Monday, March 26, 2007

The Christian perspective?

An interesting article, "Conservative wants to set Wikipedia right", discusses Conservapedia, the latest wiki in town.

Conservapedia is for those who find Wikipedia to be biased towards a more liberal, anti-Christian and anti-American stance. It keeps a list of alledged Wikipedia biases, including the use of B.C.E./C.E versus the more Christian use of B.C./A.D. and the fact that the editors of Wikipedia are proportionally six times more liberal then the American population. Some of their more popular pages include ones on the theory of evolution and dinosaurs. Interestingly, George W. Bush made it into the top ten (number 9), but Jesus doesn't (number 11).

Long live freedom of speech!

Source: thanks for the links Sarah

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sometimes, online rebellions work

Online rebellion forces censors to back down on banned books

"A wave of online outrage has forced Chinese censors into an unprecedented
decision to allow eight banned books to remain on the shelves."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Freedom to read the Swimsuit Edition

Sports Illustrated censors itself: Sports Illustrated Withholds Swimsuit Issue from Libraries, Schools

Source: Tanya

Whistleblowers wiki


This is an interesting offshoot of Wikipedia: a website where whistleblowers can go to denounce unfair practices, especially in oppressive regimes,while keeping their anonymity.

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations. We aim for maximum political impact; this means our interface is identical to Wikipedia and usable by non-technical people. We have received over 1.2 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources.

We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. Many governments would benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically that information has been costly - in terms of human life and human rights. Wikileaks will facilitate safety in the ethical leaking movement.

Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide. Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public. If a document comes from the Chinese government, the entire Chinese dissident community can freely scrutinize and discuss it; if a document arrives from Iran, the entire Farsi community can analyze it and put it in context. Our first sample analysis is available from the news page, providing a look into the future of what Wikileaks can provide.

Source: IFLA listserv, FAIFE-L
... Thanks Melanie!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

France bans citizen journalists from reporting violence

Law could lead to imprisonment of amateur videographers and Web site operators who publish their images

By Peter Sayer, IDG News Service (March 06, 2007)

The French Constitutional Council has approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists. The law could lead to the imprisonment of eyewitnesses who film acts of police violence, or operators of Web sites publishing the images, one French civil liberties group warned on Tuesday.

The council chose an unfortunate anniversary to publish its decision approving the law, which came exactly 16 years after Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King were filmed by amateur videographer George Holliday in the night of March 3, 1991. The officers' acquittal at the end on April 29, 1992 sparked riots in Los Angeles.

If Holliday were to film a similar scene of violence in France today, he could end up in prison as a result of the new law, said Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi. And anyone publishing such images could face up to five years in prison and a fine of (E);75,000 ($98,537), potentially a harsher sentence than that for committing the violent act.

Senators and members of the National Assembly had asked the council to rule on the constitutionality of six articles of the Law relating to the prevention of delinquency. The articles dealt with information sharing by social workers, and reduced sentences for minors. The council recommended one minor change, to reconcile conflicting amendments voted in parliament.

The law, proposed by Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, is intended to clamp down on a wide range of public order offenses. During parliamentary debate of the law, government representatives said the offense of filming or distributing films of acts of violence targets the practice of "happy slapping," in which a violent attack is filmed by an accomplice, typically with a camera phone, for the amusement of the attacker's friends.

The broad drafting of the law so as to criminalize the activities of citizen journalists unrelated to the perpetrators of violent acts is no accident, but rather a deliberate decision by the authorities, said Cohet. He is concerned that the law, and others still being debated, will lead to the creation of a parallel judicial system controlling the publication of information on the Internet.

The government has also proposed a certification system for Web sites, blog hosters, mobile-phone operators and Internet service providers, identifying them as government-approved sources of information if they adhere to certain rules. The journalists' organization Reporters Without Borders, which campaigns for a free press, has warned that such a system could lead to excessive self censorship as organizations worried about losing their certification suppress certain stories.

Source: IFLA's FAIFE-L listserv

Search engine censorship

Google, Yahoo, MSN (and likely many more) censor search results in some countries. Find out more in the Google Censorship FAQ, then thank your lucky stars if you are in a country where they don't censor the search results.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Working Together Project

This looks like it could be very interesting (especially for those of you looking to work in a public library setting): Working Together Project

In their own words, the the sites creators "hope to use this space to share what we’ve been learning from the community about social exclusion and public libraries and librarianship."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Great Firewall of China

Great Firewall of China- this site lets you test a URL in real-time to see if it is visible to Internet users in China.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Censorship in Belarusian Internet cafes

The Belarusian Council of Ministers adopted on 10 February 2007 a new act on the Regulations on Functioning of the Computer Clubs and Internet Cafes that will impose new censorship rules on all the persons that use the public Internet access points.

According to the new regulations, Internet cafe owners or their authorized agents must keep an electronic registry of the domain names of the sites accessed by users. The electronic log should contain at least a 12-month history of all connections. State Security agents, police or state control inspectors are authorized to review the log in the cases listed by the legislation.

In cases of suspicion of infringement of this law, the Internet cafe management should inform the law enforcement bodies about such events.

The computer clubs and Internet cafes are not allowed to use programs propagating the cult of violence, cruelty and pornography, or disseminate banned information.

The Belarusian Government has very easy ways to regulate the Internet activity within the country, since the only Internet provider is the governmental Beltelecom organization, according to Reporters Without Borders.

See also:
Belarusian government adopts regulations on computer clubs and internet cafes (15.02.2007)

Belorussia tightens control over internet (15.02.2007)

Source: IFLA listserv

Censorship: Still a burning issue
Published: 22 February 2007

"If you want to know what defines an era, look no further than the authors, artists and activists who fell foul if it. Censorship is as old as civilisation itself - and the drive to suppress as strong today as ever. As 'The Independent' launches a major series of the greatest banned books in
history, Boyd Tonkin asks whether the thought police will ever learn"

"So read these formidable literary pariahs with an eye on our age, as well as theirs. In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking - but, otherwise, Cole Porter got it wrong. Heaven knows, anything definitely doesn't go these days. The prudes and persecutors have simply changed tack and chosen different ground, as they always have."

Source: IFLA listserv

More challenged books

Bookslut, a must have site for all book lovers (no, it is not a naughty site), has a great page that lists some challenged books and the reasons why they were challenged in some places. It also notes that for every reported challenge, there are 4 or 5 unreported challenges.

Another great resource is the Alibris site (it's like Chapters, but for independent new and used book sellers). They have a list (with reasons why) of banned children's books and a list of books that were banned for political reasons. They even have a list of frequently challenged authors (with links to their books).

Happy reading!

Keep reading those banned books!