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Amnesty International vs. Internet Censorship 287

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Amnesty International has a new online campaign against governments which censor websites, monitor online communications, and persecute citizens who express dissent in blogs, emails, or chat-rooms. The website, Irrepressible.info contains a web-based petition (to be presented at a UN conference in November 2006) and also a downloadable web gadget which displays random excerpts of censored material on your own website."
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Amnesty International vs. Internet Censorship

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  • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:49AM (#15420209) Homepage
    "Amnesty International has a new online campaign against governments which censor websites

    So, are they also going after all those "enlightened" governments that censor "hate speech" and neo-Nazi crap, or are they selectively enforcing their policy?
  • Technically useless. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by user24 (854467) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:50AM (#15420213) Homepage
    I must say, I admire their motives, copying censored content all over the web to make it effectively impossible to censor. But their implementation is totally flawed; From the site:
    "If you have a website, myspace page or blog, help us spread the word and undermine unwarranted censorship by publishing censored material from our database directly onto your site."

    .. but then they invite you to include a javascript file from a central server - what happens when that server gets blocked by a censoring country? All the copies go offline.
    Great, amnesty, really great. The cynic in me just wants to say that all amnesty want is to have people "spread the word and undermine unwarranted censorship by driving more people to our website, not by publishing censored material"...
  • by packetmon (977047) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:58AM (#15420241) Homepage
    By now most people should know what will end up happening with this "Free(dumb)Network". Governments will disallow under harsh penalties usage of such a network. They will all claim security takes precedence over privacy. The problems with this current infrastructure aren't the lack of available tools to ensure privacy (PGP, SSL, S/MIME, VPN, etc), the problem is with the people who 1) don't understand the underlying need for privacy, 2) lack of standardization in implementing these tools. How niche would it be to create a "Secure ISP" based service where everything was encrypted on the wire before it left your network? Wouldn't be all that difficult but most common people wouldn't understand the need for it if it slapped them in the face.

    Outside of that, what would end up happening with a "niche provider" would be the interaction with a "non niche" provider who wasn't providing security. They overlap and that will forever be a problem. Here in the US as we all have seen, what will likely happen in one of these Free(dumb)Networks is, the gov will spew the catch phrase Osama and all things terror and knock this notion down the drain. I'm a huge privacy advocate and believe in security to the fullest, but even I feel there is no need for an all inclusive "SecureNet". The typical network transaction does not warrant the network and application overhead needed. I do know however that when I need something said securely, processed securely, transacted securely, I don't rely on any protocol, person or program. Rather I rely on myself which is the main and most fundamental point on the security food chain.

    As for the notion of a petition, it will go nowhere with this crapaganda of things terror related. To an extent I agree with some portions of governments pickings when it comes to security and privacy, but I also know governments' current actions are likely to create smarter criminals. This is evident in the computer security industry where viruses are now utilizing encryption schemes to hide themselves and their actions... Imagine clusters of terrorists doing the same... So to a degree I empathize with governments... They just don't have a clue, but at the same time their actions will be their stepping blocks.
  • by kfg (145172) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:16AM (#15420310)
    Our bias is your thought crime.

    KFG
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:11AM (#15420476)
    It is against Chinese law to criticize the government. Shutting down these websites is merely an extension of the enforcement of said law. So it seems your alalogy falls apart. The real issue is that we don't like their laws.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:20AM (#15420507) Journal
    The problems with this current infrastructure aren't the lack of available tools to ensure privacy (PGP, SSL, S/MIME, VPN, etc),


    How do these protect against an oppressive government?

    As far as I know, Freenet is the only way to publish something, and for everyone else to view that something, without the government being able to tell who published it and who's viewing it.

    2) lack of standardization in implementing these tools.


    And then you complain that Freenet is too standard?

    How niche would it be to create a "Secure ISP" based service where everything was encrypted on the wire before it left your network?


    And then decrypted at the ISP before it leaves their network? Seriously, what does that buy you? And why couldn't the government come in and demand the ISP's records?

    The point of Freenet is, unless the government comes out and says you can't do it, no one can control it. Once it's widely implemented, the ISP is literally unable to turn over records of your activity to the government.

    the gov will spew the catch phrase Osama and all things terror and knock this notion down the drain.


    I don't think they could. Most of the population wouldn't buy it -- we don't like wiretapping, either. All we need is enough content on the network that most people want to use it, and that could be much more successfully bootstrapped if it weren't for the performance issues -- Freenet sucks down as much bandwidth and CPU as you throw at it, and is still much slower than browsing the web over VNC on half-speed dialup.

    Now, it may prevent other countries from adopting it so quickly, but imagine if the US, Canada, and Europe put so much content on Freenet that it essentially became The Internet. China would have to let it through or effectively be cutting their country off from any Western content at all.

    The typical network transaction does not warrant the network and application overhead needed.


    That's the point. So, when the vast majority of freenet traffic is "typical", it's that much more impossible to find the atypical.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:37PM (#15420790) Homepage Journal
    A casual look at their web site makes it look like they're more concerned about governments that engage in hate speech than about governments who censor it. For example, part of the runup to the Yugoslav civil war was official propaganda pandering to and inflaming ethnic hatred. If you have a strong stomach, look up what Zimbabwe's government is saying about gay people.

    Hypocrisy, or sensible priorities?
  • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:06PM (#15420889) Homepage Journal
    Could you explain/elaborate on that? Are you talking about Amnesty International? Amnesty International is all about the abolition of torture and the promotion of human rights. AI has no ability or desire to deny distribution of medicine to anyone. AI has always maintained a politics neutral standpoint with regard to torture.

    Goals of Amnesty (from the wikipedia entry):

    • Free all Prisoners of Conscience (a "POC" is a person imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their beliefs, which differs somewhat from the typical use of the term political prisoner).
    • Ensure fair and prompt trials.
    • Abolish all forms of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, including the use of the death penalty.
    • End state-sanctioned terrorism, killings, and disappearances.
    • Assist political asylum-seekers.
    • End all forms of violence against women
    • Co-operate with organizations that seek to put an end to human rights abuses.
    • Raise awareness about human rights abuses around the world.

    Should really clean house before going abroad.

    Not really sure what you mean by this. Did you miss the "international" in Amnesty International?

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