Posted by: bennywonderland | July 31, 2010

Green Dam Broke, but China Continues to Enhancing Web Censorship

China’s Green Dam software plan is on the verge of collapse. A year ago, a rule had come into effect whereby all computers sold in China had to include this pre-installed software that would filter sites with pornographic or violent content. However, the software was also criticised for its own failures, namely its inability to recognize porno sites and the ease with which it allowed hackers to steal data and send unwanted messages. As a result, the government has recently cut funding, which caused the chief team of the project’s development to shut its doors.

Apart from the lack of funds, there also have been other problems for the Green Dam scheme. The Internet content-scanning application wasn’t appropriately developed that put PCs in danger of compromise. Besides, security researchers discovered flaws in the method Green Dam used for processing the latest data on blacklists, allowing the software developers to load malware while carrying out the processing. Chinese consumers were worried that the software could violate their rights to freely search the Internet as adults. They were also concerned that potential bugs in the software would expose their systems to computer viruses.

Ironically, a US company called Cybersitter sued Green Dam of copying code from its own software and filed a copyright infringement lawsuit for $2.2 billion early this year. Cybersitter alleged that Green Dam illegally had copied more than 3,000 lines of code from its filtering software. It was also stated that Green Dam software illegally prevents Chinese people from accessing some political and religious sites.

Despite the Green Dam fiasco, as we know, China has not given up on censoring “politically sensitive” websites and microblogs. Actually, censorship is still going up. For example, Google has recently had its licence renewed by Chinese authorities, because of accepting all of their censorship measures. Unfortunately, Google said Thursday that its search engine was “fully blocked” in China, along with Google ads and mobile search.

Meanwhile, social networks like Twitter, Facebook or Youtube are still blocked in the mainland. This week Netease, QQ, Sina, Tencent and the Chinese version of Twitter were blocked for “maintenance”. The authorities are having a hard time managing the huge volume of internet traffic generated by 420 million Chinese users. Hence, they shut down sites temporarily to increase controls and slow down the flow of information.

So, I believe there will be another Colorful Dam soon, even though Green Dam collapses.

Reference:

China Green Dam web filter teams ‘face funding crisis’
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10614674

Green Dam Troubles Mount
http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2010/07/13/green-dam-troubles-mount/

Google says China Web search blocked
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66S65B20100729?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a49:g43:r1:c0.186441:b36102488:z0

Posted by: bennywonderland | July 24, 2010

China’s Netizen Number Jumps to 420 Million but…

China now has 420 million internet users according to official figures released by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) this month. This is nearly a third of China’s population (31.8% penetration) and is up by 36 million since the end of 2009, making China the first country in the world to have over 400 million internet users.

The CNNIC released the figures that included other staggering numbers: 277 million mobile users in China access the internet over their phones and 142 million shop online. The numbers reflect up until the end of June.

In fact, China had already replaced the United States of America as the world’s number one in internet user count in 2007. In Western democratic societies such as US, the advent of the internet may provide citizens a new means of communication, but for developing countries such as China, the internet might be a great shock to society because the nature of this new medium (hard to control and censor) is not compatible with the media control system.

Within the context of China’s ‘commandist media system’ in order to keep political homogeneity, the citizens are not able to discuss state issues via the mass media. So, the development of the internet and the growth of internet users actually brought political and social risks to the Chinese government. Facing the challenges, what Chinese government did is to maintain its information control over the internet, just like what they did on the traditional media. That is why the popular US micro-blog and social networking sites including Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have all been banned in China.

Since Twitter and Facebook was blocked in China, most of the portal websites, such as Sina, Sohu, 163.com and Tencent, have introduced micro-blogging services. Within one year, for example, Sina Micro-blogging service claimed that they have 20 million users.

But in recent weeks, most of the largest and most popular micro-blogging websites in China have been shut down for ‘maintenance’ or have switched to ‘beta’ or ‘testing’ versions. No only that, dozens of blogs by some of China’s most outspoken users have been abruptly shut down in the crackdown.

Apparently, microblogs and blogs in China are facing new threats of censorship. As I see, all these changes can be seen as the beginning of a new round of online censorship control and the ultimate goal is to turn all the micro-blogs into ‘mouthpiece’ of the ruling Party and the Government.

Reference:

China’s ‘Twitters’ targeted by internet police
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/25cb6340-8f1e-11df-a4de-00144feab49a.html

Dozens of outspoken, popular blogs shut in China
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=11168628

Internet users reach 420 million in June
http://business.globaltimes.cn/industries/2010-07/552287.html

Posted by: bennywonderland | July 11, 2010

China: Facebook is a Political Threat

The Chinese Government blamed the U. S. and other Western Governments for using social networking sites such as Facebook to drive political unrest and it urged them to examine these worldly admired sites.

Last Friday, the Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper splashed a front-page headline that ‘Facebook could be a spy tool’. The newspaper quoted a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) saying that Facebook and certain other social networking sites may be exploited by Western intelligence services and used for subversive purposes.

According to a report released by CASS on the name of “Development of China’s New Media”, social networking sites threaten state security because the U. S. and other Western countries are using them to stimulate instability. So, we must keep an eye on potential risks and threats. Thus, a continuous monitoring of the sites is needed.

The report also cited an example of threat in which a comment was made by U. S. Defense Secretary, Robert Gates that the new communication technology is a ‘huge strategic asset’. The sites also played a role in violence in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang, last summer that left some 200 people dead.

Just like Twitter and YouTube, Facebook is blocked on mainland China, the world’s biggest internet market. As I see, the statement made by CASS also indicates that the Chinese Government is unlikely to lift its year-old ban on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, in the near future.

Anyway, freedom of expression is a universal human right and none can make anyone stay away for using internet freely.

Reference:

Facebook ‘could be a spy tool’
http://china.globaltimes.cn/society/2010-07/549876.html

Posted by: bennywonderland | July 8, 2010

Online Gambling During World Cup Season

World Cup fever has taken over the world and even lucrative online gambling web site.

In Malaysia, police have arrested more than 120 people including students for taking illegal football betting worth up to RM 300 million since the start of the tournament. Whereas in China, according to the figures given by Ministry of Public Security, the police have shut down 1461 foreign gambling web sites in less than one week following the start of the World Cup.

Ethically speaking, I think no nation would promote the benefits of gambling. Therefore, the statement made by a Malaysian politician recently saying that “gambling is part of the Chinese culture” has raised dispute among the society. However, it depends to the recpective countries to establish and impose different law and regulations or ordinances to curb gambling.

In some countries, gambling is restricted in designated places and venues, or only to a few designated operators. For example, gambling was banned in mainland China after 1949, the exceptions being two state lotteries — one run by the sports ministry to fund the building of facilities. Any forms of gambling other than the designations are treated as illegal activities and people operating or taking part in illegal gambling activities are liable to fines and penalties.

However, due to the rapid evolution of the internet, the legal issues surrounding online gambling have become complicated, especially when it is dealing with cross-countries issue. The internet has made regulating gambling activities difficult for many nations. What nations now face is a jurisdictional challenge.

Morever, most governments have not enacted nor even considered any special laws on internet gambling. And I think the main reason is they are afraid of losing the tax revenue from online gambling.

Reference:

120 bookies nabbed, RM300 million in bets
http://news.malaysia.msn.com/regional/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4166497

Chinese police vow to strike at online gambling amid World Cup craze
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90882/7035793.html

The speed of internet communication and heightened competition to claim and establish brands have changed trademark tactics over the years. This is the challenge for trademark policy and practice in the Internet age. A number of trademark holders have recently challenged the policies of internet search engines that allow the trademark owner’s competitors to purchase advertising space linked specifically to the owner’s trademarks when entered as search terms.

Google’s troubles continue. Rosetta Stone, the US language learning company, is suing Google for trademark infringement, alleging the internet search giant allowed other companies to use Rosetta Stone’s trademark brand for online advertisements without permission.

Rosetta Stone said in the lawsuit that when other firms buy Rosetta Stone’s trademarks for keyword searches, ads for their own web sites appear and unfairly mislead people into thinking they are going to the Arlington firm’s site.

As I see, the hot topic in this law suit is again the Google’s keyword policy and AdWords program. Google ‘Adwords’ allow parties to bid on and acquire rights to a party trademark. Ford, for example, can bid on and buy “BMW,” so that a person typing BMW as a search term would see a link to Ford’s Web site in the paid-for links on the right hand side of Google’s web page.

Similarly, in China, trademark holders are now challenging keyword advertising. More and more cases have again raised questions relating to keyword advertising programmes. As under keyword advertising programmes, companies can purchase certain keywords, and when user searches for these words, targeted advertising is displayed, often in the form of links to the companies’ own websites.

A recent example is the China’s biggest search engine, Baidu.com, was ordered to pay 50,000 yuan (US$7,278) in compensation to Dazhong Transportation and Dazhong Moving for allowing links of websites that promoted business in the name of Dazhong Moving illegally to be available on search pages, which constitutes unfair competition. And, Baidu helped the act and should share the liability.

Instant communication, aggressive business tactics and an unsettled legal environment, mean that trademark disputes on the internet will increase in number and intensity. It is commonly accepted that use of trademarks on websites can certainly count as infringement.

In the absence of guidance from a higher level, protective measures and practical steps are available to brand owners to protect their brands on the Internet. For instance, trademark holders should consider purchasing their own trademarks from search engines as keywords to trigger defensive keyword advertising.

In addition to filing a trademark complaint with a search engine, trademark holders should also consider tracking third-party use of their trademark and contacting competing advertisers directly when they discover infringing trademark use.

Reference:

Rosetta Stone sues Google alleging trademark violation
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBNG48970320090710

Baidu ordered to pay 50,000 yuan for Web violation
http://www.shanghaidaily.com/sp/article/2008/200806/20080626/article_364588.htm

Posted by: bennywonderland | July 5, 2010

Rising Copyright Infringement Risks in Video-sharing Websites

There is little doubt that avoiding copyright infringement can be a complicated matter. Questions of fair use, copyright and derivative works are already enough to make even a lawyer’s head spin. As we begin to share one another’s content like never before, it is not enough to ensure that we don’t upload content that might be infringing, but we have to make sure that we don’t use infringing works posted by someone else.

Those questions come to a head when we look at the video-sharing websites, like YouTube. With its library of millions of video clips and simple embedding tools, it is easier than ever to display video on your site or blog, including videos that might be infringing. That’s why the removal of content has upset some popular music blogs in the US, and individual bloggers sometimes find their blogs vanish without trace, according to BBC. Bloggers feel victimized and have complained that firms are automatically assuming guilt and siding with copyright holders.

Similarly, about 80 Chinese copyright owners, including Joy.cn, Beijing Polybona Film Distribution, Beijing Orange Sky Entertainment Group and SFS Emperor, had organized an anti-piracy alliance and were planning a massive legal assault against Tudou.com for copyright infringements. Toudou.com is a Chinese Internet video website that allows users to upload and view videos.

This raises the question about whether or not a site that posts an embedded clip could be held liable for it, especially if they were unaware of the infringement. Therefore, for the bloggers, it is worth taking a few simple precautions to make certain they don’t have problems down the road. For instance, don’t embed clearly infringing materials, embed from official channels, stick to popular amateur clips, and so on.

The piracy is a loose rein by copyright holders. If someday they wish to rein in, the result would be horrible. Although it is very difficult to fight pirated disks, the number of video websites is countable. Distancing themselves from responsibility for the content on their sites is a clever strategy that could strengthen video-sharing websites’ defence against copyright-infringement lawsuits. But it could also serve to alienate users if one of them is sued and the video-sharing phenomenon that enabled the violation does nothing to help them.

Reference:
Is YouTube’s three-strike rule fair to users?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/8696716.stm

Anti-Piracy Alliance Targets Popular Chinese Vide Sites
http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2009/09/18/anti-piracy-alliance-targets-popular-chinese-video-sites/

As Rights Clash on YouTube, Some Music Vanishes
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/business/media/23warner.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology or better known by its brand name Aigo, is a rising Chinese electronics company. Recently, it was suing renowned technology groups Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba over alleged infringements of its patents.

Aigo accused HP and Toshiba of violating six patents for USB Plus. Meanwhile, Aigo has demanded compensation of Rmb1m ($146,000) from HP. Its lawyers sent letters to HP and Toshiba in China demanding to have open licensing negotiations, as well as to Samsung, Sony and Dell.

When we hear about China and intellectual property, we like to think China is a source of counterfeit. China continues to have some of the highest piracy rates in the world, while representing one of the largest and most rapidly growing markets for the copyright industries. Copyright infringement concerns range from common use of unlicensed software to widespread digital piracy of goods. As the new global leader in Internet, China remains a major safe heaven for digital pirates.

However, this case seems like the Chinese ‘technologist’ have decided to actively safeguard their intellectual property rights and making sure they aren’t merely considered as the guys with the great clones. Chinese companies show more confidence than ever that using active enforcement strategies like licensing and patent litigation if licensing is no option, will result in maintaining market share.

As I see, the case is certainly not very big. One million RMB is not much, particularly for intellectual property infringement. Nevertheless, this case has highlighted the growing risk of lawsuits from Chinese groups asserting intellectual property rights. And it will have a positive impact on public opinion about Chinese intellectual property.

Reference:

Aigo sues HP and Toshiba
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/00d4b58e-515a-11df-bed9-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss

Beijing court accepts Aigo’s lawsuit against HP and Toshiba
http://business.globaltimes.cn/industries/2010-05/528452.html

Posted by: bennywonderland | July 2, 2010

Taobao married Yahoo Japan

Web commerce in China has surged in recent years, as buyers look to the internet for better deals from more reliable suppliers in the nation’s highly fragmented e-commerce sector.

Recently, Taobao, a China’s leading retail e-commerce company which owned by China’s largest e-commerce company Alibaba Group, unveiled an alliance with Yahoo Japan Shopping, as the Alibaba unit moves to internationalize its business.

Based on the strategic cooperation, the two parties will connect and launch two online platforms to cross sell into each others’ markets in the two countries by providing data access to increase e-commerce options for consumers.

Taobao and Yahoo Japan Shopping plan to offer 8 million and 50 million product listings, respectively to their markets, when the platforms go live June 1, 2010. And this cooperation will be able to beat eBay and be the largest online shopping marketplace in the world. Actually, this move will allow Taobao to expand into Japan’s market, its first step as it looks to grow overseas.

However, the story that interests me is why Taobao chooses Japan as its first step of internationalization, not the US and European markets? I think there are several crucial factors:

1. Taobao in China has met the ceiling. In Chinese Internet area, no one sub-industry has such a concentration of market share, the field Taobao C2C built in absolute monopoly. But, Taobao C2C mode has been not to make money, and now the main push Taobao of B2C e-commerce model is the future of the mainstream to make money. Indeed, this is an area Taobao under pressure from B2C rivals.

2. Much lower E-Commerce barriers. As neighbors, China and Japan are both East Asian countries with interlinked culture. The goods of both sides are deeply liked by each other’s consumers and fulfill the needs of the customers.

3. Open up the payment chain. Alipay, as Taobao’s payment mode, has already begun the process of internationalization before this cooperation, the Japanese market plays an important role without exception. With the collaboration between Taobao and Yahoo Japan Shopping, the issue of Alipay’s payment by Japanese Yen and Renminbi can be handled well and easily.

As a Chinese, it’s quite embarrassed to say that China’s market (online shopping market as well) is flooded with so many false products. China and Japan have different laws, so how to cope with the fake events? How Taobao is going to prevent these couterfeit goods from being gone abroad? These are the circumstances that both parties would have to consider and work together.

Reference:

China’s Taobao and Yahoo! Japan form partnership
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTOE64506U20100510

Taobao in Yahoo Japan link
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/75750aba-5c95-11df-bb38-00144feab49a.html

Posted by: bennywonderland | June 27, 2010

Indonesian Version of the Edison Chen Scandal

Indonesia is in shock recently over the sex videos scandal involving three celebrities i.e. Nazril Irham (best known as Ariel), his girl friend Luna Maya and ex-girl friend Cut Tari. After weeks of extraordinary public fixation, Indonesian police arrested Ariel last Tuesday. The singer was chargerd under Article 4 of the Anti Pornography Act 2008, which prohibits “producing, creating, reproducing, copying, distributing, broadcasting, importing, exporting, offering, trading, renting or otherwise making available pornography”.

Since the disclosure of the scandal, I noticed that all the Chinese major media (including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore) labeled Ariel as the ‘Edison Chen of Indonesia’.

Edison Chen is a Canada-born Chinese singer cum actor based in Hong Kong. His sexually explicit photos scandal involved illegal distribution over the internet of intimate and private photographs of himself with various ladies, including famous artists Gillian Chung, Cecilia Cheung and etc. These photos were leaked by a computer technician repairing Edison’s laptop. The technician downloaded 1300 explicit images from the laptop and gave them to his colleagues, and ended up being uploaded onto the internet and seen by millions of people throughout the world. The scandal sent shock waves through the Hong Kong entertainment industry in early 2008 and received high profile media attention around the world.

Although there are similarities between Ariel’s scandal and Edison’s scandal, the consequences of two coinciding incidents are totally different. The main difference is Ariel was arrested where Edison was not. If found guilty, Ariel could face up to 12 years in prison, according to law.

Significantly, Ariel was charged with making the videos – a private act – rather than distributing them. Under the Anti Pornography Act, no distinction is made between private and public acts. It is raising concerns that a wide range of private activity between consenting adults could be defined as pornographic if they are made public, either on purpose or inadvertently – or, for instance, if a consenting couple were to make a sex video and it were to be stolen and put onto the internet without their consent.

A computer technician (L) convicted of stealing the sexually explicit photos of Edison Chen (R).

For Edison, he admitted on a press conference that the explicit photos belonged to him and were private, and stated that they were obtained without his consent and then made public. His lawyer emphasised that reproduction of the photos whether in whole or in part would constitute copyright infringement. In other words, Edison and the ladies involved were the victims in this scandals because their privacy has been invaded.

At least ten people were arrested in Edison’s scandal. The computer technician who was convicted of three counts of obtaining access to a computer with dishonest intent, received a custodial sentence of eight and a half months. However, there was no evidence that he uploaded the photos to the internet.

Different nations (societies) adopt different values and apply different laws, Ariel is not an ‘Indonesian Edison Chen’, he is not ‘lucky’ as Edison.

Reference:

Edison Chen Photo Scandal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edison_Chen_photo_scandal

‘Sex tape stars’ up for body examination
http://news.asiaone.com/News/The%2BNew%2BPaper/Story/A1Story20100624-223798.html

Posted by: bennywonderland | June 23, 2010

Sex Videos Sparks Call to Control Internet in Indonesia

Recently, a public uproar over sex videos allegedly involving three Indonesian celebrities has revived a debate over the need to control the internet in this modest Muslim nation.

The homemade videotapes were spreading widely among the Indonesian society for almost a month. One of the videos allegedly features pop singer Nazril Irham, better known as Ariel, with his girlfriend Luna Maya, a model and TV presenter. Another video allegedly shows sex scenes between Ariel and Cut Tari, a soap opera star and TV journalist.

According to the news report, these videos have been downloaded and passed on through websites and mobile phones. Some teachers have deleted the clips from students’ phones. The police also launched raids on internet cafes and schools where the videos may have been viewed.

Indonesian celebrities Nazril Irham(R) and his girl friend Luna Maya.

In the beginning, all three celebrities have publicly denied appearing in the tapes, saying the people in the footage just looked like them. Then the police launched inquiries over possible breaches of the anti-pornography law towards them. On 22nd June, Ariel surrendered to the police after police named him a suspect for breaching the anti-pornography law. According to police, Ariel will be arrested if he doesn’t surrender.

Under the Pornography Law enacted in 2008, anyone who produces, makes, copies, circulates, broadcasts, offers, trades, loans or provides pornography can be jailed for between six months and 12 years and can be fined up to six billion rupiah ($665,900).

The first celebrity sex video scandal has underscored the widening gulf between traditional values and modern, internet-driven youth culture in this mainly Muslim country.

Indonesia has enjoyed unfettered media freedom since the fall of autocratic President Suharto in 1998 after 32 years in power. About 30 million Indonesians have access to the internet and the number of people accessing the web from their mobile phones is growing sharply as devices and data rates have become increasingly affordable.

Indonesians are increasingly using social-networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, for activism and social concerns. A campaign opposing internet controls has been mounted on both sites.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gave his support for curbs on the internet last week. He said in relation to an open and an information society, the country should not stay ‘naked’ and be steamrolled by an information technology frenzy, “as the stakes are huge”.

The President also stressed that other countries had already regulate information technology, calling the current controversial incident “wake-up call” on the need to deal with a growing problem.

The Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring also described the scandal showed the Internet was a threat to the nation and vowed to issue a decree to curb its use. He said the Government would want to minimise the negative impact from the internet as “it will destroy the this nation”.

Indonesian Muslim women display posters during an anti-pornography rally in Jakarta.

Some conservative politicians even suggested the laws should be toughened to protect the children. Buchori Yusuf, from the Islamic PKS party, says the law enforcement should be courageous in enforcing the law and the government should be proactive in preventative action, to try to avoid this kind of thing happening again. “We are worried about the future generations. Can you imagine minors, school children, junior high, they’ve been consuming very vulgar adult content material.”

However, there are critics of the anti-pornography laws saying that the sex videotapes were for private consumption and the celebrities are acutally victims. As Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, Director of the Institute for the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice mentioned, banning pornography only makes people want to see more of it.

And for the foreign investors hoping for more openness and reforms, the law was seen by many as a step back in moderate, democratic Indonesia.

Reference:

Indonesia police to detain pop star over sex clips
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65L15720100622

‘Internet a risk to nation’
http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/SEAsia/Story/STIStory_541191.html

SBY: We Must Act On Web’s Threats
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/sby-we-must-act-on-webs-threats/381407

Sex tape scandal grips Indonesian public
http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/stories/201006/2931026.htm?desktop

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