The EFF reports that the Indian Telecommunications Minister has met with top officials of Internet companies and social media sites, including the Indian units of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, to try to compel them to filter offensive content. The New York Times reported that Minister Kapil Sibal met with executives to ask the companies to create internal mechanisms that would prevent any comments the state deemed “disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory” towards political and religious figures.
A Belgian Internet watchdog group (NURPA) has reported that one of the three major mobile Internet providers in Belgium, Base, voluntarily started blocking access to the Pirate Bay. This block comes after a case initiated by the Belgian Anti-Piracy Federation, in which an Antwerp Court of Appeals ordered two major fixed broadband providers to block access to the Pirate Bay at the DNS level.
EFF also reports from Thailand, which declared at the start of December that Facebook users “liking” or sharing content offensive to the Thai throne could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison; Joe Gordon, an American-Thai who translated a banned biography of Thailand’s king and posted the content online while living in Colorado was sentenced to two and a half years in a Thai prison Thursday. The verdict is the latest so-called lese majeste punishment handed down in the Southeast Asian kingdom, which has come under increasing pressure at home and abroad to reform harsh legislation that critics say is an affront to freedom of expression. In November, 61-year-old Amphon Tangnoppakul was sentenced to 20 years in jail for sending four text messages deemed offensive to the Queen. Gordon posted links to the banned biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej several years ago while living in the U.S. state of Colorado. Journalist Daranee Charncheongsilpakul has been jailed for 15 years for the similar offence of insulting the monarch.
The EFF also reports from Vietnam, where a court reduced the jail sentence of blogger and human rights activist Professor Pham Minh Hoang from three years to 17 months; and from Syria, where Area SpA, an Italian company that had been helping to build an Internet surveillance system in that country, has reportedly pulled out of the project.