Threats to the Open Net: October 28, 2011

By: Qichen Zhang on 28 October 2011

Every week, the OpenNet Initiative provides a weekly news roundup (dubbed "Threats to the Open Net") in addition to our usual in-depth blog posts. If you would like to subscribe to the RSS feed for our newsreel, our entire blog, or our weekly roundup, you may do so; you are also free to republish the feed on your own site, with attribution to the OpenNet Initiative.

  • This week in London, Julian Assange announced that publishing on WikiLeaks would be suspended until further notice so that the company can focus on fundraising. The news comes in light of American companies such as Visa and Paypal creating a financial blockade against the site after it published classified documents about US diplomatic and military operations. Assange plans to file charges against them.
  • Researchers at Polytechnic Institute of New York University conducted a study finding that certain features on Skype allow the phone service to track users' location as well as their peer-to-peer activity. Security flaws in Skype could potentially compromise the personal information of millions of its users, as the researchers plan to present at a November conference. "A hacker anywhere in the world could easily track the whereabouts and file-sharing habits of a Skype user—from private citizens to celebrities and politicians—and use the information for purposes of stalking, blackmail, or fraud," says Keith Ross, professor of computer science at NYU-Poly.
  • Iranians have expressed concern over Google's impending changes to its RSS Reader product, specifically by removing its social features to make way for Google+. According to blogger Amir, Google Reader is available in the country using its secure HTTPS URL and served as a way for Iranians to read uncensored news. Tech Crunch notes that the RSS reader's overhaul may mark an end to this currently unblocked portal for a country who usually experiences heavy Internet filtering from the government.
  • Global Voices has reported about a document that reveals the Russian government's plans to amp up filtering in the country. The Russian Ministry of Justice recently published a proposal to spend approximately $115,000 in a content monitoring system. According to the report, the system will specifically target information written about the ministry, the president, and the prime minister.