Threats to the Open Net: August 3, 2012

  • Tajikistan blocked a number of news websites and YouTube on Monday following deadly clashes last week between security forces and armed rebels in an eastern autonomous region of the Central Asian republic. Among the blocked websites were the Russian news portals,, and The website of Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency and Tajikistan’s Asia-Plus news agency were also blocked, as well as BBC’s website in Russian. The country’s Internet service provider, Telecomm Technology, told news outlets that they fulfilled a request from government authorities to block the websites.
  • Twitter ignited a controversy over its policies this week when it suspended—and later reinstated—the account of a British journalist based in Los Angeles who criticized NBC in a tweet for tape-delaying its broadcast of the 2012 Olympics in London. NBC admitted that it asked Twitter to suspend the account of Guy Adams, a reporter for The Independent, but some news sources reported that Twitter had actually tipped off the television company about Adams’ critical tweets in the first place. Twitter apologized for its actions.
  • The Washington Post reported last week that online phone service Skype, which was bought by Microsoft last year, is cooperating with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to them. Authorities have long complained that Skype’s encryption features makes tracking criminals online more difficult. Technical upgrades to Skype to address outage issues have also made it easier for that information to be passed on to law enforcement. One source told The Post that changes allowing police surveillance of online chats were made last year. Skype has been reticent to confirm whether it can allow wiretaps of its video and audio feeds.

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