Politico: Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19

Politico: Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19. “The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.”

PC Magazine: As Virus Spread, China Ramped Up Keyword Censorship on Social Media

PC Magazine: As Virus Spread, China Ramped Up Keyword Censorship on Social Media. “In March, The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto found that Chinese social media app WeChat and live-streaming app YY had been censoring coronavirus-related keywords since Dec. 31. In a follow-up report released this week, Citizen Lab found that efforts to thwart criticism have continued, with a particular focus on stamping out international criticism of the Chinese government. As the virus hit the US, meanwhile, China also moved to block ‘conspiracy theories, US criticism of China’s political system, critical and neutral references to China-US relations, and US domestic politics,’ The Citizen Lab says.”

Washington Post: Erdogan’s crackdown on social media is nearing its end game

Washington Post: Erdogan’s crackdown on social media is nearing its end game. “We have arrived at a moment of truth for Google and Twitter. They are now being forced to choose between oppressive Turkish laws and freedom of speech. If they opt for compromise, they can follow the new law by dispatching representatives to Ankara, which will give Erdogan crucial leverage over them in future disputes. If the companies decide in favor of freedom of speech, refusing to censor content at the government’s behest, the government will have the power, under the new law, to almost entirely block the Internet traffic of these platforms. In that case, we will have to find a new way out of our game of whack-a-mole.”

Motherboard: US Army Reinstates Twitch Commenters It Banned for Asking About War Crimes

Motherboard: US Army Reinstates Twitch Commenters It Banned for Asking About War Crimes. “After a pause from streaming, the U.S. Army esports team is returning to Twitch and reinstating accounts it had previously banned. ‘The U.S. Army eSports Team is reinstating access for accounts previously banned for harassing and degrading behavior on its Twitch stream,’ the Army told Motherboard in an email.”

South China Morning Post: A new anticensorship tool from GreatFire turns any website into an unblocked app in China

Must admit I’m a little surprised to see this from the South China Morning Post, but from the South China Morning Post: A new anticensorship tool from GreatFire turns any website into an unblocked app in China. “There are plenty of anticensorship tools designed to help people hop China’s Great Firewall. But a new one called the GreatFire AppMaker is designed specifically for content creators. The creators of the tool say it enables any blocked media outlet, blogger, human rights group or civil society organisation to get their content onto the phones of Chinese users. The tool doesn’t just work for China, either. GreatFire, a group of activists who monitor censorship in China, says it also works in other countries where the content is blocked.”

ABC News (Australia): UNSW under fire for deleting social media posts critical of China over Hong Kong

ABC News (Australia): UNSW under fire for deleting social media posts critical of China over Hong Kong. “The official [University of New South Wales] account on Friday tweeted an article that quoted Human Rights Watch’s Australia director and adjunct law lecturer Elaine Pearson as saying: ‘Now is a pivotal moment to bring attention to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Hong Kong’. Several hours later, a further tweet was posted by UNSW reading: ‘The opinions expressed by our academics do not always represent the views of UNSW.'”

Techdirt: Fan Uses AI Software To Lipread What Actors Really Said In TV Series Before Chinese Authorities Censored Them

Techdirt: Fan Uses AI Software To Lipread What Actors Really Said In TV Series Before Chinese Authorities Censored Them. “The AI technology involved using Google’s Facemesh package, which can track key ‘landmarks’ on faces in images and videos. By analyzing the lip movements, it is possible to predict the sounds of a Chinese syllable. However, there is a particular problem that makes it hard to lipread Chinese using AI. There are many homophones in Chinese (similar sounds, different meanings). In order to get around this problem, [Eury] Chen explored the possible sequences of Chinese characters to find the ones that best match the plot at that point. As his blog post (and the ChinAI translation) explains, this allowed him to work out why certain lines were blocked by the Chinese authorities — turns out it was for totally petty reasons.”

Mashable: Why you should absolutely worry about the anti-privacy EARN IT Act

Mashable: Why you should absolutely worry about the anti-privacy EARN IT Act. “Because the internet is a strange and complicated place, the fate of your digital privacy is, at this very moment, intertwined with that of online message boards and comment sections. And things, we’re sorry to report, aren’t looking so hot. At issue is the seemingly unrelated EARN IT Act. Pushed by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and a host of bipartisan co-sponsors, and voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, the measure ostensibly aims to combat online child sexual abuse material. However, according to privacy and security experts who spoke with Mashable, the bill both directly threatens end-to-end encryption and promises to spur new and sustained online censorship by weakening Section 230 — a provision of the Communication Decency Act of 1996 that protects internet providers from being held liable for their users’ actions.”

New York Times: A Singing Xi Jinping Look-Alike Battles the Censors in China

New York Times: A Singing Xi Jinping Look-Alike Battles the Censors in China. “The long stares and startled whispers — Is that him? — begin as soon as Liu Keqing, an imposing Chinese baritone, enters any room in China. With a square face, closely cropped black hair and a portly figure, Mr. Liu bears a striking resemblance to Xi Jinping, China’s top leader. Mr. Liu, who has spent his career in opera houses, used to welcome the attention. But now, in China’s increasingly authoritarian system, his resemblance to Mr. Xi has drawn him into an Orwellian saga in which his name, his face and his very likeness are considered sensitive by the Chinese authorities.”

Bangkok Post: Shuttered Zoom accounts raise China free speech fears

Bangkok Post: Shuttered Zoom accounts raise China free speech fears. “Several Zoom meetings involving Chinese users were ‘disrupted’, the video messaging app acknowledged Thursday, after activists in the United States and Hong Kong revealed discussions on the platform of Beijing’s deadly Tiananmen crackdown had been closed down.”

France24: Marie-Antoinette and lover’s censored letters deciphered

France24: Marie-Antoinette and lover’s censored letters deciphered. “Love letters between the ill-fated French queen Marie-Antoinette and her lover, which contain key passeges rendered illegible by censor marks, have been deciphered using new techniques, the French National Archives said on Wednesday. The revealed passages are further confirmation of the steamy relationship between Marie-Antoinette and Count de Fersen, who were writing to each other two years after the 1789 French revolution.”

EFF: The Executive Order Targeting Social Media Gets the FTC, Its Job, and the Law Wrong

EFF: The Executive Order Targeting Social Media Gets the FTC, Its Job, and the Law Wrong. “The inaptly named Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship seeks to insert the federal government into private Internet speech in several ways. In particular, Sections 4 and 5 seek to address possible deceptive practices, but end up being unnecessary at best and legally untenable at worst.”

Exclusive: Facebook agreed to censor posts after Vietnam slowed traffic – sources (Reuters)

Reuters: Exclusive: Facebook agreed to censor posts after Vietnam slowed traffic – sources. “Facebook’s local servers in Vietnam were taken offline early this year, slowing local traffic to a crawl until it agreed to significantly increase the censorship of ‘anti-state’ posts for local users, two sources at the company told Reuters on Tuesday.”