This week at Index: Border police can’t be allowed to snoop on our social media
06 Sep 2019

Friday 6 September 2019
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Index in The Times

Border police can’t be allowed to snoop on our social media  

Index Magazine editor-in-chief Rachael Jolley writes in The Times.

Border officials around the world are increasingly demanding access to our social media accounts and address books. They want to know what we’ve said on Twitter and Facebook and who we’re talking to.

Take the case of Ismail Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian from Lebanon on his way to Harvard university. He was stopped at the US border and interviewed for eight hours. He said that border officers asked for access to his phone and laptop and then had his student visa cancelled after they found some remarks made on social media by his friends, not by him.

Even information on dating apps is vulnerable. Tinder recently introduced a feature called Traveller Alert, which can hide gay users’ profiles until they return home from a country where homosexuality is criminalised.

Read the full Thunderer column

The new magazine is out on Tuesday
Border Forces: How barriers to free thought got tough
The fight for freedom of expression has a new battleground, the frontier. Barriers are getting harder, and increasingly they are places which people approach with trepidation as border officials using this almost law-free zone to probe into people’s personal lives, without any due process. Stopped at an international border,  you feel alone and without the usual protections that you might reach for. As states have tightened up their security against terrorism, they also appear to have given themselves a mandate to take actions at the frontier that would not be allowed within their borders. Officials are increasingly demanding access to social media, phones and laptops at will. Clearly many of these cases are not coming from worries about terrorism, but instead they are an opportunity to punish critics of national leaders, activists, journalists and artists. Read more about it in our special report.

In our culture section, there’s also brand new poetry from Dean Atta and Brian Patten, plus another international exclusive, a translation of Marguerite Duras’ Le Camion into English for the first time.

Don't Miss
Autumn magazine launch party at the Science Museum
We’re launching our latest Index on Censorship magazine at the Science Museum during Banned Books Week UK, as part of their Top Secret Lates on Wednesday 25 September. This is a chance for an adults only, after-hours visit to the museum, exploring all things secret, from codebreaking to secret communications.

Media Freedom

Index Exclusive
Editor calls for renewed investigation into murder of Irish journalist Martin O’Hagan

The northern editor of the Sunday World newspaper has called for “justice to be served” as the 18th anniversary of the unsolved murder of journalist Martin O’Hagan approaches. Reporters at the Irish newspaper continue to receive regular threats from paramilitaries, he said.

Speaking to Index, Richard Sullivan, the northern editor at the Sunday World, said: “O’Hagan was dedicated to his craft as an investigative journalist and he paid the heaviest of prices for trying to make his homeland a better place”. He expressed frustration that the investigation into O’Hagan’s murder has come to nothing; prosecutors dropped the case in January 2013 citing a risk of basing it on unsubstantiated evidence


Index is seeking applicants for its Free Speech Is For Me advocates program. The aim is to equip a broad new range of individuals to challenge censorship, defend speech rights and champion freedom of expression for all. Find out more

Lessons from Hong Kong

What the world can learn from Hong Kong’s protesters

Hong Konger Chit Wai John Mok, PhD student in sociology at the University of California, Irvine, shares his lessons from the anti-government demonstrations.

"We may not be able to tell others how to win a battle, but people outside Hong Kong can learn from us on how to mobilise, and how to sustain a mobilisation."

Index Advocacy

Maldives must pursue murderers of journalists

Index on Censorship calls on the Maldivian authorities to step up their investigation and pursue the individuals behind the murders of the journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla and blogger Yameen Rasheed.

“The government of the Maldives must do all it can to uncover and bring to justice all those responsible for the murders of Ahmed and Yameen. Their pursuit of truth in the public interest led to their murders at the hands of criminals bent on silencing their work,” Perla Hinojosa, Index Fellowships & Advocacy Officer, said.

Also Read

The Testaments Launch Parties
Red Lion Books and Rogan’s Books win competition to fund celebration events to mark the publication of The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Monday 9 September, 11:30pm
Rogan's Books 
Be one of the first to read the sequel to Margaret Atwood's haunting novel, The Handmaid's Tale. Join us on Town Bridge - in Handmaids costume - for an eerie lamplight procession to the shop for a group reading of the first chapter before the embargo lifts at midnight. There will be Gilead-themed refreshments - and for anyone pre-ordering the book, we have negotiated a discount down to £15!
More information

Monday 10 September, 7pm
Red Lion Books
will host a candlelit event where an actor will read from both books as well as reading our customers own testaments (which will be personal and anonymous). We hope it will be a powerful but sensitive event. Places are very limited. Please email us at [email protected] if you are interested in timings and availability.
More information.

As summer 2019 drifts toward the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, we wanted to get on your radar to tell you about the exciting series of events we have planned for September. Here's just a few of the full slate

The paradox of creative constraints
We'll be participating in a day-long symposium hosted in partnership with The Mosaic Rooms exploring the paradox of creative constraints in contemporary cinema from the Middle East – a day of film screenings and panel discussions with filmmakers, funders and programmers, including some of the most innovative rising talents as well as established experts. £6.50 tickets include lunch and refreshments

Wednesday 11 September
Dorothy Byrne on broadcast journalism and democracy
Last month, at the Edinburgh Television Festival Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s highly respected head of news and current affairs, delivered a funny, brutal and hard-hitting MacTaggart lecture that has been described as a clarion call for broadcast journalism to step up to the plate at a time when national and international democracy is being undermined. Join Dorothy Byrne in conversation with Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship in what promises to be a hard-hitting, honest and illuminating discussion. Tickets: £12.50 via Frontline Club (Index members £10)

Monday 16 September
The freedom to speak, the freedom to tweet, the freedom to troll?
16 years ago Facebook arrived on the scene followed shortly by Twitter. We thought it was going to open up pleasant social discourse. How wrong we were. Now comes the question of whether online content – should be regulated. Arguing this corner is Seyi Akiwowo, a former councillor and target of trolls, and now the founder of Fix The Glitch which is campaigning for platforms to take responsibility. But does this challenge free speech and who decides where to draw the line? Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship and defender of free speech will be joining us to give an alternative view. Tickets: Members and a friend £8 per; Non-members £20 via the Trouble Club

Tuesday 17 September
Artistic freedom and the internet: Opportunity or threat?
A one-day workshop for UK-based artists, arts organisations and cultural stakeholders. The internet offers artists and arts organisations direct access to a potentially global audience for their work. What was the preserve of relatively few internationally-known artists and cultural institutions is now in theory open to anyone who can promote their work effectively online. But this unprecedented opportunity can present its own challenge. The volume and intensity of censure has been transformed and something new is in play – the direct targeting of organisations and people online, from campaigns calling for the withdrawal of work, to trolling and even threats of violence. Full details.

22-28 September
Banned Books Week UK
Banned Books Week UK is a nationwide campaign for radical readers and rebellious readers of all ages celebrate the freedom to read. Between 22 – 28 September 2019, bookshops, libraries, schools, literary festivals and publishers will be hosting events and making noise about some of the most sordid, subversive, sensational and taboo-busting books around. Use this website to find an event near youget involveddownload resource packs and more.

We've got a full list of events for September here.
Index on Censorship defends people's freedom to express themselves without fear of harm or persecution. We publish censored writers and artists, monitor and campaign against censorship, and encourage debate.  

We rely on donations from readers and supporters. By donating to Index you help us to protect freedom of expression and to support those who are denied that right.
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