A team of Canadian researchers have uncovered an unusual new example of â€œupstream filtering,â€ where online content in one country is blocked in another country due to filtering that happens in transit.
Researchers at the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, revealed that some Oman Internet users using the Omantel ISP are also being subjected to Indian content restrictions because of traffic flowing through India.
â€œIt goes to show what you can find when you begin to probe beneath the surface of the Internet, and what you see when you have governments start to mess with the openness of the Internet,â€ Ron Deibert, Citizen Lab’s director, told Ars on Thursday. â€œIn this case you have a perverse situation where citizens in one country are subject to filtering in another country.â€
NICK COHEN, a British journalist and author, is a polemicist. His views have swung from the left to the right and back again over his 30-year career, but his arguments are often punchy and persuasive. In â€œYou Canâ€™t Read This Bookâ€ (Fourth Estate), his sixth book, he argues that we are living in an unprecedented age of censorship, coerced by violence, religion and money.
The book opens in 1989 at the end of the cold war, a time when many believed that liberal democracy would spread and freedom of speech would flourish. It was also the year that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa on Salman Rushdie, for his supposedly blasphemous book, â€œThe Satanic Versesâ€.Â Mr Cohen uses the Rushdie fiasco as a springboard to discuss censorship, and the correlation between Islamic fundamentalism and the suppression of free thinking in the West, both in society and online. His argument borrows heavily from the works of writers such as George Orwell, John Milton and John Stuart Millâ€”especially Millâ€™s principle that censorship should only be applied in extreme circumstances.
Books once considered too dangerous, scandalous, or offensive are now beginning to see the light of day according to this report in the Guardian by Benedict Page.
Living up to the ideals of the popular democratic revolutions that sparked region-wide protests and demands for greater political freedom, the people of Tunisia and Egypt are exercising and enjoying their right to a free press. In his report, Page outlines several titles making their way back into circulation that wereÂ censored by the exiled former president of Tunisia, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali:
La Regente de Carthage by Nicolas Beau and Catherine Graciet, a critical book about the former presidentâ€™s family, focusing in particular on the role of his wife, Leila, is among those now openly on sale in the country, according to theÂ International Publishers Association.
Alongside it is a previously banned study of the long-serving Tunisian president from whom Ben Ali took over following a 1987 coup: Habib Bourguiba: La Trace et lâ€™Heritage by Michel Camau and Vincent Geisser.
Also now appearing in the countryâ€™s bookshops are The Assassination of Salah Ben Youssef by Omar Khlifi, a book about the shooting of a former Tunisian minister of justice in Frankfurt in 1961, and works by journalistÂ Toaufik Ben Brik, a prominent critic of Ben Aliâ€™s presidency.
Page also reports that long-banned books in Egypt are starting to be circulated at street sales and newspaper kiosks. As we mentioned last week, the newly instituted Tahrir Square Book Fair is set to take place later this month. One imagine publishers will take full advantage and put out loads of books on their tables they would once have only brought out when asked discretely.
Still, as Page alludes, thereâ€™s an open question as to whether this new-found desire to un-ban books will translate to a commitment against censorship when it comes to new works. One hopes that in the midst of the excitement generated by these new freedoms the folks doing the hard work in creating transitional governments and drafting new constitutions will make a firm commitment to the freedom of the press.
If not, I suspect the people wonâ€™t be timid about voicing their disapproval.