper and the banning of foreign companies that won’t toe its line. The latest appears to be Google, whose search and Gmail products have been largely blocked since late spring.

But Mr. Lu, who leads the Cyberspace Administration of China, is on a new mission to convert others to his vision of how the Internet should be run: that digital networks should not allow the unimpeded flow of information, but should instead fall under the “cybersovereignty” of individual nations.

The Internet should be “free and open, with rules to follow and always following the rule of law,” he said, in somewhat contradictory fashion, at the November conference. Asked whether he would consider allowing Facebook in, he was more direct: “I can choose who will be a guest in my home.” He wants others to assert the same power.

It’s a controversial notion, since China has used its control of the Internet to silence dissent, spread propaganda and delete chapters of history . It has also exported its firewall technology to others, notably to African regimes looking for their own god-like powers over online content.

Mr. Lu’s charm offensive suggests the rest of the world must prepare for a more concerted effort by China to export its Internet governance model as well. In a recent column in state media, Fang Xingdong noted that China increasingly has the “hard power” to exert its will.

“China boasts the largest number of Internet users and also world famous companies like Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. The Chinese market will be critical in reshaping the cyberlandscape in the next decade,” wrote Mr. Fang, director of the Centre for Internet and Society at Zhejiang University of Media and Communications.

China of course has little authority over the Internet outside its borders. But it wields considerable control over companies eager to profit from its massive population – and that can have global consequences.

LinkedIn is among the only social media sites that operates in China, but its agreement to censor content sensitive to Beijing has led to it blocking posts from users in the United States. Microsoft search engine Bing has similarly come under fire for censoring searches on its Chinese-language service that originated outside China.

“It’s a bigger problem than most people even imagine,” said Rogier Creemers, a research officer at the University of Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.

“On a topic that might well be the most important story of our time, being the re-emergence of China, we are reliant upon privately owned communications platforms, some of which are trying to get in China’s good graces.”

And even Western governments are sculpting the data they allow in: Britain has notably built a wide-ranging filter to intercept child pornography.

Many nations are also newly skeptical of U.S. leadership in cyberspace, following the Edward Snowden revelations of rampant spying. “The U.S. is no longer seen as a benevolent steward of the Internet system,” said Mr. Creemers.

“The whole idea that Cisco routers, which power the Chinese Internet, might have CIA backdoors installed is a huge concern in Chinese policy circles.” China appears to be taking swift action, saying it wants home-grown technology to supplant foreign-sourced goods in sensitive banking, military and other applications by 2020.

That action underscores the risk to western corporations of China’s new Internet assertiveness.

Critics says there are risks, too, in the Chinese philosophical model – one that suggests governments should be assertive in controlling information – gaining adherents elsewhere.

“If we think about the role the Internet has played in the Arab spring, the attempts by those countries to try to limit access to that information is hugely important,” said Michael Geist, a law professor and privacy expert at the University of Ottawa.

“People who look to the Internet as having the potential to embody a new globalized communication structure where there is access to information in every corner in ways that wasn’t possible before – that vision takes a pretty big hit when we see what’s actually unfolding in some countries, and China is a huge player in that.”

Still, some suggest China itself is changing.

“We think the Firewall is a stopgap arrangement, whose function will diminish as Chinese cyberspace becomes more developed. Being an open society has become one of China’s core beliefs,” the Communist-run Global Times wrote in an editorial this week.

And the very structure of the Internet – with vast numbers of interconnected humans – suggests even technological barriers erected by government will only be partly effective. After all, anyone with even modest technical skill can still access Facebook, or the Wikipedia history of the Tiananmen massacre, inside China today.

“I don’t mean to say that it’s not worrying, or it’s not eventually going to be a problem,” said Ren Bucholz, a Toronto lawyer who serves on the advisory board for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group that advocates for privacy and free expression online.

“But I don’t know what I would do if I was in [China’s] position and trying to map out a strategy for how to control the Internet. I really think that’s a difficult ask, even for a supervillain.”


 (China has a pattern of silencing or censoring critics)



Russia has an army of well-paid “trolls” that has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities.

The New York Times

round 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 11 last year, Duval Arthur, director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, got a call from a resident who had just received a disturbing text message. “Toxic fume hazard warning in this area until 1:30 PM,” the message read. “Take Shelter. Check Local Media and”

St. Mary Parish is home to many processing plants for chemicals and natural gas, and keeping track of dangerous accidents at those plants is Arthur’s job. But he hadn’t heard of any chemical release that morning. In fact, he hadn’t even heard of Columbia Chemical. St. Mary Parish had a Columbian Chemicals plant, which made carbon black, a petroleum product used in rubber and plastics. But he’d heard nothing from them that morning, either. Soon, two other residents called and reported the same text message. Arthur was worried: Had one of his employees sent out an alert without telling him?

If Arthur had checked Twitter, he might have become much more worried. Hundreds of Twitter accounts were documenting a disaster right down the road. “A powerful explosion heard from miles away happened at a chemical plant in Centerville, Louisiana #ColumbianChemicals,” a man named Jon Merritt tweeted. The #ColumbianChemicals hashtag was full of eyewitness accounts of the horror in Centerville. @AnnRussela shared an image of flames engulfing the plant. @Ksarah12 posted a video of surveillance footage from a local gas station, capturing the flash of the explosion. Others shared a video in which thick black smoke rose in the distance.

 A man attempts to access YouTube after an Istanbul court's ban decision in Istanbul, Turkey Monday.   

Dozens of journalists, media outlets and politicians, from Louisiana to New York City, found their Twitter accounts inundated with messages about the disaster. “Heather, I’m sure that the explosion at the #ColumbianChemicals is really dangerous. Louisiana is really screwed now,” a user named @EricTraPPP tweeted at the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Heather Nolan. Another posted a screenshot of CNN’s home page, showing that the story had already made national news. ISIS had claimed credit for the attack, according toone YouTube video; in it, a man showed his TV screen, tuned to an Arabic news channel, on which masked ISIS fighters delivered a speech next to looping footage of an explosion. A woman named Anna McClaren (@zpokodon9) tweeted at Karl Rove: “Karl, Is this really ISIS who is responsible for #ColumbianChemicals? Tell @Obama that we should bomb Iraq!” But anyone who took the trouble to check would have found no news of a spectacular Sept. 11 attack by ISIS. It was all fake: the screenshot, the videos, the photographs.

Read the rest:



The Islamic State has Grown masters of The Internet Jihadists

As the FBI continues to dig into the past of the two men shot dead outside a Texas event designed to offend Muslims, experts have again warned this is a sign of what is to come.

The challenge of countering online radicalisation of Islamic State sympathisers has been laid bare in a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Terror experts told the top level Homeland Security Committee lone wolf attackers were a bigger threat than fighters returning from Syria or Iraq.

But tracking them down remains difficult as they do not fit any ethnic profile and the only thing in common is their connection to social media.

Peter Bergen from the New America Foundation detailed the think tank’s latest research, telling the Committee they have identified 62 people in the US who have tried to join militant groups in Syria.

The average age was 25, a fifth of them were women. One of the girls was as young as 15.

However, there is no geography binding them — they come from 19 different states.

“The only profile that this group really share, 53 of 62 individuals, were very active on social media, downloading and sharing jihadist propaganda and in some cases as Elton Simpson was doing, directly communicating with members of ISIS in Syria,” Mr Bergen said.

“You know, this is a new development in the way jihadist terrorists are recruiting in the United States. The kind of conventional view or perhaps the cartoonish view is that an Al Qaeda recruiter comes here and recruits somebody and creates a cell. In fact that is very rare.”

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

JM Berger from the Brookings Institution has reported finding up to 46,000 Twitter accounts being used by Islamic State supporters late last year.

“What we are seeing is that social media allows people to self-select the beliefs and information that they receive,” he said.

“So if you have an interest in jihadism, you can find other people who are interested in that very easily, very quickly and you can establish relationships with them.”

While public social media accounts give authorities the chance to track sympathisers, Mr Berger said lone wolves thrive on the support.

“The first thing that they have done that is different from what Al Qaeda did is they have become a populist movement. So they have a very low threshold for entry and they are pretty undiscriminating about who they include in their group, relative to Al Qaeda.

“It was very difficult to join Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda was a vanguard and an elitist movement.”

Speaking after the hearing, committee chairman Republican Ron Johnson said the US should be doing better.

He floated legislation that would enable a rapid response communications strategy.

“We’ve got the technology, we invented the internet, the social networks. We’ve got the messaging capability. We need to start utilising it so it’s, from my standpoint, just an obvious piece of legislation,” he said.

Mr Johnson said there was still not enough support from the Muslim community.

“The government, who’ve engaged in those communities, have found out that people in those communities think we have such perfect information as a federal government, that we know who these young people are that are being radicalised.

“We don’t, so the fact of the matter is, if you see something, you have to say something. You have to alert authorities. We need everybody to be on the alert.”


China’s ‘Internet police’ open a window on Web censorship

June 1, 2015


The branch of China’s police in charge of censoring “illegal and harmful” online information will make its efforts more visible to the public from Monday with the launch of their own social media accounts, the Ministry of Public Security said.

The Chinese government aggressively censors the Internet, blocking many sites it deems could challenge the rule of the Communist Party or threaten stability, including popular Western sites like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, as well as Google Inc’s main search engine and Gmail service.

Police in some 50 areas, from metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai to more obscure cities like Xuzhou in Jiangsu province, will open accounts on sites including Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, the ministry said late on Sunday.

The move is a response to public concern about problems like online gambling and pornography and is aimed at increasing the visibility of the police presence online to “create a harmonious, cultured, clear and bright Internet”, it said.

“The Internet police are coming out to the front stage from behind the curtains, beginning regular open inspection and law enforcement efforts, raising the visibility of the police online, working hard to increase a joint feeling of public safety for the online community and satisfy the public,” the ministry said.

The cyber police are working to root out “illegal and harmful information on the Internet, deter and prevent cyber crimes and improper words and deeds online, publish case reports and handle public tip-offs”, it said.

Problems such as fraud, defamation, gambling, the sale of drugs and guns, and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a charge often used to lock up dissidents – have angered people and created a serious challenge to an orderly Internet, it said.

The police would issue warnings to those involved in minor offences and go after more serious cases.

“Just like in the real world, law violations in cyberspace will not go unaccounted for,” it said.

The government has already deleted some 758,000 pieces of “illegal and criminal information” from the Internet and investigated more than 70,000 cyber crime cases since the start of this year, the ministry said.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)


Censorship the elephant in the room as Twitter courts Chinese firms at CES Asia in Shanghai

May 26, 2015


By James Griffiths
South China Morning Post

A senior Twitter executive laid out the company’s benefits to Chinese businesses looking to connect with a global audience at a talk in Shanghai that ignored restrictions placed on the service in China.

Opening the second day of the inaugural Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia, Twitter vice president of Asia Pacific, Latin America and emerging markets Shailesh Rao gave a keynote speech squarely aimed at Chinese firms in attendance.

“Twitter can help Chinese companies and organisations reach world audiences,” Rao said.

“You have the power to … reach people with shared interests anywhere in the world.”

The unspoken exception to that global reach is mainland China, where Twitter has been blocked since 2009.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post in March, Peter Greenberger, Twitter’s sales director for emerging markets, said the company was targeting “big [Chinese] advertisers looking to reach overseas”.

This goal was clear in Rao’s speech, which served as something of an introduction to Twitter for Chinese business leaders perhaps less familiar with the service than their foreign counterparts.

Twitter was inaccessible during CES Asia. It has been blocked in mainland China since 2009. Photo: James Griffiths

Twitter, which also has a booth in the main CES Asia conference hall, is completely inaccessible for attendees who do not use a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass internet restrictions, something which has become significantly more difficult in mainland China since the beginning of this year.

While Rao did not reference the fact that Twitter was blocked in China, the country was noticeably absent from slides discussing global participation in conversations around events such as the football World Cup or the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Speaking at the opening of Twitter’s Hong Kong office earlier this year, Greenberger said that it was not the firm’s intention to re-enter the mainland Chinese market, where it would face stiff competition from domestic social media platforms even if the government ban was lifted.

Instead, Twitter aims to become a tool for Chinese businesses that are already engaged with local audiences on social media to build similar followings overseas.

DON’T MISS: At CES Asia expo, tech gurus lay out vision for ‘internet of things’

“Our ideal customer is someone who is advertising on Weibo and wants to do the same for an international audience,” Greenberger said.

Rao mentioned Alibaba, Air China and Xiaomi as three examples of Chinese companies which are using Twitter to build their brands overseas.

“We’re seeing Chinese companies extend to reach audiences around the world [and] Twitter can be … the bridge to do that,” he said.

One sector which has embraced Twitter, as well as fellow blocked-in-China service Facebook, is Chinese state media. State news agency Xinhua, major newspapers including the People’s Daily and Global Times, and broadcaster CCTV all have active Twitter accounts on which they publish content in multiple languages.

Hong Kong government asks Google to reveal data on Hong Kong users

May 16, 2015


Google received a record number of requests from Hong Kong authorities to disclose data about its users in the second half of last year, according to figures from the search engine giant.

Google’s latest six-monthly Transparency Report says there were 367 requests for data involving 407 users. But only 43 per cent of the requests were deemed of merit to hand over data.

Although the figures were only marginally higher than those for the first half of last year, the number of requests for data has been on the rise.

Charles Mok, lawmaker for the information technology sector, said the government’s lack of transparency on data requests was a threat to Hongkongers’ privacy.

“This ongoing trend underlines the threat present to netizens’ online privacy and freedom of speech,” Mok said.

“These government requests for user information are often made under very opaque circumstances for investigation and law-enforcement purposes, and internet service providers are not in a position to refuse.”

Ranked against 85 countries and territories, Hong Kong came in 12th in the number of data requests made, compared to 9,981 in the United States, 2,080 in Britain and 217 in Taiwan.

Singapore’s government made 1,410 requests for data involving 1,471 user accounts, and was successful in obtaining the data in 68 per cent of cases.

Foreign tech companies, including Facebook and Yahoo, regularly publish reports about requests for data from law enforcement.

Jennifer Zhang, project manager for the Hong Kong Transparency Report, a project by the journalism and media studies centre at the University of Hong Kong, said local online service providers had yet to publish similar transparency reports and legal guidelines on data requests.

“This raises both transparency and accountability concerns for the user,” she said. “Users are counting on their service providers to safeguard their data, but the reality is we have no way of knowing.”

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer said: “Such requests are mainly related to crime prevention and detection as well as law enforcement.”

The office said there was no central mechanism by which it can be seen what requests had been made, and “as such the office does not have readily available information on the details of requests for data from government departments”.

Internet problems in China blamed on malware from overseas servers

May 1, 2015

A hacking attack using malware from overseas servers was to blame for Internet problems in China earlier this week that prevented users accessing a number of popular foreign websites, an official state-run newspaper said on Friday.

Social media users first reported on Sunday that they were being sent to software website and travel website when trying to access news websites like, news portal, and games website, among others.


The incident was the latest in a series of challenges businesses and individuals have faced going online in the world’s second-largest economy.

The English-language China Daily, citing the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team Coordination Centre, an agency that monitors China’s Internet safety, said the redirection happened because some servers in China were “contaminated” by malware from overseas servers.

Access to the internet — both speed and stability — have long been a major issue especially among foreign businesses and individuals. Internet services operated by Facebook, Google and Twitter, to name a few, are unusable in China. The country operates the world’s most sophisticated censorship mechanism in order to quell sources of information the Communist Party sees as potentially destabilizing or undermining its rule.


— Reuters


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