In many other parts of the world, the holiday season has officially begun. Thanksgiving was just yesterday in the US and Black Friday has become a global frenzy, reminding us that in less than a month, our close ones would better find something underneath their Christmas trees (on sale or not).
In spite of this global “cheerfulness”, however, digital freedom and online privacy are becoming more and more elusive, with anti-democratic measures being taken all around the globe.
Here is the news of the week in brief, brought to you by CyberGhost VPN, the always at-hand solution to bypass censorship or surveillance:
Facebook reportedly built a censorship tool to return to China
According to the NY Times, the social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas.
The social network giant has restricted content in other countries before, such as Pakistan, Russia and Turkey. China has not been on Facebook’s map since 2009 because of the government’s strict rules around censorship.
Speaking of China, on a funnier note…
Chinese websites have again blocked searches for “Fatty Kim the Third”, as many Chinese mockingly call North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with China’s foreign ministry saying it did not approve of ridiculing foreign leaders, according to reuters.com.
Google warns journalists & professors of potential hacks
Google is warning prominent US journalists and professors that nation-sponsored hackers have recently targeted their accounts, according to reports delivered in the past 24 hours over social media and quoted by arstehnica.com.
A Google spokesman declared that these messages may refer to hacking attempts that happened over the past month, since the company delays warnings to prevent those behind the attacks from learning researchers’ sources and methods for detecting the attacks.
Reddit CEO puts company’s credibility at stake
Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has admitted that he modified comments about him left on the site from supporters of Donald Trump.
Huffman said he changed mentions of him in some of the messages inside the site’s largest forum for the President-elect, but not the messages themselves.
Although Huffman assured users never to tamper with messages from users, this episode may have affected the site’s credibility.
Donald Trump’s choice for CIA director wants Snowden executed
As we mentioned in a previous article, dark times may be ahead on the online privacy front.
Trump recently announced Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA. In the past, Pompeo has referred to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as a “liar and a criminal,” who should be “given due process, and I think that the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.”
Speaking of Snowden, with the release of Oliver Stone’s homonymous movie, a “Pardon Snowden” campaign has been started, with no success however. When asked about this topic, President Obama replied: “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves, so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point.”
Cybersecurity measures in Thailand may increase online surveillance
Thailand’s military government is pushing ahead with several bills to tighten cybersecurity.
Apart from amending the controversial Computer Crime Act, which may have been used as a tool of legal intimidation, the government is also launching other laws, like the Cyber Security Act, which would allow authorities to wiretap phones and computers without a court warrant.