Friday, September 23, 2005

Blog censorship handbook

Interesting BBC article on how bloggers should deal with state censorship, and tips on how to maintain anonymity. One interesting point is that although it is some states such as China and Singapore which are seen as providing rules repressive of freedom of expression, it is private actors - often Anerican based - who are helping them enforce the rules. See "In June, Microsoft's MSN Spaces site in China started to block blog entries which used words such as "freedom", "democracy" and "demonstration". Microsoft said the company abided by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which it operates."

The point is a difficult one in terms of policy. Microsoft (and Yahoo! who a few weeks back revealed the identity of a blogger to Chinese authorities, probably exposing him to criminal penalties) are criticised for supporting censorship contrary to Western norms which they benefit from in their own home countries. But such companies can also argue that to maintain a base in these countries they have to work by local laws, and that withdrawing would merely reduce the positive importation of e-commerce prosperity and the overall impact of the Net on these countries. It is a case perhaps of medicine today, to have jam tomorrow.

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