Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Blogging Can Be Dangerous for Your Health

Is blogging harmful for you? 

Can you actually get killed for expressing your opinion in your blog?

Photo Source:

Blogging can be harmful, even fatal for you in some countries where many people get into trouble for criticizing governments or power elites.

Reporters without borders report that globally in 2008, 1 blogger was killed, 
59 bloggers were arrested, 45 were physically attacked, 1,740 websites were blocked, shut down or suspended. 

The General manager of Shuli Architectural Engineering, Wei Wenhua, in Hubei province of China was beaten to death by “chengguan” (municipal police officers) while filming with his mobile phone a clash with demonstrators in Tianmen (not in Beijing but in Hubei province) on 7 January 2008.

Governments getting Tougher on Internet Censorship

According to Reporters without Borders, 64 persons are currently imprisoned worldwide because their blogposts upset governments or power elites.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

37 countries practised online censorship in 2008. Good old China kept its reputation by censoring 93 websites but Syria beat them by censoring 162 websites and Iran took the bronze medal with 38 websites.

  • In China, 10 cyber-dissidents were arrested, 31 were physically attacked or threatened, and at least three were tried and convicted according to Reporters Without Borders
  • In Iran, Reporters Without Borders reported 18 arrests, 31 physical attacks and 10 convictions. 
  • Syria had 8 arrests and 3 convictions
  • Egypt 6 arrests 
  • Morocco 2 arrests and 2 convictions.

The military junta in Burma, is trying to enter the Guiness Book of Records for the longest prison sentences as punishment for blogging. Blogger and comedian Zarganar and the young cyber-dissident Nay Phone Latt were given incredibly long prison sentences. 59 years for Zarganar and 20 years for Nay Phone Latt

Egypt’s Kareem Amer’s four-year prison sentence for postings seen as anti-religious and insulting to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak might seem lenient in comparison.

Blog Censorship in different Countries

Oxford Analytica gives regular updates on the current global situation of blog censorship. The Press Freedom Index, another way to approach this issue, United States or even United Kingdom is way below Namibia and Hungary. 

Whatever reasons they give, in many countries the authorities try to restrict access to certain content, sites, authors and readers from interacting on certain themes. 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The US military openly admits that they censors soldier’s blogs which mention experiences in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The number of Internet users in China grew by 42% to 300 million in January 2009. Every 1 in 4 Chinese have access to the Internet, and 90% of them broadband. So, people responsible for censorship in China have to work really hard.

Internet Censorship in China

Already in 2005 Microsoft officially admitted that China was censoring blogs for certain terms like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.
According to Rebecca MacKinnon of the University of Hong Kong, there are basically two types of Internet censorship in China – those “inside the Great Firewall” and those “outside the Great Firewall” and the relationship between the blog manager or editor with the local State council is crucial to the degree of censorship experienced. The Chinese government has had the Golden Shield Project since 1998 to protect citizens from

  • Pornography
  • Anti-social opinions and activities
  • Ideas, organizations and opinions which are a threat to national security
  • Ideas, organizations and opinions which undermine the government’s policies on religion or are seen as subversive
If your blog or site has references to certain subjects like the Falung Gong, Freedom Movement in China, Tiananmen Square happenings etc and the Internet police behind the Great Firewall of China do not like the way this information is handled, your site might get banned in China.

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It really depends on who you ask in China or about China and their censorship. Here is what a Falung Gong practitioner (obviously not based in China) has to say about censorship in China. the name of the blog is Falunggongforever.

Test if Your Blog or Site is Banned in China

There are two sites where you can test if your blogs or sites are banned in China.

  1. http://www.websitepulse.com/help/testtools.china-test.html
  2. http://www.greatfirewallofchina.org/

Photo source:

Yes, according to the greatwallofchina.org and Chinese readers, this blog Original Wavelength is blocked in China. Who knows whom I have annoyed and for writing what!

Does Anyone Want Blog Censorship?

It is not only the mighty Chinese government or the Iranian clerics who want censorship. In Canada, Manitoba's First Nation leaders want the public and government to clamp down on people who post racist remarks about aboriginals on media websites. 

A new survey reveals that most Americans believe bloggers should not be allowed to publish sensitive personal information about individuals. Web hosting company Hostway polled 2,500 Americans on blogging. 80% of respondents did not believe that bloggers should be allowed to publish home addresses and other personal information about private citizens. A further 72 % favoured censorship of personal information about celebrities, and 68%, information about elected or appointed government officials such as judges or mayors.

Significantly, more than one-third of these American respondents had never heard of blogs before participating in the survey, and only around 30% of participants had actually visited a blog themselves.

There are many sites spreading violent hate messages and dangerous propaganda in addition to sites, which aim to cheat or mislead people.

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Is the Right to Freedom of Speech a sacred right? 

Do you think any authority should be allowed to censor these hate blogs?


Su Prieta | Aspire to Grace said...

Although I support a broad freedom of speech right, I definitely think there should be restrictions on the publication of personal information about other individuals.

Maybe we should treat certain public information as addresses and other contact information and medical conditions similar to copyrighted works. Where you have the ability to license publication of such information, but you have protections.

Although then you'd run into a slippery slope. I think the market will dictate and force certain restrictions whether or not we always agree.

P. Khan said...

The Internet is full of stupid people spreading hate messages and total nonsense. Even if I don't like censorship, I feel that there should be some form of respect for privacy and human rights.

S K G Rao, C Text. ATI. said...

This is the first Blog that I have come across that has shown blogs being censored or suspended.I had heard about blogs being hijacked.
Anyway Mr.Rana thanks for your most interesting and the introduction to firewall and the tests to know if blogs are banned in China.
Take Care.

madz said...

Well, here in the Philippines, there's no definite law with regards to internet censorship, for now. That's why a lot can still voice out their thoughts on the government.

www.freedomforchina.co.uk said...

Thanks for a great posting. I am a Falun Gong practitioner in the West, my blog is about the persecution of the Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party as you say they dont care for the 'sacred right'of free speech.My blog is probably banned in China. My website shows how Western Falun Gong practitioners are, there's music we've made, indie rock, hip hop, spoken word, all here. Artworks too all highlighting the persecution in China. Thanks again for this solidly written piece.

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