SciTech Briefs

Free online speech becomes issue

The human rights group Amnesty International is asking bloggers to draw attention to cases where other bloggers have been jailed for what they wrote online and to defend their right to free speech online.

The organization is concerned with the growing amount of government interference in online journals, including the implementation of firewalls that block access to sites and the forcible shutdown of blogs.

The arrest of Iranian blogger Kianoosh Sanjari for blogging about conflicts between the Iranian police and supporters of Shia cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi was just one example of the dangers bloggers face, said Steve Ballinger of Amnesty International.

Source: BBC News

Real names could be needed for blogs

The Internet Society of China (ISC) has recommended to the government that people be required to give their real names when registering for a blog.

Bloggers could still use pseudonyms publicly, but the new measure would, according to the ISC, stop bloggers from anonymously disseminating untrue information on the Internet and creating a negative influence on society.

If the government agrees to the ISC’s request, which the ISC calls inevitable, it would be part of a series of attempts to control Internet discussions on sensitive political subjects and keep bloggers more in line with the country’s state-run media.

Source: CNN

Women gamers gain online presence

Fifty-six percent of active video game players play games online, according to a recent survey conducted by Nielsen Entertainment. Out of those 56 percent, 64 percent are female.

The survey also confirmed the growth of casual gaming, but found that online game providers need to focus on gaining brand loyalty and getting gamers to purchase subscriptions or downloads in order to expand the market.

Most game console owners have more than one device or platform to play video games, including game consoles, handheld devices, cell phones, and personal computers. Sixty-four percent of regular gamers played on personal computers.

The growth of online games has also changed the way gamers interact with each other. The average gamer spends five hours a week playing games with other people online, and teen gamers can spend up to seven hours a week.

Source: CNet

Twins born with different skin color

A woman in Britain recently gave birth to twin boys who do not share the same skin color. Scientists believe that the event is due to a rare genetic occurrence in which the mother passed off two seperate genetic codes to the twins.

The boys were both born white, but as time progressed one of the boys became darker and the other became lighter. Scientists believe this is due to the mother being of mixed race (she has Nigerian and English ancestors) and the father being white.

Skin color is determined by genes that are passed from parent to child. Normally, the genes that determine a person’s skin color are mixed together, but scientists believe that did not happen in the twins’ case.

Source: Associated Press