The CSS Blog Network

Latin America’s Wired Activists Take on Crime

2011 Peace march in Mexico City. Image: Wikipedia.

Buenos Aires, 5 November 2013 (IRIN) – In Latin America, where violent crime rates are six times higher than in any other region and where most residents have reported distrust in the state’s ability to fight crime, a number of communities have taken to social media to boost security, say analysts.

“Violent crime in Latin America undermines the social fabric of communities [and poses] a major human security threat to populations who live in slum areas,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a US-based non-profit security policy group.

Violent crime has soared in the past decade with murder rates for Latin and Central America four times the global average in 2011, at 29 per 100,000 people, according to a 2013 UN Development Programme (UNDP) report.

In parallel, internet access in Latin America has multiplied thirteenfold in the past decade, providing communities with an alternative way to report crimes in near anonymity, share information on violence hotspots, mobilize community policing and organize protests calling for greater security. » More

Brazil’s Wired Protests

Image by Alexander Hugo Tártari / Flickr.

The mass demonstrations that convulsed Brazil in June and July 2013 are more than a raw display of people power; they confirm that we are living in a new era of digitally enhanced protest.

The storyline is by now well rehearsed. What started out as a modest protest by the little-known Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement)–a group calling for free public transport over the past decade–went viral. Only a few thousand members initially turned up in São Paulo to reject the equivalent of a $0.09 hike on bus fares and corrupt tendering processes for the issuance of transportation licenses.

When their protest was brutally put down by the military police, over a million people from more than 350 cities in Brazil and around the world took to the streets to march against all manner of grievances. The rapid spread of these demonstrations is the ultimate expression of open empowerment–the emboldening of millions of wired young people worldwide to press for change. » More

China’s “Surgical” Human Rights Crackdown

Internet Cafe in China. Image by Kai hendry/Flickr.

Two weeks ago China and the US conducted their annual human rights dialogue amid what the US reaffirmed afterward has been a renewed crackdown on policy activists under the Xi administration, the latest victims being anti-corruption campaigner and legal scholar, Xu Zhiyong, detention of whom began two weeks before the dialogue, and his petitioning defender, journalist Chen Min, whose detention began only the day after the dialog concluded. Last week an unprecedented one-minute “jailbreak” video went viral of Xu making a one-minute appeal from inside the jail to rally the grand jury of world public opinion against laying charges, shows breakdown inside the security apparatus, and can still be viewed inside China. China has responded that human rights aren’t being reduced.

The targets of these actions appear increasingly to be “mobilizers” and their vocal associates and families, while the underlying threat is the mushroomed population of microbloggers against whom an editorial in the People’s Daily made this accusation the week of the dialog uncoincidentally: “Every day microbloggers and their mentors in the same cause pass rumors, fabricate negative news about society”. These suggest that the Party hardliners are out to shut down China’s true online/wireless innovation/craze, the free cellphone Facebook-cum-Twitter-cum-videophone-cum-voicemail service known as Weixin (WeChat) 微信 (literally “micro message”) which uncannily, but with different tonal emphasis, is represented by another and well-known pair of Chinese characters 维新 meaning “reform,” “modernization.” » More

A Maligned Law to Protect the Philippines from Cybercrime

Photo: trick77/flickr

The majority of Filipino internet users and media groups opposed the passage of the Philippine Cybercrime Law because of provisions that potentially curtail media freedom and other civil liberties. But prior to the insertion of online libel and other last minute amendments, the bill was actually quietly supported by many people.

In fact, it remains popular among business groups, computer security experts, and advocates of safe cyberspace, even after the Supreme Court issued an order to suspend its implementation for the next 120 days.

The Department of Justice – the main agency in charge of implementing the law – insists that the measure is necessary to stop global cybercrimes: » More

Out of the Classroom and Onto the Web

Image by trucolorsfly/Flickr.

Image by trucolorsfly/Flickr.

The Internet and Web 2.0 have enabled students to gain greater and quicker access to ‘International Relations’ (IR) education. Books, courses and information on universities and scholarships are easily available online.

Professor Sanjoy Banerjee, who holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University and is currently Chair of International Relations at the San Francisco State University, said this when contacted over email:

“The main benefit of technological advances (in ICT), particularly the Internet, is that it makes research much quicker. With search engines like Google Scholar, one can find articles and books on topics far quicker and more efficiently than before. Of course, reading and understanding have not become any easier. Still, my students read much more widely, across more disciplines, than I did as a student.” » More

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