Archive for January, 2011

CRTC to Media: It is OK to Lie and Mislead

I wish that title is not true or is just an exaggeration. But it is not. CRTC have changed the law prohibiting false and misleading news by adding the phrase

that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.

With that phrase added in, that means it is now OK to publish or broadcast false and misleading news as long as nobody gets injured. So false advertising that would make you lose money are OK since it won’t endanger lives, health or safety. This head scratching move come after CRTC allows major carrier to start charging $2/GB. Bell and Rogers are the main beneficiary of this move since they control the internet backbone. Bell also owns CTV. With the election looming, CRTC’s consent for the broadcasting of false and misleading news would be a big disservice to the voter.

My previous blog related to this subject:

Canadian Inundate Internet to Express Anger at CRTC’s Ruling

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D-Day for Egypt

Tomorrow could become a day that will forever be in Egypt’s history book. With a goal of a million people making their way to the Presidential Palace, people will likely push their way into the palace unless Mubarak step down. If there are indeed a million people there, no forces will be able to stop the advance toward the palace. Currently, the government is said to have stopped trains and blocked highways in an attempt to stop people from flowing into Cairo.

People are unlikely to be satisfied with the newly appointed Vice President Suleiman (aka Soliman) taking over. Egyptian’s tweet claim Suleiman is in charge of torture in Egypt. Amnesty International claim that:

Suleiman was the Egyptian conduit for the US extraordinary rendition flights closely linked to torture. Many of those flights took off from an airport in Johnston County, NC (Huffington Post Jan 31, 2011)

Israel have thrown their support behind Mubarak, asking U.S. and Europe to tone down their criticism of Mubarak and warning that Egypt could become like Iran. Egyptians revolution are led by youth not aligned with religious organization or political parties. It is unthinkable that the youth who now feel empowered would standby and allow religious fundamentalist to take over power and take their country backwards.

Wikileaks cable released show that as far back as 2005, Suleiman was already considered a likely successor to Mubarak.

Kudos to Google for launching speak-to-tweet. Allowing Egyptians to tweet by phone.  (Speak2Tweet)

A human rights activist interviewed by Al Jazeera claim that Tahrir Square have never been this clean. She complimented people volunteering and cleaning up the square.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Dan Nolan have been released but his camera, laptop and phone have been sequestered.  (Dan Nolan Tweet)

Egypt’s last internet service provider Noor Group have now been shutdown. Land line might be the only form of communication tomorrow. Cellphone is also going to be shutdown before tomorrow’s march. Leah McElrath from Cairo tweet that only DNS services are being taken down. So people can still tweet through IP address

Youtube seems to be slow tonight.

(source: Selintellect)

More protest pics here >> The Egypt Protest

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How to Ensure Post-Revolution Success

Some pundits argue that after the revolution things will be just as bad. It will just be replaced with another bad leadership. While I agree that there is a big chance that there will be a leadership vacuum or power struggle hampering any progress, I disagree that it is a given. I have personally witnessed how jubilation could give way to realization that there is no miracle worker to fix so many ills from years of abuses under dictatorship. Then you get same old politicians carrying on their corrupt ways. But let history be our lessons.

To ensure success beyond revolution stage, the spirit of the protest should be carried on. It is nice to see people of all income level and different background all coming together and helping each other. People with breads offering them freely to other people. People offering water and looking after those who have fallen ill at the protest. Christian and Muslim helping each other in contrast to extremist organization bombing Christian Church trying to stoke the primitive instinct in human – blind hatred and ethnic division. Those who hold such primitive views should not be given a place in the government. Those who like to stoke hatred and violence should be shunned.I am continually amazed at the perseverance of the Egyptian people in overcoming everything Mubarak throws at them. There is a sudden mysterious disappearance of all police officers followed by what seems to be organized chaos of looting and violence. The people were quick to react, forming neighborhood watch. They then exposed the true identity of the looters, who possess I.D. of the much hated interior ministry. I guess you can call that an epic fail on Mubarak’s part.

What is so positive about Tunisia and Egypt is people are not easily fooled. Tunisia’s president went into exile but left his man in charged. Tunisian will have none of that and continued to protest. Both country saw youth spontaneously organizing using social network. The established opposition played catchup afterward. It should stay that way and they should not now possess majority of powers just because they have an established organization in place.

There are already different types of democratic form of government in place. It does not mean the new democracies should just adopt a system from one of the existing one. Two main ingredients will be essential to a successful post-revolution system of democratic government, which will preserve what the people fought for. Those two are:

1. A system of government with checks and balances that does not necessitate having a demarcation line of pitting one party against the other. What end up happening is endless grab for power and undermining one another. Instead we need a democratic government based on collaboration and compromise. Each representative acting as real spokesperson and leader of his local constituents. His/Her loyalty is to the local people he/she is representing. The technology is there also to establish a system of Open Government. Where NO government’s transaction and records (except for few really justifiable one) should be behind closed door and out of reach and sight of the people. Government that will introduced other forms of authoritarianism (including religious authoritarianism) should be shut out.

2. The second important ingredient for success is voter’s education. As a case study, let’s look at Philippines. After the people power, a housewife – wife of a promising assassinated opposition leader – was forced into the centre stage. She became the President. In a system that have become so corrupted from 20 years of dictatorship, she alone stand as incorruptible. Even former rebels and opposition who have now been elected to government offices have also become corrupted. Police and military remains incompetent and corrupt. Local government officials and governor still act like warlords assassinating with impunity any possible contender. And yet people still easily get sweet talked and bought (a lot of cases financially) into voting for them comes election time. Even in countries with long tradition of democracy, people are left feeling helpless and forced to choose from “the lesser of evils”. They are also often tempted with pork barrel in times of election.

So for voter education, a curriculum could be added to the senior secondary level right before the voting age. It would teach voter how to detect frauds and how to think critically and independently. Not jumping to conclusion and easily believing gossips. Not to get caught up in emotion without thinking rationally. Not to let emotions, specifically hate and fear, dictate and influence their decisions. To learn to reject incitement of division, hate and violence. And with the assistance of Open Government system, learn to detect corruption, conflict of interest, inefficiency unworthy of high standard of public office, and deceptive practices such as taking things out of context and spreading misleading information.

With those two ingredients in place, they will have a better democracy that will surpass even the long established democratic institutions.

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A Music Video Montage of Egyptian Revolution Thus Far

h/t Hayday12 at

The song is from Thirteen Senses called “Into The Fire” (Lyrics)

Quote worth repeating:

We will not be silenced, whether you’re a Christian, whether your’re a Muslim, whether you’re an atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights, and we will have our rights, one way or the other! We will never be silenced!

source: Geminitactic from Yfrog



Egypt Provide Demo of Lieberman “Kill Switch”

When CNET reported on Monday (January 24th) that Lieberman has re-introduced an internet “kill switch” type bill – which would provide a president the power to shutdown the internet – I wondered what type of situation do they envision necessitating such drastic action. This bill would give Obama or any President a dictatorial like power and allow them to bypass the court. Egypt have provided a demonstration of how that can be done and for what purpose. We can argue that we have a Democratic government and the situation in Egypt is unlikely to occur here. However, looking at Joe Lieberman track record, it should cause us to pause and reflect on how this power could easily be abused. Lieberman used his position as chairman of Homeland Security to pressure Amazon, a private company, to take extra-judicial action against a whistleblowing site. This was done without proving guilt or citing what crime Wikileaks is being accused of. Isn’t due process the foundation of democracy and what set us apart from Authoritarianism? It is not hard to imagine what people like Joe Lieberman could do, or how little excuse they would need, to use a law that would allow them to bypass the court. All in an effort to stifle dissenting view, using national security as an excuse.

Retraction: Ok I’ve been chided by fellow blogger about putting Obama ‘s name in the title. Here’s my response.

OK, I’ve renamed the title to remove reference to Obama. If you search google for Obama kill switch, you’ll get all the different media outlet calling it as such. My initial read on the article was this bill was introduced before and involved a Democrat Senator. Obama have also created cybersecurity coordinator and wanted to craft a cybersecurity incident response. Although the Lieberman bill and a joint Republican-Democrat bill before that seems to came out of Obama’s voicing intent to create such response, I decided to remove his name on the title since I can’t find an article where he directly endorses the bill. So I’ll leave it at that.

Thanks for your comments.

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This Revolution Will Not Be Televised; Video of Man Shot in Egypt

Associated Press have released a video of a man who was shot while moving away. [see video >>here<<]

Internet and phone lines have reportedly been blocked. One blog shows graph that illustrate the simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks. People are resorting to Ham radio to organize. One poster at Twitter pointed out that aside from Truck, Yacht and Boat also have Ham radio. The radio waves in Egypt are said to be packed right now. Based on Tweet accounts of the current situation, people are fearful that government is going to crack down violently tomorrow.  There’s unconfirmed (Tweeted) report of police setting car on fire. Also pouring petrol on planned rally sites. There’s fear that the government is going to instigate violence to justify cracking down by force.

Wikileak announced that they will soon post several cables from Egypt.

Huffington Post reporting that “protesters” in mask are firebombing police station. When people are in mask it’s hard to know if they are real protester or instigator. Even in Quebec Summit of Americas, police were accused of being instigators. They were caught dressed as Anarchist with rock in their hands. This might turn out to be a violent day in Egypt. That is unfortunate. Hopefully there will be large enough number of people to overcome the thugs. And hopefully protesters will be unfazed.

U.S. Vice President meanwhile told PBS that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is not a dictator and should not step down.

Al Jazeera was criticized earlier for not reporting on Egypt. I am not sure about the Arabic version of Al Jazeera, but the English version of Al Jazeera seems to be running as if it is business as usual and there is no revolution going on. For a network known for provocative reporting, they seem pretty tame this time with just a few seconds or a minute mention of Egypt’s protest. Al Jazeera is funded by Qatari government. Which could lead some to question whether Qatar is fearful that other Arabs, including those in Qatar, will be inspired to revolt if they see what is happening in Egypt. Egyptian television is said to be showing cartoon shows and is not reporting about the protest (no surprise there).

You can follow the development through Twitter’s hashtag #Jan25

Guardian is also providing latest update. [Protests in Egypt and unrest in Middle East – as it happened]

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Canadian Inundate Internet to Express Anger at CRTC’s Ruling

Canadians were busy posting on the internet board and blogs today to express anger at CRTC’s ruling to maintain Usage Based Billing (UBB). The common sentiment is this is a step backward, would stifle innovation and is a case of CRTC failing the consumer again and being too pro major carrier. Also that it is anti-competitive and would make Canada a laughing-stock.

Some Canadians are venting their frustration through youtube.

My other blog post related to the topic:

Breaking the Net/Cell Carrier Duopoly, Plus Other Tips

A True Net Neutrality for the Advancement of Democracy

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Egypt’s Revolution Powered by The Internet

Egyptians are coming out in large numbers to demand that long time Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down. Inspired by the quick revolution in Tunisia, which was organized via the internet (following Wikileak’s revelation), people are using Twitter, Youtube, and Vimeo to spread the news. It is being reported that Twitter have been blocked (confirmed by Twitter). But people are getting around it by using proxy and anonymizer like Tor.There’s also difficulty communicating by phone. There’s also been power outages that people are speculating is an attempt to prevent them from recharging their cellphone and computers.

Hillary Clinton is reported to have reassured the media that Egypt’s leadership is stable.


Some video so far:

Video posted at Facebook: Police in Armored Carrier Firing Tear Gas

More update soon. Meanwhile you can follow the development through Twitter’s Egypt channel.

Update quickie:

Al Jazeera criticized for lack of coverage on Egypt’s revolution. (Al Jazeera AWOL – The Atlantic, Angry Arab News blog)

Peaceful protest earlier with chant of  “No to torture! No to corruption!” and “Egyptians say ‘Leave, Mubarak!'”. By 3:30 pm as protesters converge on downtown Cairo’s Tahrir square, battle broke out with riot police (The Independent).

Associated Press reported that three people were killed, including two protesters in Suez and a police officer who was hit in the head by a rock in Cairo. Crowd reported to have thrown a tear gas back at the police. (Times)

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A True Net Neutrality for the Advancement of Democracy

What is a true net neutrality? A true net neutrality means the internet is free from interference and censorship by any entity whether it is the government, corporations or individuals. It also means people have equal access to information and communication.

As Nelson Mandela have said:

Eliminating the distinction between the information-rich and information-poor is (also) critical to eliminating economic and other inequalities.

As Tunisia have demonstrated, the internet is a potent tool for the advancement of democracy.

I added the word “true” because an authoritarian regime could divert the real meaning of net neutrality by claiming they are monitoring internet content to enforce net neutrality. That is not true net neutrality. Internet providers are capable of dealing with disruptive user on their own. There is due process in place for dealing with criminals whether it is offline or online. Individual user is also capable of monitoring their own connection and detect any sign of inexplicable slow down. Information about the load on a network is something that can be made available to everyone. However, the content should NOT be monitored and censored. Protecting the kids and monitoring their online activity are their parents responsibility. Using kids as excuse to censor the internet is not acceptable. Controlling speed and lowering bandwidth caps to give the carrier an advantage over its competitor is anti-competitive and should simply not be allowed.

Here is a video of a panel discussion that deals with the importance of internet in a democratic society. A bit long but it is entertaining and informative at the same time. Listen to it on your phone or portable player during your commute or while doing other chores. The forum was hosted by Churchill Club (last Wednesday, January 19th), a Silicon Valley business and technology forum.

One notable quote from the forum:

The difference between a leaker and a spy. A leaker is a spy who shares the information with everyone. A spy is more selective with whom they share the leak (right?). You are only leaking it to RUSSIA! (audience laughter). If you leak it to Russia AND everyone else at the same time, you are a leaker not a spy. But of course everybody’s getting it. But the difference is motive. The spy has the motive to only help Russia, the leaker may have other motives.

That specific speaker also mentioned earlier about the difference between motives, which matters a lot in criminal law. It could be to inform the public or to to bring down a government you hate.

Another quotable quotes from another speaker:

The existence of a free and transparent internet has actually been one of the most democratic things that have come across in the human history. The fact that the barrier to entry, that somebody with a cellphone in (you know) Alabama or Zimbabwe has access to the internet, this is one of the most profound leveling events in human history. And if we don’t protect that thing that we have built so hard to cherish, we have failed our children. The freedom of the press should not be restricted to the New York Times.  But has to include Wikileaks. If we don’t fight that, we are giving up 200 years of the rights that we have fought to protect for the freedom of the press.

The speaker also asked rhetorically with regards to U.S. subpoena against twitter – which could be interpreted as asking for IP addresses of all Wikileaks reader :

Do you think the U.S. government should know the IP addresses of the 600,000 people who follow Wikileaks? I find that a terrifying infringement on the right to association.

He also noted that criticism of the government is at the core of the first amendment.

Some related news arising out of the discussion in that forum

Facebook Fights U.S. Pressure Over WikiLeaks

ComputerWorld – Ellsberg: With Wikileaks, Google, Facebook must take a stand

other links to checkout:

Wikileaks Central – News

Breaking the Net/Cell Carrier Duopoly, Plus Other Tips (My previous blog related to net neutrality)

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Did Facebook took down Toronto’s Wikileak Rally Page?

Update January 22, 2011: Facebook page for the rally was accidentally removed while an attendee with admin privilege was trying to remove the event from their personal list.

Did Facebook took down Toronto’s Wikileak Rally page? is no longer accessible as of this time.

The rally is being dubbed as Freedom of Information Rally and was set to be held at Yonge and Dundas Square this Saturday, January 22 at 12 p.m.

I’ll update this page once I hear an update or reason why Facebook took down the site.

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