dan.tobias.name | Controversies | Cyberspace | Censors

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Current Controversies, Crises, & Censorship in Cyberspace

Here Come The Censors:
Sen. Exon's Toxic Spill, and Other Threats to the Online Environment

The Internet is the greatest free speech medium ever created. For this reason, it is feared by those in power who would prefer a little more social control and a little less freedom. Thus, we must all remain vigilant against all their attempts to undermine Internet freedom, either in one heavy blow or chipping it away in little pieces. Here are some resources to help you.

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  • As of New Years 2012, it's now illegal in Belarus to access any foreign website, presumably including this one. So welcome, any Belarusians reading this... and go straight to jail, don't pass Go or collect 200 rubles!

  • It has been reported that the FBI has ordered a US-based Web hosting company to allow the authorities in the United Kingdom to confiscate Web servers owned by independent network IndyMedia. Facts are very scarce as to what justification they had for this First Amendment violation which is akin to various repressive governments confiscating the presses of politically-opposing newspapers. Updates are in the Indymedia site.

  • Stuff "THEY" don't want you to see! Who are "they"? Anyone who acts as a censor, anywhere in the world, to control the dissemination of information they don't like. This page contains links to various sites that are likely "censor bait." In some repressive places, they might be able to put you in jail for following these links. Do so at your own risk!

  • The Wiesenthal Center has urged online providers to censor their content to eliminate "hate speech." Some anti-censorship people are concerned at such bullying tactics from a group that normally stands against tyranny. (And they're yet another nonprofit that stupidly uses a .com domain as its primary Web address...)

  • The ACLU is one of the organizations fighting attempts at Internet censorship. They may be politically-correct leftist in some unsettling ways on some other issues, but on this issue they're on the correct side!

  • The Center for Democracy and Technology gets involved in some political battles involving Internet freedom.

  • Electronic Frontier Foundation -- A well-established group supporting cyberspace freedom.

  • Electronic Privacy Information Center

  • The Nuremberg Files controversy -- Should this anti-abortion site that "names names" be protected, or does it count as threats against the named persons which should be shut down legally?

  • Voter's Telecommunications Watch was an important resource to track and oppose efforts to limit free speech in cyberspace, but it's no longer active.

  • This petition, regarding the Exon bill to take away free speech rights on Internet, is rather old by now, but its topic is still relevant as Congress grapples with various Internet-censorship-related bills.

  • Censorship in Germany -- no longer limited to neo-Nazis or pornographers, the Germans are demanding blockage of entire Internet providers' sites to stop the availability of political sites they deem improper. XS4ALL, a major Internet provider in the Netherlands, is the present target of German authorities, due to a left-wing radical political e-zine there.

  • The power to tax is the power to destroy... so when a government monopoly provider has control of all Internet connections in a country, they can stifle Internet freedom by imposing a prohibitive tariff. That's apparently what happened in Poland a while back... I'm not sure what came of it (there used to be a site about it, but it's not up any more).

Go Censor Yourself!

Self-Censorship Programs and their Controversies

  • Looking to do-it-yourself censorship programs to "protect" your family, your students, or your employees from "evil" on the net? Read this article for the "dark side" of these programs. (You might not be able to if you're running such a program, since some of them have included sites critical of them on their "ban list"!)

  • Peacefire, a teen anti-censorship group, has had its site banned by CyberSitter for having the temerity to criticize this program.

  • My own take on the CyberSitter deal.

  • Solid Oak Software, the maker of CyberSitter.

  • How to get yourself banned!

  • Here's a public institution that actually accomplished the task of self-banning... the Flesh Public Library (named after a benefactor named Mr. Flesh) in Ohio set up its Web site at www.fleshpublic.lib.oh.us, but when its management tried to proudly show it off to visitors, they found that their own censorware program blocked it due to the "naughty" word "flesh". Rather than reconsider this censorship stupidity, they simply changed their domain name to www.piqua.lib.oh.us.

Other Stuff...

  • This article shows the ambivalent attitude to freedom that's ingrained in the culture of much of the world. The point of the article is to decry American cultural imperialism and advocate that Europe set up its own computer network that isn't US-centric like the Internet. The author validly criticizes some U.S.-imposed oppression such as the insistence that foreign countries help in the enforcement of overly-broad copyright laws, but goes on to opine that the more "European" network structure that he wants would facilitate more government intervention, e.g., to enforce "hate-speech" laws, which is blocked by the American imperialists now due to our obsessive insistence in adhering to a Constitution written by dead white males. He thinks the distrust of government and the desire for absolute freedom of speech is a perverse Americanism that should be suppressed.

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    This page was first created 02 Sep 1996, and was last modified 02 Jan 2012.
    Copyright © 1995-2012 by Daniel R. Tobias. All rights reserved.

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