April 24, 2007

Good luck with that

Filed under: censorship, tech, web — ted @ 3:32 pm

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday launched a campaign to rid the country’s sprawling Internet of “unhealthy” content and make it a springboard for Communist Party doctrine, state television reported.

With Hu presiding, the Communist Party Politburo — its 24-member inner council — discussed cleaning up the Internet, state television reported. The meeting promised to place the often unruly medium more firmly under propaganda controls.

“Development and administration of Internet culture must stick to the direction of socialist advanced culture, adhere to correct propaganda guidance,” said a summary of the meeting read on the news broadcast.

Full article here.


February 27, 2007

The Special Risks of Poetry

Filed under: censorship, literature, politics — ted @ 12:09 pm

A report in yesterday’s Guardian describes a book of poetry written Guantánamo Bay detainees that is to be published later this year, and the legal trouble it has encounter on its way to publication:

Many of the poems deal with the pain and humiliation inflicted on the detainees by the US military. Others express disbelief and a sense of betrayal that Americans – described in one poem as “protectors of peace” – could deny detainees any kind of justice. Some engage with wider themes of nostalgia, hope and faith in God.

But most of the poems, including the lament by Al Hela which first sparked Falkoff’s interest, are unlikely to ever see the light of day. Not content with imprisoning the authors, the Pentagon has refused to declassify many of their words, arguing that poetry “presents a special risk” to national security because of its “content and format”. In a memo sent on September 18 2006, the team assigned to deal with communications between lawyers and their clients explains that they do not “maintain the requisite subject matter expertise” and says that poems “should continue to be considered presumptively classified”.

The defence department spokesman Jeffrey Gordon is unsurprised that access to detainees poetry is tightly controlled. “It depends on what’s being written,” he says. “There’s a whole range of things that are inappropriate.” Of course poetry that deals with subjects such as guard routines, interrogation techniques or terrorist operations could pose a security threat, but Gordon is unable to explain why Al Hela’s poem is still classified, saying “I haven’t read any of these [poems]”.

February 15, 2007


Filed under: censorship, literature, politics — ted @ 10:40 am

A handful of praise-worthy writers and publishers have joined forces to create Glorifying Terrorism, a collection of science-fiction stories intended to purposefully break a confusing and controversial “ban on the ‘glorification of terrorism'” which is part of the UK’s Terrorism Act of 2006.


November 7, 2006

Network of Evil

Filed under: censorship, web — ted @ 1:08 pm

Today Reporters without Borders released their list of 13 Internet enemies [via 3quarksdaily]. The good news is that the number is down from last year’s 15 — but these words on China are chilling:

China unquestionably continues to be the world’s most advanced country in Internet filtering. The authorities carefully monitor technological progress to ensure that no new window of free expression opens up, After initially targeting websites and chat forums, they nowadays concentrate on blogs and video exchange sites. China now has nearly 17 million bloggers. This is an enormous number, but very few of them dare to tackle sensitive issues, still less criticise government policy. Firstly, because China’s blog tools all include filters that block “subversive” word strings. Secondly, because the companies operating these services, both Chinese and foreign, are pressured by the authorities to control content. They employ armies of moderators to clean up the content produced by the bloggers. Finally, in a country in which 52 people are currently in prison for expressing themselves too freely online, self-censorship is obviously in full force. Just five years ago, many people thought Chinese society and politics would be revolutionised by the Internet, a supposedly uncontrollable medium. Now, with China enjoying increasing geopolitical influence, people are wondering the opposite, whether perhaps China’s Internet model, based on censorship and surveillance, may one day be imposed on the rest of the world.

October 19, 2006

Black Out

Filed under: censorship, photos — ted @ 2:16 pm

You have to check out this fantastic post [via] on the website of Swedish researcher Jonathan Lundqvist, who returned from his time in Iran with a collection of censored Western magazines. Apparently, the Iranian censors’ answer to Western decadence is blank ink and white stickers — they simply cover up the parts of the images they find unacceptable. For example:

The censors do not seem to be as interested in restricting the flow of information — articles about Iran in The Economist are left alone — but “objectionable areas” of a woman’s body are typically covered up. Fascinating.

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