SXSWi 07 Notes: Blogging Where Speech Isn't Free

The following are my panel notes from SXSW. As I am not the fastest typer I have paraphrased what was said. Should you notice any mistakes please do point them out in the comments for corrections.

Blogging where speech isn't free.

Jon Lebkowsky Partner, Polycot Consulting LLC
Shahed Amanullah Founder, Halalfire Media LLC
Robert Faris Harvard Law School - Berkman Center
Shava Nerad Exec Dir, The Tor Project
Ethan Zuckerman Co-Founder, Global Voices
Jasmina Tesanovic Blog B92

Robert Faris - Berkman Center for Internet and Society

Opennet initiative.

Political/social/security conflict filtering.

Internet filtering is messy and complicated. It's easy to knock out more than you want to. When Pakistan filtered out yahoo blogs. They also blocked 52000 other websites.

Contenet restrictions
Licensing reuirements
ISP ICP liability

These are aimed to create self-censorship.

Cuba has essentially by trying to obliterate the opposition have filtered out the whole internet.

Rules are fluid and not clearly defined.

Ethan Zuckerman - Global Voices

Press freedom.

high repressions: N Korea, Burma Turkmenistan - Little or no citizen media

moderate repression: China Iran Zimbabwe - Citizen media only free media. 60,000 iranian blogs started in 2004 because the press had been shutdown.

Bahrain aerial photo showing how much land is owned by the ruling family compared to the land the people live on. This was sent aroudn by email.
Blogging from prison
Zimbabwe video of police breaking up a demonstration

When this gets out states get upset. So they block sites, threaten people etc.

Mahmood's Den. Has been campaigning against the need to register blogs in Bahrain.

Egyptian blogger has been put in prison for defamatory comments. - mirror sites and message when DNS is blocked.

Sleepless in Sudan - now defunct. We helped her to blog from a refugee camp.

Handbook for bloggers and cyber dissidents.

It's important the if you fight for free speach online that you fight for it for everybody.

Shava Nerad - Tor anonymity online

Tor randomly routes you through different proxies. People can see what you are writing but can't see where you came from. Ip addresses can be traced back to a physical location. If you are saying things that can put you at risk, anonymity removes the risk.

We talk about free speech as if everyone should have it right now. But a lot of the world is used to this level of suppression. Services like Tor and Cyphon? act as a safety valve.

Around the anniversary of Tiannamen, the proxy servers were shutdown 2 weeks before. They were switched back on afterwards. I describe my job as a live action role playing game of internet diplomacy.

Shahed Amanullah - How blogging can reform the Muslim world

Current issues, Political instability, questionable regimes. Rise of extremism. Struggle with modernity.

The Muslim world also deserves political and press freedoms.

Creating a moderate and dynamic islam requires intellectual freedom.

Forces against Mulsim bloggers,

Governments -> Blogger <- extremists

Attacked from both sides.Despite this Muslims are coming out on the blogosphere. The masses want to join the modern world and get out the of the crossfire between governments and the extremists.

It starts with the simple questions. Bloggers are asking the questions that haven't been asked.
Break the monopoly on information. Agreements between media companies and governments.

The freer the discourse the moderate the islamic practice is.

So how can we help. Use technology to pry the doors open from the outside.
Read and publicise the work of bloggers.
Reduce anarchy in the Muslim world. There's a connection between extremism and political instability. I had a friend who looked to start a free paper in Iraq. It took a few weeks before he got chased out of the country at gunpoint by extremists.
Advocacy for persecuted bloggers and press freedom in general.

Jasmina Tesanovic

I was a woman in black.

I'm from Serbia, When I registered they couldn't enter my surname and they couldn't put the country Serbia so instead they put Jasmina from Yugoslavia (Yugoslavia is a country that has been dead for 10 years). This is the story of my life.

In 1999 when Serbia was bombed by NATO. I was in downtown Belgrade. It was surreal as it was like I was watching myself being bombed.

When a southern town was bombed. I had relatives there and I called them and they saw cluster bombs dropped on the market. Place. Milosevic was saying that nothing had happened. NATO had said that no collateral damage had happened.

I wrote to NATO pilots to say I hope you know what you are doing.

My diary was out there but my name was not attributed to my diary. There was a serb in Croatia who claimed it was hers.
I realised that Milosevic could have me killed. Looters could kill me. My only safety was public.

In the end I wrote something saying that I am Jasmina Tesanovic I am the author of the diaries. I don't want to become one of the missing. If you do miss me this is my address.

Politicalidiot at

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