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Censorship by Turkey Slammed by Pillay, Complaint to UN Still Banned From Net

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 14 -- Turkey's law allowing the banning of web pages without any court order has belatedly been criticized by the United Nations. The criticism comes not from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon but rather Navi Pillay in Geneva on February 14: "The amendments contained in Law no. 6518, adopted on 6 February, may allow Turkey’s telecommunications authority (Telecommunications Communication Presidency) to block websites without first seeking a court order."

    Surprising to some, Pillay's statement did not mention Turkey deporting journalist Mahir Zeynalov, nor did UNESCO under Irina Bokova mention this. Earlier this week Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson about Vietnam beating up and jailing bloggers like Nguyen Van Hai and was diverted to UNESCO:

Inner City Press: On Vietnam. There are a number of anti-death penalty groups — Harm Reduction International and the World Coalition against the Death Penalty — they’re calling for the suspension of UN counter-narcotics funding to Viet Nam, saying that this, in fact, essentially funds executions of people that are found guilty of drugs. There’s also been some crackdown on bloggers and journalists in Viet Nam. But, I wanted to know, on either of those two, is the UN aware of this? What’s the response to the range of groups raising these issues about crackdowns in Viet Nam?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, on the first, I would refer you to UNODC in Vienna, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. I think they do what it says on the tin and they should be able to help you. And with regard to any crackdowns on journalists, you know journalists should be allowed to carry out their work unimpeded, but you may also wish to speak to UNESCO, who have the mandate to deal with media matters within the UN system. Okay.

  UNESCO canceled a "World Radio Day" event at the UN in New York on February 13 due to snow, although another session on Syria was not canceled. Nor was a ceremony in which Ban Ki-moon signed compacts, including by video, with Pillay in Geneva and UNODC's Yuri Fedotov in Vienna -- no word on Vietnam.

  The UN can be quite blind, on purpose, to censorship right in its midst, of documents which were directed to and received by it. A leaked complaint to the UN by Reuters' UN bureau chief Louis Charbonneau has been blocked from Google's Search without any court or apparently other review.

 The right to freedom of the press is being circumvented by a cynical request on the part of Reuters to remove leaked documents from Google's search. Of this abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry told Inner City Press about this case:

"Unfortunately, it is all too easy for a copyright holder (assuming that the person that sent this notice actually held copyright in the email) to abuse the DMCA to take down content and stifle legitimate speech. As countries outside the US consider adopting DMCA-like procedures, they must make sure they include strong protections for free speech, such as significant penalties for takedown abuse."

  In this case, copyright is being (mis) claimed for an email from Reuters' Lou Charbonneau to the UN's chief Media Accreditation official Stephane Dujarric, seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. 

  Access to the document has been blocked from Google's search based on a cursory take-down request under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

 If this remains precedent, what else could come down?

  Why not an email from Iran, for example, to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency? Why not a sanctions filing by a country? Here is Reuters logic, accepted if only automatically by Google:

The copyrighted material is a private email I wrote in April 2012 and for which I never gave permission to be published. It has been published on a blog and appears in on the first page of search results for my name and the firm I work for, Reuters. It can be seen here:

  But this is true of ANY leaked document: it can be said that the entity or person exposed "never gave permission [for it] to be published." Does that mean Google can or should block search access to it?

  Can a complaint to a Media Accreditation official against a competitor legitimately be considered "private"? In any event, the DMCA is not about protecting privacy.

  Iran or North Korea could say a filing or status report they make with the IAEA is "private" and was not intended to be published. Would Google, receiving a DMCA filing, block access to the information on, say,

  Charbonneau's bad-faith argument says his complaint to the UN was "published on a blog." Is THAT what Reuters claims makes it different that publication in some other media?

Reuters' Charbonneau hands off to Ban Ki-moon: secret? by Luiz Rampelotto

  The logic of Reuters' and Charbonneau's August 14, 2013 filing with Google, put online via the project, is profoundly anti free press.

  The fact that Google accepts or didn't check, to remain in the DMCA Safe Harbor, the filing makes it even worse. The request to take-down wasn't made to (which was never given prior notice) or its server -- it would have been rejected. But banning a page from Search has the same censoring effect.

  The US has a regime to protect freedom of the press, and against prior restraint. But this is a loophole, exploited cynically by Reuters. What if a media conducted a long investigation of a mayor, fueled by a leaked email. When the story was published, could the Mayor make a Reuters-like filing with Google and get it blocked?

  Because it is the only response to censorship, here is the text of Charbonneau's communication to the UN's top Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit official Stephane Dujarric and MALU's manager, to which he claimed "copyright" and for now has banned from Google's Search:

Hi Isabelle and Stephane,

I just wanted to pass on for the record that I was just confronted by Matt Lee in the DHL auditorium in very hostile fashion a short while ago (there were several witnesses, including Giampaolo). He's obviously gotten wind that there's a movement afoot to expel him from the UNCA executive committee, though he doesn't know the details yet. But he was going out of his way to be as intimidating and aggressive as possible towards me, told me I "disgust" him, etc.

In all my 20+ years of reporting I've never been approached like that by a follow journalist in any press corps, no matter how stressful things got. He's become someone who's making it very hard for me and others in the UN press to do our jobs. His harassment of fellow reporters is reaching a new fever pitch.

I just thought you should know this.


Louis Charbonneau
Bureau Chief. United Nations
Reuters News Thomson Reuters reuters. com

This email was sent to you by Thomson Reuters, the global news and information company.

"UNCA" in the for-now banned e-mail is the United Nations Correspondents Association. The story developed here, as to Sri Lanka; here is a sample pick-up in Italian,
 and here is a comparison of UN treatment of Italy (and foreign minister Emma Bonino) and Sri Lankan Tamils.

  The Free UN Coalition to Access, formed after the old United Nations Correspondents Association was turned into a vehicle to try to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, triggered by stories about Sri Lanka and also the fourth French head of UN Peacekeeping in a row, has spoken up along with many others for Gulf media (in particular only because based on personal knowledge Australian reporter Peter Greste) detained in Egypt, and for Angolan radio editor Queiros Chiluvia of Radio Despertar detained for looking into screams from a police station. Pillay? Bokova? We're listening.  Watch this site.


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