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Amnesty's Campaign
Sarah Rich, 30 May 06

amnesty.jpg The Internet is the most far-reaching, free and open medium for expression that we have. From the perspective of certain governing bodies, this also makes it the greatest citizen-driven threat. Government suppression of internet freedom, monitoring of online activity and censorship of people's personal sites has been growing in proportion with the explosion of web use, aided in part by large tech firms.

Recognizing this as a violation of human rights, Amnesty International has partnered with The Observer to launch a campaign for Internet freedom. The three part campaign calls for participants to:

1. sign a pledge calling on governments and IT companies to keep the Internet politically free
2. publish censored content from the Amnesty database on their own blogs and websites with a specially designed button signifying solidarity in the effort
3. Write to the Chinese authorities and Yahoo to urge the release of journalist Shi Tao, serving 10 years in prison for sending an email to a pro-democracy website.

Internet repression is not confined to China, and the Chinese model is already being copied by other repressive regimes. Filtering technology exists in numerous other countries: Iran, for example, recently announced that it would be able to monitor every citizen’s web use. Amnesty is campaigning for imprisoned web users in Tunisia and Vietnam. We recently highlighted the case of Sayed Ahmad Sayed Sigarchi, an Iranian blogger who was reportedly subjected to 30 lashes in Tabriz Prison in October last year while serving a four-month sentence. He was arrested in connection with a blog he had started in 2003, and convicted of ‘insulting the Leader and senior officials’ and ‘propaganda against the system’.

Pledges will be presented at the UN Internet Governance Forum in November 2006 in Athens. The campaign can be found at

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Thank you for this link. I've read an article somewhere which chastises American companies for aiding China's campaign to censor the Internet. And it doesn't just happen in China. I've heard that even Saudi Arabia blocks a lot of websites, even ones like wallpaper galleries. It's unfortunate that something as free and, yes, citizen-driven as the Internet should be throttled like that.

Posted by: Lynn on 31 May 06



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