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Free "Blogging Speech"

This is not a post about tips or how to blog. It is a post which affects every kind of blogger from every part of the world.

In the USA, we are use to having and defending the right to have our rights of freedom of speech. Often we take it for granted until we hear about items in the news such as the recent AP Versus Bloggers issue. What about the rest of the world?

Prior to January of this year, Wei Wenhua was a model communist. In China he is now a bloggers' hero -- a "citizen journalist" turned martyr.

Here is the story, according to CNN, about the former construction company manager nd what happened to him when was driving his car when he witnessed an ugly scene. A team of about 50 city inspectors beating villagers who tried to block trucks from unloading trash near their homes. Would you want other people's trash dumped in your neighborhood?

Wei took out his cell phone and began taking pictures. The city inspectors saw Wei and then attacked him in a beating that lasted five minutes. By the time it was over, the 41-year-old Wei was slumped unconscious. He was rushed to the hospital but was dead on arrival.

In China's mainstream media and in the blogosphere, angry Chinese are demanding action. In tru blogger's fashion, the Web site published news of Wei's beating. Readers promptly expressed their outrage. In one day alone, more than 8,000 posted comments. Bloggers inside and outside China bluntly condemned the brutal killing.

China has more than 172 million Internet users. Officials said about 4 million Chinese go online for the first time every month.

Despite the fact that the Chinese Constitution is supposed to guarantee freedom of speech, China continues to restrict the flow of information. Fearful of the surge in Internet and mobile phone usage -- and the information they are able to transmit -- the Chinese authorities are stepping up efforts to monitor and restrict their use, according to Reporters Without Borders, which fights against censorship and laws that undermine press freedom. A few Internet data centers have been closed down, along with thousands of Web sites.

What is the 2008 Olympic host is trying to hide from the rest of the world?

Can overly-micromanaging governments or othe god-like censoring factions really censor the millions of world-wide bloggers?

According to Reuters South Africa in China with the number of bloggers expected to hit 60 million by the end of this year, it is the world's second-largest Internet market after the United States. China has with more than 110 million users. A survey by Chinese search engine put the current number of blog, or web log, sites at 36.82 million which are kept by 16 million people. Can China's Communist Party's propaganda goons censor this? There are many reports about chat forums and online bulletin boards are routinely monitored for controversial political comments and sensitive words such as 'freedom' and 'democracy' are censored.

Silencing citizen journalists is getting more difficult. Thanks to worldwide bloggers, we are able to experience events from around the globe from the prespective of a citizen and not necessarily of what the reigning government wants us to see. This is more than important to the world-wide comunity if our goals include wiping out world wide hunger, poverty, promoting peace, etc. has reported,"… Internet companies have also come under fire lately for some actions in China, including Google for saying it would block politically sensitive terms on its website in the country and Microsoft's MSN for shutting down a blog under Chinese government orders."

Reports say that censorship of the Web is now done on every continent. Traditional 'predators of press freedom' — Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Libya, the Maldives, Nepal, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam — all censor the Internet now. In 2003, only China, Vietnam and the Maldives had imprisoned cyber-dissidents. Now more countries do.

According to Reporters without Borders,
"A score of bloggers and online journalists have been thrown in jail in Iran since Sept. 2004 and one of them, Mojtaba Saminejad, has been there since Feb. 2005 for posting material deemed offensive to Islam. In Libya, former bookseller Abdel Razak al-Mansouri was sentenced to 18 months in prison for making fun of President Mohammar Khaddafi online. You have to wonder how many American bloggers would be jailed if making fun of President Bush were to be deemed 'offensive'.

"The situation has worsened in the Middle East and North Africa. In Nov. 2005, Morocco began censoring all political websites advocating Western Sahara's independence. Iran expands its list of banned sites each year and it now includes all publications mentioning women's rights. Some Asian countries seem about to go further than their Chinese 'big brother.' Burma has acquired sophisticated technology to filter the Internet, and the country's cyber caf├ęs spy on customers by automatically recording what is on the screen every five minutes." is reporting that Ethiopia's Parliament has endorsed a new Media Bill despite fierce opposition at home and abroad. The new law bans censorship of private media and detention of journalists, but critics said that it retains other threats to free expression. Recently in Ethipia, websites critical of the government have been 'inaccessible' in the country since . Ethiopians have also seen all publications hosted by disappear from the Internet.

It seems apparent that in some countries, the right to free speech online may not or may never fully exist. However, with the number of bloggers growing without hesitation on a daily basis, at what point will these countries call it a day on finding the bloggers they don't like and punish the entire country by banning the internet entirely? Have they not learned the lesson that micro-managing and over-controlling doesn't work? Especially in this technologic age.

On the anniversary of the the signing of the Decleration of Independence and the birth of America, it is important to note that Freedom of Speech in Blogging is important to all.


Sam said...

Excellent post.
Well done blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow. It is easy to not even know about this stuff. How could they possibly police all of millions of bloggers in China and elsewhere?