At a glance.
- China calls on the public to fight espionage.
- Internet blackout in India allows violence to flourish unseen.
- More on Meta’s blocking of news links in Canada.
China calls on the public to fight espionage.
The Chinese government is encouraging regular citizens to join its counter-espionage efforts. In its first social media post, the Ministry of State Security published an article on WeChat on Tuesday asking the general public to help support a newly amended anti-espionage law. The ministry said the effort “requires not only security agencies to play the role of special anti-espionage organs, but also the broad participation of the people and their joint prevention.” The revised law, which was passed in April, broadens the definition of “spying” and grants law enforcement agencies expanded powers to monitor electronic equipment and digital devices, the South China Morning Post explains.
The ministry’s WeChat post went on to say that the amended law requires all security agencies to “rely on the support of the people, mobilising and organising the people to prevent and stop espionage.” The call to action comes on the heels of a statement from William Burns, director of the US’s Central Intelligence Agency, in which he said the US was progressing in rebuilding spy networks in China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning responded by saying the PRC would take action “to firmly safeguard our national security.”
Internet blackout in India allows violence to flourish unseen.
Wired discusses how an emergency law that allows the Indian government to shut down the internet has left the state of Manipur with no access to the web during civil unrest. Three months of fighting between the Meitei community and the minority Kuki-Zo has left 180 people dead and over 60,000 homeless, but because of the internet blackout, citizens are left without connection to the outside world. Digital civil rights organization Access Now says the Indian government has enacted the law eight-four times in 2022 and over one hundred times in 2021 in areas like Kashmir, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam, and Meghalaya in times of unrest.
On paper, the intent of the law is to prevent the spread of disinformation. When the internet was shutdown in Manipur in May, the government stated the blackout was intended “to thwart the design and activities of anti-national and anti-social elements and to maintain peace and communal harmony … by stopping the spread of misinformation and false rumors through various social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. … ” The lynchings, rapes, and riots raged on unwitnessed by media until a twenty-six-second video surfaced on Twitter on July 20 depicting two women being paraded naked through the streets against their will. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was compelled to finally speak out about the violence, stating, “Any civil society should be ashamed of it.”
The undeniable evidence presented in the video led to an arrest of one of the participants, which raises the question, how much more could be done if Manipur had access to the internet? TS Haokip, president of NGO the Kuki-Zo Intellectual Council, stated, “The video that went viral is just the tip of the iceberg. It is one case in which the state has acted because it went viral and caused a great deal of embarrassment to the state. But what about other victims who have suffered in obscurity?"
More on Meta’s blocking of news links in Canada.
As we noted earlier this week, Meta has announced it will be blocking links to news sites on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram in Canada. The move is in response to the Canadian parliament’s recently passed Online News Act, or Bill C-18, which states that online platforms must negotiate commercial deals with Canadian news publishers in order to display their content.
Michael Geist notes that when Meta initially announced it would be pulling news links, many Canadian officials and experts thought the tech giant was bluffing. Sylvain Poisson of Hebdos Quebec stated, “They made those threats in Australia and elsewhere and every time they back down.” But it appears this time there’s no sign of backing down, and hopes that this is merely a negotiation tactic are seeming weaker every day, as Meta does not appear to be in talks with the government.
Geist predicts the negative impact on Canada could be crippling. “Indeed, just the exit of Meta will lead to the losses that include the cancellation of existing deals, lost links that account for as much as 30% of referral traffic, and no new revenues from Bill C-18 from one of the two platforms that were supposed to fall under the law,” Geist states. “The move virtually guarantees that Bill C-18 will represent a setback for the sector and a cautionary tale for a government that blithely ignored the warning signs, seemed to welcome a fight with the tech companies, and had no Plan B.” Canadian news outlets have begun promoting direct access to their content via other methods, and the government is launching an ad boycott of Meta.