For almost a decade, the Iranian regime and netizen activists have been engaged in a veritable war of attrition over freedom of information on the Internet. With at least tacit support from information technology businesses — whose interests are adversely affected by government controls and restrictions — activists have sought to exploit the Internet in order to share information and voice dissent. In turn, the authorities have been implementing plans to manage cyber activity by taking ownership of Internet infrastructure and by promoting the presence of their supporters and messages in cyberspace, while justifying their efforts on the grounds of morality and national security. Neither netizen activists nor the government are likely to win the battle over information flows in the near term, in part because of financial considerations and evolving technologies.
(U//FOUO) Open Source Center Chinese Media Use Google Incident to Press Claim for Internet ‘Sovereignty’
Following Secretary of State Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom and Google’s announcement that it may withdraw from China due to hacking and censorship, PRC media commentary on China’s Internet policy suggests an attempt to portray the Internet as sovereign territory and China’s policies as defending against US “Internet hegemony.” PRC authorities could use these claims to expand control over the Internet. Some commentary, however, portrayed the Google dispute as commercial rather than political, suggesting an attempt to downplay the incident. Recent PRC media reporting suggests an attempt to extend sovereignty into cyberspace.
At the request of Open Source Center, InterMedia commissioned the La Paz-based research firm Apoyo Bolivia to conduct a qualitative research study in Bolivia to analyze the use of media among indigenous groups, including their media consumption, habits and opinions. The study involved 10 depth interviews that took place in August 2009 in four departments: Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, La Paz and Oruro. This qualitative study represents the views of these participants only and does not necessarily represent the view of all Bolivians.
Throughout this week and the next, we will be publishing a large number of reports from the Director of National Intelligence Open Source Center on a variety of topics. Rather than present all of the documents at once, we have decided to publish approximately five to ten reports a day in separate entries on the site. It is our belief that this will enable better scrutiny of the documents, as opposed to overwhelming readers with a large mass of information. Though the majority of these reports are marked For Official Use Only, all products of the Open Source Center, including Unclassified documents, are inaccessible to the general public. One of the only sources to release these reports in the past has been Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. Due to the limited number currently available, we estimate that our publication of this material will more than triple the amount of Open Source Center products available to the public.
Against the backdrop of widespread international criticism and muted senior official comment regarding Israel’s actions in the Free Gaza flotilla raid, the IDF and some ministries, as well as individual volunteers, turned to social media to counter bad publicity over the incident. While IDF YouTube videos apparently succeeded in attracting attention to Israel’s message, the government’s overall social networking effort appears to have been hastily and clumsily organized compared to a more effective effort at the time of the Gaza incursion from December 2008 to January 2009. Several prominent commentators rebuked the government for what they perceived as a tardy and unprofessional public diplomacy campaign during the incident.
In the wake of Fouad Mourtada’s conviction for impersonating Prince Moulay Rachid on facebook.com, Moroccan bloggers have voiced concern that his arrest sets a precedent for repressing bloggers who were formerly allowed to flourish. In contrast to the outpouring of sentiment on the Internet, Morocco’s mainstream press has thus far displayed only limited attention to the case. Moroccan security services arrested Fouad Mourtada, 26, an IT engineer from the southeastern town of Goulmima, on 6 February for creating a facebook.com profile in the name of King Mohammed VI’s brother, Prince Moulay Rachid on 15 January. Mourtada’s defenders argued that he clearly had no malicious intent since he used his home IP address instead of a cyber cafe and also argued that he did not expect his posting to be taken seriously since there are so many false celebrity profiles on facebook.com (French President Sarkozy has 41). Nevertheless, on 22 February, Mourtada was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 10,000 dirhams (approximately $1,350) (helpfouad.com). Beginning with prominent French-language blogger Larbi el Hilali on 7 February, Moroccan bloggers have charged that Mourtada’s arrest and conviction portends a government crackdown on Internet free speech.
Indonesia has one of the world’s freest media environments, with countless new mainstream and Islamic extremist outlets appearing since the fall of former President Suharto in 1998. Reporting and critical commentary range from thoughtful analysis of government policy to harsh critiques of alleged US “conspiracies” for world domination. The top broadcast stations and publications are all privately owned; state-run media have limited impact.
The Tunisian State mobilizes various arms of the state apparatus and bureaucracy to restrict critical reportage and hobble emerging independent media, even though the government maintains that the country enjoys freedom of speech and the press. Measures the authorities employ include the seizure of journals, coverage restrictions, financial controls, imprisonment, and censorship. Such direct bureaucratic obstruction is complemented by more subtle/surreptitious methods of physical intimidation used to control the media environment and keep dissenting Tunisian voices in check. Journalists and human rights organizations continue to protest against the restrictions.
The Burmese Government strictly regulates media across all outlets and genres. Print and broadcast media predominantly carry formulaic reports on the military regime’s activities and accomplishments, and even literature and entertainment are censored. The public does, however, receive uncensored media through widespread access to foreign radio, and a limited number with satellite TV can view Western and Burmese exile news. Low household income is a constraint on media consumption.
Pyongyang during the past month has opened accounts with three popular online social media outlets that are not accessible inside North Korea. Content in these channels is taken directly from official propaganda, and Pyongyang is not currently using the sites for online discussion or exchange. The North’s use of social media appears designed to circumvent Seoul’s efforts to block access by South Koreans to North Korean online content. Pyongyang began its foray into global social media on 14 July with the launch of a YouTube channel. This was followed by the opening of accounts on Twitter (12 August) and Facebook (20 August). Average North Korean citizens do not have access to the Internet, so they almost certainly are not participating in these sites.
Thai academics have sounded the alarm over the appearance of online groups dedicated to harassing and mocking red-shirt members, warning the government’s failure to stop such campaigns could lead to further division and bloodshed. One of these newly emergent online groups, “Social Sanction”, posts personal information on red-shirt supporters and encourages its members to mete out “social punishment.” Academics warn these online campaigns, which they speculate the government quietly endorses, could create an environment “full of fear and hatred” and lead to open violence, outcomes at odds with ongoing government efforts to promote reconciliation.
Reporters Without Borders’ 2008 Press Freedom Index ranks Moldova 98th, a significant drop from its 2007 spot (81). The year was characterized by continued attempts by the government to control the media and by increased harassment of journalists and media organizations critical of the government. The problem is less the legal framework, which is generally adequate, than it is inconsistent implementation. Pro-government media receive preferential treatment. In several instances in 2007 and 2008, journalists from more critical organizations were hindered from attending or covering events. More recently, the entry of Romanian journalists into Moldova to cover protests after the 5 April 2009 elections was blocked.
FOUO Open Source Center South African 2010 Soccer World Cup Media Highlights, June 7, 2010.
Open Source Center brief on Advanced Googling for Senior Executives, Open Source Academy, September 2009.
Open Source Center Walking Time to Medical Facilities and Food Distribution Centers in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
This analysis shows the average walking time from medical facilities and primary food distribution centers in Port-au-Prince. Results of the analysis show locations of extreme road obstruction and the relationship between camps to medical facilities and food distribution centers. The analysis was conducted by creating a road network in a GIS, outlined in the methodology below. This road network can be used in future analysis to describe walking or driving distance from specific location, or to find best route information.
Open Source Center Digital Audio Video Enterprise Brochure, December 3, 2008.
This product may contain copyrighted material; authorized use is for national security purposes of the United States Government only. Any reproduction, dissemination, or use is subject to the OSC usage policy and the original copyright.
Sweeping social and economic changes triggered by more than two decades of reform in China have led to equally sweeping changes in China’s vast, state-controlled media environment, particularly in the quantity and diversity of media sources and the development of the Internet. The Communist Party of China (CPC) not only tolerates much greater diversity in the media, but has strongly encouraged greater efforts to provide media content that resonates with the lives and interests of the population. Despite these changes, however, all pertinent information continues to be filtered through party censors to ensure that it is consistent with official policy. The party exercises especially tight control over the core mainstream media which deliver domestic and international news along with politically sensitive information. These media constitute the main vehicle for conveying the policy preferences and decisions of the central leadership.
The structure of this chart is primarily taken from a reference pamphlet published by the South Korean Ministry of Unification in January 2009, which appears to be based on the DPRK constitution. As such, this chart is a representation of the formal relationships between the various entities and does not necessarily reflect the actual hierarchy and power relationships in the North Korean system. Other sources include: DPRK, ROK, PRC, and Japanese media; the ROK National Intelligence Service website; the Ministry of Unification’s Key Figures of North Korea 2009; and Japan’s Radiopress North Korea Directory 2008.