North Korea is the second most-censored nation on earth, according to a new ranking by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
For anyone that knows North Korea or has been paying attention to press freedom studies and rankings, the news hardly comes as a surprise.
The government has complete control over the news media, which is limited to a handful of outlets that all report and reflect the official viewpoint. More >
North Korea has begun blocking access to Twitter and Facebook on domestic Internet connections offered to foreigners, according to a report last week.
If correct, the move is apparently the first active blocking of Internet access by the North Korean government and comes at a time when it appears to be slowly tightening the screws on outflow of information via foreigners and tourists.
North Korea has banned the use of satellite Internet connections and WiFi networks by foreign embassies and international organizations unless they get government approval.
The switch, which came in mid August, gives credibility to an earlier report that unencrypted wireless networks at embassies were being used by North Korean citizens to gain uncensored access to the Internet.
Foreign missions and aid agencies were notified of the change in policy on August 20 in a communique from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the full text of which was published on Monday by NK News. More >
South Korea’s top court has upheld the acquittal of a free-speech activist for retweeting North Korean tweets, according to several local media reports.
Park Jung-geun, a Seoul-based photographer, was arrested under the country’s anti-communist National Security Law for a series of tweets posted in late 2010 and early 2011. They included retweets from Uriminzokkiri, a China-based website with close links to the regime in Pyongyang, and some in which Park had substituted his own face in revolutionary imagery (see below).
A hackathon that aimed to find new ways to get information in, out and around North Korea took place over the weekend in San Francisco. The event, called “Hack North Korea,” was organized by New York-based charity Human Rights Foundation and brought together programmers, human rights campaigners and defectors.
Several teams spent the weekend working on ideas that would enable digital information to be concealed, hidden or otherwise transmitted without raising the suspicion of authorities. The ideas ran from the low-tech, using a catapult to fling things across the Yalu River that divides North Korea and China, to the high-tech, involving satellites, stenography and information hidden so a random check wouldn’t reveal it.
North Korea’s state-run news agency issued a sharp criticism over the weekend of U.S. funding of technology projects that attack censorship.
The commentary, published on Saturday, points to dissatisfaction among the North Korean elite with U.S. funding of projects that enable the free flow of information and bypass Internet censorship.
It comes as U.S. State Dept.’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) is evaluating proposals for its latest round of funding aimed at human rights and democracy in North Korea. The DRL is offering up to $350,000 to organizations for projects targeted at the DPRK.
Three of North Korea’s state security and censorship organizations have been called out by Reporters Without Borders in the organization’s latest ranking of “Enemies of the Internet.”
The report was published on Wednesday, which RSF and Amnesty International have named world day against cyber censorship.
The three organizations named by RSF are the Central Scientific and Technological Information Agency, which runs the domestic intranet system, Group 109, which attempts to police distribution of illegal foreign content, and Bureau 27, which monitors cell phones and radio broadcasts.
RSF calls Group 109 “censorship’s elite force” and draws on testimony provided to the United Nations that claims the group “regularly herds people into stadiums where they are made to observe those caught red-handed who are then sent to prison camps to deter others from obtaining illegal content.” More >