This is definitely the week for outlandish arrests and bizarre bans in technology and social media. Bloggers are getting arrested. Internet programs are getting banned. Students are being sentenced to jail for posting images on Facebook. Frustrated tweets are being taken seriously. Here, then, are this week's top five ridiculous tech blunders. After seeing this you'll be thankful for your freedom of speech.
The U.K. finds man guilty of tweeting
Paul Chambers was found guilty on Monday of "tweeting a message by means of a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to the Communications Act 2003." Chambers had met a woman on Twitter and was on his way to visit her in Northern Ireland. Torrential snow approached, and he feared that his local airport in Doncaster, U.K. would be snowed in, ruining his chances for love. Chambers proceeded to tweet his 600 followers out of frustration, saying, "Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"
The tweet, obviously posted out of frustration and not with malicious intent, was spotted by an off-duty airport manager, and Chambers was charged with a fine of $1,000 British pounds for tweeting, and now has a criminal record. Funnier, still, Chambers was bombarded with messages of support and offers to pay his fine--among them, tweets from Star Trek actor Simon Pegg, who went on a bit of a twitter rampage, offering, "What a fucking joke! What happened to 'motive'? Surely, what's meant as a joke only becomes felony when meant as felony. #twitterjoketrial"
Cuban writer sentenced to almost two years in prison for blogging
A 41-year-old writer in Cuba was arrested and sentenced to almost two years in prison for blogging. Dania García contributes to opposition websites Primavera Digital and CubaNet, and keeps a blog linked to a radical anti-Castro group based in Miami. Reporters Without Borders reiterated its appeal to the Cuban authorities to put an end to this latest crackdown on independent journalists. Her sentence was reduced to a fine of 300 pesos ($12 US).
Egypt bans Skype
Egypt's government has banned Skype --the software application that allows phone calls to be made via the Internet. The ban was announced in March, but went mostly unnoticed until this week. Egypt's mobile phone carriers are prohibited from hosting Skype, and the ban helps state-owned Telecom Egypt maintain and expand its monopoly on landline communication. It also serves to restrict young people and opposition activists from making free and harder-to-monitor phone calls by using Skype on their cell phones. The ban is a step towards preventing an Egyptian version of the Web 2.0 firestorm set off in Iran after the allegedly rigged victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
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Turkey sentences a university student to a year in jail for posting a caricature of mayor on Facebook
The 4th Magistrate Criminal Court in Eskişehir in North Western Turkey sentenced 22-year-old Erdem Büyük to imprisonment of 11 months because he posted a caricature of Büyükşehir Mayor Yilmaz Büyükerşen on Facebook. His lawyer criticized the mayor, reminding the jury that the mayor himself was a former journalist and caricaturist. Büyük was charged with "attacking personal rights" based on article 125 (Defamation) of the Turkish Criminal Code. Because he's still a student and has no record of conviction, the sentence was postponed for five years, in which Büyük may not commit the same crime again. Otherwise, the sentence will be executed.
Russia arrests an Islamic convert blogger
Russian Islamic convert Alexei Dudko was arrested for blogging. His blog mainly focused on the events in Ingushetia in the North Caucasus and general events in Russia. He kept his real name in strict secret throughout his blog. We now see why. His arrest came days after his name somehow surfaced in the Internet.