North & South Korea
Hackers brought down several government and news websites in North and South Korea on June 25, the anniversary of the start of the Korean War. Online security company Symantec traced parts of this attack, as well as four years of cyberattacks on South Korea, to the DarkSeoul Gang. Symantec could not determine where the group is based, but a South Korean government investigation points to North Korea. It is unclear who is responsible for the attacks that hit North Korea on Tuesday, but the hacker group Anonymous had said via Twitter it would attack sites in that country, according to the New York Times.
A Bahraini court sentenced 17-year-old high school student Ali Faisal Alshofa to one year in prison after accusing him of posting a tweet that insulted the country’s king on the account @alkawarahnews. Alshofa denied affiliation with the Twitter account, which appeared to keep operating while he was detained and on trial. Over the past year, courts have sentenced twelve people in Bahrain to a total of 106 months in prison for information posted to social network sites.
Taiwanese netizens are protesting several amendments that could make it easier for the government to censor online content. A Copyright Act amendment would allow Taiwan’s IP office to review content reported as infringing copyright and order ISPs to block it. A National Security Law amendment would encourage people to report content they think harms national security. An amendment to the Telecommunications Act would also require ISPs to remove content that “disturbs public order and decent morals.” Bloggers compared these measures to the U.S. SOPA bill that Congress proposed in 2012 as well as the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into Aaron Swartz, surveillance of the Associated Press, and prosecution of Bradley Manning.
Several provisions in a communication law that Ecuador’s National Assembly passed in June worry journalists and others concerned with freedom of expression. One article appears to lump together every type of media organization (e.g., public, private, and community organizations that provide any type of mass communication that can be replicated online) under the same regulations. Broad interpretation could hold a tweet to the same standards as a radio broadcast. While the law prohibits censorship, it also tasks a Superintendent’s Office for Information and Communications with overseeing the media. Finally, the law holds third parties accountable for comments posted on their site unless site owners monitor comments or require users to identify themselves.
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