Zyra's website //// Anti-Censorship Sites //// Freedom on the Internet //// Site Index
and how to defeat it.
In the bad old days, freedom of speech was severely restricted by authoritarian entities such as the church, the government, and influential business interests. However, as history has moved on, excuses for censorship have become scant. Then, in the latter part of the 20th Century, a new development occurred which changed the game: THE INTERNET. No censorship. With global communication and freedom of expression being intrinsic to the culture, the age of censorship was dead.
We have to make sure the age of censorship stays dead, and freedom on the Internet remains in perpetuity. However, there have recently (2011) been a few threats to this global freedom. In particular, some corporations and some individuals in the UK have paid enough money to get "injunctions" and "superinjunctions" in court, which have forbidden all newspapers and other media that's stuck to the ground in the UK from saying anything about the matters in question.
As a matter of terminology, "injunctions" forbid any free speech on the issue, and "superinjuctions" additionally forbid any statement to the effect that there has been any court case or that any superinjunctions apply. (This produces the obvious problem that if you're not allowed to know where the landmines are, you can't avoid them).
This whole thing is a fiasco, and would normally just simply make the UK the laughing stock of the world. The International Net doesn't have to abide by whatever little local laws some tinpot state enacts. So, what you'd see is all the British tabloids having to keep shtum, but elsewhere in the Free World these issues would be trumpeted widely, on thousands of motley websites, and the oldfashioned UK made to look silly.
Surprisingly this is not what appears to have happened, at least so far. It's almost as if everywhere fears extradition to the UK, whereupon they'd die horribly, of boredom and freezing to death in the terrible weather.
Now admittedly there have been SOME half-decent reasons for judges to enact temporary gagging-orders, for example where there's a contentious case being tried and they need to prevent the newspapers writing ludicrous speculation which would likely cause bias in a jury. However, the cases in the UK in 2011 have not been of that type. They've been more usually where some minor celebrities would like to keep their private affairs with prostitutes quiet, or where corporations would like to keep their dumping of toxic waste quiet, or where bankers would like all mention of their job title of "banker" to be silenced. This is, by any reasonably interpretation of the balance of privacy v freedom of speech in the public interest, stupid.
The main problem is that international websites have not seen fit to expose the hypocrisy and ludicrousness of the judicial mismanagement. Or at least, they haven't been brave enough to do so YET.
So, what is it then? Global conspiracy? Or endemic fear? Well it could be that the forces of free speech around the world are waiting sensibly to see what happens, and then when they can see which way the game is going they can pounce!
Imagine if, when the Tunisia Revolution was in progress, pundits on the Internet kept shtum waiting to see how the revolution was going, so they could make decisions on whether to side with the dictatorial government in Tunisia or the people's rebellion, with a modicum of hindsight.
Well NO! I think the whole thing should be exposed and blown sky-high! I'm already in the process of leaving the UK, and I denounce bad law in the UK.
I consider that some of the social networking sites have been complicit in censorship, and I caution anyone allowing their Internet presence to be debased by being on a social networking site rather than being genuinely independent. Beware! Social Networking has always supported the authoritarian system and has toed the party line. (They can be shut down by the US Government at any time). You're much better off having your own website, preferably with a few mirrors hosted in places that don't have diplomatic relations with the countries that are a problem (US, UK, etc).
One of the recent (2011) attempts to censor the Internet was SOPA. There was a huge protest against it.
It's becoming increasingly apparent that authoritarian governments rely on censorship to stay in power. In some of the countries which were ruled over by autocratic despots (usually with a state-imposed religion associated with them), they have traditionally assumed that people are powerless to broadcast the news of crimes against humanity, and yet, people are filming the whole thing on mobile phones, and next week it's there for the world to see. As the country's censorship fails, people realise it's ripe for overthrowing, and the knowledge leads to a popular uprising. The Tunisia Revolution was the first of many such pieces of history. No government is safe anymore.
Syria and Bahrain could be next. But the media in the West seem to be oddly preoccupied with some naff non-news which hides the facts.
Maybe governments in the West have realised that they are not safe either, and if people communicate well on the Internet, the people could overthrow the government which they are oppressed by. This could be why the authorities have been so keen to go for extremist censorship of the type observed in recent times. We will see whether it comes back to bite them.