Threats to the Open Net: August 19, 2011

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* Environmental protests in Dailian, China have been met with a swift increase in online censorship, following an apparent victory for protesters. Earlier this week, over 12,000 protestors organized in reaction to a near catastrophe at the Fujia Chemical Plant, where a storm threatened to breach the plant's seawall, releasing large quantities of the toxic chemical paraxylene. The protests had been successful, forcing Chinese officials to order that the plant be closed immediately. Chinese social media sites such as Sina Weibo and Renren are largely thought to have been the main sources of organizational capacity for the protests.

* San Francisco based Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) faced a showdown with the hacktivist group Anonymous this week following BART's decision to shut off cell service in an attempt to stem protests in its stations. The controversial move has led critics to draw parallels with Mubarak's decision to shut down Internet service in Egypt prior to his regimes collapse. Anonymous has reacted by hacking main BART sites and leaking large amounts of personal information of BART customers online.

* The UAE has announced plans to begin enforcing legislation targeted against "spreading rumours" via social media. Those found to be "spreading rumours" in this manner could now face up to 3 years in prison.