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Governments step up blogger arrests

Governments step up blogger arrests

Jonathan M. Gitlin
Ars Technica
June 17, 2008

No matter what you think of blogging, Internet-based citizen journalism is a real threat, not just to traditional media business models but to totalitarian governments. How do we know that bloggers are drawing blood? Because some governments are hitting back harder and harder; last year saw a tripling in the number of bloggers arrested around the world compared to 2006, according to a report from the University of Washington.

“Last year, 2007, was a record year for blogger arrests, with three times as many as in 2006. Egypt, Iran and China are the most dangerous places to blog about political life, accounting for more than half of all arrests since blogging became big,” said Assistant Professor Phil Howard, lead author of the World Information Access Report. Howard also suggests that the real number of arrests may be much higher, as not every arrest makes it into the media.

The report separates the reason for arrests into six categories: violation of cultural norms, blogging involved with social protest, blogging about public policy, blogging about political figures, exposing corruption or human rights violations, and finally “other.” In addition to Iran, Egypt and China, Middle Eastern regimes in Syria and Saudi Arabia, and South East Asian nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand also figure in the report. 2007 saw 36 bloggers arrested around the world, and since 2003 at least 64 have been arrested, with a total of 940 months of prison time served.

Even liberal democracies are not immune; France, Canada, the USA, and UK have all arrested people following their blogging activity since 2004. However, some of these cases might not seem so egregious; last year a blogger was arrested in Los Angeles following his postings about his attraction to young girls, and the beginning of 2008 saw an arrest in the UK after one Gavin Best used his blog to threaten a police officer’s family following his arrest for a large number of thefts.

Another troubling trend has been the complicity of western Internet firms such as Yahoo and Google, both of whom have handed over details of bloggers to the Chinese government, despite publicly condemning such policies.

Are Bloggers ’Killing’ Old Media in Campaign Coverage?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg..magazine_b_108073.html

Kentucky Settles Internet Censorship Suit, Agrees to Lift Ban on Blogs
http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=2676

France To Ban Illegal Downloaders From Internet
http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article4165519.ece

EU Says China Internet Control Unacceptable
http://www.breitbart.com/article..o6d&show_article=1

Air Force Spreads Cyber Command to All 50 States
http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/06/air-forces-50-s.htmlmore

Death of the Internet! Long Live Internet 2!
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/technology/15cable.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

 


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