7 May 2005

Human rights in the Blogosphere

 Posted by Hello

Electronic civil disobedience is not without risk. In both Iran and China, the authorities have increasingly targeted bloggers to stifle dissent. Bloggers are sometimes arrested and sites discussing political or social issues shut down or redirected to entertainment forums. In one recent case highlighted by Reporters sans frontières, an Iranian blogger, Mohamad Reza Abdollahi, was sentenced on appeal to six months in prison and a fine of 1 million rials for supposedly insulting the country's leaders and making anti-government propaganda. Police subsequently arrested his wife, another blogger whom they accused of "defending her husband too openly". Najmeh Oumidparvar, who was four months pregnant, spent 24 days in detention before being released on 26 March.

The initial grace period in which bloggers enjoyed complete freedom while the authorities caught up with the technology has ended, but it is still the easiest and fastest way for activists to spread information and many continue to use them, despite the personal risk involved.

This is one downside; another is the amount of information presented as fact. Blogs are individual expressions of opinion. Where "facts" are cited, they should be treated with healthy scepticism. As long as the reader makes his or her own judgments about the information, the fact that blogs do not purport to provide a balanced view can be refreshing, as there is little risk of a hidden agenda or bias. They also offer an immediate right of reply and the opportunity for others to correct information or to put across an alternative viewpoint immediately.

The Blogosphere provides anyone with access to a computer the opportunity to meet like-minded people and organise activities anywhere in the world. For activists and journalists alike, it is a powerful tool.

This was originally posted on Amnesty International's site.

Think freedom of speech in the blogosphere is only under threat in places like China and Iran, read the post below...

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