Radical Instrument

IT is changing the exercise of power. Radical Instrument is picking up the signals.

Posts Tagged ‘Iran

Monday reads: Internet activists’ limits in Iran; a middle ground for cyberwar; protests we saw coming

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1.   Internet activism running into its limits in Iran. Can a virtual movement survive without developing real-world institutions? (Foreign Policy)

2.  Finding the sensible middle ground when it comes to cyberwar. Is there such a thing? (O’Reilly Radar)

3.  Australian hackers rebel against content filtering. The sad thing is, government IT staff probably saw this coming, even if the Prime Minister didn’t. (The Canberra Times)

Written by Mark

February 15, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Iran@gmail.com = FAIL

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Seen around the Twitterverse (HT for Evgeny Morozov’s RT @csoghoian):

How do I sign up for the Iranian Govt’s new free email service? At least they’re not in bed with the NSA.

As reported just about everywhere, the Iranian government announced it’s banning Gmail, a day before the anniversary of the Iranian revolution and the street protests anticipated to mark said anniversary. Access to the service may have been blocked already, after a cable cut last week already diminished traffic. There’s a technical point here that only Wired seems to have picked up:  Gmail uses encryption by default, which makes it more of a challenge to government surveillance than comparable online providers.  And – per the tweet above – one can’t help but wonder if recent news about Google’s relationship with the NSA didn’t play a role, given the role of Twitter in last summer’s protests and the encouragement given Twitter by the State Department.

I wonder, though, if this isn’t more of a means of legal cover for the arrest of opposition protestors – will holding a Gmail account (which, if the service is blocked, can’t be deleted) be used as a chargeable offense by the authorities?

Written by Mark

February 10, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Technology

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Search in Tibet, before the Internet

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Overheard on NPR yesterday:  this interview with Robert Barnett of Columbia University, discussing Tuesday’s anniversary of 1959’s failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. Among the interesting highlights, Barnett mentions China’s current shutdown of text-messaging in Tibet, due to “maintenance.”

He also talks about China’s past efforts to distribute satellite dishes to nomads, as a means to channel Chinese media into Tibet. Tibetans, in turn, tuned their dishes to Voice of America broadcasts instead. There’s an interesting lesson there, and an optimistic one for those who fear government attempts to push propaganda into cyberspace, like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ efforts to recruit “10,000 bloggers.” I’d guess that when it comes to media technology, even the old-school stuff, individuals are often far more active and directed in their consumption than most people credit. Search didn’t begin with Google, and it’s something that seems difficult to control – easy to misdirect, maybe, but control, unlikely.

Written by Mark

March 11, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Posted in Technology

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Valentine’s Day roundup: more Iranian netroots, Saudi Arabia and satellite TV, and net piracy…

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1.  John Kelly and Bruce Etling have updated their map of the Iranian blogosphere, noting a dramatic change in what they’re now calling the “CyberShia” cluster. The authors note that this could represent a debate around Islamic law, or may reflect an effort by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to recruit 10,000 bloggers (the cyber-equivalent of opening a Starbucks on every corner?).

2.  King Abdullah has fired Saudi Arabia’s most senior judge, who last year opened the legal door to the killing of satellite channel owners airing “evil” programming. This may be a little more than Wahhabism vs. skin. As The Guardian noted last fall, several channels are owned by royal family members, and the judge’s fatwa was issued on a radio program. A year prior to the fatwa, the issue with satellite programming wasn’t so much debauchery as it was “programs related to witchcraft,” threatening the religious establishment:

“The popularity of charlatanism and magic has increased amongst Arab satellite channels, which, in turn, has led to an increase in the number of charlatans. These individuals aim to give off an image of a pious sheikh who can solve individual problems. There are others who have a strong sense of persuasion that has been learnt throughout many years of experience. His/her viewers feel compelled to watch and listen as if they have hypnotized the words and become convinced of his/her abilities to solve their problems.”

3.  The Pirate Bay goes on trial Monday. Wired’s Threat Level provides the details…suffice to say that the case has significant implications for cross-border copyright law, possibly raising more questions than answers. The operators of this BitTorrent tracking service have indicated that the service will live, regardless of the verdict, raising yet more questions about legal boundaries and enforceability.

Written by Mark

February 14, 2009 at 10:53 am

Khatami vs. Ahmadinejad

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Via Reuters and every other source – former Iranian President Khatami has announced he’ll run against incumbent Ahmadinejad this June. John Kelly and Bruce Etling produced this nice visualization of the Iranian blogosphere last April, depicting secular/reformist and conservative network clusters.

Written by Mark

February 8, 2009 at 11:42 pm

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Where’s Omid?

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Just past 10:40 pm on the East Coast and new Iranian satellite Omid has crossed the Aleutians, about 180 miles above the Earth. At least according to this “real time satellite tracking” service. Looks like it’ll be crossing British Columbia as I finish writing this, headed towards the Gulf of Mexico.

Written by Mark

February 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Posted in Random, Technology

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Printers in Tehran

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Recently seen on Slashdot:  this surprisingly lengthy piece in the Boston Globe on the possibly illegal sale of HP printers in Iran. Let’s leave aside for a moment debates around the effectiveness of sanctions and embargoes. Isn’t a desktop printer (or cell phone, or Xerox copier, or…) exactly the kind of thing Western countries should want sold on the streets of Tehran? The regime is jailing bloggers and defining “defamation” over SMS as a new computer crime, and an undiscriminating embargo abets this by limiting the introduction of technologies that promote freedom of communication.

For some strange reason I’m reminded of the ban on typewriters in Ceausescu’s Romania.

Written by Mark

December 31, 2008 at 4:09 am

Posted in Technology

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