June 15, 2009 6:15 pm

Media crackdown worldwide

With Iran cracking down on media – social and otherwise — Global News Online looks at similar steps taken by other governments in the past six months.

June, 2009

â–ª Twitter becomes inaccessible for Chinese users shortly before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Savvy Twitter users in China soon reappear on the site thanks to proxy servers and other software.

â–ª Chinese security officials use umbrellas to thwart Western journalists reporting on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

â–ª Sudan’s parliament passes a bill restricting freedom of expression, as well as the reception and transmission of information. The bill grants an appointed council the power to allow or revoke publication licenses, impose strict disciplinary measures against journalists, examine journalists to determine their suitability for the profession and confiscate printing equipment.

May, 2009

â–ª The Chinese government announces that manufacturers must install Internet-filtering software on all personal computers sold from July 1 onwards. The government says the move is intended to promote “the healthy development of the Internet” and protect the public from harmful material. About 40 million personal computers are sold in China every year. This new regulation is announced two months after YouTube became inaccessible in the communist country.

â–ª Malawi police shut down an opposition radio station during general elections and detain several employees.

â–ª The government of Gabon curbs coverage of President Omar Bongo’s hospitalization and succession issues. The state-run National Communication Council suspends two publications after they run articles discussing in-fighting among Bongo’s advisors.

â–ª The Thai government announces plans to regulate content of radio stations and cable and satellite TV stations. The government says it will ban any program, whether broadcast over community radios or aired over cable and satellite television that is politically “incendiary” and “offensive.”

April, 2009

â–ª The Thai government declares a state of emergency amid political unrest, and issues a decree allowing officials to censor news that is considered a threat to national security.

March, 2009

â–ª Authorities in the Congolese city of Likasi order the closure of two radio stations because of their coverage of a local strike. The strike occurred against a backdrop of social unrest in the city. Local authorities accused the stations of inciting the public to strike and of broadcasting defamatory statements.

December, 2008

â–ª The Vietnamese government issues a directive banning bloggers from posting material perceived as opposing the state, undermining national security, or divulging state secrets. The directive also requires domestic Internet service providers to begin maintaining databases on individual blogs and censoring content that authorities consider sensitive. More than 20 million Vietnamese use the internet – a quarter of the population. Vietnam’s burgeoning blogging community has become an important source of news for many people in the country, where the national media is still tightly controlled by the state.

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