GLobal Voices Summit: Living with Censorship

The third panel included digital activists based in China, Bangladesh, Sudan, Thailand, Syria, Middle East and North Africa.

Notes from the panel follow.

  • Original legal proposal in Thailand for punishing computer-related crime included the death penalty; this has now been changed to a 20-year jail sentence;
  • Regimes in Middle East and North Africa are concerned about (possible) shift in power brought about by the Internet;
  • Iran bans fast internet to cut West’s influence;
  • Some websites in the Middle East have two links on their homepage, “Click here to Enter” and “Click here to access our website when it gets blocked”; the latter including a tutorial on how to access censored websites;
  • Based on the results of a survey in the Middle East, 24% of Internet users who participated in the survey said they did not use circumvention tools because they did not know how.
  • Accessing the web is limited by blocking and censorship, but most importantly by the digital divide, both between and within countries;
  • Following Sichuan earthquake in China, blogger groups became NGOs;
  • In Bangladesh, authorities issue notcie to ISPs to provide list of all subscribers with names, address, and connection details; share the admin password of Internet gateway servers;
  • The endgame of all censorship is self-censorship;
  • Any solution to the problem of censorship has to be much more than technical, much more than legal (me: maybe nonviolent action?);
  • Blogosphere in Ethiopia particularly vibrant through to 2006 but government then blocked blogspot; number of blogs have virtually dwindled to a stop;
  • Free Tariq campaign in Syria failed because it did not address the people locally; most importantly because “freedom of speech” was not a priority for the peope; Struggle to convince people that freedom of speech;

Patrick Philippe Meier

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