Thursday, 9 December 2010

Guess Who's Hosting World Press Freedom Day

From BoingBoing
China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, USA - some of the nations whose governments are most heavy handed in their political censorship of the internet. All have constitutions which, as I understand it, guarantee freedom of speech, yet all strongly attack those who embarrass the state.

China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, by and large, confine the bulk of their censorship to within their own state borders. The USA is trying, with some success so far, to censor the rest of the world as well. Death threats, threats of imprisonment, allegations of terrorist activity which would be laughable if they weren't so dangerous, government to government coercion - to which Australia has simply rolled over (at least initially), and Switzerland and Sweden appear to have been, at the very least, heavily influenced - and government to private industry coercion: Visa & Mastercard (who happily work with the Ku Klux Klan and its allies), PayPal, Amazon, and so on. It is remarkable how much effective control the US government actually has over the functioning of the internet.

So who has recently announced that they are to host Unesco's World Press Freedom day, 2011? The USA, of course. The writer of their press release appears to have a fine sense of irony:
"The theme for next year's commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals' right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age."
As this Guardian news blog put it: "Shameless. You really could not make it up."

To end on a lighter note, the best joke of the week so far - thanks again to the Guardian Newspaper's blog - comes from Ben Yarrow's Twitter account (with a hat tip to @janinegibson):
Freedom of Speech - priceless. For everything else, there's MasterCard.

1 comment:

  1. I've been surprised at how fast the money outlets for Wikileak's Julian Assange were closed down. U.S. influence is a lot more wide spread than I thought.