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Monday, October 30, 2006

Bloggers, stand up!

In a society which values the freedom of expression more than anything else, it is the sole responsibility of everyone, particularly the bloggers, living in North America, Europe and the selective countries in Middle East and Asia, to stand up against the ever-increasing threat to freedom of expression on the Internet. Amnesty International recently issued a 'Call to Bloggers', asking them to stand up for freedom of expression online ahead of a worldwide forum aims to discuss "the future of the Internet". Here's an excerpt from Amnesty:
The call comes as the online world prepares to meet at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF, Athens 30/10 – 2/11) to discuss the future of the internet. Amnesty released a statement to the IGF today and is sending a delegation to ensure that human rights are not sidelined and remain at the heart of the forum’s discussions.

Amnesty’s International's statement also coincides with an urgent appeal on behalf of a blogger in Iran who was detained this month. Kianoosh Sanjari was arrested earlier this month while reporting on clashes between security forces and supporters of Shi'a cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi. He is being held incommunicado and Amnesty International fears that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment. Sanjari had allegedly gone to the home of Ayatollah Boroujerdi in the capital, Tehran, to prepare a report on the clashes that were taking place there.

Amnesty International is calling on governments and companies to ensure that human rights – particularly the rights to freedom of expression, association and the right to privacy – are respected and protected.

Yahoo! via its Chinese partner company, Alibaba, has provided the Chinese authorities with private and confidential information about its users that has been used to convict and imprison journalists. It has also agreed to censor and deny access to information. Microsoft shut down the blog of New York Times researcher Zhao Jing on the basis of a Chinese government request. The company has also admitted that it responds to directions from the Chinese government in restricting users of MSN Spaces from using certain terms. Google has launched a censored version of its international search engine in China.

Amnesty International is also highlighting the cases of prisoners of conscience, imprisoned for the expression of their peaceful views online.

Chinese journalist Shi Tao used his Yahoo! account to email a US-based website about an internal government directive instructing journalists how to handle media coverage of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities." Yahoo! provided information to the government that was used in his prosecution.
So bloggers, let's stand up for the survival of a free Internet! Google, the provider of Blogger, is also not doing much better as I've noted here.

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