Thursday, September 22, 2005

The invasion of privacy and freedom of the blog

A few years ago they caught the hacker who sent out the 'iloveyou' virus by tracing the program back to the document 'stamped' by his home computer. A few years later, the Canadian government came under fire by the privacy commissioner for cross-referencing customs information with employment insurance (in other words they were withholding EI payments to those who had crossed the border for any length of time). The patriot act has introduced the capacity for another McCarthy era and just yesterday I was reading about how they can track the information you type into your computer (such as a password) by the sound of the keys clicking (as each key has a distinctive click). Now, a lot of us may think, 'How precious is my privacy, and my ability to speak freely? After all, there is no censorship as of yet, and I am not significant enough to be prosecuted openly for my thoughts'. I suppose this is because we are lucky enough to live in a country that does not have a tyrannical hold on communications, such as China, or Iran.

Blogs have become the new source of free press, especially in countries of extreme censorship. Realistically, every country bears the brunt of the censors, as the content of the news in North America is still regulated by advertising and political sway. But by extreme, I mean that we will not be jailed, intimidated, shot or condemned for our beliefs if they make it into public consumption. In China, far out radical cries for things like a free election system can come with heavy consequences.

However, tech-savvy China and Iran have began to censor and prosecute bloggers as well, as the popularity blooms. A post about a call for a free electoral system in China will have an online life of about half an hour. For this reason Reporters Without Borders' have released a "Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents.” Partly funded by the French Foreign Ministry it includes technical advice on how to remain anonymous online. The guide includes information about how to use pseudonyms and anonymous proxies and the means to break through government filters. It also offers tips about changing cyber-cafes and how to send cryptographically signed messages via specially formatted e-mail, as well as how to keep blogs out of search engines.

With the help of this handbook, perhaps the freedom of information will truly return, and people will once again be able to speak their minds anonymously without fear of consequence.

1 Comments:

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