World Press Freedom Day

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It’s World Press Freedom Day. It doesn’t look good for journalists and press freedom world-wide:

2005 was the deadliest year for a decade for the media, with 63 journalists and five media assistants killed, at least 807 media workers arrested, more than 1,300 physically attacked or threatened and at least 1,006 media outlets censored. More than a third of the world’s population lives in countries where press freedom is minimal.

At a panel discussion by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Berlin the panelists had some nasty critique particularly for the big tech companies in China, i.e. Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco and Google. Basically all of them were willing to accept pretty foul compromises in order to get access to the Chinese market. According to the (very respectable and reputable) panelists, Yahoo cooperates closely with the police – much more often then in the three well-known cases of dissidents arrested and put in jail for 10 years; Cisco sold a special tool to the Chinese police which allows them to filter and read internet traffic from a mobile station; For some searches like “Tiananmen Massacre”, Google and Microsoft filter all foreign search results so that only Chinese websites show up – which in turn are heavily censored.

This is all pretty scary stuff. And if the big players won’t stand up against China’s human rights violations, who will?

Note: More detailed information in my post on Metablocker (in German – sorry).

1 comment

  • […] Everybody should have heard about Google censoring their search results in China. Same goes for Yahoo. Cisco has been blamed for providing special hardware to Chinese police forces to spy on web users (see my old post here). About Skype I didn’t know. It does seem kind of odd that a company that’s based on distributed peer-to-peer computing and encrypted conversation would agree to help authoritarian regimes to interfere with their services… It has become vital to examine new technology from a moral standpoint and understand the secondary effects of it. If firms and democratic countries continue to duck the issue and pass off ethical responsibility on others, we shall soon be in a world where all our communications are spied on. […]