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Censorship Government The Military Wikipedia

Why French Govt's Attempt to Censor Wikipedia Matters 104

Posted by timothy
from the signal-to-noise dept.
In the end, the Streisand Effect prevailed, as you might expect, when a French domestic intelligence agency apparently browbeat a French citizen into removing content from Wikipedia. The attention caused the Wikipedia entry on a formerly obscure military radio site (English version) to leap in popularity not only in French, but in languages where it was formerly far less likely to have been noticed at all. Lauren Weinstein makes the case, though, that this sort of move isn't just something to shrug at or assume will always end so nicely. "Even though attempts at Internet censorship will almost all fail in the end, governments and authorities have the capability to make groups' and individuals' lives extremely uncomfortable, painful, or even terminated — in the process of attempts at censorship, and equally important, by instilling fear to encourage self-censorship in the first place."
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Why French Govt's Attempt to Censor Wikipedia Matters

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  • that internet cannot be controlled. It is probably the last bastion of freedom (away ahead of Scandinavian democracies).
    • by Cigarra (652458)
      Because that's not true: it can and it is controlled, all the time.

      "The Internet cannot be controlled" was certainly the belief in the late 90s, when it seemed that governments were just too stupid to grasp this whole Internet thing, and would always be several steps behind. Alas, the joy didn't last long, and it was precisely France who started fighting [wikipedia.org] against this new "power" of the people.

      Several people (Jonathan Zittrain, Tim Wu, Bruce Schneier, Yochai Benkler, among others) have written a lot ab
      • "Alas, the joy didn't last long..."

        That's precisely why we need to act against things like CFAA, and -- perhaps most important -- come up with a workable distributed DNS-type system.

  • Fear will keep them in line, for everything else, there's the Patriot Act, that is, until the Death Star becomes a reality.

  • Ob Pratchett (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blarkon (1712194) on Monday April 08, 2013 @05:27AM (#43389363)
    A lie can make its way around the world before the truth can get its boots on. In our pre-distopia state, we're still dealing with Governments that think that blocking something is the best way to make it disappear. It won't be long though until they figure out that telling people lies that they want to believe is a far more effective way of burying the truth than redacting it. So enjoy the dumb governments, corporations, and political groups for as long as you can - because when your generation gets into the control seat, the bullshit isn't going to smell like bullshit, it's going to look and taste like sugar or bacon (choose appropriate tasty thing)
  • intimidation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2013 @05:38AM (#43389405)

    "Even though attempts at Internet censorship will almost all fail in the end, governments and authorities have the capability to make groups' and individuals' lives extremely uncomfortable, painful, or even terminated — in the process of attempts at censorship, and equally important, by instilling fear to encourage self-censorship in the first place."

    Wikileaks comes to my mind

    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      This is not a new thing. The US has a Bill of Rights for a reason -- direct experience of government without it. If only the citizens would keep that in mind...
      • by Yakasha (42321)

        This is not a new thing. The US has a Bill of Rights for a reason -- direct experience of government without it. If only the citizens would keep that in mind...

        What was that reason again? Abdulrahman al-Awlaki thinks (or, I think would have thought) the Bill of Rights is about as useful as an empty zigzag box.

        If you didn't know, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki is the son of Anwar Al-Awlaki. Both were US citizens executed via drone missile in Yemen on orders of Obama. Anwar was "the spokesperson" of Al-Qaeda.

        Just to be clear, the 16 year old US citizen son of a man supposedly exercising his 1st amendment rights was executed on the orders of the President without a trial,

        • by Yakasha (42321)

          This is not a new thing. The US has a Bill of Rights for a reason -- direct experience of government without it. If only the citizens would keep that in mind...

          What was that reason again? Abdulrahman al-Awlaki thinks (or, I think would have thought) the Bill of Rights is about as useful as an empty zigzag box.

          If you didn't know, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki is the son of Anwar Al-Awlaki. Both were US citizens executed via drone missile in Yemen on orders of Obama. Anwar was "the spokesperson" of Al-Qaeda.

          Just to be clear, the 16 year old US citizen son of a man supposedly exercising his 1st amendment rights was executed on the orders of the President without a trial, charges, judge, jury, conviction, or indeed any judicial review whatsoever, away from any field of battle. What was the charge against the 16 year old child? Who knows. But according to Robert Gibbs, Abdulrahman "should have [had] a far more responsible father". Direct quote.

          The Bill of Rights... If by bill you mean "I owe money"... maybe.

          Indirect quote, sorry. I didn't personally hear it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/robert-gibbs-anwar-al-awlaki_n_2012438.html [huffingtonpost.com] did.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Wikileaks comes to my mind

      Wikileaks does not come to my mind, but the government response to wikileaks does.

      • Wikileaks does not come to my mind, but the government response to wikileaks does.

        Bradley Manning didn't have the humility not tell someone he did a good deed, and in this world it isn't a joke when you say "no good deed goes unpunished".

        It is information warfare. Do the math. Work in the dark.

  • by Little_Professor (971208) <littleprof&dodgeit,com> on Monday April 08, 2013 @06:05AM (#43389473) Journal
    It would be nice if TFS included an explanation of who Laura Weinstein actually is, and why anyone should be interested in the views she writes on her amaterish-looking personal blog.
  • by YurB (2583187) on Monday April 08, 2013 @06:13AM (#43389497)
    France and Russia are very different states indeed, but it's interesting that Russian Wikipedia had a similar incident recently. The Russian Wikimedia received a request from the government [wikimedia.ru] to remove the 'Cannabis smoking' article from Russian Wikipedia (see google-translated version [google.com]). The request in an ultimate manner states that if the article won't be removed during 24 hours then 'the hosting provider is obliged to limit access to such website' (haha, hosting provider from USA?) and if the hosting provider refuses to do that, then 'the IP address of the website will be listed in a database of addresses to whish ISP's will limit access'. The request PDF is here [wikimedia.org].
    • Interesting, though slightly different.
      Since the Russian Wikipedia is hosted in the US, there's not much that can be done there.
      If any part of your infrastructure is located in a country that has declared itself hostile to your business, then you're doing it wrong.

      ISPs might be asked to block the Russian Wikipedia, but that tends to go over so well with local populations. So, if Russia enjoys riots they can go that route.

      A more likely route is to let the Wikimedia foundation members and donors know they wo

    • Honestly, people expect this from Russia. They're a corrupt shithole, and everyone knows it. France doing this, though, is a bit farther from the status quo.
  • If you look at the pictures, they were clearly trying to cover up the prime para-boarding location.
  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Monday April 08, 2013 @06:58AM (#43389641)
    Google has self-censored sites in the Washington, D.C., area and other areas of military and national security interest at the request of the USA government. It's blurred the regions or limited the resolution at which users can scan the areas, such as Fort Knox or the Naval Observatory a.k.a. the Vice-President's Residence. It's also done that for China and India, South Korea, Australia, and others (I think) at those government's requests also.
    http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/government [google.com] the name of that link speaks for itself
    How Google And Bing Maps Control What You Can See [buzzfeed.com]
    http://gizmodo.com/5907421/the-dutch-have-the-weirdest-google-maps-censorship [gizmodo.com]
    and of course wikipedia's article on Map censorship by google and microsoft [wikipedia.org]
    So if Google and MS and others already do all of this at the behest of the government, why are we surprised that the French government is trying to censor Wikipedia?
    • I don't know about other countries, but in India's case, many of the installations requested to be blurred were nuclear facilities. Considering that the terrorists behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks used Google Earth to plan their sightseeing http://www.hindustantimes.com/technology/IndustryTrends/Google-Earth-used-in-26-11-terror-attacks/SP-Article1-857188.aspx [hindustantimes.com] the censoring is justified. I guess the same goes with the other countries.
      Three things wrong with this case, however:
      1. The French facility is not
  • Censorship (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Monday April 08, 2013 @07:23AM (#43389725) Homepage Journal

    In Russia Wikipedia is giving up to the political pressure to remove or edit a page on Cannabis smoking [wikipedia.org] (Russian version of the page [tinyurl.com]).

    I can't fully understand what exactly on that page provoked the government reaction, but apparently there are a number of pages that the Russian gov't is set against (suicide, methamphetamine, bong, amphetamine, The Complete Manual of Suicide - the page on a Japanese book).

    In any case, the Russian government is engaged in censorship against Internet sites [livejournal.com] and other "extremist" materials [minjust.ru], which include books, articles, music, images, etc.

    Apparently too many people around the world just can't come to grips with the fact that trying to stop proliferation of information on the Net is a stupid idea, but hey, laws don't have to be intelligent. Intelligence is not a prerequisite for survival, apparently it's also not a prerequisite for governing.

  • ... is that we can no longer hire French citizens for telecommute work on sensitive jobs.

  • Isn't the use of the words; French + intelligence, an oxymoron?

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