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e-Democracy update - 23/11/05

23 November, 2005
By Daniel Macpherson

Singaporean blogger critical of own media on Aussie drug smuggler

A Singaporean blogger has criticised the local media in Singapore over the impending execution of Australian heroin smuggler Nguyen Tuong Van.

Blogger Jacob George, who writes for Singaporean weblog Omeka Na Huria, says news reporting on issues like the death penalty is biased in Singapore.

"Anyone who has visited my blog to read about Nguyen and the efforts both in Singapore and Australia to stop him from being executed would have noticed that almost all the media reports are from the Australian media," Mr George says.

"Singapore's government controlled and influenced local media, especially the Straits Times, as far as I am concerned is a f***ing national disgrace run by a bunch of pathetic fools including editors and journalists.

"I'm still hoping Nguyen will not be hanged. If Nguyen is executed at dawn on 2 December, 2005, the local media also has blood on their hands because of their silence and [biased] reporting."

A variety of Singaporean blogs have both defended and rallied against the decision to execute Nguyen.

Summit debates net censorship

A UN summit on global Internet access is now focusing on censorship despite previous claims the international organisation will not police the Internet.

Chinese vice premier Huang Ju said during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) the Internet required some restrictions to protect the state, although China wanted to "guarantee freedom of speech".

"For the Internet, we need effective measures to fight against criminal acts using this technology as well as economic fraud, violence, terrorism and anything that harms state security," he said.

In early October, China shut down the popular Yannan protest forum that carried extensive coverage of a village uprising. Village residents had tried to oust a village chief suspected of embezzling funds from a land sale.

Last week, Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali said certain uses of the Internet can "[shake] confidence and [create] a credibility problem".

He mentioned as examples of these uses: the encouragement of hatred, terrorism, crime and "the illegitimate propagation of false information".

Two weeks ago, UN secretary general Kofi Annan said in a Washington Post op-ed piece that the summit would not focus on ways of regulating the Internet.

Countries from the summit have also pledged to expand the availability of the Internet in developing countries.

Blogosphere erupts on white phosphorus claims

Bloggers have exposed false claims from the United States government after the Pentagon admitted to using white phosphorus in Iraq as a non-weapon.

Pentagon officials previously claimed white phosphorus was only used to illuminate battlefields or provide camouflage.

Bloggers refuted this claim after they found a March 2005 edition of US Army's Field Artillery magazine, which claimed white phosphorus "proved to be an effective and versatile munition" in an attack on Falluja during November 2004.

"We have learned that some of the information we were provided is incorrect," a government spokesperson says.

"White phosphorous shells were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes and as a potent psychological weapon."

Net liberty group sues Sony

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) [url] has launched a class-action lawsuit against Sony BMG for their potentially dangerous copy-protection system on music CDs.

EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry says Sony BMG should be commended for its acknowledgment of the serious security problems caused by its software but needs to go further to regain the public's trust.

"It is unconscionable for Sony BMG to refuse to respond to the privacy and other problems created by the over 20 million CDs containing the SunnComm software," McSherry says.

Sony BMG also faces a suit from Texas attorney general Greg Abbott.
"People buy these CDs to listen to music," said Mr Abbott. "What they don't bargain for is the computer invasion that is unleashed by Sony BMG."

Sony BMG has promised a recall of all CDs with the dangerous software and has provided details to counteract it on home computers.

Best of the Blogs Winners Announced

An Argentinean blog has won Deutsche Welle's International Best of the Blogs (BOBs) for 2005.

The winning blog, A Little Respect, I'm Your Mother, details the daily events of the Bertotti family from the perspective of 52-year-old mother Mirta Bertotti.

Deutsche Welle's jury awarded second prize to Brazilian blog Tupiniquim, which reports on Brazil's indigenous population.

Last week the jury condemned the Chinese government for blocking nominee Wang Yi's Microphone, which came fourth.

The BOBs jury also awarded blogs in nine different language categories.

New UK government debate wiki open

The United Kingdom government has launched its first wiki website to promote open debate.

The e-Innovations Wiki offers an electronic forum to discuss innovations in British local governments.

The site currently offers an introduction to the e-Innovations programme as well as a summary of conversations around innovation in local governments in the UK.

Visitors can freely edit any of the site's pages.

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