What is MAFIAAfire? Is Mozilla a Terrorist Organization?

mafiaa-fire-logoWhy is Mozilla the target of a take-down notice from U.S. Homeland Security and what the heck is MAFIAAfire?

Back in December of last year, I asked a simple question: is Homeland Security Now Working for the Recording Industry?. In the article, I explained how the MPAA and RIAA (Movie and Music industry groups) have bribed the U.S. Congress with millions of dollars and now have ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), a division of DHS (Homeland Security) in their pockets.

ICE has seized dozens of website domains over the last few months, supposedly to crack down on piracy and copyright infringement. Several new sites were taken down this week and new targets were likely suggested to ICE by the MPAA or RIAA. In a congressional hearing last month, ICE director John Morton admitted that his organization was acting on tips from industry representatives,and other leads.

Here’s what you’ll see if a site was taken down by ICE.

Pakistan to Ban Google, Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, YouTube, Bing and Amazon

Pakistan has been banning sites right and left, first they started out by Banning Facebook, then YouTube  and later Twitter too. In a more recent incident a petition was filed to get a Death Warrant for Mark Zuckersberg, the founder of .

banned_websites

Now, there are reports that a Lahore High Court bench has ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to immediately block some very popular websites which include Google, Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, , Bing and Amazon for publishing and promoting sacrilegious and blasphemous material.

The petition was filed by an individual who claimed that these websites were publishing sacrilegious material. However, the PTA officials have denied receiving any court orders to block these websites.

Nevertheless, considering how Facebook was blocked by Pakistan, this ban may also take effect shortly, leaving millions of Pakistanis without email and search for some time. Once again the thought that "If you cannot control the internet, ban it" is seriously not the right way to do things.

(Source)

Maharashtra Bans Facebook In Mantralaya

The Maharashtra Government has reportedly banned access to in Mantralaya, the official government office. According to a senior Mantralaya official he IT department has put ban on the use of Facebook. "We decided to block the site as many employees were seen spending hours on it".

No parking

However, Mantralaya employees are not too pleased with the ban and have claimed that they only access the site during lunch break or if workload is less on a particular day.

However, the IT department of Mantralaya maintained that the internet connection was only intended for official use and not for personal usage.

This is not the first time an office has banned access to Facebook, and many corporate have blocked access to the popular social networking site from their official premises.

(Source: TOI)

China Blocking Android Market, Gmail and Google Talk?

Apparently it looks like some (or all) users in China are facing issues while accessing the Android Market, Gmail and Google Talk on their based devices.

A user on the Android Forums posted a thread today that he was unable to access Market, Gmail and Google Talk from China. According to the user the problems have been happening since 13th June and has been occurring in Mainland China.

Unfortunately, Android Forums itself has gone under so could not check the entire conversation, but here is the page on Google Cache from which the below screenshot has been taken.

China Blocking Android Market, Gmail, Googlt Talk

The actual thread is here just in case you want to check the debate, however it is still down for me. Are you in China and facing the same issues?

Update: From the comments below we were able to confirm that China is indeed blocking the above services.

China Shutting Down Internet Cafes Before National Exams

China is no stranger to banning websites on the Internet, however, a recent directive issued by the Government will cause many people to be flabbergasted.

China Internet Cafes

According to some reports, some Linchuan district officials have given directives to Internet cafe owners to shut down till June 9th to allow students to prepare for the upcoming National College Entrance Exams.

The supposed ban is happening in Linxian county in Shanxi province and Linchuan district in Jiangxi province. Authorities there have warned Internet cafe owners that fines will be levied on them if they do not comply with the directive.

Ironically an official Linchuan Culture Bureau admits that what they are doing is probably illegal, however, what they are doing is for the sake of Linchuan’ education.

Now, I would definitely call such a ban stupid as students can definitely access internet from their home or at their friend’s place, and it is not like only students visit internet cafes. What would happen to the other people who want to access internet and depend on these cafes?

Alas, that is a hard question to answer, but anything can happen in China when it comes to internet.

(Source)

Pakistan Lifts YouTube Ban Partially

Last week the Pakistan government had banned YouTube because of its "growing sacrilegious content". However, according to new reports from Associated Press, the government has now decided to lift the ban on , albeit, partially.

The Pakistan government will continue to block videos which are offensive to Muslims, while allow other YouTube video to continue being viewed.

According to AP, the government seemed to move in that direction Wednesday by deciding it would restore access to YouTube but continue to block videos "displaying profane or sacrilegious material," said Najibullah Malik, the secretary at Pakistan’s information technology ministry.

However, there was no news on when the Government would lift the ban on , which was the root cause of the ban due to controversial caricatures of Prophet Mohammad. There were also reports that Twitter was banned in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s neighbor India also reportedly banned the "Everybody draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page. There were reports that the ban on Facebook and maybe may remain in effect till May 31st, however, there are no concrete reports to prove that claim yet.

Are you able to access YouTube or Twitter is Pakistan now, or is it still blocked?

Pakistan Bans Twitter After Facebook and YouTube

In an attempt to control the controversies over Prophet Mohammad, Pakistan has been banning social networking and video sites left and right. It all started out with a total block of Facebook in Pakistan, which will remain in effect till May 31st or maybe longer.

The next on the line was  which was again blocked because of its "growing sacrilegious content". Third in line in the ban list is , where information flows just like butter off a hot knife.

It is not the first time though that governments have used bans to curtail information or freedom, there have been blocks by China, Iran, North Korea, India and many more countries on websites which they deem as problematic. However, is banning websites the best cause of action?

Not exactly, if people want to access information they will find ways to do it, no matter how hard you try to stop them. If one solution fails, another will come up, if that fails, another. The cycle will continue and people will get what they want.

In the end, you are only giving people more eagerness to access what they cannot have. If you do need to keep away from something, the best cause of action would be to talk to the concerned websites and have the content removed, however, governments would argue that you cannot have watchdogs poring over content to find what is right or what is wrong, so just take the easy way out and ban everything in sight.

In my honest opinion, religious sentiments can often go off-hand specially when you are talking about the Internet, however, bans are often not the way to go. It is a human sentiment to want more of what is restricted, however, it is sad that such things have to happen over and over again.

YouTube Blocked In Pakistan, Who’s Next?

In another crackdown on the Internet, the Pakistan government have blocked access in the country. Users visiting the site might not be able to access videos on YouTube.

YouTube Blocked

However, this is not the first website to be banned in Pakistan, as they had also blocked access to yesterday over some Controversial Caricatures.

According to a BBC report, Pakistan has blocked YouTube because of its "growing sacrilegious content". In addition to that, there are reports that several Wikipedia pages are also being restricted by the government.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said it had ordered internet service providers to "completely shut down" YouTube and prevent Facebook from being viewed within Pakistan.

Banning websites is not a new phenomenon and countries like China have blocked access to almost every popular social networking sites including Facebook, and . The Indian government in the past has also blocked access to BlogSpot blogs and other websites.

So is the South Asian region more susceptible to banning website and internet freedom? The recent crackdowns don’t give a different picture here.