• Create Yer Own Blog Post: Web Hypocrisy

    April 9, 2012 // Comments Off on Create Yer Own Blog Post: Web Hypocrisy

    It’s fun to be a blogger, so let’s try one together! You take an item from the news (if under 30, “from the media”) and write something about it. What you write can be serious, funny, sarcastic or poignant– you get to choose! So let’s get started.

    Here is a cartoon (“graphic novel”) produced at taxpayer expense (“your money”) by the US Government, specifically by the Department of State. The Department of State lately is very concerned about web freedom for other countries (“smart power”) because it has convinced itself that if people in other countries had full and free access to the internet, they would be nice and we would not have to bomb them with drones (“policy”).

    So let’s start by watching the cartoon (“propaganda”):



    (If the video does not appear by internet freedom magic above, you can also see it here on the YouTube)

    Now comes the funnest part, where you write something about that video for “your blog.” Here are some samples to help get you started.

    Serious

    Ironically, the best internet blocking software is made in the US (Include a link for validity, such as Blue Coat).

    Countries the US likes also block or filter the web, places like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    The State Department itself employs web filtering and blocking, internally clamping off access to web sites that have Wikileaks content that the US government does not want people to see.

    Interesting that the video is captioned in English. Is State trying to propagandize the Iranians, or is this really designed to help whip up more war fever in the US?


    Funny

    Why does Tehran in that cartoon look a lot like a US urban area?

    If Iran suddenly threw away all of its web controls and blocking, the only change would be a 125% increase in views of videos of cats and babies doing funny things on YouTube.

    If Iran allowed FourSquare and Twitter to run free, would Hillary Clinton be Mayor of Iran?


    Sarcastic

    So Iran limits broadband access and throttles its web. You mean like Verizon?

    Needs more Family Guy references.

    So this is what the government spends my tax dollars on?

    Sorry, couldn’t watch it, my employer blocks YouTube at work so we don’t spend all day watching crap and not getting any work done.

    (For additional sarcastic blogging inspiration, check out the real-world Twitter feed set up to promote this cartoon at #ConnectIran. Click on some names to note how many of the participants are State Department people sucking up to their bosses by RT’ing State’s message to make it seem like it is “viral.”)


    Poignant

    If only the State Department would afford the We Meant Well blog the same freedom it demands for Iranians.

    The hipster animation moved me. I too demand the basic human right of internet access for Iran!

    And now we must sadly ask ourselves: Can anyone in Iran see this video? We watch it ever so casually here on our computers, while even viewing this in Iran is to risk death.

    Today, we are all Persians.



    So there you have it, your very own blog posting! After you have written yours, be sure to cut it out and stick it on your refrigerator door (“social media”) for everyone to see!



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    Hypocrisy of Free Speech: Only If We Agree with What They Say

    April 8, 2012 // 2 Comments »

    A story of our times as RT.com tries to pull back the curtain on the hypocrisy of US government statements about web freedom. They were kind enough to quote me:

    The State Department since 2008 has spent $76 million overseas on Internet freedom, giving tools and support to bloggers and journalists and online people around the world, particularly in countries that we have difficulties with,” he said. “At the same time, the State Department… has found Internet freedom to be inconvenient in the form of WikiLeaks, and has worked just as hard and probably spent even more money trying to shut down free speech that it opposes, while supporting free speech that it feels furthers America’s own political goals overseas. We call that hypocrisy.

    While trying to stifle inconvenient leaks at home, the US perceives the Internet and social networking platforms as major tools for spreading democracy, and spends millions of dollars to help people in the Middle East and China get around Internet-blocking firewalls. At the same time, ironically enough, American companies provide Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with the technology to effectively block websites.

    A lot of the tools of control that are used by the so-called repressive governments are provided by American companies, Peter van Buren explains. The difference is that corporations, for better or worse, talk about profit as their motivation. However, the American government talks about freedom and democracy as its motivation, when in fact in many ways it seems to act in the opposite direction.



    Read the entire piece online, and don’t miss the video of SecState Clinton pounding the pulpit for web freedom, at least if you’re Chinese or Iranian.



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    Free Speech is for Others

    November 3, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    Reporters without Borders, the watchdog organization, has a sad but scathing article echoing what is becoming increasingly obvious: the freedoms of expression the US government demands for bloggers and journalists in places like China and Iran are now routinely punished within the United States.

    Reporters states:

    The US government has reiterated its commitment to online free speech several times since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in particular, affirmed US support for freedom of expression and opinion very clearly in a speech in Washington on January 21st, 2010.

    Urging American companies to take a “principled stand” against online censorship, Clinton said defense of the Internet should be one of the cornerstones of US diplomacy. As the “birthplace” of so many online technologies, the United States had a “responsibility” to protect the Internet as a tool for economic and social development and promoting democracy, as well as a place for the free exchange of ideas. “We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas,” Clinton added.

    Nonetheless, although the US government has defended Iranian bloggers, Chinese activists and Arab Spring netizens, it has also been responsible for initiatives that have harmed online free speech and has displayed a hostile attitude to online activities. Reporters Without Borders has followed several cases that run counter to the US government’s professed commitment to fundamental Internet freedoms.



    In addition to the well-known cases of Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, Reporters also features my own struggle against the State Department:

    The free flow of information about WikiLeaks is also being threatened in blogs. Peter Van Buren, a US Foreign Service Officer for the past 23 years, was accused in September of divulging classified information for posting a link in his blog to a 2009 WikiLeaks cable about the sale of US military spare parts to Muammar Gaddafi’s armed forces.

    The article goes on to chronicle several other episodes of US government crackdowns on domestic online freedom of expression, as well as far too many new laws pending in Congress that would further increase the government’s ability to spy on and then punish people within the United States simply exercising their most basic rights.

    TomDispatch features another side in the US Government’s war against its own citizens, the use of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) to shut down or seize funds that it believes are supporting terrorism. While no one disputes the value in choking off terror money, writer Ann Jones discusses how, while on a US Government Fulbright grant in Norway, OFAC has shut down her bank accounts and left her unable to pay the rent. Her story details her attempts to find out why she was targeted and her frustrations in trying to find someone in the USG to help her resolve the crisis.

    In her article Ann mentions “So I call the American Embassy in Oslo and speak to a nice young woman in the section devoted to ‘American Citizen Services.’”

    That was my old office before the US Government designated me as a security threat and took away my job in the State Department– American Citizen Services. Had a nice ring to it, echoes of better times when the government actually saw some responsibility to help its own citizens, not suspect and punish them without recourse.



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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    Posted in Iran, Other Ideas