#HamzaKashgari : Saudi Cleric castigates Twitter, Saudi Prince invests in Twitter # @Arabist

The National reports that the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has “issued a fatwa against Twitter, demanding that ‘real Muslims’ avoid it, calling it a ‘platform for trading accusations and for promoting lies’.

The pretext for this condemnation of social media is the case of the Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari, who was extradited from Malaysia to the Kingdom after tweeting about the Prophet Muhammad in a manner that the religious authorities deemed blasphemous. If the Saudis wish to make an example, he will be facing blasphemy charges, and possibly death, rather than a lesser (though still absurd) sentencing that would end in him paying a fine. There’s also talk of taking action against anyone who retweeted his messages.

But considering that thousands of Twitter users called attention to Kashgari’s tweets, literally demanding his head, it’s ironic that the Grand Mufti says Muslims should stay off Twitter, since clearly, many salafis are using, and policing it.

And, as The National notes, it’s even more ironic that the Grand Mufti’s issuing a ban since Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the King’s nephew and reputedly the richest man in Saudi Arabia, purchased 3.6% of Twitter’s stock for US$300 million this past December.

The fact that the Grand Mufti wants Twitter gone while a prince wants to buy its shares up nicely illustrates the uneasy dual monarchy that has defined clerical-royal relationship since the 18th century. The monarchy set up in 1923 is actually a dual monarchy because the royal family must maintain the approval of the Wahhabi ulema to rule, and there are those who question this “right” – one of the first crises of the Saudi state occured when the monarchy and ulema, fearing the Ikhwan tribal militias who had won control of the Hejaz for them, turned on the militiamen. The House of Saud procured the British machine guns, the clergy produced a justificatory edict for the crackdown.

Continues at Hamza Kashgari, social media and the Saudis’ dual monarchy – Blog – The Arabist.

When the Publishers Association mention “illegal content” – here’s an example. HT @PublishersAssoc @OpenRightsGroup

If you go to this page at the University of Pennsylvania, you’ll read the following text:

A Celebration of Woman Writers

Married Love, or Love in Marriage
By Marie Carmichael Stopes, Sc.D., Ph. D. (1880-1958)
New York: The Critic And Guide Company, 1918.

In the Unites States of America, [sic]
the 1918 edition of “Married Love” is in the public domain.
Follow this link to read this electronic edition.

In Great Britain and many other countries,
Stopes’ works are still under copyright.
Check the copyright laws of your country to determine what laws apply.

To obtain permission to reproduce Stokes’ works in the United Kingdom
or other countries where copyright applies, contact:

The Galton Institute
19 Northfields Prospect
London SW18 1PE
020 8874 7257

So if you’re in the UK you should not click this link because that would take you to a text which in the UK is still under copyright (albeit that it is 94 years old). You should not do this because you would be accessing illegal content, as explained to me recently by a representative of the Publishers Association.

In the USA, you’re fine – download it, peruse it, consider it, enjoy.

The Publishers Association call the above illegal content because I (in the UK) would not have the necessary license under copyright to download it. They – or rather their representative – spoke about this issue in similar terms to terrorist instruction books, hate speech, and child-abuse imagery.

The latter would be “illegal content”, indeed.

But the book above is actually a 94 year old educational tome by a noted scientist of the time to explain to couples – men and women – that women have these things called menstrual cycles and much of what that entails.

And this also is “illegal content”?

The above is manifestly and clearly an example of the fact that not all content that is made available for download and is copyrighted in one sense is necessarily illegal in another.

Remember that fact. It prove be useful to you.


screen capture, in case the page should “go away”

Two Parliamentary Reports: Future of Investigative Journalism / Roots of violent radicalisation; #censorship #regulation

Home Affairs Committee – Nineteenth Report
Roots of violent radicalisation
The Internet 1, The Internet 2

57. Given the impossibility of comprehensively controlling the internet, it is necessary to employ other methods to tackle the issue. Alyas Karmani argued:

If you are thinking about banning the internet, you have just got to provide a counter-narrative. That is what we do at STREET, so what we do is we identify their narrative and then you have to put an equally effective counter-narrative, because if you ban one site, 10 others emerge, and the sophistication of various ideologues in terms of promoting on the internet and through social media is highly proficient.[107]

The Government has been attempting to counter terrorist ideology, this work being led by the Research, Information and Communications Unit at the Home Office; however, Charles Farr admitted that:

Getting that message across … to a group of people who would rarely read the media that we would normally work with, is very challenging.[108]

Communications Committee – Third Report
The future of investigative journalism
Online Content, Whistleblowers

62. At present material published by newspapers online falls under the remit of the Press Complaints Commission. Video and audio content which has previously been broadcast on a television channel or radio station and is then made available online falls within the remit of the Authority for Video On-Demand (ATVOD), Ofcom and/or the BBC Trust as appropriate. However, content outside these spheres such as blogs or other websites are not subject to any sector-specific regulation at all and may be entirely outside our national jurisdiction.

63. We note that Lord Justice Leveson and Lord Hunt of Wirral, together with the Government as part of its forthcoming Communications review, have confirmed that they will consider whether it may be appropriate to bring certain forms of online content, which currently fall outwith the scope of regulation, into the remit of the relevant regulatory body. This should continue to remain a priority. We look forward to their recommendations in this area and to their suggestions on how to put them into practice.

Once again the error of thinking of the Internet as a ‘space’ inveigles into Government thinking

The report described the internet as “one of the few unregulated spaces where radicalisation is able to take place” and suggested it played a greater role in promoting violence than prisons, universities or places of worship.

via BBC News – Home Affairs Committee warns of far-right terror threat.

It’s not a space, people.

The Internet is communication, and regulation thereof is called “censorship”.

Damn, I really need to fix these folk.

My Search Neutrality reading list, from the recent #PICTFOR panel session with #Foundem on #SearchNeutrality

I spoke on a panel at PICTFOR on Search Neutrality a few days ago, and this comprises most of the reading list that I gathered in preparation for the meeting.

I was told forcefully and at great length by some individuals that somehow I had only discovered one side of the story, so I feel it incumbent upon me to publish exactly what I read so that that can become part of the discussion.
Continue reading “My Search Neutrality reading list, from the recent #PICTFOR panel session with #Foundem on #SearchNeutrality”

Malaysia deports journalist #HamzaKashgari back to Saudi for possible #Twitter joke/apostasy trial

BBC News – Malaysia deports Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari.

Malaysian authorities have deported a Saudi journalist accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a tweet.

Police confirmed to the BBC that Hamza Kashgari was sent back to Saudi Arabia on Sunday despite protests from human rights groups.

Mr Kashgari’s controversial tweet last week sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats.

Insulting the prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam and is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Kashgari, 23, fled Saudi Arabia last week and was detained upon his arrival in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

He had tweeted his doubts about Muhammad on the prophet’s birthday last week. Saudi clerics condemned his remarks as blasphemous.

Amnesty International has warned that Mr Kashgari could be executed in Saudi Arabia if he is found guilty of apostasy.

“If the Malaysian authorities hand over Hamza Kashgari to Saudi Arabia, they could end up complicit in any violations he suffers,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty’s Middle East division.

Of course we would never do that here; in the UK we inviolably worship bureaucracy.

“Digital Darwinism: Perspectives for Industry and Government” (http://goo.gl/WkZUL at Computerworld)

Digital Darwinism: Perspectives for Industry and Government

A term which will soon see greater use, but it would be nice for the nuances to be understood

A few days ago I spoke on a panel at PICTFOR – the Parliamentary ICT Forum – some writeups of which have been posted elsewhere; but a few days prior in preparation myself and some friends had the opportunity to speak with PICTFOR Vice-Chair Eric Joyce MP over a pint, and on that occasion we touched upon the SOPA/PIPA Blackout.

His exact words elude me, but Eric questioned whether the blackout was due to corporate interests, a question which shocked me because a) I felt that I knew the true answer – i.e.: “no” – but also b) because I had assumed that that answer was obvious to everyone… but apparently not.

I must be spending too much time inside the echo-chamber; so let’s spell it out.

In a sense the SOPA/PIPA Blackout was the world’s biggest-ever flashmob; I am hoping this metaphor still works because flashmobs have been adopted as cute corporate advertising gimmicks, but in the good old days flashmobs were as simple as texting a bunch of friends:

When’s the last time you had a pillowfight? Be in Trafalgar Square at 3pm. Bring your own pillow (soft!) and invite your friends.

…read more, or comment at Unscrewing Security

Loving the fact that the #ChillingEffects #Twitter page can ironically undo the DMCA notices caused it…

The user @_likebreathing has posted a tweet which informs the public of a website, piratebay.com, that is distributing our clients’s copyrighted material without authorization:

“Pasek and Paul’s sheet music is $105 on their site…but it’s free on http://piratebay.com > haha.”

The link is as follows:


We ask that the Twitter public not be encouraged to visit infringing sites. Kindly remove this tweet. We have contacted piratebay.com as well.

The Tweet is dead – so now nobody will ever learn that Pasek and Paul’s sheet music is $105 on their site, but it’s also on The Pirate Bay…