Thursday, August 11, 2011

Morning Brief: Can a government ban you from using social media?: authorities in Uzbekistan move to block western news sites from being accessed via the Internet

The British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament that his government may seek new powers that would allow them to ban certain people from using social media such as Twitter and message services in the wake of the riots in several major U.K. cities. The rioters have been apparently using their BlackBerry phones to message to each other location information in order to gather or disperse at a moment's notice.
The Guardian reports that Cameron said to parliament that "Police were facing a new circumstance where rioters were using the BlackBerry Messenger service, a closed network, to organise riots," the prime minister said. "We've got to examine that and work out how to get ahead of them."

But can the prime minister really ban citizens from using social media. And how do you define social media, especially since new services that are assume to be part of the social media landscape appear all the time, services such as photo sharing services often are developed along the same lines as Twitter or Facebook.

"Events like the recent riots are frequently used to attack civil liberties. Policing should be targeted at actual offenders, with the proper protection of the courts," Jim Killock, the executive director of online advocacy organisation Open Rights Group, was quoted by the Guardian as saying in response.

The AP is reporting that the government of Uzbekistan is moving to block Internet sites in the Central Asian nation. The wire service quotes the independent news website as staign that western news sites such as the New York Times have been blocked by authorities in order to keep out news of the authoritarian country.

The AP quotes Daniil Kislov, editor of Ferghana, another site not permitted to be accessed in Uzbekistan as stating that the actions "bears witness to how worried Uzbek authorities are about the influence of the Internet on social activism."

Officials from the Premiere League, Football League and the Newspaper Publishers Association, representing organizations, are meeting to see if they can come to an agreement concerning rules regarding how the press can cover British football games.

Much of the press was locked out of last week's games and others cut back their coverage because of the dispute which centers on the speed in which news organizations can publish photographs and accounts of the games. Several newspapers like to create "live blogs" of football games on their websites. But the league, like sports leagues in the U.S., likes to control access to information about the games as much as possible.

Saturday is football day in the U.K., so the two sides still have today and tomorrow to try and come to any agreement.

And speaking of "soccer": the Jurgen Klinsmann era started for U.S. Soccer yesterday. The former German football star was named coach of the Men's National Team, and despite only have three practices with the team, faced his first test last night as the U.S. faced off against rival Mexico.

Things did not start out well, as the Mexican team scored a goal in the first half and the U.S. team looked disorganized and helpless early on. But in the second half, following a couple substitutions, the U.S. side improved, scoring an equalizing goal by Robbie Rogers off a good move and pass by Brek Shea. In the end, the U.S. and Mexico ended up with a draw – probably a good result since both sides dominated one half each.