Monday, 12 March 2012

RWB: World Day Against Cyber-Censorship

Today is World Day Against Cyber-Censorship. It was first launched by press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders in 2008 and is intended to rally everyone in support of a single internet without restrictions and accessible to all.

RWB says the the fight for online freedom of expression is more essential than ever.

It adds: "The Arab Spring has clearly shown, by creating new spaces for exchanging ideas, that the internet is a vehicle for freedom. In countries where the traditional media are controlled by the government, the only independent news and information are to be found on the internet, which has become a forum for discussion and a refuge for those who want to express their views freely.

"However, more and more governments have realised this and are responding by trying to control the internet and by stepping up surveillance of internet users. Netizens are being targeted by government reprisals. More than 120 of them are currently detained for expressing their views freely online, mainly in China, Iran and Vietnam. World Day Against Cyber-Censorship pays tribute to them and their fight for Internet freedom."

RWB claims internet users in “free” countries have learned to react in order to protect what they have won. "Some governments stepped up pressure on technical service providers to act as internet cops. Companies specializing in online surveillance are becoming the new mercenaries in an online arms race. Hacktivists are providing technical expertise to netizens trapped by a repressive regime’s apparatus. Diplomats are getting involved. More than ever before, online freedom of expression is now a major foreign and domestic policy issue.

"Online social networks complicate matters for authoritarian regimes that are trying to suppress unwanted news and information. It was thanks to netizens that Tunisians learned about the street vendor who set himself on fire in Sidi Bouzid and Egyptians learned about Khaled Said, the young netizen who was beaten to death by police outside an Alexandria Internet café. It was thanks to social networks that Sidi Bouzid and Khaled Said became news stories and went on to become cornerstones of the Arab Spring."

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