Authoritative PRC media reports of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s live online appearances illustrate authorities’ expanding use of the Internet to set and control policy discourse in Chinese-language virtual space. They also suggest ongoing efforts to manage leaders’ images and portray them as accessible and soliciting online public opinion. While some apparent missteps suggest a cautious, evolving approach to interactive Internet media in relation to top leaders, reported leadership statements indicate sustained attention to the goal of incorporating new technologies into the propaganda system.
This report surveys 10 prominent PRC commentators on military affairs who appear to write blogs hosted on PRC and PRC-owned Hong Kong websites. All of these commentators appear to maintain an online presence using these blogs to promote their viewpoints. Commentators cover such topics as PRC military strategy, air defense, navy issues, army aviation, information technology, defense spending, foreign military developments, military-to-military relations, political education, military history, training, and exercises. These blogs appear on China’s authoritative government websites, popular PRC commercial portal sites, and independent Hong Kong news websites.
Social broadcasting — posting or sending audio and video content to members of a social network — allows people to share multimedia material using Internet-based technologies. In Germany, OSC has observed that major political parties — hesitant to campaign on the Internet for fear of losing control over their messages — have nevertheless begun to use Internet social networks and video portals as a communication tool. New smaller parties without an established financial or voter base also appear to prioritize Internet-based campaigning. For example, Germany’s Pirate Party won a better-than-expected 2% in the 2009 national election primarily through making use of Internet-based communications.
Six issues of the Open Source Center’s Russia “Cyber Focus” report with dates ranging from August 2009-June 2010.
Laos has 31 state-run radio stations and one national television network with 16 stations. Lao broadcasters compete with more developed Thailand, whose stations can reach all of Laos (“Laos to Modernize its Media,” www.voanews.com). Newspaper and magazine circulation is limited. Many of the rural areas, where 85% of Laotians live (Lao News Agency, www.kpl.net.la), are not easily accessible by road, and a relatively low literacy rate of 68.7% (World Factbook) also limits readership.
Widespread advanced use of mobile phones in Japan has not come about serendipitously: the Japanese have taken to their cell phones because of the country’s highly advanced mobile phone technology and network infrastructure. Additionally, the government’s ambitious strategic plan to make Japan the most advanced “e-nation” in the world has boosted the industry, created an ideal environment for promoting mobile phone usage beyond simple person-toperson calling, and spurred domestic demand for high-tech handsets.
While the Google incident and Secretary Clinton’s speech spurred online discussion on the subject of “Internet freedom” in China, reaction differed on two observed popular sites. Public comments in response to Secretary Clinton’s speech on a popular news website subject to state censorship were consistent with official media reaction, emphasizing nationalistic resistance to alleged US “Internet hegemony.” In contrast, discussion on a popular social networking site noted the irony in China’s official response to Clinton’s speech, questioning Beijing’s claims to have an “open” Internet.
The blogs selected and profiled in this guide are, at the time of this report, among the most well-known German-language political blogs and were selected for inclusion based on an assessment of several indicators, which are detailed in the methodology statement. The blogs profiled here are among Germany’s most influential independent political blogs and therefore have some potential to shape public opinion and debate on political issues in Germany. However, it should be noted that, given the challenges in establishing linkage between online content and realworld interactions and events, the degree of influence of blogs is difficult to quantify.
As the Moroccan regime has cracked down recently on traditional media, the increased availability of high-speed Internet and Internet-enabled mobile devices has allowed Moroccans to take otherwise unreportable stories and grievances online. So far, the government has been relatively hands-off with regard to Internet content, though a few cases directly involving the royal family have resulted in arrests and trials. As social media use becomes more widespread and available within Morocco, the monarchy risks reaching a tipping point beyond which only draconian filtering would enable it to control the media message, a step it seems unlikely to take given its sensitivities regarding its international image.
Low literacy (just over 60% of the population), poverty, poor infrastructure, and de facto government control of broadcast media shape the Cambodian media environment. The Constitution guarantees “freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly,” but human rights observers say journalists face intimidation. The country’s most important and popular television stations are state-run Cambodian National Television (TVK) and Cambodia Television Network (CTN), owned by Cambodian-Australian businessman Kit Meng, a strong supporter of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Popular Saudi blogger Fu’ad al-Farhan has returned to blogging after over two years of silence following his imprisonment in 2007. On 12 May, he started a blog on a new domain located at www.alfarhan.ws. Al-Farhan — who holds a degree from a US university, writes from within Saudi Arabia, and is an outspoken proponent of political reform in the Kingdom — began with a post titled “Blogging… the Best Option,” which explores the pros and cons of blogging and social networking. The blog discusses the prospects for reform and freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia and encourages debate on related issues. Al-Farhan’s posts have evoked lively responses from Saudi readers, suggesting that his blog resonates with those Saudis who are eager to exchange views on a variety of sensitive political and social issues. Al-Farhan takes an optimistic view of King Abdallah’s reform efforts, prompting some other bloggers to call him unrealistic.
Television dominates the Philippines’ mostly privately owned and market-oriented media, overtaking radio over the past decade. Newspapers rank third, but Internet usage is on the rise. Violence against broadcast journalists has marred the country’s claim to media freedom. Of the seven major TV networks, three are government-owned, but only one — NBN — is under the government’s operational control. NBN promotes official views but has lost audience share to private TV stations ABS-CBN and GMA, which sensationalize news and entertainment programs. TV is mostly in Tagalog and English. Over 150 radio networks broadcast in the Philippines. Manila Broadcasting Company is the largest with over 100 radio stations nationwide. Philippine Broadcasting Service, the only government-owned radio network, has over 30 stations. Most major networks are based in Manila, but provincial affiliates operate independently due to differences in urban-provincial needs. With much programming in local languages, radio tends to promote regionalism.
The relatively wide media freedom experienced in Kyrgyzstan since the 2005 Tulip revolution narrowed this year. This coincided with local elections and associated internal political turmoil. Laws restricting free and independent media remain in force from previous years. Television continues to dominate the media landscape, with 97 percent of Kyrgyz speakers reporting they use the medium on a weekly basis for news and information. Friends and family are the next-most-used source, with 89 percent of Kyrgyz speakers relying on them weekly for news and information. The use of radio for news and information dropped (from 46 percent in 2006 and 2007 to 40 percent in 2008). Newspapers are now used as often as radio (41 percent of Kyrgyz speakers surveyed reporting using this platform on a weekly basis). Internet use inched up among Kyrgyz speakers from 5 percent in 2006 to 6 percent in 2008. Although the change in internet use is not statistically significant, the use of SMS for news and information about current events is something to watch: whereas just over one-quarter (27 percent) of respondents reported using SMS as an information source weekly in 2007, that figure increased to one-third (34 percent) of Kyrgyz speakers in 2008.
IrExpert.ir is a Persian-language social networking site established as a forum for Iranian professionals and experts around the world. Similar in style to the popular international business social networking site Linkedin, IrExpert.ir serves as a platform for users to exchange ideas, foster professional relationships, connect with other colleagues, share information, and seekprofessional opportunities. Only limited information is available on the open social networking site, as the majority of content is retained in the password protected portal that can only be accessed by members. This report is based only on the information available to nonmembers.
All Vietnamese media outlets are state-owned and subject to strict party and state control, and journalists continue to be intimidated and imprisoned for critical commentary and zealous reporting. In response to market reforms, however, some segments of the media have begun to air sensitive issues such as political corruption, at least by lower- and mid-ranking officials. Internet use is increasing and provides a forum for political debate between dissident bloggers and official censors.
President Chavez is moving to win support among younger voters — who represent about a third of the electorate — amid worsening economic conditions that may erode the showing of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in September legislative elections among traditionally pro-Chavez voters. Chavez has portrayed several victories by younger challengers over incumbents in the 2 May PSUV primaries as evidence of the party’s commitment to youth, in contrast with what he portrays as dismissive treatment by the opposition. He also is using popular Internet platforms to engage youth directly as the government targets them with new media initiatives.
The number of Brazilians using the Internet has increased dramatically since 2000. Internet access remains predominantly in developed, urban areas, where Internet cafes — frequented mainly by Brazilians from lower socioeconomic groups — “connect” nearly half of all users. Brazilian users most frequently access social media, especially social networking sites (SNS) like Orkut, a Google-owned site comparable to Facebook, and Twitter. Facebook has tried to challenge Orkut’s market dominance, with mixed results. Blogging is also a popular form of Internet communication, while YouTube is the most widely used video website.
Thai press has a high level of freedom and does not hesitate to criticize government leaders, but most broadcasters are under state control. Internet use is increasing and provides a forum for political debate; it is, however, subject to state censorship, particularly of content that is seen as pornographic or offensive to Thailand’s widely respected royal family. Television has by far the largest audience, but Thais tend to rely on newspapers for news.
Widely regarded as the most connected country in the world, South Korea has a system of government regulations over Internet use that are designed to curb “general cyber crimes” but that also limit Internet freedom. The issue of Internet freedom gained attention online following the Lee Myung-bak administration’s handling of two high-profile incidents — in 2008 related to the protest against US beef imports and in 2009 over the arrest of a prominent Internet-based critic. Aside from interest related to these two issues, netizens, for the most part, do not appear concerned over the issue. If Seoul implements new regulations in response to continued growth in cyber crimes or new technologies, such as smartphones, netizens would likely oppose them only if they go beyond existing laws or impose significant inconveniences.
Government controls and self-censorship keep the media in prosperous, well-educated Singapore unusually clear of any antigovernment, extremist, or otherwise objectionable material. A government agency runs all broadcast stations, and the ruling party indirectly controls the print media. A variety of restrictions and the threat of libel suits discourage political criticism across all media outlets. This small island republic’s 4.6 million people boast a 92.5% literacy rate, a per capita GDP of nearly USD$50,000 (World Factbook), and a 58.6% Internet access rate (Internet World Stats). There is no prepublication censorship, but media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore 141 out of 169 in its Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2007, citing “rigorous self-censorship” in coverage of domestic politics. Internet access is regulated, and private ownership of satellite dishes is banned. Singapore government officials also have a record of winning defamation suits against foreign publications (BBC Country Profile, news.bbc.co.uk).
A small group of independent bloggers, including Yoani Sanchez, Reinaldo Escobar, and Claudia Cadelo, has promoted blogging as a vehicle for free expression and information sharing to circumvent Cuba’s tightly controlled media environment, and to communicate with the outside world. They have become increasingly confrontational toward the government, demanding greater civil liberties and criticizing many government policies . Other on-island bloggers — many of them journalists or university professors and students — have called on the government to be more open and allow greater access to outside information, but they generally have avoided direct criticism of it. The government response has been limited to date, but the increasingly antigovernment line of some bloggers is likely to test the limits of government tolerance.
Postings of popular songs about drug traffickers are the most prevalent cartel-related content found in YouTube, the third most-visited social networking website in Mexico. Direct threats among cartels are less prevalent but hold a significant following, while videos honoring police killed in action register a low viewing record. Some sectors of Mexican society have also turned to the video-sharing site to express their anger at the violence brought by the ongoing drug war.
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.