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Lego has announced it is reversing its policy on bulk purchases and will no longer ask customers what they want to use the bricks for.

The U-turn follows a recent controversy involving Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

In October 2015, Ai Weiwei accused Lego of censorship when it refused to sell its bricks directly to him.

Lego said its policy was to reject requests if it believed the bricks would be used to make a political statement.

Ai Weiwei wanted to make an artwork on political dissidents.

The artist ended up using bricks donated to him by the public for an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia.Lego and Ai Weiwei controversy

In a statement posted on its website on January 12, Lego said it used to ask customers ordering bulk purchases for the “thematic purpose” of their project, as it did not want to “actively support or endorse specific agendas”.

“However, those guidelines could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent, and the Lego Group has therefore adjusted the guidelines for sales of Lego bricks in very large quantities,” it said.

As of January 1, 2015, Lego will instead ask that customers make clear the group does not support or endorse their projects, if exhibited in public.

Lego’s decision to refuse Ai Weiwei’s request angered the artist, who accused the company of censorship and discrimination, and of attempting to define political art.

Ai Weiwei also linked Lego’s stance with plans for a new Legoland in Shanghai.

The controversy sparked a public backlash resulting in supporters around the world offering to donate toy bricks.

Ai Weiwei set up “Lego collection points” in different cities, and ended up making a new series of artworks based on the incident as a commentary on freedom of speech and political art.

A collection of pictures censored on Chinese Twitter-like service Sina Weibo has been revealed.

Analysis from US investigative journalism group ProPublica logged 100 users on the service, discovering a total of 527 images removed by censors.

The sample data – which was collected over two weeks – contained dissidents, a yawning politician, and archive shots from the Korean War.

Sina Weibo has some 500 million users in China, but is closely monitored.

ProPublica selected a group of users that had previously had material removed from the site, with a focus on journalists, lawyers and other figures with significant numbers of followers.

Sina Weibo has some 500 million users in China, but is closely monitored

Sina Weibo has some 500 million users in China, but is closely monitored

The site – with help from the University of Hong Kong – wrote some software that would store posts from the users, and then check on an hourly basis to see if the posts had been removed.

What they found was a wide ranging selection of images deemed not suitable for dissemination on the site.

The collection included images of Bo Xilai, the former high-ranking Chinese politician, who was jailed in October for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

One deleted post had called for the trial to be broadcast live, while another showed Bo Xilai with former US national security adviser Henry Kissinger.

Pictures of other public figures, such as human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong and activist singer Wu Hongfei, were also removed.

A large number of the censored posts monitored were of long passages of text, ProPublica reported.

A service called Long Weibo – comparable to TwitLonger – allows for posts that go beyond the service’s 140-character limit by creating an image showing Chinese characters.

The popularity of Long Weibo has created a censorship headache for authorities as it means banned words are not automatically flagged.

Journalists at Southern Weekly, a major Chinese newspaper, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship.

The row was sparked last week when the paper’s New Year message calling for reform was changed by propaganda officials.

Southern Weekly’s staff wrote two letters calling for the provincial propaganda chief to step down. Another row then erupted over control of the paper’s microblog.

Supporters of the paper have gathered outside its office, reports say.

Some of the protesters carried banners that read: “We want press freedom, constitutionalism and democracy.”

Chinese media are supervised by so-called propaganda departments that often change content to align it with party thinking.

Journalists at Southern Weekly, a major Chinese newspaper, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship

Journalists at Southern Weekly, a major Chinese newspaper, have gone on strike in a rare protest against censorship

Southern Weekly is one of the country’s most respected newspapers, known for its hard-hitting investigations and for testing the limits of freedom of speech.

The row erupted after a New Year message which had called for guaranteed constitutional rights was changed by censors into a piece that praised the Communist Party.

In response, the newspaper’s journalists called for the Guangdong propaganda chief’s resignation, accusing him of being “dictatorial” in an era of “growing openness”.

In two open letters 35 prominent former staff and 50 interns at the paper demanded Tuo Zhen step down, saying the move amounted to “crude” interference.

On Sunday night, a message on the newspaper’s official microblog denied that the editorial was changed because of censorship, saying that the “online rumors were false”.

The microblog updates, said to have been issued by senior editors, sparked the strike among members of the editorial team who disagreed with the move, reports say.

Almost 100 editorial staff members have gone on strike, saying the newspaper is under pressure from authorities.

It is thought that this is the first time that there has been a direct showdown between newspaper staff and party officials.

How the case is handled is seen as a key test for Chinese officials, installed just two months ago in a once-in-a-decade leadership transition, observers say.

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Burma has decided to abolish pre-publication censorship of the country’s media, the information ministry has announced.

The Press Scrutiny and Registration Department (PSRD) said that as of Monday, reporters would no longer have to submit their work to state censors before publication.

However, strict laws remain in place which could see journalists punished for what they have written.

Burma has kept tight control over all aspects of its media for some 50 years.

But the civilian government has been gradually easing restrictions since taking office last year.

Burma has decided to abolish pre-publication censorship of the country's media

Burma has decided to abolish pre-publication censorship of the country's media

“Censorship began on 6 August 1964 and ended 48 years and two weeks later,” Tint Swe, head of the PSRD, told AFP news agency on Monday.

“Any publication inside the country will not have to get prior permission from us before they are published.

“From now on, our department will just carry out registering publications for keeping them at the national archives and issuing a license to printers and publishers,” he said.

Tint Swe said the likelihood of permission being granted for private newspapers to be set up was “closer than before” and could happen after a new media law is enacted.

A ministry official told AFP films would still be subject to censorship.

Wai Phyo, editor of the Weekly Eleven journal, told Reuters the move was “a big improvement on the past”, but that editors would now be under increasing pressure to ensure their publications remained legal.

In the past, entire newspapers have been shut because of their reports and many reporters have been jailed.

But in recent months, journalists had been given guidelines allowing them to write about controversial topics, something that would have been unthinkable under the previous military rule.

Some 300 newspapers and magazines covering less sensitive issues had already been given permission to print without prior censorship and restrictions were lifted on 30,000 internet sites, allowing users unrestricted access to political content for the first time.

In October last year, Tint Swe said censorship should be abolished as it was incompatible with democratic practices, while warning that all publications should accept the responsibilities that go with press freedom.



ACTA protest

Dear friends,

Politicians across Europe are starting to withdraw their support from the dangerous ACTA treaty. This weekend’s mass protest is our moment to bury ACTA for good. Click to join the day of action, in person or virtually — let’s win this!

Take action now

In 24 hours, people across the planet are joining a global street protest to bury ACTA for good. 

This week our massive 2 million ACTA petition caused shockwaves in Brussels, and we’ve just learned that Germany has put ACTA on ice and other governments are close to following suit. If Europe says no to ACTA, it dies!  We’re at a tipping point — If enough of us join the protest tomorrow, we can secure our online freedom and end the threat of ACTA’s censorship nightmare. 

Let’s turn out in thousands to protest or, if we can’t be there in person (most of the protests are in Europe), send messages of solidarity to our fellow citizens who are marching. Click here to use our map tool to find an event near you, or leave a solidarity message for marchers: 


Our massive ACTA petition was personally delivered to leading EU politicians in Brussels this week as it grew to 2.2 million signers and beyond. The European Parliament is choosing their new point person on the treaty right now. Let’s make sure that person realises that ACTA is too hot to handle. 

Four Eastern European governments and now Germany have just said they’ll stall their decision on the treaty. Now, if hundreds of thousands of people attend thousands of rallies all across Europe tomorrow, we can ensure that all politicians across the 27 EU countries are put on notice that people don’t want ACTA and will continue to take action until the treaty is buried. 

Those of us in Europe can join the protests. And we all can send messages of solidarity to encourage the people there and use social media to pile the pressure on key parliamentarian. Click here to check out the action centre, and tell everyone.


Again and again, we’ve shown how people power can work. When our fundamental freedoms are at stake, and we act together, we can forge an unstoppable force that makes politicians turn away from the corporate lobbies, and work in the interests of all of us. Let’s do it again.

With hope and determination,

Alex, Alice, Pascal, Emma, Ricken, Maria Paz, Luis and the rest of the Avaaz team

More information:

Acta activates mass opposition (Euractiv)

Acta: Europe braced for protests over anti-piracy treaty (BBC) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16906086

Latest pact on internet piracy set to be derailed (Financial Times) http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/a52f57ec-533d-11e1-aafd-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1lzG5htN5

Czech Republic, Slovakia freeze anti-piracy pact (AFP) http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gguBSrXtQKnr0famyhxMlNK2plDQ?docId=CNG.956cc047c755305c8ad4580183554bcc.71

ACTA vs. SOPA: Five Reasons ACTA is a Scarier Threat to Internet Freedom

Act on Acta now if you care about democracy and free speech (The Guardian)

The secret treaty: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and Its Impact on Access to Medicines