Wednesday, July 26, 2006

internet censorship - what does that mean?

after the recent indian internet blocking incident (still continuing against specific 17 sites and blogs - here is the list -, though the blanket blocks, which were the result of isps blocking the whole domain of the blocked site or blog- most notably in the case of blogspot blogs - due to implementation problems, have been reportedly lifted), there was a fear that it will spread south of palk strait. while it is prudent to be vigilant, it is also sensible to be clear about what is meant by internet censorship, given the exaggerated claims of censorship that were made after a levy on imported tv content was imposed in sri lanka. (levy was stupid imo but for other reasons.)

for my part i will consider any action that goes against the recommendations for governments and corporations to ensure a free internet compiled by reporters without borders, censorship.

here are the recommendations

  1. any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in the right to freedom of expression as defined in article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights (see below for the article 19).
  2. in a democratic and open society it is up to the citizens to decide what they wish to access and view on the internet. filtering or rating of online content by governments is unacceptable. filters should only be installed by internet users themselves. any policy of filtering, be it at a national or local level, conflicts with the principle of free flow of information.
  3. any requirement to register websites with governmental authorities is not acceptable. unlike licensing scarce resources such as broadcasting frequencies, an abundant infrastructure like the Internet does not justify official assignment of licenses. on the contrary, mandatory registration of online publications might stifle the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information on the internet.
  4. a technical service provider must not be held responsible for the mere conduit or hosting of content unless the hosting provider refuses to obey a court ruling. a decision on whether a website is legal or illegal can only be taken by a judge, not by a service provider. such proceedings should guarantee transparency, accountability and the right to appeal.
  5. all internet content should be subject to the legislation of the country of its origin (”upload rule”) and not to the legislation of the country where it is downloaded.
  6. the internet combines various types of media, and new publishing tools such as blogging are developing. Internet writers and online journalists should be legally protected under the basic principle of the right to freedom of expression and the complementary rights of privacy and protection of sources.

here is the article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights:
  • everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.


Keshi said...

Interesting and informative post here.

**everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression

I agree. And even the govts should not be able to take that right away from anyone.


Sam said...

Let me post a same comment I posted in some other blog:

There was a country in a galaxy far, far a way with Chief-Justice name Sarath. One day a citizen sues this CJ because he doesn’t trust him or something else – the reason doesn’t matter. But a citizen Sue the Chief Justice. Guess who was the judge in that case? CJ himself listen to the accuser as the judge in his own court. And guess what happened to the accuser? CJ (the defended) put him (accuser) jail. That citizen still in a jail far, far a way.
Well my point is – there is no point.
This is Sri Lanka. Freedom of speech matters where it respected.

sittingnut said...

yes :-)

don't exaggerate. nothing of the sort you describe happened. you got the details confused. cj is a dishonorable person i agree. but he is not stupid to act like that. nor would he have got away with that. he follows the due process in appearance at least.

and here we can say what we want.