Posts tagged “Geolocation”

Youtube & Tibet



Since all of Youtube is currently blocked in China, I wondered if Youtube might start tagging videos of the protests in Tibet in order to have Youtube unblocked with the specific videos being blocked for users in China. But after running a few (definitely not comprehensive) Tibet related search terms all I found so far was that it appears that BBC videos are blocked for users in Great Britain:

GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEkyrDdepBc
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4637Ez3-as
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg8AYs56RAY
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GzyfTOACDs
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ew8oLFVVcc
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7R3J0NvfgE
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLg4aMDadYo
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4E1Rsaq3yc
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS_jvYTEhkQ
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLy6DkrjyHg
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUcIxq4hBuc
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1CTaq9sQM0
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dviGSn5Wq0s
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T3LwA2mA4I
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8-eBuGsh-4
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS1FOSQCA3k
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR_NNGpWku4
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEQmJBINYj4
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geJ9lRhSRdQ
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwRIzNyArRY
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPIKkf5w9TY
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NB91D-Da50
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUaX3Mw8qvg
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaJQip6bt7w
GB,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7lDTuBhb2Y

YouTube,Geolocation & China



After reading this great post on the ONI blog, did a bit of testing myself. As Youtomb discovered There is a tag available through the YouTube API the indicates the country (or countries in some cases) to which YouTube will restrict access to the video. These videos are not (necessarily) blocked by the country itself, but by Youtube.

<media :restriction type=”country” relationship=”deny”>
TH
</media>

I’ve updated blockpage.com and started a new album for geolocation blockpages. In this case there is a pink line near the top which states “This video is not available in your country.”

As ONI and Youtomb note, there a variety of videos that have this tag. I’ve been able to confirm that the same behavior reported from Thailand occurs when flagged video as accessed from Germany and France. One of the videos about Thailand is marked:

“PL TH DE FR”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU9iT3vEdWo”

I checked it from Thailand, Germany and France all experienced the same blocking behaviour. Here’s what I’ve found blocked so far based on the info in the ONI blog:

“TH”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1USDXkaJFM”
“TH”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4RX2cIDa4E”
“PL TH DE FR”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU9iT3vEdWo”
“TH”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVbUx4TPkVs”
“TH”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70m1ncXQjXA”
“TH”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dFjO4ZJNDE”
“PF TF YT GP DE RE FR GF MQ PM PL”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt2Zsr9bwlE”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Roy0BFaUtc”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ffw4-OMmchY”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzz9rZwFENA”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1oBcPtH5aU”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liwgfyc1Im4″
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeXZY4eVLlo”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnIuu73X8es”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmlDqPtHV-E”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPg1yvj7thA”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0D_oGgAGmI”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53QwPeImmAA”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XThGzqBYrh0″
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FnwTj0OuFE”
“CN”,”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdEULgZYxK8″

I’ve been unable to check out China because China is currently blocking all of Youtube. In short the 3 YouTube IP’s are blocked and “www.youtube.com” has been added as a “keyword”.

Although the detailed reference guide for the API does not contain information about the blocking tag, another section of the API has some information about the restrictions:

The restriction parameter identifies the IP address that should be used to filter videos that can only be played in specific countries. By default, the API filters out videos that cannot be played in the country from which you send API requests. This restriction is based on your client application’s IP address.

To request videos playable from a specific computer, include the restriction parameter in your request and set the parameter value to the IP address of the computer where the videos will be played – e.g. restriction=255.255.255.255.

To request videos that are playable in a specific country, include the restriction parameter in your request and set the parameter value to the ISO 3166 two-letter country code of the country where the videos will be played – e.g. restriction=DE.

Excluding Iran



A few months ago The Register published a story which noted that Yahoo! (png) and Microsoft (png) had removed Iran as an option in their country lists used when signing up for an account. (On a separate but interesting note Yahoo! has an option for “Iraq-Saudi Arabia Neutral Zone”.) Google still has Iran as an option for creating accounts, but does block GoogleEarth downloads from users in Iran (png).

Another interesting note in the article concerns Skype:

On 30 October, the Tehran correspondent of Netherlands newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported (in Dutch) that his paid Skype account had been cancelled. An email from the VoIP outfit said its financial services provider had been forced to stop taking payments from Iran.

This story reminded me of when Sun started to block downloads of Java using geolocation technology to users in Iran. Back in 2004/2005 Sun was explicit about it and used notices saying “The Java(tm) cannot be downloaded to your machine. You are located in an embargoed country.” (Some old screen shots here (automatic installer) and here (direct manual download).) Sun has now replaced the earlier messages with a generic “Your download transaction cannot be approved. Contact Customer Service.” (png)

I concur with The Register:

Whether Yahoo! and Microsoft’s apparent action is the result of an over-zealous compliance lawyer or not, the effect on US interests of denying ordinary Iranians access to free international communications is questionable at best.

It is ironic that excluding Iranians from using such services is exactly what the Iranian government is criticized for. Take the case of flickr, the photo-sharing service which has been bought by Yahoo!, since it is often blocked by Iranian ISP’s, Iranians need to use censorship circumvention methods to access the service, but now they are not permitted to sign up for a flickr account (they can, of course, circumvent this restriction too).

I’m not a lawyer, so I’m just putting this out here to inspire an lawyers who may wish to explore this but it seems to me that in some cases it may have to do with the presence of encryption technology which would fall under the U.S. export controls on encryption rather than under the U.S. embargo on Iran. In terms of the provision of Internet services there is a clear exception for “information”:

The receipt or transmission of postal, telegraphic, telephonic or other personal communications, which does not involve the transfer of anything of value, between the United States and Iran is authorized. The exportation from the United States to Iran of information and informational materials, whether commercial or otherwise, regardless of format or medium of transmission, and any transaction incident to such exportation is authorized.

But in “Guidance on Internet Connectivity (Iran)” there is some confusing statements. The document is about the provision of “Internet access” also referred to as “Internet connectivity services” but begins to start using the word “service” on its own in relation to “goods, technology or software.” However, one can be exempt “provided that the main purpose is to benefit the people of Iran through increased access to information.”

In the end it is Iranian citizens who are left out, unable to use popular tools and services increase our ability to communicate, create and express ourselves online, not because the Iranian government is censoring them but because the of the U.S. embargo.

NY Times Geolocation Filtering



The NY Times (mirror) recently restricted access to articles on the recent terrorism case in Britain for users in the UK. Although users could see the headline if the link was clicked the following message was shown:

“On advice of legal counsel, this article is unavailable to readers of nytimes.com in Britain,” is the message they would have seen. “This arises from the requirement in British law that prohibits publication of prejudicial information about the defendants prior to trial.”

Filtering content by geographic location is nothing new and its use is now becoming widespread.

Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University, said restricting information fit with trends across the Internet. “There’s a been a sense that technology can create a form of geographic zoning on the Internet for many years now — that they might not be 100 percent effective, but effective enough,” Mr. Zittrain said. “And there’s even a sense that international courts might be willing to take into account these efforts.

PBS Geolocation



Ron Deibert discovered that PBS.org is restricting access to some of their programs by geolocation filtering.

Generally, geographically-targeted filtering uses geolocation technology to determine an Internet user’s geographic origin by looking up the requesting users’ numerical Internet protocol (IP) address in databases that associate IP addresses with particular countries.

When users access the programs from locations other than th USA, in this case Canada, an error pop-up occurs:

We’re sorry, due to rights restrictions this program is only available for online viewing in the United States, its territories, possessions, and commonwealths. You appear to be connected to the Internet from outside these areas.

(Cross posted from ONI Blog)