Popular Video Game Players Unknown Battleground (PUGB) Simultaneously Banned from Two Countries In Less Than One Weeks Time (India & Iraq)

On April 17th 2019, the Committee on Culture, Information, Tourism, and Archaeology of Iraq’s Parliament unanimously voted to pass a new piece of legislation banning the popular video games known as Players Unknown Battleground, otherwise referred to as PUGB, as well as another online video game known as Fortnite. According to Iraq’s Culture Committee, the games are believed to be “inciting violence amoungst children” whilst also simultaneously “taking away from family time” – thus negatively impacting/threatening “social security, morals, civics and education” across Iraqi society. Believe it or not, PUBG has also previously been ruledHaram” (Forbidden) by Islamic authorities in the Kurdish controlled regions of Iraq last October, following the death and arrests of Kurdish citizens taking part in a role play of the game.

Similarly, less than a week before Iraq’s vote on April 17th, the Government of Nepal and India’s Western Gujarat also passed a vote to ban Players Unknown Battleground on April 11th 2019. Much in line with Iraq’s Parliament, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) stated that “we have ordered the ban on PUBG because it is addictive to children and teenagers with its violent content and negative impact on children.

Leaked Photo of Proposed Legislation from Iraq’s Parliament:

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However, it must be noted that while Parliament has voted unanimously to ban the two video games, the law has yet to be passed into law by Iraq’s Cabinet – which has yet to be fully established following last years elections. Meaning that, at least for the time being, gamers are still technically allowed to play the video game if they desire. Additionally, Iraq’s youth is now protesting the decision of their Government to ban these games, making memes and taking to social media to mock the priorities or ethics of the Iraqi Government for banning video games depicting War, whilst simultaneously engaging in actual War.

Meme Mocking Parliaments Priorities | Iraq Before & After Ban Goes Into Effect:

PUBG

Iraqi’s Pose for Picture In PUGB Role Play:

Four Iraqi women pose in PUBG clothes to protest ban (Twitter)

Russia Officially Passes Internet Isolation Bill, Policies/Construction To Begin by November 2019

This past Monday Russia’s Federation Council officially approved the passage of a new law designed to create a new national backup to the World Wide Web inside Russia’s borders. Code-named “Runet” and domestically named the “Internet Isolation Law,” the operation is designed to create a new set of national infrastructure allowing for Russia to stay connected to the internet in the event of a global shutdown or deliberate cut off from it – such as Russia has been threatened with throughout the very recent past.

For those of you whom might be unfamiliar, the law was first introduced in December 2018 and has quickly made its way through Parliament. From here, all that remains for the law to go into effect is a signature from Putin – which he is fully expected to do. As was reported by Russia Today on April 22nd 2019, the law is officially “expected to take effect in November” with an estimated budget size “of some $460 million” – construction said to begin shortly thereafter, estimated to run until at least 2022.

Learn More – Russia Aims To Create Backup To The World-Wide-Web, Create Its Own National Internet Infrastructure: https://roguemedia.co/2018/12/16/russia-aims-to-create-backup-to-the-world-wide-web-create-its-own-national-internet-infrastructure/

As was also reported by Russia Today a week before that, on April 16th 2019, Rusnet will establish “the creation of a national DNS system that stores all domain names and corresponding IP addresses, and would provide cryptographic data protection.” Additionally, it would “also restrict the transfer of data shared between Russian internet users to servers outside of the country.“It is also important to distinguish that the project aims to ensure the internet’s continuous operation inside Russia throughout the future, not to build a sovereign national internet like China has.

Moreover, despite its controversy, Russian lawmakers actually argue that the new law/project is not much different than a 2012 Executive Order signed by then President Obama, allowing the US Government to seize all electronic communications in the event of a national security emergency if need be. In many ways, Russia claims to have drafted this law after first being inspired to do so by Obama’s directive.

Learn More – Obama Executive Order “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions”: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/06/executive-order-assignment-national-security-and-emergency-preparedness-#.T_sYsRJrreM.twitter

View Copy of Russia’s New Law: http://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/608767-7

Browse Legislation:

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Court Rules Criminal Complaint Against UK Parliament for Arming Saudi Arabia In Yemen Civil War Can Move Forward

(HRW) – Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and RW UK intervened in a court case beginning today that is challenging the United Kingdom’s continued sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. The case is being heard by the Court of Appeal for three days starting on April 9, 2019.

Copy of Criminal Case Against UK: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/ngos_challenge_saudi_arms_sale.pdf

The landmark case, brought by the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), seeks to establish that the UK government is breaking its own arms export licensing criteria by continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, given the clear risk that the weapons would be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. The High Court in London dismissed the case in 2017, but the Campaign Against Arms Trade won the right to appeal, and the three groups, along with Oxfam, again received permission to intervene.

The UK government says it has very rigorous arms controls, yet weapons continue to be sold to Saudi Arabia despite considerable evidence of Saudi-led coalition abuses in Yemen,” said Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. “This case is a key opportunity to make sure that the UK rules on arms sales are being properly applied to Saudi Arabia.” The three organizations are intervening to address the meaning of the term “clear risk” of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, which governs when arms sales should not take place. They also intend to set out the importance for the UK government and other decision-makers to take into consideration research and reports on the abuses in the war in Yemen by the United Nations and by nongovernmental groups.

Since the coalition began its aerial campaign in Yemen in March 2015, the UK has licensed at least £4.7 billion (US$6.1 billion) worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch researchers have regularly visited Yemen and documented the use of weapons, including weapons made in the UK, in strikes that appeared to be unlawful. The UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Yemeni rights groups have repeatedly documented unlawful attacks by the coalition that have hit homes, markets, schools, and hospitals, and killed and wounded many civilians.

Since 2016, Human Rights Watch has called for all countries to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi-led coalition ends its unlawful attacks and credibly investigates those that have already occurred. A growing number of European countries have halted sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria.

The organizations are represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn, Jemima Stratford QC, Nikolaus Grubeck and Anthony Jones.

Browse Full Case:

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This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on April 9th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits, Tweets & Documents added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Iraqi Parliament Proposes Draconian New Cybercrime Laws Designed To Crackdown On Political & Religious Extremism Online

Similar in many ways to laws being put forth in Jordan, the Iraqi parliament is actively debating passing a new cyber crime bill into law aimed at cracking down on religious and political extremism online. However, as Amnesty International is now warning, as written, the proposed laws could begin criminalizing acts that would otherwise fall under freedom of expression, freedom of the press and free speech in general. Official called the “Law On Informational Technology,” the new law will give Iraqi authorities excessive powers to impose harsh sentences, including life imprisonment, for vaguely worded offences such as undermining the country’s “independence, peace and political, military security and economic interests.

According to Razaw Salihy, Iraq researcher at Amnesty International, “if passed, this draconian cybercrime law will be a devastating blow for freedom of expression in Iraq,” because “the vague and overly broad wording of the law means it could easily become a tool for repression in a country where the space for critical voices is already severely restricted.” As a result, Amnesty International and 9 other human rights and technical organizations such as Access NowHuman Rights Watch, International Press Institute, Iraq Journalists Right Defence Association (IJRDA), Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM), Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR), MENA Rights Group, PEN International and PEN Iraq have each singed an open letter to the Iraqi Parliament asking them to abandon the law before it moves ahead any further.

Read or Download Full Open Letter: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1499442019ENGLISH.pdf

Full Text – Law on Information Technology Crimes:

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Copy of Open Letter 03/01/2019:

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UK Parliament Releases 8th & Final Report Into Fake News Interference

Last week the United Kingdom’s Parliament released their 8th and final report in conclusion of their two year long investigation into international “fake news” programs, providing unique insight into how UK government researchers believe fake news and other propaganda programs like them may have manipulated society, culture, government agencies, elections and/or businesses practices worldwide between 2017 and 2019. Produced by the House of Commons under the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee and officially entitled “Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Final Report,” the 111 page report specifies a number of changes that researchers believe the UK Government needs to make to crack down on future abuses, as well as a set of guidelines for legislators to follow to safeguard/protect future elections.

Perhaps most notably, as least here in the United States, was the UK’s chastising of Facebook for what they deemed to be blatant violations of data privacy and anti-monopoly laws. Interestingly enough, these criticism as similar to the ones Mark Zuckerberg faced during his testimony in front of US Congress April 2018. Also somewhat ironically, the UK’s report on the manipulation of fake news programs comes in the midst of a series of international leaks implicating as secret Government agency known as the Institute for Statecraft, funded exclusively to create and disseminate fake news and other propaganda in countries all around the world.

Download Final Report 2019: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/1791/1791.pdf

Parliament Report Calls For:

  • Compulsory Code of Ethics for tech companies overseen by independent regulator
  • Regulator given powers to launch legal action against companies breaching code
  • Government to reform current electoral communications laws and rules on overseas involvement in UK elections
  • Social media companies obliged to take down known sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation

Further Finding That:

  • Electoral law ‘not fit for purpose’
  • Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws

Browse Through Full Report:

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UK Parliament Publishes Seized Facebook Documents from Cambridge Analytica Scandal/Investigation

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Yesterday, December 5th 2018, U.K. lawmaker Damian Collins released the entire trove of Facebook documents seized as a result of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal and subsequent investigation, 250 pages in total. Among other things, the documents are said to detail Facebook‘s strategy/tactics when competing with other Apps or social platforms online, as well as how the company was known to White-list or protect the data from high paying companies/customers, whilst simultaneously exposing/exploiting the data of others.

Despite months of investigation, UK’s Parliament maintains that they have not been getting “straight answers” from Mark Zuckerberg or his company, which is why the decided to release the documents to the public this week – to step up public pressure on the company. Perhaps more importantly, the documents were also released as to give US authorities a chance to look over the information for themselves, especially considering that tens of millions of American voters were the ones implicated in the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data breach. If US authorities deem necessary, Facebook could face serious fines from the Federal Trade Commission in the near future- though that still remains to be seen.

For now, you have equal opportunity to view the documents in live time just as our own Government does – and honestly, how rare of an opportunity is that? This is why, along with UK’s Parliament, so too is Rogue Media Labs publishing the documents.

Download The Documents for Yourself: https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/culture-media-and-sport/Note-by-Chair-and-selected-documents-ordered-from-Six4Three.pdf

Browse Through The Full Release:

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German Parliament & Military Compromised by Spear Phishing Campaign

According to multiple reports coming out of Germany this week, on November 14th 2018, several members of Germany’s parliament fell victim to a spear phishing campaign, as well did Bundeswehr, Germany’s civilian military wing, and several of the countries international embassies. Reportedly, using a hyperlink disguised as a message from the United Nations, Russian state actors were able to secretly install malware on the computers of any victims whom clicked on it – granting the hackers remote access to their devices.

More than two weeks later now, all said and done, malware samples have been recovered in at least 25 state owned computers across Germany, and it’s now confirmed that 16 members of Parliament had their personal email inbox’s/outbox’s stolen/cloned. According to a press release from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BFV), German authorities are “highly confident” that have successfully been able to trace the attack back to a Russian Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) going by the name of “Snake” or “Turla,” also known to have carried out extensive attacks on Germany’s internet infrastructure in the past – most notably during the months leading up the 2016 Berlin State elections. With that said however, as was reported by The Moscow Times on November 30th 2018, “Russia has repeatedly denied that it is involved in cyber attacks on German institutions.

All said, approximately 16 gigabytes of data was successfully downloaded and exported to 9 different servers across the world, all believed to belong to the Kremlin or State actors operating on their behalf. While the contents of Microsoft Outlook email inboxes was the primary target of the hack, further investigation into the incident has revealed that hackers were also able to obtain countless Microsoft documents tied/attached to the accounts. With that said however, even German investigators report that “it is impossible to know exactly what was stolen,” ominously adding that “only the parliamentarians know what they wrote in their emails. They and the hackers.