2011-01-06 Censorship in 2011

2010 was the worst year in 14 years for imprisonment of journalists according to statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists. 145 journalists were jailed worldwide, with Iran and China (34 apiece), Eritrea, Burma, and Uzbekistan among most oppressive nations. 14 years ago the number was inflated by Turkey’s imprisonment of 78 journalists, and in 2010 the number was decreased by Cuba’s release of 17 journalists from jail into Spanish exile. If those numbers were ignored, the 1996 number would be 107 to 2010’s 162. Almost half of the jailed journalists worked primarily online. By far the majority were jailed for criticizing the state.

If we look at other censorship initiatives happening now, there is little room for optimism in 2011. Without a significant rise in global activism against censorship, it is poised to become worse in 2011.

The first day of 2011 was the day Hungary took over the presidency of the EU and also the first day of Hungary’s new media law. This week has seen multiple media personalities disappearoff the air as the effects of that new law are being felt.

The first week of 2011 Tunisia has been fighting to be heard over a mass censorship of protests, triggered by the December 17 self immolation of a 26 year old man who reportedly died on January 5. One of the best known Tunisian bloggers was apparently arrested today, adding to weeks of government crackdown on the use of social media in Tunisia and counter attacks on the Tunisian government by Anonymous (hilariously credited for a picture in the Al Jazeera article).

Three more Tibetan writers were sentenced to jail in China.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the new year by announcing their new internet regulation law which regulates electronic press, forums and blogging. The thirteen forms of internet publishing include websites, electronic ads, mobile phone or other broadcasts, email groups, electronic archives, room dialogues, and “any form of electronic publishing the ministry wishes to add”. There are ten terms required to obtain a license, including good conduct and behaviour.

Belarus has at least 20 journalists jailed and have used beatings and raids of journalist homes in their intimidation this week.

The Swedish parliament has passed a law that requires new TV and radio services to be approved by the Swedish government before launching.

The Obama administration announced its fifth prosecution for unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

A regional council in France has suspended an employee for setting up a website called Wikileaks 13 looking to publish evidence of malpractice in the region. After uploading audio of a council commission meeting he was suspended “for having failed to respect his duty of loyalty as an employee”.

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