Forum 4: Global Voices Project

This forum discussion will expand our earlier discussion on ‘Liberation technologies‘ and link it with the next topic of ‘Political Activism‘, these real world scenarios will be based on an ongoing citizen journalism project titled global voices, the link to the page is, or the more advocacy oriented page: 

What I would like you to do is go to this web resource, select a couple of stories you find interesting which you did not see in any mainstream media and make a case why these stories are important, their political implications and the role of technology in creating alternative spaces for expression. You can make your own case for the 2 – 3 stories/reports you select and comment on other’s pickings and respond.

I will keep this forum open midway through spring break to give you more flexibility and close the page for comments on (midnight) 22nd March 2016


44 thoughts on “Forum 4: Global Voices Project

    Andrew Reiley said:
    March 14, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    I find this story shocking because the guy is getting 10 years in prison just for saying atheist things on twitter. I didn’t realize that there is such thing as a religious police either. Saudi Arabia seems like one of the more progressive and accepting middle eastern countries based on the experiences I have had with Saudis. furthermore, I didn’t know that giving lashings as a punishment was still legal anywhere. It really goes to show that you can’t say whatever you want on the internet. I mean you can, but be prepared to face to consequences. Here in the United States, you can say things, but instead of going to prison, people just get mad.
    If I were to live in a foreign country, especially in the middle east, I would probably not use social media at all. In the most extreme case, I would try to move to America, even though I am sure people of middle eastern descent are not treated too well here, but probably better than over there where you can go to prison just for speaking about your religion with a negative connotation.

      Trent Rosenberg said:
      March 15, 2016 at 11:18 am

      I’m not sure how progressive and accepting Saudi Arabia is. Women in Saudi Arabia are not treated as equals and there are no political parties and no national elections are permitted. And while I agree that “lashes” as a punishment seems out of date and quite brutal, it honestly doesn’t surprise me that it still exists. In fact, what surprises me more is the fact that they give out lashes in such a large number that the individuals can’t physically endure more than 50 at a time. In the case of blogger Raif Badawi, his 1,000 lashes will likely never be completed.

        Dylan Kirby said:
        March 21, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        Andrew and Trent,

        I read and wrote a response to this article as well. Although the Twitter user who was expressing his opinion on a form of liberation technology, I believe that this article exposes the dark and grim reality of expression under a repressive government. Furthermore, the article stated how he broke a cardinal rule that has been set in place in 2000 so in my opinion the lashings and imprisonment were warranted – as terrible as that may sound.

        I like the point you brought up Andrew about how the toughest reprocussions in the United States is a severe jail sentence for “breaking the law”. This article truly exposes the great injustice of judicial punishments throughout the world and I thought that was an interesting part of this article.

      Moustafa Bayoumy said:
      March 21, 2016 at 6:02 pm


      I agree with you on what you said about Saudi Arabia. But I do not agree with you on what you said about the Middle East. From my personal experience, I have lived there my whole life and we are not treated this way, they treat us very well. What happen in Saudi Arabia does not happen any where else in the Middle East. There is freedom of speech in other places in the Middle East, such as Dubai, Egypt,Qatar and etc,. If what you are saying is right about the Middle East, Egypt would not have had the revolution of 2011, which started on Facebook. Saudi Arabia is a religious country, and they have their own rules, and no other country in the middle east has the same laws. This is an over generalization and simplification of an entire region that we know as the “Middle East”

      Sam McGowan said:
      March 22, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Andrew, I found your comment to be quite thought provoking.

      It is pretty alarming that there are many counties out there including Saudi Arabia that have laws in place to prevent people from saying the things they want to say. It’s even like that to some degree here in the US. Just last week, I read an NY times article that reported a story about a foreign exchange student from Egypt (I think) who was deported back to his home country after posting some questionable comments citing his hatred for Donald trump. US secret service quickly apprehended the man for posting what appeared to be death threats, even though it was clear he had no actual intentions of hurting trump. The guy was deported and lost significant amounts of money as his college tuition was lost. Although I’m not saying what was done to this guy Was not justified, it just goes to show you that freedom of expression is controlled everywhere and the governments power reigns supreme.

    Henry Preston said:
    March 15, 2016 at 10:34 am
    This feelgood story carries on the sentiment of anonymous altruism, and the movement of creating spaces where those unable to clothe themselves can collect clothing has spread across Asian countries due to its hashtag #WallOfKindness, which has spread the word on twitter. This small but well meaning movement would likely not have spread without social media, and although it does not have large political implications, it still touched the lives of some in need.

      Michael LeFevre said:
      March 15, 2016 at 2:52 pm


      Thank you for posting this article, and I too, found it very reassuring to see that humanity can still have faith. I agree that without the power of the Internet and social media sites, this movement would not have been as powerful and widespread, as it was. While we have been focusing on the negatives of the Internet mainly in class, it is good to see that there are some places and time that the Internet is used for good and benefit humanity. It makes me wonder how many more international communities can benefit from social media sites, and how we can bring faith back into humanity.

      Ness Billimoria said:
      March 15, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      It is so nice to see an article, however short, on altruism, especially in countries like Iran and Pakistan. One hardly ever comes across such positive stories from those countries. I would even go as far as to say that charity is almost more common among the poorer sections of society in these countries. I’ve heard of similar concepts regarding books (leave one you’ve read and take one you’d like to read), but this concept is almost more noble because its (hopefully) helping people that really need the help.

        Andrew Reiley said:
        March 20, 2016 at 6:12 pm

        Ness, I fully agree with you on how it is nice to see that people are nice to each other and that good things are happening in these middle eastern countries of which we normally just see people killing each other.
        Henry, thanks for finding this one. It doesn’t take much to be kind to other humans beings. The people who made these walls will have good karma on their side. It is always nice to see random acts of kindness like this and other people paying it forward.

      Will Kauppila said:
      March 22, 2016 at 9:52 pm


      I like the article you picked a lot, and believe it serves as a tangible example of how a small social media movement has the ability to pick up steam and pass on a message of hope and solidarity. Citizens in Iran, Pakistan, and China face daily injustices at the hands of their governments, and although they are separate nations with their own unique identities, the #WallOfKindness demonstrates that people are listening and looking for liberation in new ways that might not have previously had the ability to have a connection.

    Michael LeFevre said:
    March 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    After reading this article I found it extremely shocking that Russia is now forcing Uber to share its location, and GPS data with the government. With the governance implemented upon Uber and their consumers, the government is accessing and recording much more data and potentially have the ability to know the exact locations of tourists, citizens and their drivers. Through the Intellectual Transportation System, mentioned in the article, it seems that Russia is aiming towards more of a government depicted in the hit TV-show, Person of Interest. I do not believe this would ever be able to be implemented within the United States, just because of the recent whistleblowers and emergence of interest in our privacy. The lack of privacy, combined with the restrictions placed upon requirements to become a driver, Russia may see a decrease in the economy and trust the people have in their government. How would you feel if you knew your every turn and Uber ride was recorded by the government?

    Michael LeFevre said:
    March 15, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I found this article to be especially important because of the recent expansion and focus on social media platforms by candidates running for the United States presidency. By creating fake pages and fake “likes”, politicians are now able to “fake” support for many of their posts, or thoughts on their pages. As seen in Cambodia, Hun Sen has started to gain an immense amount of likes and activity on his Facebook page, meanwhile only a quarter of his followers are actually from Cambodia. If it were not for the accusations made by Sam Rainsy, I am weary as to how far Hun Sen would have taken this action. By faking his support, it may sway voters who are on the fence about certain politicians or their positions on topics, and help keep Hun Sen in power for many years to come. Without the ability to affirm these Facebook pages are legitimate, no one will truly know how much support these government officials truly have.

      Emilio Nilooban said:
      March 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      I am happy that you brought this story and issue to our attention because it truly brings emphasis on how citizens usually just follow the political bandwagon instead of supporting someone on the basis of their own personal judgement. Nowadays, ordinary people are able to purchase services that provide fake support for social media accounts like FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube. This has become a practice for individuals who are in desperate need for public attention and enables them to transform themselves into an important figure that misleads the public. I believe that there should be an algorithm that exposes false support for government officials and regular users.

        Tim Lasusa said:
        March 21, 2016 at 10:52 am

        I too am glad that you brought this article up. I agree with Emilio in that we are seeing a large amount of citizens following the political bandwagon and not looking further into our candidates policies and what the outcomes might be. People get very distracted and attracted to the quick clips and sound bytes we get from our candidates and automatically begin to follow and support the candidate without even thinking about the implications that they might have or what the other candidates might have to say.

    Emilio Nilooban said:
    March 15, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Going off of Andrew’s story, it’s also important to reflect on how different political regimes have an impact in meddling into the operations of activists over the internet. It’s amazing how an absolute monarchy is adapting to new forms of protest via social media outlets (like Twitter in this case) in order to monitor and silence activists that go against their interests and principles using new anti-terrorism laws to affirm and justify government actions. The internet has definitely been an additional realm that governments are now monitoring in order to weed out threats that can jeopardize the legitimacy of their leadership. In the case of Samar Badawi (the sister of Raif Badawi from this article , her arrest displays the government’s determination in bringing down a Twitter account that plays as a hub for activists to band together and fight for human rights; an issue that is stagnant throughout Saudi Arabia’s history. However, Saudi Arabia will be unable to control or eliminate data that is circulating in cyberspace, allowing activism to stay alive and in certain cases become stronger. In the story, it was mentioned that these arrests, including the arrest of the original Twitter account owner Waleed Abulkhair, would only spark a greater revolt.

    Michael LeFevre said:
    March 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I found this article to provide insight towards how we may be shifting culturally, as a society. When a prison in Russia is posting online videos (flash mobs, concerts, TV-show) to the public, this opens up the door to many societal and political implications. With the negative condensation associated with prisons and inmates, it is very surprising to see hundreds of inmates collaborate and work together to produce these videos, and even more surprising that the government and officials in-charge of the prison allow this. Equipping inmates with the technology and materials needed to record and post these videos would not be allowed in United States prisons, and it is surprising. Prisoners are developing their cyber skills, and ultimately benefit from the exposure to this shift in technology. We are living in a time where the public is disappointed with the government, and with the emergence of videos like these, we may see a revolution or shift among many international states and their governments, starting with the individuals we have tried to keep isolated most.

      Emilio Nilooban said:
      March 15, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      It’s surprising to see a stringent country like Russia allowing its inmates access to the Internet by posting videos on the web regarding festive and commercial topics. Accessibility to the internet in prisons showcase how technology is slowly being implemented into institutions that we don’t normally connect it with. The development of cyber skills and creative thinking can perhaps be seen as a tool for inmates to use when they get out of prison when they embark on creating new lives for themselves. However, I also see negative consequences that may arise from this. If inmates plan on progressing their deviant endeavors, it’s possible that they may use those skills for evil.

    Emilio Nilooban said:
    March 15, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    I found this article to be fascinating, because it mimics the relationship between the NSA and American citizens. In the case of Poland, the government has passed a bill that enables police and secret services to interfere into citizens’ telecommunications without their acknowledgment and without legal permission. “This means that one doesn’t have to be an official suspect to be surveilled. Theoretically, anyone who could commit a crime can be subject to monitoring.” Just as we have seen in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, people have started to view these laws as an attack on their right to privacy. What makes this bill and the operations of the NSA troubling in nature is that it enables the police to gather and analyze private internet information on citizens without a warrant. The invasion of privacy can limit a citizen’s ability to express their opinions and thoughts on the internet, in fear that this information can be used against them.

    Emilio Nilooban said:
    March 15, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Going off of Andrew’s story, it’s also important to reflect on how different political regimes have an impact in meddling into the operations of activists over the internet. It’s amazing how an absolute monarchy is adapting to new forms of protest via social media outlets (like Twitter in this case) in order to monitor and silence activists that go against their interests and principles using new anti-terrorism laws to affirm and justify government actions. The internet has definitely been an additional realm that governments are now monitoring in order to weed out threats that can jeopardize the legitimacy of their leadership. In the case of Samar Badawi (the sister of Raif Badawi from Andrew’s post), her arrest displays the government’s determination in bringing down a Twitter account that plays as a hub for activists to band together and fight for human rights; an issue that is stagnant throughout Saudi Arabia’s history. However, Saudi Arabia will be unable to control or eliminate data that is circulating in cyberspace, allowing activism to stay alive and in certain cases become stronger. In the story, it was mentioned that these arrests, including the arrest of the original Twitter account owner Waleed Abulkhair, would only spark a greater revolt.

    Ness Billimoria said:
    March 15, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    I know nothing about Tajikistan apart from the fact that it is a country in Central Asia, and I’m sure almost everybody else in this class knows as little about it.
    Tajikistani women, especially today’s mothers and grandmothers have had terrible lives full of separation from their families, forced to remove their veils after centuries of wearing them and hard menial work lives. Today, their government chooses to christen ‘International Women’s Day’ as ‘Mother’s Day’ as an ode to these mothers who have suffered so much. According to the Tajik constitution, there is gender parity. However, it seems that there is a prominent gender bias. In spite of this, women are making strides as more prominent figures in society and facebook is one way of helping push for more equality. The most interesting of the five women featured in this article was Fayziniso Vohidova, who continues to openly criticize her government despite lawsuits, fines and threats against her. This makes her a sort of social media icon in the country and a source of inspiration to many young Tajikistani women. It is very inspiring to read of this.


    Ness Billimoria said:
    March 18, 2016 at 6:53 am

    For the past many months, Facebook has been heavily publicizing and advertising its ‘Free Basics’ application in India. Through this application, it aimed to provide traditional non internet users access to certain online platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. for absolutely no cost on non-smart phones. This campaign, backed personally by Mark Zuckerburg, failed miserably thanks to the number of complaints made to the Indian regulators saying that this sort of campaign does not provide equal access and opportunity to all websites and only benefits certain ones, thereby creating a monopoly in certain poorer sections of society that have recently gained access to the internet and basic technology.
    This story has been written about a lot in mainstream Indian as well as international media, but I feel it is very pertinent to this class.

    Colin Scott said:
    March 20, 2016 at 5:57 pm
    This article is about the an issue that has come up in Georgia with the government recording sexual relations prominent citizens have to make sure they stay loyal to the government. This is a huge issue because it creates an atmosphere where the government cannot be trusted by its citizens. Citizens need to be able have complete trust in the government for there to be a successful democratic system. This relates to issues the U.S. have been facing with trust issues with its citizens. It has lead to the uprising of non politicians to gain traction in elections and this same thing can happen in Georgia. This is an important issue that isnt making huge headlines in America but is an important one and goes along with the theme of the internet being a new platform for politics. Using the internet has allowed this government make sex videos public on the internet for millions to see and give them more power over citizens with this threat looming over their heads. Something like this would never be possible without the use of the internet which is scary because the internet can be a tool used for such good but as seen here for also very bad things.

    Andrew Reiley said:
    March 21, 2016 at 12:38 am

    This article is similar to the one that I posted last week, however instead of the guy being arrested just for posting his views on Twitter, this jailed Kurdish used Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It is true that he was arrested and jailed for promoting terrorist propaganda which makes it completely acceptable to detain him, but it is surprising that governments all over the world are able to track/block/find people all over the world on their social media accounts.
    Back in the day, the world must have been a different place when people couldn’t freely voice their opinions on the internet, which may have been for the better. I just find it scary that someone can watch you through what you post online, which is a reason why I do not have a twitter. The stuff that I see on Facebook can be alarming enough, which even happens with stuff that I see that are posted by SLU students. I think people would be better off in general not using social media at all, but the truth in the matter is that we are all addicted to it.
    Back in the case of the Kurdish guy, he deserves to get caught and jailed for promoting terrorist propaganda. Even though it is a scary though about the tracking that can be done, it is also a good feeling knowing that governments have the means to get bad people off the streets by tracking them on social media and can most likely save a few lives in the process. Without stupid people on social media, the government would have a harder time tracking people down than without it. The world is ultimately a safer place.

      Ness Billimoria said:
      March 21, 2016 at 2:46 am

      Completely agree with you, Andrew. One thing that I’d like to add to that is the security challenges faced by employers as their employees mix their public and private information on social media, whether knowingly or unknowingly.
      In fact according to the Cisco 2013 Annual Security Report, the highest concentration of online security threats are on mass audience sites, including social media. We haven’t discussed this much but I think it needs to be taken a lot more seriously.

        Sam McGowan said:
        March 22, 2016 at 6:37 pm


        Your comment got me thinking about the filtration cyber systems that governments use. Although I do not know too much on such systems, I got a little background about these computer programs after watching that lecture with the founder of Wikipedia. The guy on the panel from the US govts cyber task force said its not like governments around the world look at every email/online post but they look at the ones that present red flags so to speak when key words that are associated with terrorist acts appear in the post. I’m interested in learning more about these programs, especially because you mentioned how most potential security threats are posted on social media platforms like Instagram etc. If you scroll through Trumps social media accounts im sure you will find comments etc. that reveal some peoples’ true feelings about Trump. Some of these are often jokes but some show how much some people really hate Trump for what he is advocating for. I’m interested in how the US government decides which threats are for real and how the us government decides who’s comments are not threats at all.

    Tim Lasusa said:
    March 21, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Similar to Andrew’s article about Turkey, we are seeing an increase in authoritarian rule within Russia. This story is important to note because as we know countries are actively monitoring, however governments in countries like Russia and Turkey are activity monitoring and removing large amounts of tweets that are to their disliking. If Russian citizens continue to see that their tweets are being deleted, we could see one of two scenarios. The first being we could see an increase in twitter usage in an attempt to rebel against the Russian government and their oppression. The second scenario could be the exact opposite. We could see a large decline in social media activity, in fear that the Government could threaten the lively hood of its own people. What happens next could be crucial for the future of the country. It shows that these countries, who have in recent years had been less oppressive, are moving back to their old ways and we are seeing a return of strict authoritarian rule. Russia is finding ways to make sure that in this current day in age they remain in power and control of their people.

    Dylan Kirby said:
    March 21, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    The first article that I read from the Global Voice Advocacy site was rooted heavily in the idea of how Liberation Technology can bring much needed justice to public figures doing injustice. Civil servant Arne Sydney Aus den Ruthen Haag has been roaming the streets of Mexico City with his “smart phone” and video taping civil servants committing crimes such as parking infractions and littering in public spaces. While some believe that what Mr. Ruthen Haag is doing is perverse and he should not be legally allowed to do this, personally I believe that what he is doing is being a good steward of cyber expression and not over stepping the boundaries by exposing what these public figures are doing because in short, all that he is exposing via social media (periscope) is how public figures in Mexico live a double life of thinking that they are too good for the laws that they publicly back when no one is watching. So, as long as the video taping is done in a public space and not a private space such as a bathroom or private residence I see no problem with what Mr. Ruthen Haag is doing.

      Sam McGowan said:
      March 22, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      I agree completely with what you are saying. I think here in the US most law abiding citizens are law abiding citizens because they acknowledge the fact that they are always being watched. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing, the fact that video cameras are everywhere in America, means crime is being reduced. Some people have different views. A while back, I watched a vice documentary on Camden, NJ and how this city has introduced highly sophistacated technology such as motion sensors/video cameras and noise detectors that seek to pick up on potential gun shots. The introduction of such high tech equipment has severely reduced the number of violent crime but many people in Camden argue this is an invasion of their privacy. It’s a heated subject, but I agree with your argument, especially with what you said on how it exposes corrupt/law breaking politicians.

    Dylan Kirby said:
    March 21, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I chose to read this article on the Global Advocacy page because after I read Andrew’s response, it seemed that this was an article that deserved to be read. Firstly, this article exposes the dark reality of the danger that encompasses “liberation technology” and the consequences that arise when sharing beliefs over the cyber realm. Al Watan was simply expressing his atheist beliefs on Twitter when the government became aware of his posting and punished him because he went against the 2001 Saudi Arabia law against public decency. This story truly gives evidence to the dark side of using liberation technology as a means of political expressions and the heinous repercussions that arise.

    I am posing a question to the class about why this story was not in the mainstream media. Do you think that this story was not in the media because it was quite evident that Al Watan disobeyed the law or do you feel that the laws that he broke should not pertain to the cyber realm? Personally, In a certain manner the punishment was warranted because he did in fact break the laws of Saudi Arabia. Although it is sad that a countries citizens face so much oppression even when trying to convey a certain belief on an “innocent” site such as Twitter.

      Andrew Reiley said:
      March 22, 2016 at 12:35 am

      Dylan, this may be completely political incorrect, but I think it did not make main stream media because 1) Americans’ do not care that much about events in the middle east. For instance, take the terrorist attack in Beirut on November 12. 43 people were killed and an additional 240 were wounded. there was little to no media coverage of it. Then the very next day, the Paris attacks occurred and the media went nuts for it. In short, I think that because Saudi Arabia is not a traditional western country, the media does not care or pause to think twice about it. Unless a westerner is killed or our way of life is put in danger, the western countries will not make a big deal of it. In their view, it’s just another middle eastern thing. The second 2) reason is that our media in the United States is full of idiots. We have people in our own nation who care about the Kardashians, which really shows how dumb some people really are.
      I guess different countries have their own laws and their citizens are supposed to follow them no matter what. In the United States, Al Watan’s punishment may seem very severe and harsh, but each nation is free to enforce whatever laws they pass. Another example is the idiot American kid who decided to go to North Korea and steal a banner. This kid should have known that North Korea is unlike any country in the world and does not treat its people right, so why would they treat him any differently. He was in North Korea and now has to face North Korean consequences, which in his case, is 15 years of hard labor, otherwise known as slave work. He simply should not have gone to North Korea. Al Watan should have known the laws, but he did not follow them, even though he was using social media. A phone is basically an extension of your mind now, so whatever is said on there is taken as if you actually said it.

    Trent Rosenberg said:
    March 21, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    I read this article called “Is Exposing Corruption Becoming a Crime in Botswana?” What I found most interesting about this article was the man being accused, Sonny Serite, was denied both bail and access to a lawyer. Serite was investigating corruption in the railways of Botswana, and was given a file from the office of the president, which his supporters say he had no reason to believe it was confidential or stolen. Where liberation technology play a role in this case is that an online hashtag has surfaced called #FreeSonnySerite and has been filling up twitter for the past two days. This instance has also made some question just how corrupt Botswana really is, considering most thought it was relatively uncorrupt until this incident.

      Dylan Kirby said:
      March 22, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      Trent, I really enjoyed reading the article that you posted. It’s fascinating to me to learn about the dark side of liberation technologies that often go untouched in the mainstream media. I believe that the exposial of “files” containing government officials wrong doings and the negative reprocussions that follow the files are going to be an issue that we as a society will see as the entire planet becomes much more interconnected. Great response and thank you for sharing.

      Tim Lasusa said:
      March 22, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      I really like this article as it highlights what I think to be very true about changing and shifting governments. It seems pretty clear that a government like Botswana, although preaches anti-corruption, are led by people who cannot let go of their power. Im am very interested as to how this will play out for the future of the country as people are already begging to talk about it and have their voice be heard. In this day, when technology plays such a huge part in society this is often seen as the biggest threat to governments control over their people. I am interested to see whether or not the Botswana government will begin to take down Twitter posts like many authoritarian governments are doing.

    Trent Rosenberg said:
    March 21, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Sticking with the corruption idea I also read the article “Nigerian Police Beat Up Yomi Olomofe, Who Was Assaulted Last Year Over His Corruption Reporting”, which you can find here,
    Essentially in this situation, Yomi Olomofe, a Nigerian journalist, was beaten up by the police because men who a year before had also beaten him up accused him of assault and attempting to extort money from them. Just like the previous article I talked about this situation has also blown up on twitter, although I personally haven’t heard of it from any other news sites. Photos of his face, which is very bruised and bloody have also accompanied most twitter posts and many are calling for justice to be done to these officers. In a Statement released Olomofe is “seeking for a public apology, assurance of Olomofe’s safety, N100 million compensation for breach of fundamental rights. Olomofe has been admitted to the hospital for urgent medical attention due to the shock of his harassment by the police. He has been told by his doctors that he has relapsed into a state of depression with his blood pressure alarmingly high”

    I think this is case is important because much like my other one these are the stories we don’t hear about. If they aren’t heard about then they can be “swept under the rug”. However, with liberation technology more and more people can now find out about issues like this and then are able to hold countries accountable for there actions more easily.

    Thomas Mathiasen said:
    March 22, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I found this to be a very interesting article in that it highlights cyber security in regards to financial institutions. After a “cyber heist ” of Bangladesh’s central bank, many are calling for the resignation of the central bank governor on social media. So in two respects, this story encapsulates two elements of the course. First, cyber security of a state run institution. Like cyber hacks that have occurred in the United States, states need to be cautious of the attempts of hackers both foreign and domestic in stopping the attacks on their state institutions. Secondly, the outpouring on social media from citizens to call for a change. Similar to other social movements that has toppled governments or leaders, this one has made swells in social media.

    While the resignation of the central bank governor is in many ways “anticlimactic,” due to his rags to riches life story, it is still an unfortunate failure of a state institution to protect financing interests.

    Thomas Mathiasen said:
    March 22, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I think this shows the paradox between our social media in the United States and in a nation that hinders and in many respects blocks components of the internet. Here, we can often take for granted our ability to openly criticize our leaders and political decisions, however that Liberty is not experienced by others. The article cites the shift towards an “authoritarian regime” one that imprisons people for speaking their minds on social media. In this case, this journalist is facing 20 years in prison for really just a handful of posts online. Turkey had become on of the biggest censoring countries of the Internet and this example of the potential imprisonment of the Kurdish journalist shows this trend. What this shows, however, is that independent journalists are becoming more important for keeping the Turkish government in check, even if it means the possible punishments they may face.

    Sam McGowan said:
    March 22, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    This story is about an Indian migrant worker who was arrested by Saudi Arabia’s police force after he contacted a friend in India asking him to post the video via Facebook. He was arrested for allegedly “spreading misinformation.” In the video, he is seen crying and very emotional. He speaks to the camera saying that he has been left without pay, and stripped of his work visa and passport so that he can’t leave Saudi Arabia. This is beyond troubling for him because his wife back home in India is very sick and his family needs his money, which is why he and so many other Indians are migrating to other countries to find work and a source of income.

    This story is important because it highlights the fact that Indian media usually fails to break stories such as this one in a quick and timely fashion. The only reason so many Indians know about this particular case is because Western media outlets have reported it first. Additionally, it highlights the extremeness of worker inequality, especially in countries were many migrant workers are forced to work in poor conditions for little compensation. In other words, it highlights a specific case of the “haves” and the “have nots” in today’s increasingly globalized world.

    Some political implications of this also come about. For one, this case and the fact that so many people now know about it, force the Indian government to take stories like this one into account. Traditionally, stories such as this one have been swept under the rug so to say, but because of the spread of social media, I think in the future, the Indian government will have to do a lot more negotiations with host countries such as Saudi Arabia so that migrant workers’ rights can be adequately secured.

    Its clear that the role of liberating technologies has played an important role in this specific case. As the article notes, its very hard for people like Abdul Sattar Makandar to file complaints about his treatment and lack of compensation for his hard work because of the lack of “private access to communication” and because “workers’ freedom of mobility during time off” is severely limited. But, because so many people like Abdul have access to mobile phones with video capabilities, and because so many of these migrant workers are aware of political activist organizations back in their home countries, Abdul like many other angry workers are able to voice their political and economical frustrations through video sharing platforms like Facebook. The power of a video camera is tremendous, and especially in this particular case. In such an emotionally driven video message, Abdul has been able to let many more people hear his case and why his rights have been clearly violated. To make matters worse, his whereabouts are unknown and he continues to be held captive by Saudi Arabia.

    Sam McGowan said:
    March 22, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    I found this story interesting because it highlights the major differences existing across the world in terms of prisons and prison conditions. Its clear that even highly-industrialized and rich countries like France have severe problems when it comes to prison conditions and overpopulation. Even in America we have huge problems including overpopulation and the fact that minorities are incarcerated much more than other groups.

    The political implications of civilian projects such as Prison Insider are sizable. For starters, they reveal the poor conditions that exist in prisons like those in Madagascar. Severe conditions include the rampant spread of diseases because rats and other insects thrive due to the poor sanitation and waste disposal. To make matters worse, overcrowding is commonplace and inmates are often times forced to sleep in shifts because there is simply no room. Because of projects like Prison Insider, families of those incarcerated can become accurately informed about the injustices there loved ones are facing. I think this could become a problem for the governments of countries such as Madagascar because as more people become informed, there is a greater chance for accountability to be had.

    Just a couple weeks ago, I was able to read an article from Vice News about Brazil’s prisons. Prisoners are crammed as if they were dogs into small metal cages. This article contained many graphic images highlighting the poor conditions and it the Vice reporters who put this story out were some of the first reporters ever to release the shocking imagery of what is actually going on in some of these places. In addition, this story had me thinking about the US college student from UVA who is currently being held in a North Korean labor camp. It seems the only time people really care about instances of prisoner mistreatment are when the prisoner in question is a citizen of the country where most of the people are from who are reading the story. I have experienced this firsthand, and have done some research about this UVA student’s case and how harsh the conditions are in North Korea.

    Its also clear that the role of technology is playing a big part in exposing the truth behind some of the worlds’ harshest prisons. If you look up North Korean prison camps on Google Maps, you can see at least 15 or so labor camps scattered about the country. This is about as far as one can get in terms of getting the full picture of prisons in North Korea, because the North Korea government takes up much efforts to stop the flow of information when it involves their own prisons.

    But given how hard it is to force a country to reform its prisons and make them suitable for prisoners, its no wonder Western governments are having such a difficult time in this process. However, if information highlighting the horrible conditions many prisoners around the world face can continue to come about and be heard by a wider range of audiences, I think many governments around the world will be forced to change how they treat their prisoners.

      Will Kauppila said:
      March 22, 2016 at 9:13 pm


      I agree with you about the positive impact that information technologies can have in exposing the terrible human rights violations that occur in many of the world’s prisons. There is a serious concern about the lack of transparency over the treatment and conditions of prisoners, not only in countries like North Korea where many innocent people die in brutal conditions but even in the US and other Western countries where prisoners are supposed to be treated humanely and fairly.
      However, the fact that many prisons are privately owned and contracted by governments, means that the state is not always held directly accountable for the treatment of incarcerated citizens, and in some senses has an incentive to create economic profit by keeping these prisons full.

    Will Kauppila said:
    March 22, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I thought this article on the Russian Government’s suppression of Twitter content, and by extent freedom of speech, was quite telling in the lengths that countries that have the ability to censor internet content with no repercussions will go to. Most concerning for me was that out of the almost 2,000 removals of content by the government, only SIX had actual legal legitimacy behind them. In this new space that has been created, powerful, centralized authoritarian Governments like Russia’s or Turkey’s have a tremendous and far-reaching power that has seemingly no checks or balances (Other than hackers and internet privacy activist groups) against their citizens’ cybersecurity. Most shocking and concerning to me regarding the privacy debate going forward was the fact that these requests for content removal (which are always approved as evidenced by the article) have increased 25 fold since 2014. What does this say about the level of oversight that might be seen in 5, 10 years? This is a very scary reality and one that I think we as US citizens are largely unaware of.

    Will Kauppila said:
    March 22, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Particularly after reading the article on Bahrain’s deployment of the FinFinisher technology in hacking protester Moosa Abd-Ali Ali’s facebook as a means of silencing him for class two weeks ago, this story about their even more horrific treatment of a prominent activist (she had over 100,000 twitter followers) shows the totalitarian nature of Bahrain’s regime. They will seemingly stop at nothing to silence calls for freedom and democracy, as evidenced in this story about the arrest of Zainab Al Khawaja and her infant child. I think this points to the authoritarian learning tactics of the Bahrainian regime that are highly focused on monitoring their citizens’ social media. Silencing the most active online critics by any means necessary is one of the most powerful tools they have their arsenal in maintaining control over their people. It seems that Bahrain’s strategy is very much based around going after liberation technologies, and slowing (as it is impossible to stop it all together) the spread of information about their human rights abuses to maintain power.

    Moustafa Bayoumy said:
    March 22, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    The article, “A shocking murder has Chinese wondering if education does enough for students’ mental health” was about a murder that took a place in China. A Son murdered his mother, who was a secondary school teacher. As mentioned in the article, this was a shock to the people of China because family is considered a core value in their lives. As a mother and a teacher, she was successful in raising her son to be academically successful. The result of this murder was a poster that said “fled for fear of being punished,” as the suspect is yet to be found. Although the academic community succeeded in producing a highly intelligent, many people on social media are blaming the education system for not paying enough attention to students’ mental and emotional needs. This produces passive aggression in people, as a psychologist Zu Zhihong mentioned in a comment on social media, because they are denied a reasonable and healthy way of expressing anger and hatred. As a result, they hold things in until they eventually express them “in a more destructive form.” After reading the article, I realized that parts of the Chinese academic system have many issues that affect the students’ mental health. An exam-oriented education is not enough when it comes to truly raising a child into adulthood. I agree with the commentators on the social media that the school system needs to provide nourishment for other aspects of a student’s life – such as mental and emotional support. However, I do not blame the system only. There are parts of this story that are still unknown. What is the murderer’s motive? Did the mother do something that drove him to this level? Perhaps even she is to blame for not development her son properly. As a school teacher who is part of this school system, maybe she was also too exam-oriented. Although his environment could have added to his act of murder, there must also be another motive, something naturally within him, that caused him to do this. Otherwise, China would be dealing with a lot more hateful crimes from all of its emotionally deprived students.

    Tim Lasusa said:
    March 22, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    This article was pretty interesting as it not only talks about a part of the world that I think we as American’s sometime overlook, but is also an area of the world that we dont talk about too much in this class as well. The fact that these protests are not being covered by the Peruvian media and not receiving much acknowledgment from the government I think is very shocking. Its pretty obvious that the Peruvian citizens know and are following about the incident on twitter and using the app to spread awareness, which highlights the power of social media. But the fact that the government and media aren’t doing much to acknowledge the protesters I think shows that the government is out of touch with the people they are leading. I find it curious as these incidents are gaining lots of traction with the people, but aren’t creating any change or making much movement other than destruction of property. Im not sure whether to call this a successful use of liberation technology, because despite the large amount of protesters, they are making little headway in change or media coverage. This case could be seen as a good example of how powerful the media is when it comes to actually creating change. Even if people do tweet and spread the word, if the media doesn’t acknowledge the call for change then it seems like the idea of liberation technology goes out the window and change does not happen.

    Moustafa Bayoumy said:
    March 22, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    “#WhereisBassel: Imprisoned Syrian Technologist Is Still Missing” discusses the case of Bassel Khartabil, a technologist who was arrested in 2012 on the first anniversary of the Syrian Revolution and disappeared from prison on October 4th, 2015. According to the article, Bassel was sentenced to imprisonment for “spying for an enemy State.” No evidence of this is provided in the article, and this is possibly just an excuse for the real reason which is to instill fear in the citizens of Syria in order to discourage freedom of expression especially via social media and the internet, which are the two main sources for such expressions in today’s society. Bassel’s disappearance did the exact opposite of suppress the people. The people are so angered from this that they created an outbreak on social media on March 19th all around the world. In my opinion, I think that this created a strong voice to send out the message “Where is Bassel” but this is not enough to resolving the issue. A strong voice is not enough without some form of action. May of the people who are asking about his location are experts in using the internet to their advantage. If possible and safe couldn’t they try to secretly hack into the prison’s database and find his file? I think action is needed to make a stronger statement that they want Bassel back.

Comments are closed.