Tag Archives: Censorship

China turns to private hackers as it cracks down on online activists on Tiananmen Square anniversary

By Christopher K. Tong, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Published 5-31-2024 by The Conversation.

Image: ideogram

Every year ahead of the June 4 commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Chinese government tightens online censorship to suppress domestic discussion of the event.

Critics, dissidents and international groups anticipate an uptick in cyber activity ranging from emails with malicious links to network attacks in the days and weeks leading up to the anniversary.

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Educators Celebrate as Judge Strikes Down New Hampshire ‘Banned Concepts’ Law

One advocate said the federal judge “correctly decided that educators have the constitutional right to teach honest, accurate lessons and wasn’t dragged into the clutches of the extreme right.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 5-28-2024 by Common Dreams

A middle school class. Photo: woodleywonderworks//flickr/CC

Education and free speech advocates cheered Tuesday’s federal court ruling striking down New Hampshire’s classroom censorship law, one of several so-called “white discomfort” bills passed in Republican-controlled states in recent years.

U.S. District Judge Paul J. Barbadoro’s 50-page ruling says that the New England state’s so-called “banned concepts” law is “unconstitutionally vague” and contains “viewpoint-based restrictions on speech that do not provide either fair warning to educators of what they prohibit or sufficient standards for law enforcement to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”

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‘Sad Day for Free Speech’: Media Matters Layoffs Follow ‘Thermonuclear’ Attack by Elon Musk

“This is how free speech is actually chilled—vengeful dipshit billionaires,” said one media executive, after more than a dozen staffers let go from nonprofit watchdog whose mission is to combat right-wing disinformation and propaganda.

By Jon Queally. Published 5-24-2024 by Common Dreams

Elon Musk, CEO of X, SpaceX and Tesla. Photo: Daniel Oberhaus/flickr//CC

Just months after mega-billionaire Elon Musk launched what he termed a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters for America, the nonprofit media watchdog outfit announced a round of punishing layoffs Thursday which it in part attributed to the financial strain imposed by the legal battle it now faces.

What triggered Musk’s initial outrage in November was MMFA reporting about “pro-Nazi content” on the social media platform X, owned by Musk, appearing alongside ads by prominent corporations in the content stream shown to users.

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TikTok Sues US Government Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Potential Ban

One expert said legislators’ admissions “that the ban was motivated by a desire to suppress content about the Israel-Gaza conflict will make the law especially difficult for the government to defend,” said one First Amendment expert.

By Julia Conley. Published 5-7-2024 by Common Dreams

Creators, lawmakers oppose ban of TikTok at Capitol rally on Mar 22, 2023. Screenshot: NBC News via YouTube

A top First Amendment expert on Tuesday said TikTok has a strong case against the U.S. government as the social media platform filed a federal lawsuit against a potential ban—particularly since proponents of the law have admitted it is aimed at blocking Americans’ access to news out of Gaza.

The platform filed the lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit nearly two weeks after President Joe Biden signed the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversaries Act into law as part of a larger foreign aid package.

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‘Ed Scare’ Deepens​ as 4,000+ Books Banned in First Half of School Year

“The bans we’re seeing are broad, harsh, and pernicious—and they’re undermining the education of millions of students across the country,” said one lead author of a new PEN America report.

By Brett Wilkins Published 4-16-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: nataliesap/flickr/CC

U.S. school districts banned more books during the first half of the current academic year than during the entire last scholastic year, a report published Tuesday revealed.

PEN America recorded 4,349 book bans across 52 school districts in 23 states during the fall 2023 semester, more than double the 1,841 titles that were prohibited during the spring term and more than the 3,362 volumes reported banned nationwide during the entire previous academic year.

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Google Slammed for ‘Playing Games With California’s Democracy’ by Blocking News

“This is an extraordinarily inappropriate time for Google to experiment with which voters might or might not see news about elected officials and candidates for office.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-13-2024 by Common Dreams

Google_headquarters. Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr/CC

California reporters and union leaders are calling out Google for blocking news content for some users amid consideration of a landmark proposal that would make tech giants pay media outlets for links they share—which some experts warn won’t solve the journalism industry’s financial problems.

To prepare for potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), Google is “beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users,” Jaffer Zaidi, the tech giant’s VP for global news partnerships, explained in a Friday blog post.

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Alabama Republicans Try to ‘Criminalize Librarians Simply for Doing Their Jobs’

“Not only is this wrong, it’s also unconstitutional. You are not protecting children; you are protecting extremists who are trying to dismantle the very foundations of my country.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-3-2024 by Common Dreams.

Banned Books Week installation on the second floor of Kennedy Library at Cal Poly on Monday, September 24, 2018. Photo: Kennedy Library/flickr/CC

The Alabama Library Association and other critics on Wednesday called out the state’s Republican policymakers for pushing a new bill that opponents warn will unfairly jail librarians and have a chilling impact on collections.

House Bill 385, introduced Tuesday by state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-43) and 30 other legislators, says that “under existing law, certain obscenity laws do not apply to public libraries, public school libraries, college libraries, or university libraries, or the employees or agents of any such libraries.”

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`Study Finds Over 33 Million Instagram, TikTok Posts Promoting Harmful Content to Kids

The Ekō report came as a U.S. Senate panel held a hearing about online child sexual exploitation featuring testimony from five Big Tech CEOs.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 1-31-2024 by Common Dreams

As five Big Tech executives appeared before the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee on January 31, 2024, Ekō held a protest at the U.S. Capitol and released a report about platforms promoting harmful content to children. (Photo: Ekō)

As five Big Tech executives appeared before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, the group Ekō released a report highlighting how “social media companies are not only failing to safeguard young users from harm, but actively profiting from it.”

“This briefing serves as an urgent call for legislative action,” says the 17-page publication from Ekō—previously called SumOfUs—which is addressed to the Senate panel on the first page and urges constituents to contact their members of Congress.

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‘No, This Is Not a Parody’: Florida School District Bans Dictionaries Under DeSantis Law

Webster’s Dictionary & Thesaurus and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank are among the books that the Escambia County School District has yanked from library shelves.

By Jake Johnson Published 1-10-2024 by Common Dreams

A photo of a Florida K-8 school’s dumpster, filled to the brim with history and civics textbooks. As part of a new policy, schools must destroy all material not allowed by the state government. Photo: Yamasztuka/Wikimedia Commons/CC

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are among the more than 2,800 books that a Florida school district has pulled from library shelves in an effort to comply with a law that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last year.

Judd Legum, author of the Popular Information newsletter, reported Wednesday that the Escambia County School District said the books that have been banned pending further investigation “may violate H.B. 1069,” which “gives residents the right to demand the removal of any library book that ‘depicts or describes sexual conduct,’ as defined under Florida law, whether or not the book is pornographic.”

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Texas Officials Reject Textbooks Over Climate Science

“The same bad actors who are calling for racist, homophobic, and transphobic book bans are also calling for climate denial in science textbooks,” said one critic.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 11-17-2023 by Common Dreams

Image: National Center for Science Education

Seven of 12 proposed science textbooks for Texas 8th graders were rejected Friday by the Republican-controlled state Board of Education because they propose solutions to the climate emergency or were published by a company with an environmental, social, and governance policy.

The Texas Tribune reported that the 15-member board, which for the first time was required to include climate education for 8th graders, approved five of 12 proposed science textbooks, but called on their publishers to remove content deemed false or presenting a negative portrayal of oil and gas in the nation’s biggest fossil fuel producer.

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