The internet and freedom

My earlier posting about the internet, its present arrangements and the UN’s attemtpt to seize control of it generated a certain amount of discussion (and that’s putting it politely). So, it may be useful to have a look at what might be motivating one of the proponents of the move to “take the internet away from one country, the United States, and give it to the world”, Iran.

The mullahs and the new president, who is busy purging all opponents, reversing the few liberalizing measures and threatening Israel with extinction, have a problem on their hands. It is called the internet, more specifically the blogosphere, which is enthusiastically used by all the dissidents.

According to Rachel Hoff, a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute,

“Iranian dissidents are increasingly penning blogs to voice criticism of the Islamic Republic and to push for freedom and democracy. With an estimated 100,000 active Iranian blogs, Persian is now tied with French as the second most common blogging language after English.”

This puts the British reluctance to take blogs seriously into a perspective and not a particularly pleasant one, at that.

The Iranian bloggers are in constant danger. They are arrested, imprisoned, tortured, just beaten up in their homes. And yet they continue to blog, to send messages to the world about their country.

“Blogging has revolutionized dissent in Iran. By providing private citizens a public voice, blogs may be the most powerful tool in the dissidents’ arsenal. As an Iranian blogger known as Saena wrote, “Weblogs are one weapon that even the Islamic Republic cannot beat.” As the cases of Arash Sigarchi and other imprisoned bloggers show, though, the Iranian regime is trying to crush these new outlets of democratic dissent. Throughout the Middle East, the race is on between journalists opening new websites and regimes such as the Islamic Republic trying to censor cyberspace.”

Ms Hoff castigates the White House and the State Department for not speaking out in support of the bloggers, who need western help in the same way as the Soviet dissidents did before 1991 and the Chinese ones do now. She is right, of course. But what about Europe, including Britain? We not only refuse to voice any support – we line up with the oppressors as they try to impose their control on the internet.

Happy Thanksgiving to all from this side of the pond.

Cross-posted (mostly) from EUReferendum.

1 thought on “The internet and freedom”

  1. This is one of the biggest problems with the UN. It’s a global diplomatic body serving as a means of international cooperation. This means it is populated by representatives of various government of the world. A lot of people look at it and see “oh, representatives from every country” and then connect this with a superficial resemblance to representative governance. They tend to think along the lines of: “it’s a representative world body, it should run worldly affairs.” This facile conclusion could not be more wrong. For two very important reasons. First, representation in the UN is not representative of population (Luxemberg is on equal footing with India in the general assembly). Second, these are representatives of the governments of the nations of the world, and many of those governments are oppresive and authoritarian. Many people tend to forget that much of the world still is not even remotely free to the standards of western democracies.

    As such, it is very much in the interests of freedom to “unfairly” concentrate world power in the hands of those few liberal, democratic countries and to actually actively work at cross purposes to many of the regimes of the world.

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