Archive for the ‘internet’ Category

Vietnam court upholds blogger’s jail term

December 4, 2008

An appeals court in communist Vietnam on Thursday upheld a blogger’s two-and-a-half-year jail sentence for tax fraud in a case media watchdog groups have said was politically motivated.

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court confirmed the September verdict and sentencing of Nguyen Hoang Hai, who uses the weblog name Dieu Cay and is a member of the online Free Vietnamese Journalists Club.

“After several hours of debate with his lawyers, the court upheld the first instance sentence of two-and-a-half years imprisonment for Nguyen Hoang Hai on the charge of tax fraud,” court official Phan Tanh told AFP.

AFP

Hai — who has taken part in anti-Beijing demonstrations about a sensitive sea territory dispute with China — was arrested in April, days before the Olympic torch passed through the southern city, formerly called Saigon.

“The authorities are trying to silence this blogger,” said media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement before the hearing.
.
“Dieu Cay should be freed at once,” said the Paris-based group which has called the weblog writer a “cyber-dissident.”

“We call on the foreign embassies in Vietnam to defend free expression by urging the Vietnamese government to release him.”

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081204/tc_afp/
vietnamjusticerightsinternet_081204171612

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By: Human Rights Watch

New York, September 12, 2008 – Human Rights Watch condemned a crackdown on democracy activists in Vietnam this week, coinciding with the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte for bilateral talks on security issues, economic ties, and human rights.

Human Rights Watch also called for the immediate release from prison of a prominent internet writer and activist, Nguyen Hoang Hai, known by his pen name Dieu Cay, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison on September 10, 2008. Following Dieu Cay’s closed-door trial, police detained and interrogated at least a dozen other democracy activists, bloggers, and human rights defenders.

“Vietnam’s government is well-known for having zero tolerance for free expression,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The current wave of arrests of democracy activists is a thinly veiled effort by the government to silence independent bloggers, journalists, and human rights defenders in Vietnam.”

Many of the activists detained this week, like Dieu Cay, have participated in protests against China’s claims to the disputed Spratly (Truong Sa) and Paracel (Hoang Sa) islands. It is thought that Vietnamese authorities are possibly trying to prevent demonstrations on the issue planned for September 14. The authorities may also be trying to thwart high-profile activists from joining mass prayer vigils that have been staged since mid-August in Hanoi by thousands of Catholics, who want the government to return confiscated church land in Thai Ha Parish.

Dieu Cay (which means “the Peasant Water Pipe”), 56, is known for his hard-hitting internet postings calling for greater democracy and human rights in Vietnam and his participation in protests in Vietnam against Chinese foreign policy. A former soldier with the People’s Army of Vietnam, Dieu Cay was one of the founding members of the Club of Free Journalists (Cau Lac Bo Nha Bao Tu Do) in 2006.

Anti-China Protests

Since December 2007, growing numbers of activists in Vietnam have joined rallies protesting China’s claims to the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, over which both China and Vietnam assert sovereignty. The protests were sparked by China’s November 2007 announcement that it was placing the islands under the administration of a new government district.

In January 2008, Dieu Cay and six other activists unfurled banners in front of the Opera House in Ho Chi Minh City criticizing China for its claims to the disputed islands. On April 19, 2008, police arrested Dieu Cay in Dalat, a city in central Vietnam, shortly before the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Ho Chi Minh City, an event the Vietnamese authorities were determined to ensure was protest-free. Prior to his arrest, police had summoned Dieu Cay for interrogation at least 15 times.

On September 10, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced Dieu Cay to two and half years in prison on charges of tax evasion on a rental property he owns. Dieu Cay’s lawyers argued that the renter, not Dieu Cay, was liable for back taxes owed on the property, because the rental contract provided for the renter to assume payment of all property taxes, which is allowable under Vietnamese law.

Police officers from the Internal Security and Counter-Espionage Departments (Cuc An Ninh Noi Chinh and Cuc Phan Gian) of the Ministry of Public Security in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Dieu Cay. This department is primarily responsible for monitoring and intervening in political cases. International press freedom organizations called the tax evasion charges a baseless pretext to punish Dieu Cay for his political activism.

“It’s bad enough that the Vietnamese government took an anti-China activist off the street only days before the Olympic torch passed through Ho Chi Minh City, but to imprison him now on questionable charges is a new low,” said Pearson.

Internet and media controls

Dieu Cay’s imprisonment fits a wider pattern of harassment and arrest by Vietnamese authorities of independent journalists, human rights activists, cyber dissidents, religious freedom advocates, and farmers protesting confiscation of their land. The Vietnamese government tightly controls the print and electronic media, as well as the internet in Vietnam, and is swift to prosecute dissidents and independent writers.

In May 2008, for example, police arrested two investigative reporters who had exposed a major corruption scandal in 2005. The reporters, Nguyen Viet Chien of Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper and Nguyen Van Hai of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, were charged with “abusing their positions and powers while performing official duties.” After their newspapers publicly challenged the arrests, on August 1, the government revoked the press accreditation of four journalists from the two papers, including both publications’ deputy editors.

Vietnam’s Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a state party, grant citizens the right to exercise freedom of expression, assembly and association.

“The Vietnamese government should take its own laws seriously and tolerate the expression of views it does not share,” Pearson said. “It’s time for Hanoi to cease harassing and arresting cyber dissidents, human rights defenders, and independent journalists.”

Background information

Activists arrested and detained by police on September 10 and 11 include:

* Land rights protesters Lu Thi Thu Duyen, Lu Thi Thu Trang, and Hoac Kim Hoa, who were detained and interrogated by police in Ho Chi Minh City on September 10 after they tried to attend Dieu Cay’s trial;
* Human rights defender Pham Van Troi, 35, an active member of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam, who was arrested in Hanoi just before midnight on September 10;
* Writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, 58, a member of the executive board of the democracy movement known as Bloc 8406 (named after the April 8, 2006 date of its inception by Father Nguyen Van Ly) was arrested at his home in Haiphong just after midnight on September 11;
* Land rights activist Pham Thanh Nghien, who was arrested by 10 police officers at 11 a.m. on September 11 at her home in Haiphong and taken to Hanoi for questioning by police. In June 2008, municipal authorities in Hanoi rejected an application submitted by Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Pham Van Troi and Pham Thanh Nghien to conduct a demonstration protesting China’s occupation of the Paracel and Spratly islands;
* Student Ngo Quynh and poet Tran Duc Thach, who were arrested in Hanoi on September 10 as they were on their way to Thai Ha parish, where a mass rally by Catholics protesting government policy is taking place;
* Democracy activist Nguyen Van Tuc, a Bloc 8406 member, who was arrested in a midnight raid by dozens of police at his home in Thai Binh province on September 11;
* Vu Hung, who was dismissed from his job as a high school physics teacher two months ago because of his contacts with Vietnamese democracy activists and who was arrested at his home in Ha Tay province at 8 p.m. on September 11; and
* Bloggers Uyen Vu and Quynh Vi, who were summoned to the police station in Ho Chi Minh City for interrogation on September 11.

In addition, on September 10, authorities in Hanoi charged four Catholic protesters from Thai Ha Parish who were arrested on August 28: Nguyen Thi Nhi, Nguyen Dac Hung, Nguyen Thi Viet, and Thai Thanh Hai.

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Vietnam, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/doc?t=asia&c=vietna

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Vietnam seeks Google, Yahoo! help to control, “regulate” bloggers

December 2, 2008

Communist Vietnam wants Internet giants Google and Yahoo! to help “regulate” the country’s flourishing blogging scene, state media said Tuesday, and stop “incorrect information” being published online.

The government will announce new rules this month, stressing that weblogs should serve as personal online diaries, not as organs to disseminate opinions about politics, religion and society, senior officials were quoted as saying.

The regulations aim “to create a legal base for bloggers and related agencies to tackle violations in the area of blogging,” said Information and Communication Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan, according to the Thanh Nien daily.

The ministry “will contact Google and Yahoo! for cooperation in creating the best and the healthiest environment for bloggers,” he added.

The proposals follow the jailing in September of the high-profile blogger Dieu Cay — real name Nguyen Hoang Hai — for two and a half years on tax fraud charges. His appeal hearing is set for Thursday, court officials said.

Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders charged that he was punished for criticising China‘s claims over disputed South China Sea islands and called on the court “to acquit this cyber-dissident.”

From AFP

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/afp/20081202/tc_afp/vietnammediarightsblogs_081202174628

Murdoch: Condescension, Complacency, Arrogance Killing TV, Newspapers While Internet Thrives

November 17, 2008

With newspapers cutting back and predictions of even worse times ahead, Rupert Murdoch said the profession may still have a bright future if it can shake free of reporters and editors who he said have forfeited the trust and loyalty of their readers.

By Charles Cooper
CNET News

“My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it’s not newspapers that might become obsolete. It’s some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper’s most precious asset: the bond with its readers,” said Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp. He made his remarks as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Australian Broadcast Corporation.

Murdoch to journalists: Shape up or risk extinction.  Credit: Dan Farber

Murdoch, whose company’s holdings also include MySpace and the Wall Street Journal, criticized what he described as a culture of “complacency and condescension” in some newsrooms.

“The complacency stems from having enjoyed a monopoly–and now finding they have to compete for an audience they once took for granted. The condescension that many show their readers is an even bigger problem. It takes no special genius to point out that if you are contemptuous of your customers, you are going to have a hard time getting them to buy your product. Newspapers are no exception.”

The 77-year-old Murdoch, recalling a long career in newspapers that began when his father’s death forced him to take over the Adelaide News in 1952, said the profession has failed to creatively respond to changes wrought by technology.

Read the rest:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-10787_3-10098194-60.html

Mass Migration, Internet Threatens Britain’s National Security

November 17, 2008

Mass migration and the internet are increasing threats to Britain’s national security, according to former Home Secretary John Reid.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
The Telegraph (UK)

National crises which threatened the UK were happening far more than people thought, he added, and were no longer “one-off events”.

The MP for Airdie and Shotts, who will leave the House of Commons at the next general election, said he is setting up a new think tank called the Institute of Security and Resilience Studies.

The new centre will assess long term threats against the UK and other countries.

International migration had increased the range of threats against the UK after the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, he said.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “The chief characteristic of the world we have to face is mobility.

John Reid says mass migration threatens Britain's national security

Above: John Reid listed cyber attacks, pandemics, global warming and energy shortages as threats Photo: PHILIP HOLLIS

“Forty years ago, the Cold War meant that the borders were inviolate, extremist religious groups and ethnic tensions were suppressed, there was no internet and travel was difficult.

“Now you have a completely mobile world. So the great questions of mass migration, international crime and international terrorism were much higher than they were previously.”

The result was “far more sources of insecurity than ever before”, made worse by the advent of the internet which increased the interdependence of the world.

He said: “We have to recognise that on the net you can practically get the full DNA of the First World War flu that killed 24 million people.”

National emergencies were no longer one-off events, he said. “Crises are looked upon as very exceptional circumstances.

“Actually they occur a lot more than people think, a lot more often than people know and they are getting more regular.”

Threats were now cyber attacks, pandemics, global warming and energy shortages.

Politicians were forced to make key decisions under “huge pressure” from the internet and 24 hour news media. Too often Governments were “behind the curve” when trying to deal with new threats, he added.

“Countries, societies and economies that cannot develop better the capacity to prevent, resist and recover will be left vulnerable and exposed.”

The new institute would work on long term solutions with academics and the private sector to try to come up with long term solutions to help ministers on a “non-partisan” basis.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/
labour/3467978/Mass-migration-threatens-Britains
-national-security-says-John-Reid.html

Media Bias Reaches New Low? Or High?

November 11, 2008

With the messiah safe at last, some of the notabilities of press and tube are climbing out of Barack Obama’s  media tank with tales of what’s been going on in there.

By Wesley Pruden
The Washington Times

It’s an article of media faith that everybody with a press card is incapable of showing bias – with the exception of a few newspapers like this one, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post and, of course, Fox News. Anyone who says otherwise is a vacuous irrelevancy. So when someone strays off the reservation it’s front-page news, even when it’s not on the front page.

Deborah Howell, the ombudsman (a Swedish word her newsroom now defines as “newsroom harpie”) at The Washington Post finally had enough on Sunday and took her newspaper’s best and brightest severely to task for allowing its reporters and editors to climb into that tank. “Readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama,” she wrote. “My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that [readers] are right on both counts.”

Even before Election Day, Harold Evans, once editor of the Times of London and the London Sunday Times, was even blunter, perhaps because as the former editor he no longer has to risk life and limb walking among his former colleagues: “It’s fitting that the cynicism ‘vote early and vote often’ is commonly attributed to Chicago’s Democratic boss, Mayor Richard Daley, who famously voted the graveyards in 1960 to help put John F. Kennedy in the White House. In this 2008 race, it’s the American media that have voted very early and often. They long ago elected the star graduate of Chicago’s Democratic machine, Barack Obama.”

In fact, Reuters, the British news service that most slavishly follows the line of least resistance to bias, isn’t even waiting for the inauguration. Most of the media refers to the new president as “President-elect Obama.” To Reuters, he’s occasionally already “President Obama.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/11/fairer-to-one-than-the-other/

New Net Reality: Hijacked Web, Deluge of Data Bringing Down Entire Corporate Networks

November 10, 2008

Attackers bent on shutting down large Web sites — even the operators that run the backbone of the Internet — are arming themselves with what are effectively vast digital fire hoses capable of overwhelming the world’s largest networks, according to a new report on online security.

By John Markoff
The International Herald Tribune

In these attacks, computer networks are hijacked to form so-called botnets that spray random packets of data in huge streams over the Internet. The deluge of data are meant to bring down Web sites and entire corporate networks. Known as distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attacks, such cyberweapons are now routinely used during political and military conflicts, as in Estonia in 2007 during a political fight with Russia, and in the Georgian-Russian war last summer. Such attacks are also being used in blackmail schemes and political conflicts, as well as for general malicious mischief.

A survey of 70 of the largest Internet operators in North America, South America, Europe and Asia found that malicious attacks were rising sharply and that the individual attacks were growing more powerful and sophisticated, according to the Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report. This report is produced annually by Arbor Networks, a company in Lexington, Massachusetts, that provides tools for monitoring the performance of networks.

The report, which will be released Tuesday, shows that the largest attacks have grown steadily in size to over 40 gigabits, from less than half a megabit, over the last seven years. The largest network connections generally available today carry 10 gigabits of data, meaning that they can be overwhelmed by the most powerful attackers.

The Arbor Networks researchers said a 40-gigabit attack took place this year when two rival criminal cybergangs began quarreling over control of an online Ponzi scheme. “This was, initially, criminal-on-criminal crime though obviously the greatest damage was inflicted on the infrastructure used by the criminals,” the network operator wrote in a note on the attack.

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/10/technology/10attacks.php

U.S. News and World Report to End Paper Newsmagazine; Switch to Solely Online Pub

November 6, 2008

US News & World Report, long the number three newsmagazine in the United States behind Time and Newsweek, has become the latest US media outlet to abandon print for the Web.

The move to become an Internet-focused publication was announced to US News employees in a memorandum on Tuesday from management of the magazine.

“We’re accelerating this transformation in response to our rapid growth online where our audience is now about 7 million uniques a month and growing,” US News president Bill Holiber and editor Brian Kelly said in the memo.

“For all of you who have worked so hard to make this transition possible, say good-bye to Web 2.0 and welcome to Journalism 5.0,” they added.

Like other US magazines and newspapers, US News has been losing readership and advertising revenue to online media for years.

The memo did not mention specific plans for the print edition, which has already gone this year from a weekly to a biweekly format, but The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that US News would now only publish once a month.

The Post added that the monthly print edition would also be entirely devoted to consumer guides and not news. US News publishes popular annual rankings on such topics as America’s “best colleges” and “best hospitals.”

Earlier this year, US News announced it was “moving away from a weekly magazine with a discrete website to become a multi-platform digital publisher of news you can use and analysis.”

The shift to the Web by US News comes just a week after the 100-year-old Christian Science Monitor announced plans to end its daily print edition and become the first national US newspaper to become entirely Web-based.

47% of Internet software “exploits” first half of 2008 in Chinese

November 4, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Chinese computer users have become chief targets for online criminals, according to a security report released Monday by Microsoft.

The global software giant’s latest assessment of threats and vulnerabilities reveals that attackers favor hiding malicious programs in seemingly innocent Web browser applications and that China is their preferred target.

Ben Wang, director of Florida State's High-performance Materials ...
Above: Ben Wang’s screen looks like your computer after an “intrusion” or “exploit.”

“The majority of (exploits) we are finding is where the local language is set to Chinese,” said Microsoft malware protection center general manager Vinny Gullotto.

“It reflects a lot of what is happening in the Chinese market. There is so much going on out there with the Internet today that it seems to be somewhat natural that we might see this happen there.”

Approximately 47 percent of software “exploits” found stalking the Internet in the first half of 2008 were in Chinese while 23 percent were in English, the second most common language for attack programs.

These include programs which can record a user’s keystrokes or steal passwords and credit card and banking information.

Microsoft security watchdogs say they find higher computer-infection rates in developing countries where fledgling Internet users aren’t savvy to tricks and traps used by hackers and online criminals.

“They are exploring this whole new world and not thinking about what problems they might face,” Gullotto said.

The weapons of choice for online attacks are “Trojan Horses,” software applications hidden inside programs that computer users are duped or coaxed into downloading, according to the Microsoft report.

“The area of concern specifically is browser-based exploits,” Gullotto said.

“If you are out surfing the Web, good or bad, there is the possibility some exploit on that page is going to take advantage of you and compromise some information on your computer.”

Overall, the number of computer vulnerabilities was down 19 percent in the first half of this year as compared to the same period in 2007. A higher amount of the vulnerabilities that do exist are ranked “high severity.”

“Updating is vitally important,” Gullotto said of protecting computers by keeping operating systems and other software current.

“The newer technology you have in the environment the more secure situation you are going to be in — infection rates come down dramatically.”

 Related:
Cyber Security: World Bank “Invited” Attack; “Gave Away” Millions of Dollars Through IT Office

Facts don’t get in the way of Web political rumors

November 1, 2008

With just days to go before the election, gossip, hearsay, innuendo and smears are flying through the Internet as gadflies and rumormongers hope to sway voters before they head to the polls.

“It’s a lot of mud being slung, it’s understandable, but I think it’s still kind of sad,” said Nick DiFonzo, a psychologist and rumor expert at Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York.

By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer

Candidates and their campaigns are circulating negative bits of information in mainstream venues, raising questions about their opponents in speeches and dropping sour hints in their advertisements. But only on the Internet can entirely false rumors persist, stories told without back up, persistently bouncing from one blog to another.

Some have been out there for years, despite repeated rebuttals from the campaigns. Others surfaced only this past week. And they range from the truly silly (Weekly World News Web site: “OCTOBER SURPRISE: ALIEN ENDORSES MCCAIN!”) to the multitude of bloggers who report results even though votes have yet to be counted: (“Has John McCain Won Florida?” asked the Red State Web site Thursday.)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his wife Cindy 
Above: The McCains off to meet the aliens….AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Most voters say they have already made their decisions about who they want to have as their next president. So the Internet rumors are targeted at the shrinking pool of undecided voters who are still waiting, wondering and potentially still gathering information.

“The online rumors can affect their last-minute decisions,” said UC Santa Cruz psychology professor Anthony Pratkanis, who researches propaganda and social influence.

Here’s a chance to vet the Net:

___

The Rumor: The Huffington Post Web site, among others, has reported that John McCain used an obscene word to describe his wife Cindy during his 1992 Senate campaign.

The Facts: This is unsubstantiated. Author and blogger Cliff Schecter initiated this rumor…

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081101/ap_on_el_pr/internet_political_
rumors;_ylt=AjvG2KG_e5r68Lcs3hzsSXqs0NUE

Circulation for Newspapers Continues to Decline

October 28, 2008

By ANICK JESDANUN
.
 

NEW YORK (AP) – Circulation at the nation’s daily newspapers is falling faster than anticipated this year as readers continue their migration to the Internet and papers narrow their distribution to cut costs.

The development, which compounds the fiscal challenge of plummeting advertising revenue, was revealed Monday when the Audit Bureau of Circulations released sales totals reported by newspapers for April through September.

Combined weekday circulation of all 507 papers that reported circulation totals this year and last averaged 38,165,848 in the six months ending in September, 4.6 percent below 40,022,356 a year earlier. The aggregate drop was only 2.6 percent in the September 2007 period, compared with September 2006.

Sunday circulation fell faster than daily – 4.8 percent, to 43,631,646 at the 571 papers with comparable totals. A year ago, Sunday circulation fell 3.5 percent.

Daily circulation at 16 of the 25 largest papers fell more than 5 percent in the latest period.

Circulation has been dropping at newspapers for decades, a trend sped up by readers shifting to the Internet. Newspapers also have lost advertising in recent years because of the Internet, and that decline accelerated this summer as the weak economy prompted advertisers to pull back on spending.

To boost revenue, many papers also have increased prices, a move that has caused small circulation drops.

This year’s sharpening circulation drop also appears to result in part from the way papers are responding to losing ad revenue, said Rick Edmonds, media analyst at the journalism think tank Poynter Institute.

“Times are tough, and they are looking at everything that’s in their expense base,” he said. “Building new subscribers is an expensive proposition.”

Consider The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where circulation declined 13.6 percent, the largest drop among the 25 largest papers.

The paper increased prices and reduced its distribution footprint by a third to 49 counties. Some of the counties dropped weren’t even in Georgia and were more expensive to reach, said Bob Eickhoff, the paper’s senior vice president for operations.

Read the rest:
http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081027/D94334KG0.html