Thai Activists Fight for Web Freedom; Google to Train Millions in Africa

Posted July 27th, 2017 at 1:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Today’s Tech Sightings:

FILE - A blocked website shows a notice from Thailand's Ministry of Digital Economy and Society with the message, 'This website contains content and information that is deemed inappropriate. It has been censored by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society,' Nov. 17, 2016, in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP)

FILE – A blocked website shows a notice saying ‘this website contains content and information that is deemed inappropriate. It has been censored by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society,’ Nov. 17, 2016, Bangkok, Thailand. (AP)

Thai Activists Work to Keep Open Web Amid Online Freedom Restrictions

Thailand’s military junta has been steadily pursuing people who allegedly have defamed the country’s king on Facebook and other online services. Writer Janjira Sombatpoonsiri notes that hundreds of websites were blocked in May as internet restrictions increased. But pro-democracy activists are fighting back with cyber activism, distributed denial of service attacks on government websites, and online petitions.

Why Facebook’s Free Internet Service Is Failing

Facebook is under fire again for its limited Free Basics internet service in developing countries. A report released by Global Voices, a citizen media and activist group, said the service is overflowing with Western content and also failing to meet local linguistic needs. The research, which covered Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan and Philippines, noted that Facebook’s service harvests huge amounts of data from users. Writer Olivia Solon quotes Global Voices’ advocacy director Ellery Biddle as saying Facebook is “building this little web that turns the user into a mostly passive consumer of mostly western corporate content. That’s digital colonialism.” Facebook said the report only looked at a few markets and that Free Basics is an open platform for content providers.

Google Hopes to Train 10 Million People in Africa in Online Skills

Google is expanding a 2016 initiative to train young people in Africa in digital skills, to include 10 million Africans over the next five years. The company also hopes to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. CEO Sundar Pichai said the effort aims to prepare these people for future jobs.

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Aida Akl
Aida Akl is a journalist working on VOA's English Webdesk. She has written on a wide range of topics, although her more recent contributions have focused on technology. She has covered both domestic and international events since the mid-1980s as a VOA reporter and international broadcaster.

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