by Eric Blair
February 3, 2012
Google and Twitter have been under great pressure to censor content on their
platforms from several countries.
Twitter has been blamed for stoking
revolutionary and protest uprisings around the world, assuredly sparking
concerns in all leaders who seek to hold onto power. Meanwhile,
already succumbed to censorship demands in China, as well as individual
YouTube removal requests from various nations.
Most recently, in America, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee,
Senator Joe Lieberman, sent a letter to Google requesting that they
violent content on their Blogger platform. Lieberman also made a
request to Twitter, that they deactivate accounts that tweet anti-West
Although Lieberman's requests have yet to be fulfilled, Google and Twitter
have both recently announced their willingness to remove content based on
censorship laws in individual nations.
Google announced that its Blogger platform will now be accessed at different
"For example, if you're in Australia and viewing [blogname].blogspot.com,
you might be redirected [blogname].blogspot.com.au," Google
wrote on their
Google said the change in the blogspot addresses will provide,
flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law,"
adding that "by utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per
country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of
Content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from
the relevant ccTLD."
Google admits this change will negatively affect the search engine results
of blogs because of the dilution by multiple domain names hosting duplicate
content on them:
"Hosting duplicate content on different domains can affect
search results, but we are making every effort to minimize any negative
consequences of hosting Blogspot content on multiple domains."
Google claimed that blogs hosted by Blogger with custom domains would not be
Twitter is also accused of being an 'agent of censor' since
similar tactics to comply with censorship laws of different nations:
As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have
different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so
much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there.
similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of
content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.
Twitter's announcement sparked immediate outrage, while Google's has slipped
under the radar until now.
Like Google, Twitter said that it will not remove
tweets completely; rather they'll be "withheld" from users in a country that
demanded the removal with a "valid and applicable legal request."
tweets will be visible to users in countries outside the area that made the
Although it seems to make sense that international Web companies should
abide by local laws if they wish to do business there, try telling that to
Egyptian activist Mahmoud Salem who
"This is very bad news," later
adding, "Is it safe to say that (hash)Twitter is selling us out?"
Aden Fine, a staff attorney with the ACLU,
"The countries that
engage in censorship are precisely the ones in which open and neutral social
media platforms are most critical," before adding a plea to Twitter.
Twitter will think carefully before acceding to any specific requests by
those governments to censor content simply because they want to interfere
with their citizens’ access to information and ideas.”
A regular staunch defender of Internet freedom across borders,
the legal director the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Wired,
Twitter is telling us some unfortunate truths.”
Cohn said Twitter was at least being transparent.
Facebook, for example,
also regularly removes content for a variety of reasons to comport with
local laws, too.
She added that Twitter’s announcement underscores the need
for anti-censoring technologies like Tor, which reroutes IP addresses as a
workaround to a country’s censorship tactics.
“Rather than shoot the messenger, we need to put focus on to make sure we
have really robust anti-censorship technologies people can use,” Cohn
Yet, perhaps freedom of expression should not be governed by private
companies whose service is to promote free communication.
Internet free speech should be an enforceable global human right. As obvious
as that may seem for rights activists, that's exactly the opposite direction
the global community is heading, led by the United States:
What Is ACTA?
January 18, 2012
ACTA - 'The
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement' is a proposed
plurilateral agreement for the purpose of
establishing international standards
property rights enforcement.
ACTA would establish a new international legal
framework that would create its "own governing body
outside existing international institutions" such as
- the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
These announcements are setting the precedent that it's okay to censor the
Internet if there are laws that say it's alright.
Consequently, the U.S.
Congress has put forward multiple such bills
seeking tighter control of the
Internet. Once they become law, these Internet juggernauts have proven that
they will blindly adhere to the dictatorial censorship commands of any
It doesn't seem to matter to them that laws are just words on a paper, but
freedom of information and speech is a right and censorship is just plain