Free Speech

by Bas Grasmayer

Filed Under:
censorship, tunisia

Tunisian State Secretary Says Censorship Is Fine Because The West Does It Too

from the being-a-rolemodel dept

This weekend we came across a post by Karin Kosina which highlighted the problem in saying that sometimes it's okay to 'filter' (censor) certain websites.

"Tunisian state secretary Sami Zaoui just announced (mirror) that they will keep blocking websites that are "against decency, contain violent elements or incite to hate". When criticised that this is inacceptable in a democracy, he responded (mirror): "Wrong! Even the countries that are most evolved when it comes to freedom block terrorist sites"."

In the case of Tunisia, which just had a revolution or perhaps is still in the process of a revolution, it becomes immediately clear what the problem with such filtering is. Basically, the government is keeping a tool in place which has been used to silence critics in the past. Also, the conditions for which websites are censored are quite vague. Inciting hate and containing violent elements seem quite clear, but as we've seen in Turkey, such conditions can easily be stretched and that's without even taking the 'decency' condition into consideration.

Both the US and the EU are obviously failing to be a rolemodel when they should be. Many politicians in the EU have embraced the idea of an internet filter to block child pornography. As for the US, they could be seen seizing domain names of 'rogue websites'. On the one hand, politicians of the west love talking about the principles of freedom, but on the other hand they hate to actually live up to their own standards when something like WikiLeaks or a music blog comes along. The problems of this for the US and the EU have been discussed here in detail before.

What such censorship also does, is create a dangerous precedent, because it allows for repressive governments to create excuses for censorship. This is to be expected, and we've predicted similar things in the past. If Western countries are really serious about stopping internet censorship (and they're probably not that serious), they need to actually learn to live up to that ideal. Otherwise, we're going to see more and more state-supported censorship defended by the fact that Western nations are just as bad.

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  1. icon
    The eejit (profile), 25 Jan 2011 @ 3:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: discussion over the word censorship

    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    Wrong wrong wrong wrong
    You're Wrong
    You're Wrong
    You're Wroooooooooooong

    So, instead of attacking Grokster, Napster, Kazaa, Limewire et al, if the big labels had actually worked with these companies, not only could they have discouraged piracy, but projections at the time meant that they wouldn't be in deep financial trouble now.

    Had Big Music actually bothered to have a conversation, instead of arbitrarily deciding that it wasn't in their best interests to SUE SUE SUE, then they might not be in as deep financial trouble now.

    Had the Big Labels actually connected with fans, they could have vastly monetised it and then gone on happily ever after.

    The world changes, and the free markets are supposed to force the evolution of businesses. Instead, there is no free market and people are ignoring what they feel is dumb law (like the $5 barefoot permit in Miami, or Segregation.)

    The Old Way is not the True Way anymore. And the Free Market is trying to speak. But these fatcats are bitching because their dish isn't being filled up anymore.

    So they resort to extortionate tactics, and bullying, and bribing (and yes, lobbying IS a bribe, just all nice and legal) instead of being innovators.

    These groups could be shining beacons for progress. Instead, they are struggling. Look at Terra Firma, being dragged down by EMI. Look at Sony BMG, look at Universal, who need the merger with NBC merely to survive.

    But no, it's all about the skull and crossbones.

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