Free expression in the news
16 May 2013

ASIC request sparks internet censorship
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s use of internet censorship powers caused the accidental blocking of more than 1000 websites in April.(The Australian)

Azerbaijan extends libel law to web speech
Index on Censorship and partner organizations have strongly condemned moves by Azerbaijan’s government on Tuesday to criminalise online slander and abuse in the run-up to the country’s October Presidential election. (Index on Censorship)

Bahrain blogger given asylum in UK
A Bahraini blogger and human rights activist said he had been granted asylum in Britain after being in hiding for two years. (Gulf News)

Bahrain court jails six for insulting king on Twitter
A Bahraini court jailed six people for a year on Wednesday for insulting King Hamad bin Issa al Khalifa in messages on the microblogging site Twitter, the official news agency said. (Reuters)

Brunei: ‘Slow Internet is Almost Like Censorship’
Brunei internet users are complaining against the slow and unreliable internet connection in their country. (Global Voices)

U.S. man’s “supportive” web chat with suicidal Canadian teen “free speech”: lawyer
An American man convicted in 2011 of posing as a young, depressed woman in an online “suicide chat room” and helping a Canadian teenager kill herself in 2008 has appealed the verdict to Minnesota’s top court, arguing this week that the free-speech provisions of the U.S. First Amendment should have protected his “supportive” conversations with the distraught Carleton University student. (

As China’s social media takes off, Beijing’s censorship campaign heats up
A few well-regarded intellectuals known to be critical of the Communist Party have drawn millions of followers on China’s Twitter. (Christian Science Monitor)

Blog of Critic of Chinese Censorship Deleted
It will hardly come as a surprise to anyone to learn that a popular writer and well-known critic of China’s pervasive censorship system has run into trouble for his views. (Reason)

Bassem Youssef’s fight for free speech wins cheers at AMF
Egypt’s Bassem Youssef, the TV host called to court for poking fun at President Mursi, was applauded at this week’s Arab Media Forum (AMF) after making a rousing argument for free speech. (AlArabiya)

Egyptian artists declare war on sexual harassment
Since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago, artists have been active in breaking Egypt’s age-old taboos around sexual violence, especially since sexual harassment has been on the rise. In the period after the revolution, artists — including women — have covered the country’s walls with murals and slogans, using them to amplify calls for change. Melody Patry reports. (Index on Censorship)

Irish mobile phone shutdown may be allowed during G8
The Irish government will allow the mobile phone network to be shut down in border areas during the G8 summit. (BBC)

Kuwait: Draft Law Threatens Free Speech, Says HRW
Kuwaiti authorities should amend a proposed new press law that would increase state control of the news media and further curtail the right to free speech. The draft should be revised to protect free speech, consistent with requirements under international law, not curtail it, Human Rights Watch said. (Eurasia Review)

Young Libyans Find Escape in ‘Secret’ Cinema
In the basement of a villa in central Tripoli, young Libyans seeking an escape from violence and disorder watch an American movie classic screened using a simple projector and laptop. (Reuters via Voice of America)

Russian bird lovers targeted as ‘foreign agents’
An organisation behind a nature reserve dedicated to the protection of Russia’s cranes has been ordered to register as “a foreign agent” under the country’s non-governmental organisation law. The case highlights how arbitrary implementation is chilling free expression in the country, Andrei Aliaksandrau reports. (Index on Censorship)

Letter: Free speech, extremism and a university’s duty
Institutions have a legal obligation to promote free speech, and that may involve allowing controversial, indeed sometimes offensive, opinions to be expressed. (The Times)

The DOJ’s Freedom of Speech Breach
The seizure of AP’s phone records is legal, but that doesn’t make it an acceptable course of action for the Justice Department to take. (The American Prospect)

Lawmakers accuse Obama administration of abusing free speech rights
U.S. lawmakers accused the Obama administration on Wednesday of trampling on free speech rights and evading questions about the Justice Department’s secret seizure of Associated Press telephone records. (Reuters via The Chicago Tribune)

IRS targeting not only chills speech, it attacks 1st Amendment freedoms
The news that an office of the Internal Revenue Service targeted for review a number of groups with names that included “patriot” or “tea party” is chilling enough to hear – but there’s more reason to be concerned from a First Amendment perspective. (

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