Monday, October 30, 2006

Free Speech Online is Under threat

Amnesty International Warns Free Speech Online Is Under Threat

October 27, 2006 12:34 p.m. EST

Mary K. Brunskill - All Headline News Staff Writer

London, England (AHN) - The human rights group Amnesty International is saying freedom of expression online is being threatened and is asking bloggers to support the right to speak freely on the Internet. The group asks that bloggers write on free-speech violations and declare that they do not support any kind of suppression of speech over the Internet.

Steve Ballinger of Amnesty International tells BBC News, "Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege - but it's a right that needs defending. We are asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with Web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticizing the government."

"People have been locked up just for expressing their views in an e-mail or on a Web site," he says. "Sites and blogs have been shut down and firewalls built to prevent access to information."

Ballinger points to Iranian blogger Kianoosh Sanjari as an example of someone the government punished for speaking his mind. Sanjari was arrested early this month after discussing conflicts between the Iranian police and the supporters of Shia cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi on his blog.

Amnesty International is taking its campaign to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), which is a group the UN set up to act as a debating body for national Internet policies.

"The Internet Governance Forum needs to know that the online community is concerned about free expression online and is willing to stand up for it," Ballinger says.

I don't often agree with Amnesty International. The seem a bit too much to the left for me. However, I do agree on this subject. Our basic Human right of Free Speech online is being threatened, not only by oppressive governments, like Iran, but to a lesser degree, and worse, more surreptitiously, by our own "democratic" government as well.

Be on the lookout for any violations of Free Speech online. Report them, if you have a blog. If you don't, tell someone you know who does, keep this in the public eye. Well, the internet public anyway.

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