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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Menings | Opinion > SeminaarKamer | Seminar Room > Nuusbrief: Vrye Woord

Vrye Woord-nuusbrief – 12.03.2011: Internasionale dag teen kubersensuur


Untitled Document


Internasionale dag teen kubersensuur

Herman Toerien

Vandag, 12 Maart 2011, is dit internasionale dag teen kubersensuur. Kuberkommunikasie het veral vanjaar skerp in die soeklig gekom weens die rol wat dit in die Arabiese opstande gespeel het, en vroeër ná die gekonkel met die Iranse algemene verkiesing.

Die kuberruim is duidelik steeds besig om veld te wen. Die meerderheid Nederlanders sal liefs ’n maand sonder ’n gedrukte koerant as sonder internet klaarkom. Twee derdes gebruik ook die internet om ’n nuwe werk te bekom.

Die baie bekende en gerekende gehaltekoerant van Boston, die Christian Science Monitor, verskyn nou al ’n hele ruk hoofsaaklik as internetkoerant. Intussen word berig dat die New York Times in die finale fase is om ’n betaalmodel vir die lees van nuus op sy webwerf te ontwikkel. Iewers, deur die loop van die jaar, gaan die Wet van Transvaal ook hier geld – mits natuurlik, dit nie sal blyk dat lesers gewoon elders sal gaan kuier om hul nuus te bekom nie. Sindikatering beteken immers dat baie van die nuus in die New York Times ook in ander publikasies, soos die Los Angeles Times, die Montana Standard en vele meer, verskyn.  

Eers het Egipte, en toe Libië, gewys dat die “afsny” van internetkommunikasie moontliker is as wat algemeen aangeneem is. Die omseiling hiervan sal stellig aan die kuberkenners ’n paar uitdagings bied. As ’n mens sien wat alles gekraak kan word, kan diktators wat meen hulle kan dié soort inligtingsvloei op die duur beperk, hul stertvelle solank begin vet smeer.

Hulle gaan gekraak word.

World Day Against Cyber-Censorship: Reporters Without Borders releases new “Enemies of the Internet” list

Dedicated website: 12mars.rsf.org. Excerpts.

Reporters Without Borders has carried out a new survey of online freedom of expression for World Day Against Cyber-Censorship on 12 March.

 “One in three of the world’s Internet users does not have access to an unrestricted Internet,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said.

“Around 60 countries censor the Internet to varying degrees and harass netizens. At least 119 people are currently in prison just for using the Internet to express their views freely. These are disturbing figures.

 “The Internet played a crucial role in the recent Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions but more and more governments try to manipulate online information and remove critical content. There is a greater need than ever to defend online free speech and protect cyber-dissidents. This day is also the occasion to pay tribute to the solidarity that Internet users show towards each other.”

Enemies of the Internet

Reporters Without Borders is releasing a 100-page report on the state of online freedom of expression in the 10 countries it has identified as “Enemies of the Internet” and the 16 countries it is keeping “under surveillance” because of their questionable Internet policies. Repressive regimes resort to all sorts of measures to control content, ranging from censorship, jailing cyber-dissidents and circulating massive amounts of propaganda online.

“Tunisia and Egypt have been removed from the list of Enemies of the Internet following the fall of their governments,” Julliard added. “These countries nonetheless remain under surveillance, as does Libya. The gains of these revolutions must be consolidated and the new freedoms must be guaranteed. We have also placed three democracies – Australia, South Korea and France – under surveillance because of various measures they have taken that could have negative consequences for online free expression and Internet access.”


2010 – Year of the Internet?

Last year saw the Internet and social networks conclusively established as tools for protest, campaigning and circulating information. It also saw a growing tendency for traditional and new media to complement each other, as witnessed not only during the Arab Spring but also in the way WikiLeaks released the leaked US diplomatic cables in coordination with several leading international media.

The Internet continues above all to be a tool, one that can be used for good ends and bad. It creates an area of freedom in the most closed countries. Its potential as a tool for circulating news and information angers dictators and renders traditional censorship methods ineffective. The Internet is used not only by dissidents but also by governments, which employ it to circulate their propaganda and to reinforce surveillance and control of the population.

The Internet strategies pursued nowadays by authoritarian regimes consist not so much of outright blocking as online manipulation and propaganda. Countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to filter out vast amounts of content, reinforcing the filtering at times of tension, but Internet users in these countries continue to learn how to circumvent censorship.

In a free society obnoxious opinions are allowed
Sipho Hlongwane
http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za/page/the-daily-mavericks-first-thing-the-latest-edition (excerpts)

“The Most Hated Family in America” can continue to picket at the funerals of soldiers, the US Supreme Court has ruled. The decision underscores the point that in a free society, legislating against obnoxious opinions – and, make no mistake, WBC’s views are seen as most foul – is never a solution. How prescient, given South Africa’s seemingly unsolvable struggles over race. In an eight-to-one majority, the US Supreme Court ruled the First Amendment protected the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to protest at military funerals.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Westboro Baptist Church's picketing at fallen soldiers' funerals is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible.

“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and – as it did here – inflict great pain. But under the First Amendment, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.

“As a nation we have chosen a different course – to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate,” Roberts said.

The case against WBC had been brought in 2006 by the family of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who had been killed in Iraq. The fringe cult protested at his funeral, holding up signs which celebrated the soldier’s death as divine justice for America’s tolerance of homosexuality. WBC has so far picketed at more than 600 funerals across the US.


Reactions to the judgment ranged from outrage to appalled. In an opinion column for The New York Times, Stanley Fish noted in its insistence on coming down heavily on the side of individual freedom as opposed to balancing this with the feelings of a community, as they would have done in Europe (or indeed South Africa), the Supreme Court failed to give enough weight to the harm that words can inflict. “This [judgment] is of course the traditional view as encapsulated in the familiar proverb ‘sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you’,” Fish wrote.

“The problem with this ditty is that it is false; names, libels, lies, defamatory statements and harangues do hurt, and, moreover, the hurt they inflict – extending sometimes to measurable physical distress – is often what those who utter them are most invested in.

“That is, or should be, the question in this case: Is the expression of opinion primary and the pain just collateral damage; or is the damage what is desired and expression merely its vehicle?” asked Fisher.


The American debate mirrors, if under less tragic circumstances, South Africa’s debate around the “Shoot the Boer” song, and of late the issue of racial stereotyping, brought to the fore by a column in the Sunday World by Kuli Roberts. It was later judged to have been a wayward attempt at satire, but the immediate outrage, spearheaded by City Press editor Ferial Haffajee, was massive. Roberts subsequently lost her column, raising the question of whether offense was enough to silence her voice.

The brutal and often unpalatable truth is that freedom of expression extends to even the extremists. Rational countries will write laws that limit the extent of that freedom (one extreme of this: fashion designer John Galliano must face a Paris court on charges of anti-Semitism), and perhaps the US Supreme Court should have more carefully considered the feelings of affected communities in its judgment. But merely saying reprehensible things should not be legislated against.

To paraphrase Voltaire, we don’t truly believe in freedom of speech until we champion it for those with whom we disagree, no matter how insane they are.

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