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[liberationtech] MEDIA: Liberation Technologies -- Various

Yosem Companys ycompanys at
Fri Jan 22 09:11:41 PST 2010

Dear friends,

I don't know whether the number of news articles on liberation technologies
is growing, but it certainly looks like it!

Most of the news today was on the US Government finally posting a wealth of
data on the Internet today and the continuing saga of Google's involvement
(or lack thereof) in China.  I've copied and pasted a sample of these
articles below, but in the future I will simply compile the articles,
summarize them, and include the links only.




1. Government posted wealth of data on Internet today
2. Clinton calls for web reform
3. China attacks Clinton's speech as harmful to relations
4. Google flexes foreign policy muscle in China
5. Even a censored Internet has liberated Chinese users


 [image: The Associated Press] 1.  Government posting wealth of data to

By Pete Yost, Associated Press Writer  |  January 22, 2010

WASHINGTON --The Obama administration on Friday is posting to the Internet a
wealth of government data from all Cabinet-level departments, on topics
ranging from child car seats to Medicare services.

The mountain of newly available information comes a year and a day after
President Barack Obama promised on his first full day on the job an open,
transparent government.

Under a Dec. 8 White House directive, each department must post online at
least three collections of "high-value" government data that never have been
previously disclosed.

The Transportation Department will post ratings for 2,400 lines of tires for
consumer safety based on tire tread wear, traction performance and
temperature resistance. The Labor Department will release the names of
80,000 workplaces where injuries and illness have occurred over the past 10

The Medicare database has previously been available for a fee of $100 on CD
ROM. Under the Obama initiative, it can be downloaded free, providing
detailed breakdowns of payments for Medicare services. The Medicare data
will be sortable by the type of medical service provided.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database rates car seats
for ease of use, evaluating the simplicity of instruction sheets, labels,
vehicle installation features and securing the child.

"We're democratizing data," White House Chief Information Officer Vivek
Kundra said Thursday in an interview.

Open government groups are supportive.

"There's recognition that public equals online," said Ellen Miller,
executive director at Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit group focusing on the
use of technology for greater government transparency.

Miller said the effort represents "a sea change in government's attitude,"
with newfound support for the idea that government data belongs in the hands
of citizens instead of locked away in the basement of a federal agency.

All the new data collections will be added to the government's Web site,

Required to release the three new data sets are the departments of State,
Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health
and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy,
Education, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and the Environmental
Protection Agency, the offices of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S.
ambassador to the United Nations and the Council of Economic Advisers.


On the Net:

The directive:

Government's Web site:
 © Copyright <> 2010 The
New York Times Company


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*2.  Hillary Clinton calls for Web freedom, demands China investigate Google

By Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 22, 2010; A14

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Thursday for a global
Internet free of censorship and demanded that China investigate claims by
Google that e-mail accounts belonging to human rights activists had been
targeted by hackers.

"We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the
cyber intrusions that led Google to make this announcement," she said. "We
also look for that investigation and its results to be transparent."

The agency has sent a formal request, known as a demarche, to the Chinese
government asking for the review, according to a State Department official.

In a sweeping "Internet freedom" speech, Clinton also called for nations to
band together to punish cyber attacks meant to quiet citizens and disrupt
businesses abroad.

"Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face
consequences and international condemnation," she said. "By reinforcing that
message, we can create norms of behavior among states and encourage respect
for the global networked commons."

Clinton's speech, delivered at the Newseum in Washington, had been scheduled
for weeks. But it attracted greater interest after Google threatened last
week to withdraw from China because its Gmail program had been hacked by
people searching for sensitive information on Chinese activists. In a
statement, China's vice minister of foreign affairs, He Yafei, downplayed
the incident, saying "The Google case shouldn't be linked to the two
governments or bilateral relations. . . . Otherwise it is

Clinton's push comes as more people are embracing technology, using
Internet-enabled cellphones and Web networks such as YouTube, Facebook and
Twitter to exchange information and organize and publicize protests. The
rise in such communications has prompted governments in places such as Iran,
Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Tunisia to try to block online traffic.

"Virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls," Clinton said.
"With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain
is descending across much of the world."

Clinton said the United States would push to preserve the ability of anyone
to connect and freely transfer information over the Web. While short on
details for how that goal would be achieved, her speech sends a signal that
technology plays an important role in U.S. diplomacy.

"The key is not to think of this just as censorship but that this is a set
of interrelated problems that have to do with connectivity," said Jonathan
Zittrain, a professor of law at Harvard University and co-founder of the
Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

The State Department said it planned to work more closely with
non-government organizations and technology companies on the issue. Clinton
said the government would put up $15 million for grass-roots efforts to
create Web applications that help stop violence against women and children
and allow people to find ways to communicate over the Web even when their
governments attempt to block them.

Already, the government has sought to take advantage of the ubiquity of
mobile phones in the developing world to press initiatives that rely on text
messages to alert law enforcement of drug violence in Mexico and to warn
women and children of approaching militia in the Congo. "As I speak to you
today, government censors are working furiously to erase my words from the
records of history," Clinton said.

Analysts, though, say the United States is an outlier on speech rights, with
many of its allies disinclined to adopt strict principles. The South Korean
government, for instance, requires users of YouTube and commenters on blogs
to register their identities. That could put the United States in a delicate
position as it tries to balance its interest in human rights with
geopolitical interests.

The United States is also not without its own free speech controversies.
Some academics were quick to point out that the FBI has allegedly pressured
phone companies for records on thousands of account holders, citing
terrorism emergencies.

"One of big questions around the speech is, 'To what degree are we willing
to hold ourselves to these standards?' " said Clay Shirky, a new media
professor at New York University.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company


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*3.  China attacks Clinton's Internet speech as 'harmful' to relations*

By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 22, 2010; 11:25 AM

BEIJING -- China's<>
Ministry sharply criticized Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's
Thursday call for broad Internet freedom, saying that the United States
should "cease using so-called Internet freedom to make groundless
accusations against China."

Ma Zhaoxu, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on the ministry's Web site
that "the U.S. has criticized China's policies to administer the Internet
and insinuated that China restricts Internet freedom. We are firmly against
the words and deeds contrary to the facts and harmful to China-U.S.

A Chinese newspaper also joined the criticism of Clinton, who gave her
speech in the wake of Google's declaration that it would stop censoring
results on its Chinese-based search engine even if that meant losing its
license after a cyber attack on its computers.

The Global Times said that the U.S. "campaign for uncensored and free flow
of information on an unrestricted Internet is a disguised attempt to impose
its value on other cultures in the name of democracy."

Clinton said that freedom on the Internet is closely linked to other basic
freedoms, including freedom of speech, worship and assembly. And she said
the U.S. government would help fund and foster individuals and companies
that help those in countries with restricted access find ways to circumvent

The Global Times said that less developed countries can't match the amount
of information generated in industrialized countries like the United States.
As a result, it said, "countries disadvantaged by the unequal and
undemocratic information flow have to protect their national interest, and
take steps toward this."

Like many Chinese and like the Chinese government, the Global Times said:
"This is essential for their political stability as well as normal conduct
of economic and social life."

Ma, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "China has its own national
situation, culture and tradition. China administers the Internet according
to the law, which is in line with the practice adopted worldwide."

Clinton also called on China to investigate Google's charges that
Chinese-backed groups, or the government, instigated hacker attacks on
Google and some of its e-mail users.

Ma responded that "Chinese laws forbid any kind of hacker attacks and
invasion of people's privacy on the Internet." He asserted that "China is
one of the main targets of hackers."

Many Chinese bloggers took a more upbeat view of Clinton's speech.

"Hillary's speech symbolizes that a free country has declared a war on
dictatorship countries in the area of free speech," said Wen Yunchao, a
Guangzhou-based blogger whose pen name is North Wind. "It might be as
significant as the statement made by Churchill about Iron Curtain."

Liu Xiaoyuan, an activist lawyer based in Beijing, said: "In general, she
raised the principles of the U.S. government on the Internet and the policy
offered a big direction. But the policy is a little bit too general, not
specific enough." He said Clinton's policy "lacks specific measures to bring
the policy into reality. I don't think the policy will bring any real
essential changes for us."

Yao Bo, another well-known columnist and blogger, said "All the
dictatorships end up controlling people's speech and the free flow of
information. But the Internet has filled the gaps."

Yao said that "With the Internet, it's harder to control people's speech.
Compared with 60 years ago, there is no iron curtain anymore. There is a
silicon curtain now, a curtain of free speech."

This curtain is easier to penetrate, though, Yao said. "Although they want
to block people from free speech, they cannot really succeed," he said.
"During the cold war, it was a fight between countries. But in the era of
the Internet, it's no longer a competition between countries, but between
people who are longing for freedom and the force trying to control the

But Rao Jin, founder of Anti-CNN, a pro-government Web site that criticized
Western media reports during the Tibetan riots in 2008, said "I believe
Secretary Clinton's speech on the Internet will lead to strong resentment
among the Chinese public." He said that "regardless of our political
beliefs, we are united on one point: The Chinese people will not allow any
foreign country to impose their ideologies on our country."

Rao said, "Why do we have to accept the standard of the United States? The
attitude of the U.S. is so arrogant. Clinton mentioned one Internet.
Actually, it's the Internet of the United States. It's Google of the

*Staff researcher Zhang Jie contributed to this report.*
 © 2010 The Washington Post Company

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*4.  In China, Google flexes some foreign policy muscle*

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, January 24, 2010; G01

It's not every day, week, month or year that one American company
essentially threatens to fire an entire country -- much less one with its
own stock of nuclear weapons.

But Google<>
only suggested that it would have to walk away from its business in the
People's Republic of China, it did so in a Jan. 12 blog
a list of Chinese offenses including censorship and attempted break-ins of
its computer systems.

"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered -- combined with the
attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the Web -- have
led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business
operations in China," Google declared in the post. "We have decided we are
no longer willing to continue censoring our results on," its
China-based search site.

That's a far more public rebuke than anything the U.S. government has said
in public. Next to that, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
 speech on Internet
freedom<> Thursday
reads like a diplomatic (understandably so) attempt to catch up to Google's

This newfound militancy cannot be what the Mountain View, Calif., Internet
firm had in mind when it agreed to do business in China in

At the time, Google took a lot of criticism for agreeing to censorship by
Beijing's Communist rulers of <>. In response,
it argued <> that
it could make more of the Web's information available to Chinese users with
a locally based search engine, and that disclosing when censorship forced it
to withhold relevant results -- it follows a similar practice in the United
States after removing a YouTube video in response to claims of copyright
lent transparency to its operation.

(Considering that China's Web filtering apparently operates by making users
think that an un-"wholesome" site doesn't exist or isn't
that second argument seems a fair point.)

Further, Google said it would keep its Gmail and Blogger services based
offshore to protect Chinese users of those sites.

But Google may not have realized then that the Chinese government would
alter the bargain by demanding stricter censorship or blocking other Google
or that Chinese hackers would launch a widespread, well-orchestrated series
of attacks <> on
its computers and those of other U.S. companies to break into the Gmail
accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

There aren't many things foreign companies can do to stop the abuses of
another country's government, but suggesting that the other country's money
is no good has to be among the most severe responses possible.

By way of comparison, when Western computer manufacturers didn't want to
install "Green Dam" Web filtering
they did not publicly threaten to boycott the Chinese market -- and, with
help from protests by Chinese users, Beijing backed down on that

Is Google mashing down the panic button just to distract people from
worrying about the security of its own
That's possible.

But if you analyze its moves in strict business terms, it's easier to
conclude that Google is acting against its own shareholders' interests. The
company may have a minority of the search market in China, but even
that current
business is substantial<>.
The potential rewards for staying in the market are far larger. Neither is
something to toss aside lightly.

What comes next? Who knows? Google says it has not yet removed the filters
on and continues to talk with Beijing about its next move. But why
would that regime relent on such a fundamental instrument of state control?
Is a shunning by Google that much of a punishment?

That's what makes Google's move -- essentially, setting aside business
concerns to act more like a fourth branch of government with its own foreign
policy -- so bold. Especially if you compare it with the past conduct of
tech companies in the Untied States thatcomplied with warrantless wiretap

And yet there's something just a bit odd about our most public defender of
human rights being an unelected, for-profit company that happens to run an
e-mail service in which computers scan your messages to match them up with

If you were waiting for confirmation that Google takes your privacy
and its "don't
be evil" commandment <> seriously,
this act of defiance may be all that you'd hoped for. But please don't treat
it as a reason to hand all your business over to Google; applaud the company
if you wish, but don't let yourself forget how to fire it.

*Living with technology, or trying to? Read more at*
 © 2010 The Washington Post Company


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*5.  Even a Censored Internet Has Liberated Chinese Users*

By Steven Mufson
Thursday, January 21, 2010; A12

BEIJING -- One of China's most popular bloggers, Han Han, posted a satirical
essay this week in which he imagined headlines about China's censored
Internet in a post-Google era:

In 2011, Google, Facebook and YouTube announce their return to the Chinese
market -- but the news is censored, so no one finds out. The government
allocates 100 billion yuan as part of an economic stimulus package to hire
people to post Internet comments; it sets a target of 100 billion positive
posts. After a few years, e-mail disappears and 5 million Internet-related
jobs are lost, but the revived postal service hires 100,000 workers. The
People's Daily writes: "One industry was sacrificed in return for the
stability of the nation, but it was worthwhile."

To the Chinese government, however, the future of the Internet and the
recent decision by
stop censoring its search engine here, even if it means pulling out of this
populous country, are no laughing matter. Even though Han Han -- high school
dropout, successful novelist and race-car driver -- is wildly popular, his
post was quickly removed.

The government's efforts to control and limit what Chinese citizens can read
online aren't likely to end, no matter what Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton says in a speech she is expected to deliver in Washington on
Thursday about the Internet. Clinton is expected to propose ways to help
citizens of countries such as China and Iran gain greater access to

Many Chinese are still
Google and China's government avert a showdown. But Google appears
pessimistic. This week it delayed the introduction of two mobile phones in
the country.

Yet people here say that even a circumscribed Chinese Internet has had a
liberating effect on many citizens such as Han Han and his readers -- who
number in the millions. That's likely to continue both as a result of
popular techniques for circumventing what's known as the Great Firewall of
China and because of the big following bloggers have.

The advertising and research firm Ogilvy China estimated last year that 47
million bloggers existed by the end of 2007 and that the number was rising
by 25 percent a year. Han Han and actress-model Xu Jinglei collected 300
million hits in less than three years.

"When traditional media dominated the public opinion arena, Chinese citizens
had trouble finding ways to express their ideas or views on various social
issues that might involve their own interests," said Hu Yong, an associate
professor at Beijing University's School of Journalism and Communication.
"But with the advent of the Internet, Chinese netizens found outlets of

To be sure, not everyone has been left to enjoy such freedoms. In December,
a Chinese judge sentenced the dissident literary critic Liu Xiaobo to 11
years in prison<>
his writing and for his role in a pro-democracy petition called Charter 08,
which sought to rally support for political reform.

Liu appears to have crossed a line. The Chinese government prohibits people
from forming their own organizations. It has tolerated greater freedom in
blogs, music clubs, art galleries and day-to-day private conversations as
long as they stay largely private and do not directly challenge the Chinese
Communist Party's monopoly on political power.

But the Internet has blurred the lines between private and public, and
bloggers can rally followers without forming organizations in the offline
world. "Discussions can influence some public policies," Hu said. "Moreover,
the Internet in China has played a role of watchdog that can't be carried
out by traditional media."

Much of that has little to do with Google, but many analysts credit Google
with contributing to greater knowledge and awareness among its users, even
though its Chinese-based search engine has been complying with government
requirements to delete sensitive information.

"Google brought a lot more transparency to this market just being here for
four years," said Anne Stevenson-Yang, director of Asia research at Wedge
MKI, an international equity analysis firm. "They were the first ones to put
a notice on their search engine saying results were not allowed to be

Although Google said last week that it would stop censoring its site, little
appears to have changed.

A search Wednesday for the word "Dharamsala," headquarters of the exiled
Dalai Lama, returned 9.48 million results on Google's Chinese search engine.
The first item was Google images, featuring a photo of the Dalai Lama. The
second was a blog about one person's experience in Dharamsala. The third and
the fourth were news items by mainland Chinese outlets. The fifth was a
Wikipedia entry.

However, some of the other items included bulletin board postings by people
supporting exiled Tibetans and items from overseas Tibetan organizations,
such as the Tibetan Post. Those links could not be opened. At the bottom of
the Google page, a note said: "In accordance with local laws and
regulations, some of the search results cannot be shown."

On the dominant Chinese search engine,
there were 119,000 results. The first item was "Dalai Group and Dharamsala,"
an article from the Guangming Daily, a Chinese mainland publication. The
second was a Baidu photo. The third was kung-fu fiction. Most other results
were news items from official media.

Hu, of Beijing University, said Google had had "huge influence" by
"providing good tools for a wide number of users."

But he cautioned that bringing about political change is not an easy
project: "The Internet is pushing Chinese society forward in the right
direction. But it is hard to predict how long that will be."

*Researchers Wang Juan and Zhang Mei contributed to this report.*
© 2010 The Washington Post Company
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