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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 crhylove (205956) <rhy@leperkhanz.com> on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:43AM (#15420189) Homepage Journal
    What we need isn't a petition that corporations and governments will ignore. What we need is a working FreeNet, and not in java, but in some truly open source language.

    Everyone pray to the FOSS infrastructure gods! That'll more likely help than any petition ever will.

    rhY
    • 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 Pxtl (151020) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:41AM (#15420387) Homepage
        You've got it mixed up. The boogeymen of the internet are the paedophiles. Terrorists are the boogeymen of the airports and courts.
      • 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 kanzels (975208) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:44AM (#15420190) Homepage
    I hope somebody can stop insanity like tracking all e-mails or even paying taxes per e-mail as suggested in EU.
    • by arivanov (12034) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:40AM (#15420381) Homepage

      Well...

      I would actually like to be able to read the headers of emails I get. So will quite a few other people. Helps weed out at least some minor fraudsters out there.

      Similarly, I do not see anything wrong with paying for bandwidth, services, etc on a per item or per Kb basis.

      After all, let's get real. Internet is now a utility. We are reaching the point where governments are contemplating to make broadband access an essential service which is a right and Telcos are supposed to guarantee that 100% of the population is covered. Essentially it is on its way to become an essential service like phone or electricity.

      A connection to any other utility carries with it responsibilities. If the water pipe between the street and your house bursts you have to pay for the repairs and any damage to other properties. If you have a broken appliance which uses electricity without your knowledge, you pay per KW/h used. If you use a phone you pay for any premium services you have used. So on, so fourth.

      Frankly I do not see why Internet is supposed to be any different. I personally do not mind paying for my connection on a per Kb basis. Neither will 99% of the consumers if they are provided with clear, well defined and understandable billing criteria and billing information.
      • by Znork (31774) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:25AM (#15420524)
        "I personally do not mind paying for my connection on a per Kb basis."

        You will when someone decides to dump a few thousand dollars worth of unasked for traffic your way.
      • by diablomonic (754193) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:34AM (#15420542)
        you dont seem to understand the actual situation (assuming the following situation is what you are talking about, I could be entirely wrong).

        ISP's (at least here in australia) charge end users either set fee's for supposedly unlimited access at a maximum data rate, or fees based on how much they download. big wensites like google pay other isp's (or set up their own equipment) fees based on how much bandwidth is used by the website. in this setup, it should be obvious that any costs for users bandwidth should be covered by the fees charged them, NO MATTER THE CONTENT BEING VIEWED (its all just bits to an ISP), and beyond paying the bandwidth costs incured by its webhosting company (plus extra for profit of course), a website should not have to pay any other isp for data transfered through that isp's net:

        They are ALREADY being payed for it by the end user downloading said data.

        any arguments of "unexpectedly heavy bandwidth use" are rediculous, implying(and this is in fact generally true) that the ISP is engaging in a kind of false advertising, whereby you pay for an "unlimited download x mb/s connection" but are infact recieving an "x mb/s maximum, not garaunteed, download limited depending on how other people are downloading/ how overloaded our pipe is/ any other reason we pullout our &%$&.

        The situation is analogous to signing a contract for unlimited electricity usage at a maximum 4 KW with a power company (no i've never heard of such a contract either), only to find that your entire street of 20 houses (on similar contract) only has a 6KW powerline supplying it, so if you and your neighbours both try to run a 4KW airconditioner your screwed. the power company then wants the airconditioner manufacturer to pay them as well for using too much power. Its rediculous, any costs incurred in supplying the electricity should be covered by the contract, and if they arent, thats the power companys (or ISP's in the real world) own bad luck for bad business planning (and signing a contract they never inteded to honour).

        I have no problem with the isp charging users a cost per kb, if thats the obvious upfront deal (and if they can get users to sign up) but this cost and this alone should cover the isps costs for supplying this user. They should not expect a webservice provider not directly connected to them to pay them simply because the data travels over their net, THATS WHAT THE END USER IS PAYING THEM FOR!.

        anyway apologies if this is not what you were talking about.

  • 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?
    • by Guuge (719028) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:01AM (#15420254)
      I have a feeling that they won't be defending anyone's "right" to post death threats online. Hypocritical or not, that's actually a good thing. They ought to be going after those who censor political speech on a large scale.
      • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:22AM (#15420328) Homepage
        First they defined hate speech as "posting death threats online," and I did not speak up because I didn't post death threats online. Then, they defined hate speech as "racist material" and I did not speak up because I wasn't a racist. Then, they defined hate speech as "Islamophobia," and I did not speak up because I wasn't against Islam. Then, they defined hate speech as "anti-Christian material," and even though I really hated Christians, I did not speak out because I knew the consequences. Finally, they defined hate speech as "not swearing complete and utter loyalty to the current ruling class," and there was nothing that could be done as the entire apparatus of speech and thought suppression was already well established.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:29AM (#15420351)
          Hey we can all play this! First they defined murder as premdeditated killing and I did not speak up because I don't plan out my killings. Then they defined murder as being really really mean to people and I didn't speak out because I hate those mean people. Then they defined murder as eating fried bananas. Moral: It shouldn't be illegal to kill people because if it is then something else might be made illegal later!

          Oh wait, I've just realised, this whole line of reasoning is totally fucking stupid.
          • by giorgiofr (887762) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:47AM (#15420404)
            Actually, you just said a great truth.
            Because of the slippery slope that you despise so much, they have recently jailed a guy in my city who shot and killed in self defence, with a legitimately owned and registered gun, during a robbery where he and his fathers were attacked.
            The reasons why he was jailed are, of course, political. I'm not entering the details because they are not relevant now. But it goes to show that "this whole line of reasoning is totally fucking" APPROPRIATE.
            • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:48PM (#15421015) Homepage

              Are you serious? So you think that because the law was incorrectly enforced in one case that murder should be legalized? Well, let's legalize robbery and rape as well then since I'm sure just as many individuals have been wrongfully imprisoned for those crimes also.

              Or maybe the more rational approach would be to address what actually went wrong in that situation: incorrect interepretation/enforcement of the law. Instead of legalizing murder (do I even need to explain why this is a stupid idea?), maybe the decision should be appealed and the judge who passed that decision should be investigated for incompetence--if what you claimed to have happen is in fact accurate.

              In most countries there's a difference between murder, manslaughter, and justifiable homicide. These legal definitions are put in place so that the law can't be interpreted askewed and enforced differently from their original intent. So there's no reason to legalize murder just because one judge--supposedly--mistook justifiable homicide for murder.

              Also, you don't seem to understand the meaning of the original quote, which was a statement about persecution. The original quote meant that in a society that doesn't stand up to the persecution of targeted minorities by an oppressive regime, no one is safe. Protecting society from murderers is not a form of persecution, nor is it a characteristic of an oppressive regime. Protecting society from murderers isn't an injustice that will snowball if let to persist. The logic simply doesn't work applied in the context you're using it in. If you're going to use a quote to demonstrate a point, atleast try to understand its meaning.

        • by giorgiofr (887762) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:35AM (#15420360)
          By now, you should have realized that society at large is not ready for a "personal responsibility" framework. I have found that people will go to great lengths (in both denial and self-harm) in order to ignore the possibility of there being such a thing as responsibility for what you do.
          Until this changes, they will be more than happy to sponsor censorship-happy governments. The more the gov't handles, the less responsible they will be. Then, when something bad happens, they just wish to fix it with extreme prejudice, lock it away, try to forget about it, and pass more legislation: apparently we're not forbidding enough things.
          And why the hell are you a nazi anyway? Why do you support pro-nazi speech? Don't you think of the children? ;)
          • by demachina (71715) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:25PM (#15420949)

            The mere fact that a government is seeking to engineer how people think, speak and dress when it comes to Nazism is a Fascist tendency in its own right. Fascism operates under the tenant that people can't be trusted to think for themselves so the government has to regulate how they think and act for the good of the state.

            The irony of rabid suppresion of Nazis is that many governments are leaning if not out right rushing to Fascism today. China, U.S., U.K., Australia, Russia and Israel are on the top of the Fascism scale in my book. Are they Nazi Germany, obviously not though China is pretty close with internal policy. Fortunately China at present seems to have no interest in aggressive warfare, a Fascist trademark, they are so busy just getting rich the old fashioned way. The U.S. has a superficially freer society though its getting less free every day, but its makes up for it on the Fascism scale with rampant militarism and advocacy of aggressive, preemptive war making.

            Its my suspicion the world's governments need to suppress Nazi sympathizers because they want to return to Fascism as the world's dominant form of government, but to do that they need to erase the association between Fascism and the extreme turn it took in the 1930's and 1940's. If they outlaw and suppress the most notorious and superficial symbols of Fascism then OBVIOUSLY they must not be Fascist and Fascism must not exist today. If you make the false assertion that to be a Fascist you must wear a Swastika, and you outlaw the Swastika so no one wears them, then it follows there must not be any Fascists, right? It is an interesting con game.

            The world's governments and media are in complete denial that Fascism could ever flourish again when in fact it is flourishing, its just no one will speak the name and on the Internet Godwin's law will be invoked, Godwin's law being the ultimate weapon to prevent anyone calling a spade a spade on the Internet.

            The only time you hear anyone being called Fascist lately, is the Bush administration seems to have settled on Islamo-Fascist as their new buzz word since they've completely worn out the 'T' and 'R' keys on their keyboards using the word "Terrorist" a hundred times in EVERY speech and press release for the last 5 years, to refer to EVERYONE who is not "with them" in the "either you are with us or you are against us" equation. I would say there is another pretty heavy dose of smoke screen in their recent use of Fascist in describing their enemy. If there enemy is Fascist then that MUST mean that they are not, though in fact they are at least leaning that way.

            Israel is another interesting case study. It was a state born out of the crucible of Fascism, but they treat Palestinians as sub human and with such contempt that it must ring a bell with Jews who lived in Europe in the 1930's. Just last week Israel's Supreme court affirmed a law effectively banning a Palestinian from marrying an Israeli citizen, a law so much like the Nazi prohibition of intermarriage with Jews. The law is not exactly predicated on race since its real motive is to prevent Palestinians from ever becoming the majority withing Israel. You see Palestinian are reproducing at a higher rate than Israel's Jews, especially if you count the occupied territories. so there is an imminent danger they will become the majority. Since Israel wants to maintain the facade it is a representative democracy it must do everything in its power to prevent Palestinians from becoming the majority, because when they are either Jews surrender power at the polls or for all practical purposes Israel is an apartheid state, which is pretty much already is, with a minority controlling power through non Democratic means and ethnic "cleansing". This is a key motivator from the withdrawl from Gaza. Through withdrawl Israel can claim that all the Palestinians there are no longer a part of Israel while Israel still maintains a choke hold on every aspect of their day to day lives.
            • by Qa1 (592969) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @04:06PM (#15421525)
              Just last week Israel's Supreme court affirmed a law effectively banning a Palestinian from marrying an Israeli citizen, a law so much like the Nazi prohibition of intermarriage with Jews.

              This is, quite simply, false. The law you're refering to does not prevent anyone from marrying anyone.

              What that law does state is that Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens would not be automatically granted Israeli citizenship.

              So first of all, that's hardly a human-rights violation; it's a rule about who can and cannot become an Israeli citizen, and how. Japan, for instance, does not grant a man citizenship if he marries a Japanese woman. Every country has the right to determine who can and cannot gain citizenship, and many do enforce strict laws.

              Moreover, you can hardly call that rule unreasonable. The Palestinians are currently at war with Israel. Many of them state their commitment to wiping us out of the face of the Earth. Are we out of line by denying them the ability to become citizens of our country? Can a country not prevent its enemies from gaining its citizenship? I think the answer to these questions is obvious.

              And one other important fact. That rule was only established recently. After 5 years of intense conflict, during which 25 Palestinians who gained Israeli citizenship by marriage were involved in suicide bombings againt Israeli population. Each such bombing causes on average 10-30 casualties, and the order of 50-300 wounded. I believe the Israeli people have the right to defend themselves.

              • by demachina (71715) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @05:26PM (#15421821)
                "What that law does state is that Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens would not be automatically granted Israeli citizenship."

                And it also means the Palestinian spouse can't move to Israel to live together as man and wife. I don't think an Israeli citizen can easily move to the West Bank to live with their spouse either. The Israeli military restricts who can move to the West bank, apparently favoring to only allow Jews to move their to create "illegal" settlements secretly blessed by the Israeli government. Yes I think you can get married but you probably wont be able to live together and any children you have will be in legal limbo.

                Contrast this with any non Palestinian who can marry an Israeli and get citizenship with no problem. Any Jew from anywhere in the world can easily move to Israel and get citizenship and in fact many American Jews have duel citizenship where they are given an Israeli passport merely because they are Jewish. I think Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the disaster in Iraq, carries
                dual citizenship and duel alegience which is bad for a key decision maker in the Pentagon.

                You can try to rationalize it anyway you like but in its current form it is a racist, apartheid policy designed to cement Israel as a Jewish state. It is a hard and fast rule a Jew from anywhere can get citizenship in a heart beat and its nearly impossible for Palestinians to even return to what was their home for centuries until they were driven out, often by threat of violence like the massacre at Deir Yassin.

                "The Palestinians are currently at war with Israel."

                Yes and likewise the Israelis have been at war with the Palestinians since they pushed them out of the homes 60 years ago. You act like its only the Palestinians who are at war. Far more of them die at the hands of the Israelis than the other way around. Its also unlikely there will ever be any real peace short of the Palestinians completely capitulating and accepting life in walled ghettos in Gaza and the West Bank for the rest of time, most probably in eternal povery since the occupied territories are economically unviable inside an Israeli noose.

                If you had been driven out of your home and in to refugee camps for 60 years I'm pretty sure you would be doing the same things the Palestinians are doing.

                One [counterpunch.org]alternative viewpoint to consider and . [commondreams.org]
      • by penguin-collective (932038) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:39AM (#15420376)
        If the world really were that black and white, things would be a lot simpler.
      • by jasonditz (597385) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:46AM (#15420581) Homepage
        I have a feeling that they won't be defending anyone's "right" to (post death threats, oppose the war, blaspheme, defame democracy, aid the terrorists) online. Hypocritical or not, that's actually a good thing. They ought to be going after those who censor political speech on a large scale.
    • by kfg (145172) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:16AM (#15420310)
      Our bias is your thought crime.

      KFG
    • by Demerara (256642) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:53AM (#15420423) Homepage
      Could you be more specific? Which countries and which hate-speech and neo-nazi crap are being repressed. If you can give examples, we can determine whether AI are active or not.

      If they're not, then your rhetorical question is answered.If they are, well...

    • A non-government lobbyist organization has no obligation to being fair, just to effective. Being effective means taking up the most popular cases. If they start defending the right to publish pedophile fantasies, to take a non-political example, that will be used against them and make the entire campaign inefficient.

    • 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?
    • It sounds like you're lobbying for the right to yell "fire!" in a crowded movie house. Do you think that if the hate speech propagated by the radio personalities in Rwanda had been halted there would still have been a massacre of 800,000 people?

      Even here in the U.S. where we have pretty liberal laws regarding free speech it is still recognized that you are not allowed to incite people to violence. That inciting to violence is what AI opposes.

      • It sounds like you're lobbying for the right to yell "fire!" in a crowded movie house.
        Ah, that old argument. I'm lobbying that people be treated as adults, instead of as children who constantly need to be looked after by Big Brother so that they do not go astray.

        Do you think that if the hate speech propagated by the radio personalities in Rwanda had been halted there would still have been a massacre of 800,000 people? [If we don't censor speech, bad things will happen.]
        But what if neo-Nazis use the postal service to spread their message of hate and discuss their vile ideology? We need the government to read everyone's mail now so that no pro-Nazi mail is ever sent! But what if they use email? Oh noes, we need the government to read all of that too. What if they get together in their houses and discuss their vile ideology? OMG, we need to the government to install video cameras in every house to make sure that does not happen! But what if they go into the wilderness to discuss their vile ideology? We need to install sub-dermal implants in all citizens so that the government can make sure that people don't say pro-Nazi things in the wilderness. But what if they use sign language in the wilderness? We need the government to install ocular implants in all citizens to make sure that that does not happen! What if they communicate using more code by tapping each other's stomachs while looking away! Oh noes, now were really doomed because I can't think of a way that the government can prevent that! I guess it's time that the government just placed everyone in solitary confinement to prevent that. It's the only way!
  • by KitesWorld (901626) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:49AM (#15420210)
    "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."

    Emphasis mine. Every government does that, and it's unlikely that any petition will end that. Why? Because not all of that monitoring is done with 'Evil Intent'. I'm not going to complain because the police are watching IRC rooms as part of operation Avalanche or whatever. I'm not going to complain when they shut down some idiots website telling someone to go poison the water supply.

    This may not be a popular view with the yanks, but not all censorship or eavesdropping is inherently bad. The problem is making sure there are controls in place, so that that power can't be abused. The other problem is trust.

    • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:54AM (#15420225)
      >Because not all of that monitoring is done with 'Evil Intent'.

      Not all serial killers are actually killing with 'Evil Intent'.
    • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:01AM (#15420253) Homepage
      Every government does that, and it's unlikely that any petition will end that.
      For at least one government, however, it is actually illegal to censor websites due to their constitution. If you have any proof of them doing so, you can sue them.

      This may not be a popular view with the yanks, but not all censorship or eavesdropping is inherently bad. The problem is making sure there are controls in place, so that that power can't be abused. The other problem is trust.
      Great, another "enlightened" "nuanced" individual. We can argue about eavesdropping as eavesdropping can be framed as a method of information aggregation which does not suppress information dissemination. Censorship, on the other hand, purposely suppresses the dissemination of information. You're right about one thing, it is a matter of trust, and if you, as an adult (I assume), are willing to let bureaucrats and politicians, each with their own personal bias and agenda, control what you see, hear, or read, you are being quite "trustworthy."
    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:43AM (#15420574) Journal
      Who watches the watchers?
    • by vertinox (846076) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:56AM (#15420620)
      This may not be a popular view with the yanks, but not all censorship or eavesdropping is inherently bad. The problem is making sure there are controls in place, so that that power can't be abused. The other problem is trust.

      Maybe as a Yank, I have problems with eavesdropping.

      For one... It is just inconsiderate. Secondly, it implies guilt. Lastly, it gives government too much power.

      I'd rather have an ineffective and idiotic government than one that is strong and all knowing.

      I don't care if it for "good", because we might have good people in office, but one day those tempted by power and greed might happen to be in a position of authority because all that power of the state is quite a target by those who would commit evil.

      Keep the government weak and ineffective and those people will stick to running corporations or just doing evil on a local scale.

      Crime can be prevented by local means and without using eavesdropping or monitoring. If they have a good reason, they can get a warrant and target specific suspects. Otherwise... They need to not be monitoring.
    • by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Sunday May 28, 2006 @02:53PM (#15421252)
      Shouldn't that be monitor private online communications? Is Amnesty International saying that government officials can't read Slashdot?
  • 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 tyroneking (258793) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:55AM (#15420230)
    ... if an organisation like Amnesty is getting involved in this way then internet censorship is a real threat that we should all be concerned with.
    Amnesty really is the hardcore of moral activism.
    From blood diamonds to the arms trade, from violence against women to the death penalty, and not forgetting the letter writing campaigns, Amnesty doesn't concern itself with minor issues like Microsoft vs Linux or Google taking over the world.
    I think I might actualy do something to contribute this time ...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @09:57AM (#15420237)
    Come on people.

    We all know that the US is the worst when it comes to censorship and human rights violations.

    So why, when I visit that site, do I see a quote from a Syrian site?

    Come on people, prioritize.

    -john
  • Useless (Score:3, Funny)

    by umbrellasd (876984) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:21AM (#15420324)
    Oh, yes. Let's just forward that petition straight to China.

    UN: Please don't censor your people, China.
    China: We have nuclear weapons, stupid.
    UN: Oh, damn.
    UN: Hey, Iran. Please don't censor your...
    Iran: Uranium, uranium, uranium. Stick it up uranium, UN.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:29AM (#15420350) Homepage
    In China, it's state security and public stability. In the EU it's anti-racism, who can oppose that? And in the United States it's nothing short of making America safe for democracy through "campaign finance reform." What kind of commie bastard opposes public safety, supports racism and is in favor of letting others (special interests) run our government?
    • by giorgiofr (887762) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @10:41AM (#15420384)
      The kind of commie bastard who wrote in my country's constitution that it's forbidden to be or simply to promote fascism.
      The kind of commie bastard who is so against racism that he has anti-white laws passed. But hey that's not racism because I'm white and I'm supposed to suck it up and die.
      That kind. Satisfied, you commie bastard?
  • by Cal Paterson (881180) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:40AM (#15420563)
    Oh thank god. Amnesty International involved! Great, now the anti-censorship lobby will have childish name-calling, double standards on freedom of speech, and glossy leaflets on their side. How I have waited for this day.

    I'm a supporter of the anti-censorship side of this debate, but having an organisation that believes in censorship of opinions they dislike really means little. I know this is going to stir people up, but consider this quote (from Wikipedia);

    However, the right to freedom of expression is not absolute -- neither for the creators of material nor their critics. It carries responsibilities and it may, therefore, be subject to restrictions in the name of safeguarding the rights of others. In particular, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence cannot be considered legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. Under international standards, such "hate speech" should be prohibited by law.

    Now, as much as nationalists, racists and religious extremists are scum, the fact of the matter is that they all have the right to a voice, just like everyone else. One shouldn't ban political opinions you dislike. When people use bigotry as an excuse to commit force or fraud, it is the act itself which is the crime, and deserves punishment, not the motive behind it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:40AM (#15420565)
    During the last UN conference on the internet, held in Tunisia, Robert Mugabe, dictator of Zimbabwe, got up and said, "There is too much freedom of speech on the internet" and received huge applause from the assembled thugs and potentates.

    The UN has a lot of evil members. Don't forget that.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @03:12PM (#15421330)
      abc.net.au:

      John Bolton: There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that's the United States. When it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along. The United States makes the U.N. work when it wants to work, and that is exactly the way it should be, because the only question, the only question for the United States is what's in our national interest. And if you don't like that, I'm sorry, but that is the fact.

      Stan Correy: John Bolton is now the US Ambassador to the United Nations, an organisation he's publicly disdained for almost 30 years.

      Download Audio - 21052006 http://www.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/feeds/bbing_20060 521.mp3 [abc.net.au]

      John R Bolton may be called 'the ugly American' and be widely disliked, yet his pivotal role as US Ambassador to the UN makes him extraordinarily powerful and important in world affairs. Obsequious, arrogant, doctrinaire and above all, Americanist - but no fool, neocons hope he may save the Bush administration.


      Show transcript http://www.abc.net.au/rn/backgroundbriefing/storie s/2006/1639578.htm# [abc.net.au]
  • by whathappenedtomonday (581634) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:43AM (#15420575) Journal
    didn't they notice that the German Democratic Republic from the country list doesn't exist anymore?! [wikipedia.org]
    • by vertinox (846076) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:02PM (#15420653)
      I think they were being semantic. East Germany (the region that is) has more problems with rascist attacks than the West German territories. Even though they are one state now, they still have quite a difference socially and economically.
      • by whathappenedtomonday (581634) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:19PM (#15420725) Journal
        Even though they are one state now, they still have quite a difference socially and economically.

        Yes indeed, but there's no such thing as the "GDR" anymore, so semantically, it is plain wrong to list it. By your reasoning, shouldn't they list Switzerland three times, once for each language spoken there?

        They just used a ~20 year old list of countries in the "Sign this pledge" form, that's it.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @11:51AM (#15420602) Journal
    Does Amnesty International include the Wikipedia in its list of those censoring dissenters?

    Because I and others have been prevented from telling the truth there several times.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:03PM (#15420657)
    Silent about genocide, subjugated poverty and terror; up to and including denial of distribution of UN medicine to children resulting in the deaths of 100K+ under 18 because of political alliances.

    Should really clean house before going abroad.
    • 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?

      • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @03:27PM (#15421394) Homepage
        Hahaha...AI is a neutral organization? Please tell me you're not that naive. They spend most of their time denouncing the USA and have little time left to denounce the Darfur genocide, for instance.
        • by katharsis83 (581371) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @04:22PM (#15421577)
          That's fucking bullshit. The only reason you think that is because domestic news sources give it more publicity when it condemns the US for "War on Terror" tactics, rather than when it does something boring like talking about massacres in South America or the Darfur conflict.

          Have you even looked at the Amnesty International website? Here let me show you a quote from their 2006 annual report that describes, "...widespread rape and killings continued - most shockingly in Darfur - against a background of poverty and disease." Source: http://web.amnesty.org/report2006/globaloverview-e ng [amnesty.org]

          Yes, the website does go on to criticize the US for one full sentence, and it also makes damn sure that China's rural policies, torture by Middle-Eastern governments, and incredibly poverty in Africa are mentioned as well.

          Also, do you know WHY America gets criticzed for even (relatively, compared to the Darfur genocide) slips in human rights records? This is because Americans - me included - consider their country to be a role model for the rest of the world. We obviously aren't as bad as China when it comes to censorship or Syria when it comes to torture, but why are we even comparing ourselves to that? Does it really feel that good to say, "well, at least we aren't as bad as the Darfur Janjaweed militia?" We hold ourselves to a higher moral standard, and I see nothing wrong when international human rights organizations call us out when we lapse from that standard. If we consider ourselves a symbol of freedom and democracy in the world, we better be able to take flak when we deviate in any way from those principles.
          • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @06:11PM (#15421979) Homepage
            Also, do you know WHY America gets criticzed for even (relatively, compared to the Darfur genocide) slips in human rights records?

            Because AI is a biased organization that lives and breathes anti-Americanism?

            Check out their annual report - it begins with a letter from Amnesty's secretary general, Irene Khan. The letter opens with the events of August 19, 2003, when the United Nations envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was killed in an attack on United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. Khan wonders why the "legitimacy and credibility of the UN could have eroded to such a fatal degree," noting that the UN was marginalized by America's march to war. That is supposed to explain the bombing of UN headquarters in Iraq? This peculiar bit of reasoning defies logic. Later on in the letter, Khan condemns "unequivocally" the actions of terrorist groups. But this hardly makes up for her earlier implication that America's rocky relationship with the UN somehow led to the August 19 attacks.

            Khan worries that Washington is trampling on human rights in its search for security, and muses about lost opportunities to correct social injustice and inequality as increased funding goes to the Pentagon's budget rather than to poverty-alleviation programs. While condemning "armed groups and individuals," she doesn't delve into much detail about the enormous harm wrought on the lives and rights of untold millions living under the intolerant tenets of religious extremism.

            The United States is named five times in her opening letter, and indirectly alluded to on several other occasions. No other country merits such sustained criticism. Certainly not the government of Sudan, which is guilty of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in what is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. As many as a million Sudanese in the Darfur region have been driven from their homes and tens of thousands have been slaughtered by militias loyal to the government. Khan does not mention the government of North Korea, which keeps a population of 25 million living in abject poverty and isolation, with more than 6 million Koreans depending on international handouts to avoid starvation while the regime spends scarce resources to build nuclear weapons. Khan mentions only in passing the human rights problems in the Congo, where more than 3 million people have died in a war nobody pays much attention to. Egypt merits a brief mention, but Khan does not bother criticizing Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, or any of the other Arab countries where jails are filled with political prisoners who often linger behind bars even after their sentences are completed. The millions of Burmese living under the heel of military dictatorship also fail to garner a mention in Khan's letter, as do the populations of increasingly repressive Central Asia regimes. And, of course, Khan declined to write about the travesty of the UN Human Rights Commission, which has lost all credibility by counting among its members some of the world's worst human rights violators.

            Yes, the details of each country's abuses appear inside the report. But the overarching views and priorities of Amnesty International take shape in Khan's introductory letter and in the press release. After all, those are the sections of the report that most readers are likely to see.

            And Amnesty's bias isn't just reflected in who it condemns; it's also revealed in where it directs praise. Amid the desolate landscape allegedly created by Washington, Amnesty takes solace in the emergence of what it calls a "global justice movement"--comprising the millions who, according to Amnesty, "took to the streets around the world in solidarity with the Iraqi people." That's an amazingly simplistic characterization of anti-war marches--it's not clear how a movement that urges the abandonment of Iraq stands in "solidarity with the Iraqi people"--and one that makes Amnesty sound more like a left-wing activist group than the rational, analytical organization it claims to be. Human rights are indeed under attack, and victims of abuse need staunch--and serious--defenders more than ever. Amnesty International could be at the forefront of this work, if it weren't so busy carrying out a narrow political agenda.

  • by wandm (969392) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:41PM (#15420802)
    I can't believe this. Amnesty, a major human right organisation with lots of members, money and influence takes up internet freedom as a campaining topic and what do slashdotters do? Moan, complain and try to rip jokes out of it.

    Believe me, Amnesty has been able to change pretty many things in this world, and for better. Now they are taking up the case of Shi Tao, who got 10 years in China for advancing freedom. Now sign the damn petition, it takes a freaking 10 seconds! Would be great to have 100.000 names on it. Slashdotters could and should help.

    http://irrepressible.info/

  • by houghi (78078) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @12:43PM (#15420810)
    Will they fight governements that make it their job to make it difficult to put porn online?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2006 @01:17PM (#15420927)
    I am interested in seeing what will happen in November. But for the time being there is a faster solution. anoNet is a VPN network which operates just like the Internet but without the influence of the government. All communications are encrypted and uncensored. People are free to say whatever they want to without fear of persecution. We use the 1.0.0.0/8 IP range, so it is impossible to geographically identify a user based on their IP. It is 100% anonymous. Interested? Visit http://anonet.org/ [anonet.org] for details.
  • by Trogre (513942) on Sunday May 28, 2006 @05:15PM (#15421777) Homepage
    Amnesty International has recently adopted a policy where abortion is considered a human right.

    What do people here think about this? Is it over-stepping their mark?

  • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Sunday May 28, 2006 @05:47PM (#15421887)
    Looks like you cannot use their javascript code in Blogger:

    Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is not allowed:

    I guess the forbidden javascript will also be cut out of this Blogger error message quote.

    Talk about censorship... :-)

    But in fact, if you click the check box to ignore HTML errors, it posts alright.

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