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Congo's electoral battle spills onto the Web

3 min

In this edition: Congolese Web users mobilise for the presidential election; a Web-filtering system in Australia creates controversy; and the police in Arlington, Virginia hunt a criminal via the Web.


Election in Congo Republic

The people of the Republic of Congo headed to the polls on Sunday to elect their president.

The outgoing president, Denis Sassou Nguesso led an offensive campaign on the Net, using his official site (in French) with a collection of videos.

Meanwhile, the opposition called for a boycott. The independent candidate Romain Soussa claimed in a video (in French) that conditions necessary for a transparent election did not exist.

His opinion was shared by many Congolese citizens living abroad. A protest was organised the day before the election in Paris to denounce what was considered as electoral robbery.

But despite the accusations of fraud, some opposition candidates did not retract their candidacies. Matthias Dzon, a former finance minister, still led a campaign and posted videos of his tour of the south of the country on his Web site.

Others feared that the vote would lapse into violence. Singer Nzongo'Soul posted a song to encourage his compatriots to vote peacefully.

Australia: Web censorship

An advertising parody for toothpaste is the latest offensive by Australian Net users against their government’s Internet-filtering plans, which officially are aimed at fighting online paedophilia. The controversial measure would force Internet suppliers to block access to a number of black-listed sites, which has been denounced as an attack on right to information.

The black list is causing heated debate in the blogosphere, as it includes sites which advocate the legalisation of euthanasia and those declaring to be against abortion.

And the Government recently announced it was planning to extend the measure to video games not recommended for children under 15. Among these games were the very popular, World of Warcraft & Second Life, pushing some players to cyber protest in virtual universes.

This video blogger comments that the filter would considerably slow down Internet speed on a national level and would also be very easy to by-pass for paedophiles used to evading this sort of system.

But others support the proposed censorship. This mother expresses her concern regarding her children’s upbringing and declares that young people should not be free to surf any site they wish.

This forum, set up by the Australian opposition invites net users to debate the issue. The aim being to find a solution to protect children without restricting the freedom of adults.

Online investigation

The police in Arlington, USA, are searching for an armed man who fired at an employee in a city centre shop on July 3. To track him down, 2 pieces of footage from surveillance cameras were posted on the town’s YouTube channel, with the hope that a Net user will identify the thief. In the US, the police are relying more and more on the Web to resolve certain cases.

Launched in February by the Kazakh Government, the video share site, Kaztube is being snubbed by the country’s Net users. And faced with this flop, the authorities have called on primary & secondary schools as well as universities to fuel the site by posting videos about the daily life of their establishments. The approach has been highly criticised by local bloggers, who already feel threatened by a recent law aiming to reinforce the role of the public authorities in controlling the Internet and its content.

Video of the day

Here is the latest Michael Jackson tribute to create an online buzz. It is a flash mob in Sweden in which dozens of people start dancing spontaneously to the King of Pop’s hit, Beat it. Something that greatly entertained passers-by.

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