Citizens Report - Internet Shut Down in English-Speaking Regions of Cameroon

Citizens in the predominantly Anglophone regions of northwest and southwest Cameroon have been without internet access for more than a week after months of protests concerning the marginalization of English speakers in the predominantly French-speaking West African country. 

Protests have led to mass arrests and what the U.N. high commissioner for human rights has called “excessive force” used by Cameroonian law enforcement against protesters. The internet shutdowns follow the arrests of two prominent Anglophone advocates and civil society organizations’ calls for a “ghost town” action, in which citizens stayed home from work and school and otherwise refrained from public activities.


Mexico’s Twitter troll takeover: Systematic trolling on Twitter has become a top concern among journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico. Amnesty International released a dispatchthis week from Mexico City, where a leading expert on the issue described how a “repentant troll operator” approached him and confessed that she was paid the equivalent of $2,500 per hour to run a Twitter accounts that generated a counter protest in the face of citizen demanding justice for the 43 students who disappeared in Ayotzinapa in 2014.

China puts kibosh on VPNs: China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced it will require all virtual private network service providers to obtain government approval if they wish to continue operating. This will render most of China’s VPNs, which many in the country use to circumvent the Great Firewall, illegal. The ministry’s move is part of a 14-month “clean up” of internet access services, according to CNN, that will run through March 31, 2018.

Want to help fund Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny? Yandex can’t help you. Russian online wallet service Yandex.Money will stop allowing transfers of money to individuals for “political purposes.” Critics see the move as an attempt to stop opposition politician Alexei Navalny from using the service to crowdfund his 2018 presidential campaign. Once the policy goes into effect, the only remaining way Russians will be able to donate to the campaign will be through PayPal.

Will Iran block mobile messaging on Election Day? Hardliners in Iran are pressuring President Hassan Rouhani to block access to the messaging app Telegram ahead of May 2017 presidential elections. Rouhani has not yet responded to the request, but he resisted similar pressure approaching the February 2016 parliamentary elections. Officials have cracked down heavily on Telegram channels and users recently, arresting 32 people in Hormozgan province for allegedly using the channels to “spread lies, disturb public order, create fear and promote immoral and anti-cultural material.”

Kuwaiti court acquits activist: On Jan. 19, a Kuwaiti court acquitted activist and Twitter user Sara al-Drees of insulting the country’s ruler. Al-Drees was tried for comments she made on Twitter about a pardon she received for a previous jail sentence she was serving, and for insulting the emir.

Imprisoned UAE scholars face criminal punishments for speech: United Arab Emirates academic and economist Nasser Bin Ghaith is suffering serious medical problems in jail, where he has been denied medical treatment while in solitary confinement, and was refused access to winter clothes. He has been held since August 2015 for tweeting critically about Egyptian authorities’ 2013 violent crackdown on protesters gathering at Rabaa Square. His trial has been postponed to Feb. 22.

Algerian journalist gets suspended sentence over corruption coverage:
Algerian journalist Hassan Bouras was given a six-month suspended sentenceon accusations of “contempt of court, offense and defamation” for investigating corruption allegations in the town of El Bayadh. He was released from jail after his sentencing and plans to appeal the decision.
Citizens Report - Internet Shut Down in English-Speaking Regions of Cameroon
New research:
Boundaries of Law: Exploring Transparency, Accountability and Oversight of Government Surveillance Regimes”—Douwe Korff, Ben Wagner, Julia Powles, Renata Avila, and Ulf Buermeyer

Extracting Lessons From NETMUNDIAL: Achieving Bottom-up and Multistakeholder Outcomes From Global Internet Governance Policy Discussions”—Association for Progressive Communications
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University. www.slate.com

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