Watch This Anti-Palm Oil Ad Banned in the UK

Palm oil gets used in plenty of consumer goods and processed foods, as a result the demand for palm oil increases every year. The problem with using palm oil is that most sources of the plant are from unsustainable farming practices. Indeed, the cultivation of palm oil greatly contributes to deforestation. Obviously this isn’t good.

When a UK grocery store wanted to advertise their line of palm-oil free products the government said no. Instead of just letting the ad sit on the shelf they posted it on YouTube for us all to see. The ad itself is based off of work done by Greenpeace and they have gathered over 670 thousand signatures to show the ad on TV. The Streisand effect strikes again.

Read more about palm oil and the campaign here.

Even Massive Multinationals Support Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is what allows the internet to be what it is, and without it the internet would be pretty much useless. The Trump administration is presently trying to eliminate net neutrality to protect the profits of a very small group of companies. It’s worth noting that the Obama administration also tried this but didn’t go ahead with it

Without net neutrality the internet will undoubtedly suck, for a look at what that will be like check out this article. Net neutrality is awful for individual freedom and it’s also quite awful for profits, which is why today many popular websites and services are speaking out. For example, Netflix will basically be banned for some people and thus will lose their subscriber base.

If you’re an American then you ought to call your local representatives and talk to anybody who will listen about this issue. Today is the day of action. The repeal of net neutrality is censorship under a different name.

Sites across the web will display alerts on their homepages showing “blocked,” “upgrade,” and “spinning wheel of death” pop-ups to demonstrate what the internet would look like without net neutrality, according to advocacy group Battle for the Net. But most of the pop-ups The Verge has seen have been simple banners or static text with links offering more information.

Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb have all placed banners at the top of their home pages, while Vimeo has an explainer video and graphics made available for download. Other websites, including Facebook and Amazon are participating, but haven’t yet disclosed what form their protests will take. Apple is not on the list of participants.

Read more.

Google Stops Censorship in China

Google has changed how it approaches its business in China due to China trying to spy on some gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. THey have removed censorship from their search engine so now you can search for “Tiananmen Square” in China and get the same results the rest of get.

It’s a good day for internet freedom in China.

We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make Google.cn the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

Read Google’s announcement here.

The Lennon Files

An historian has finally received the remaining FBI documents on John Lennon, that were kept secret for decades.  Jon Wiener obtained 10 pages detailing the intense scrutiny Lennon received from the FBI.  Lennon.jpg

One report describes how two prominent British leftists tried to persuade Lennon to finance “a left-wing bookshop and reading room in London”, but Lennon gave them no money.

Another page states that there was “no certain proof” that Lennon had provided money “for subversive purposes.”

Wiener told the L.A. Times, “Today, we can see that the national security claims that the FBI has been making for 25 years were absurd from the beginning.”

Wiener had originally asked for the documents in 1981, a year after Lennon was killed.  The FBI originally provided some files showing how closely monitored he was from 1971-1972.  The rest were not given, for reasons of national security.  In addition, the Freedom of Information Act was declared to not apply.

Wiener sued the U.S. government and received some of the documents in 1997. In 2004, a judge ordered the FBI to hand over the remaining 10 pages.

Psiphon Fights Censorship

Earlier this year we covered that Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto was creating some software called Psiphon that lets people bypass firewalls. Psiphone is designed to let people access sites that are blocked for censorship reasons like in China where there is a lot of online censorship.

“psiphon is a censorship circumvention solution that allows users to access blocked sites in countries where the Internet is censored. psiphon turns a regular home computer into a personal, encrypted server capable of retrieving and displaying web pages anywhere.”

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