In this edition: the blogosphere mobilises to support a Tamil journalist sentenced to twenty years in prison and a proposed new US law on cyber security causes debate online.
Jailed journalist in Sri Lanka
Twenty years imprisonment for ‘supporting Terrorism’, this is the sentence handed down by the High Court of Sri Lanka to Tamil journalist, Tissainayagam. The decision is causing indignation in the blogosphere.
As shown in this video, available online, crowds gathered outside the courthouse to show their support for the journalist who, according to them, was wrongly accused of receiving money from Tamil Tiger separatists to finance his website.
The site is no longer accessible, but the texts it hosted have been reproduced on many Tamil sites. The last article written by Tissainayagam prior to his arrest in March 2008 dealt with child soldiers, describing how they were enlisted by force by both the guerrilla movement and the army.
Many net users have mobilised to call for the journalist’s release. This blog, for example, recalls all of the case’s details, as well as the demonstrations organised to mark every 100 days that he is detained.
Several organisations, such as the International Federation of Journalists, have also intervened to plead the case of Tissainayagam on social networks. In this video, one of his colleagues expresses concern about press freedom in the country.
And on Tamil sites, many feel that this harsh verdict is directly linked to the broadcast last week of this video. It shows executions supposedly committed by the Sri-Lankan military. Concerned by the video, the UN has decided to open an enquiry to look into its authenticity.
Barack Obama proposal that he would have the authority to ‘switch off’ the Internet in the case of a national cyber security emergency is being widely slammed by net users. The proposal, which has just been revised by the Senate and published by a specialised site, has caused an outcry amongst bloggers and net users alike who are very much against the idea of the White House controlling the web.
Furthermore, this cyber security expert believes that measures such as switching off potentially threatening servers, would be inefficient if an ‘IT 9-11’ were to occur.
This political analyst is concerned by the potential abuses that the law could lead to in terms of fundamental freedoms and fears that dissidents may be marginalised on the web.
This scepticism is shared by many video bloggers, who have expressed their concern and indignation. One woman, in the video below, refuses to allow the Government to decide whether she can access the internet or otherwise.
And in mocking tones, this net user sends a message of support to Senator Jay Rockefeller - the man behind the bill - and appoints him as ‘Cyber Security Tsar’.
Finally, some see the bill as fresh proof of the US’s desire to takeover the web. Net users were surprised by the recent nomination of an American to the head of ICANN, the body responsible for assigning domain names around the world.
The choice between security and freedom, the question is now on the table. It is up to the US Senate to make a decision, under the ever watchful eye of net users.
On Wednesday, the Internet turns 40 - an age of maturity or a mid-life crisis. The man behind the concept, Len Kleinrock never imagined back in 1969 that the network would later serve to share videos. The initial ambition to create a platform to enable intellectual and scientific exchanges has been achieved, and the Internet has gone on to outdo all expectations, including the most surprising. But new problems have also appeared; including data piracy.
Here is an online game from Germany currently provoking controversy in France. Known as Clodogame, it allows net users to incarnate a homeless person whose aim is to grow wealthy. All methods are allowed to achieve this wealth, from collecting metro tickets to holding up a shop. Criticised by the French Government, who considers it to undermine human dignity, the German publisher defends the game from critics. He asserts that a portion of the profits will be used to assist social inclusion.
Brazilian President Lula’s newly launched blog has been overwhelmed by requests, thus becoming momentarily inaccessible. Back online, a warm video welcome now awaits net users from the Head of State in person. The blog, which has so far been a great success, will be mainly used to allow the President to address net-using citizens in Brazil.
Date created : 2009-09-02