Monday, March 15, 2010

Internet Enemies

It's just been the World Day Against Cyber Censorship. Rather appropriately, I'm celebrating this fact by blogging about it, glad to live in parts of the planet where this act is unlikely to land me in prison. Go the free world.

In Chile, I'm always a little surprised by how far integrated new media is with everyday life and, especially, business interactions. If I'm booking a hotel or organising a trip, I don't pick up the phone, I simply jump on MSN and chat with the receptionist. For news and activism, Twitter and Facebook have been among the main ways in which news of the earthquake and reconstruction efforts has been spread in recent weeks, and in the south of Chile Mapuche (one of the country's indigenous groups) commentators are using Twitter to voice their concerns about how they feel the earthquake has deepened their disenfranchisement, a fact that's made the international news. I read about the guy in Santiago who was trapped in the rubble of his house after the quake, and who tweeted (successfully) for a rescue. Later this year Santiago will play host to the international conference Global Voices Online Citizen Media Summit on May 6-7 (sign up here). Social and citizen media is everywhere.

Its a little different in Australia. Sure, we all walk around with the latest iPhones and Blackberries glued to our hands, but what are we doing with them? Mostly watching crazy soviet era videos we've dredged up on YouTube, it seems. We consume, rather than produce. Perhaps we've got nothing to say.

To celebrate the World Day Against Cyber Censorship, Reporters Without Borders handed out prizes named and shamed 2010's biggest infringers of internet freedom. Inside the envelope were: Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, North Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Uzbekistan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. Just like the Academy Awards, not a whole lot of surprises there.
Its when you got down to the forgotten-about categories, which I like to think of as the 'Best Short Film' of the censorship world, that things started to get interesting. In this category for the wannabe Big Brothers, which RSF calls 'Under Surveillance', we find: Turkey, Russia, South Korea... and Australia. Yep. My own hometown.
Clearly I've been away too long, and in my absence K-Rudd has been very busy hammering out an iron curtain and buying up time-share with Turkmenistan and Iran at the International Pariahs' Retirement Resort.

Shocking? Perhaps. But judging from the amount of people talking about this over the weekend (precisely zero), I'd have to say that no-one really cares.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, are you still in Santiago? Let me know if you would be up for a cup of coffee sometime!