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  • Clive 3:01 pm on December 9, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , censorship, , , , , ,   

    Radical Democracy & the Internet Ch 5 

    Chapter 5: Online direct action: Hacktivism and Radical Democracy Tim Jordan

    Difference: between hacktivism and hacking a) hacktivists speak out on politics b) hacktivists connect political action to spheres beyond informational freedoms.

    Jordan identified two trends in hacktivism:

    1. Mass Action hacktivism

    The translation of offline mass protests (especially non-violent direct action) online. Examples:

    a) Electronic Disturbance Theatre.

    One of the elements of my work since the ’80s is what happens to the social space of critique and protest when the physical avenues have been shut down physically and emotionally. This leads to the question of electronic civil disobedience: to what degree can virtual landscapes of critique be used to amplify and route around the lockdown that’s happening at this university? In the best of all worlds, this would also allow a teleportation between data bodies in protest and real bodies in protest.

    Electronic civil disobedience is a fearless space that allows one, nonviolently, to protest in ways that are no longer allowable in real space. This seems to me to become extremely important in our post-contemporary period. To a certain degree, I find that students, because we are in this kind of electro-scape, would be more willing to risk having a voice as a group if that voice is digitally represented (through, for example, MySpace or Facebook).

    From an interview with Prof. Ricardo Dominguez, principal investigator at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology and an assistant professor for UCSD’s visual arts department.)

    b) Electrohippies anti-World Trade Organisation action which broad down the WTO network in Seattle. It did so not by using bots to enact a DDoS attack but by aggregating actual users in flooding the site with requests, hence bringing it down. So it is in the numbers of mass protest that effectiveness is produced, where its symbolic capital is stored – not the technological ‘solution’.

    2. Digital correctness

    Less of an attempt to simulate offline mass direct action online than to assertions of liberty and the rights to an uncensored internet. It’s about beating the censor. Examples are:

    • Peekabooty network is a peer-to-peer network which its developers (a hacking community called the cult of the dead cow) claims will evade all attempts to censor/block traffic (see Guardian report).
    • Torpark – anonymous Web-browser based on Firefox that uses the TOR (The Onion Router) network. It comes pre-configured, requires no installation, can run off a USB memory stick, and leaves no tracks behind in the browser or computer.
    • ScatterChat is a secure instant messaging client designed for non-technical users who require secure and anonymous communications.
    • Camera/Shy enables users to share censored information with their friends by hiding it in plain view as ordinary gif images.

    See http://www.hacktivismo.com/projects/index.php

    Jordan then looks at the antagonisms between the two trends and how they contribute to Laclau and Mouffe’s conception of radical democracy – ie the extent to which both trends extend liberty and equality in relation to the social identities destabilised by capitalims. Conclusion: unclear how their contribution can be evaluated.

     
  • Clive 9:20 pm on August 31, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: censorship, Gorki   

    The rising importance of citizen journalism in Cuba? 

    Perhaps a significant week in the developing tools and awareness of internet activism in Cuba. It began with the arrest of Gorki Águila (guitarist and singer with the punk-rock band Porno para Ricardo – known for their outspoken criticism of the government) on the (alleged) charge of ‘pre-delinquent dangerousness’ (peligrosidad pre delictiva), a law introduced to deal with anti-government behaviour and already used against independent journalists (including Osca Madan in 2007).

    Outpourings from the blogosphere coordinated particularly by Penultimos Dias (who have created a catagory of posts on the case) and Babalu as well as the international press (the Telegraph, BBC, Guardian and others) plus open letters of support from musicians in Spain and the US filled the ether for a week. Gorki got a Free Gorki site, an entry in Wikipedia (the article was begun on he 27th August) while the traffic on his band’s MySpace page rocketed.

    Arrested on Monday, three days of hyper-net-activity and by Thursday the court dropped the charge of peligrosidad pre delictiva and gave him a fine of 600 pesos for disturbing the peace (the band were rehearsing at the time of his arrest). There are a number of people (including Yoani Sanchez on her blog and via telephone/Mexico to YouTube) inferring a simple cause and effect here – the government is now so fragile that it has to back down in the face of inter(net)ation attention: this is the start, the tipping point, etc., etc. I’m not so convinced.

    What I do perceive is a crisis of representation. ‘El poder popular’ hasn’t been ‘popular’ for a while. The government is representing the views and aspirations of an increasingly small section of the population. It is increasingly evident that the ideas and values of a growing proportion of the population are not guiding government action and policy. Up until now, opportunities to represent views outside of the simplistic dichotomy (in or out; silence or ‘dissidence’) have been limited. This last week just may be the beginnings of a new form of mutual support that blows away these dichotomies and offers a flatter form of resistance and new opportunities for non-governmental, non-aligned civil association.

    As ever, esperemos.

     
  • Clive 10:12 pm on August 18, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: censorship,   

    Self-censorship 

    Tony Judt exmines self-censhorship in his lecture “Disturbing the Peace: Intellectuals and Universities in an Illiberal Age”.

    Self-censorship is:

    1. (the lighter act of) not saying what you know to be true for fear of being unpopular, derided (eg of moon is round)
    2. (the more serious) camouflaging the truth from yourself though the use of cliches (we protect our troops, we love freedom) prophylactic self-censorship – you say something utterly redundant and meaningless (because it goes without saying in the place you find yourself) which is safe to say and it forestalls anyone from accusing you of thinking its opposite. Slogans like this are the principle means of the ritual communication within the system of power – see Vaclav Havel ‘The Power of the Powerless’.
    3. I’ll be polite if you are polite – I won’t offend your identity if you don’t offend mine ( despite the hate speech of the radio phone-in)
     
  • Clive 9:28 pm on June 20, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: censorship, ,   

    Search Monitor: Toward a Measure of Transparency 

    Nart Villeneuve – Search Monitor: Toward a Measure of Transparency

    Citizen Lab Occasional Paper #1, “Search Monitor Project: Toward a Measure of Transparency“, (mirror) has been released today. This report interrogates and compares the censorship practices of the search engines provided by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! for the Chinese market along with the domestic Chinese search engine Baidu. It is based on tests conducted between November 2007 and April 2008 focused on uncovering web sites that have been censored from search engine results.

    The report finds that although Internet users in China are able to access more information due to the presence of foreign search engines the web sites that are censored are often the only sources of alternative information available for politically sensitive topics. In addition to censoring the web sites of Chinese dissidents and the Falun Gong movement, the web sites of major news organizations, such as the BBC, as well as international advocacy organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, are also censored.

     
  • Clive 12:39 pm on June 20, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , censorship   

    Blogger arrests hit record high 

    Blogger arrests hit record high

    More bloggers than ever face arrest for exposing human rights abuses or criticising governments, says a report.

    Since 2003, 64 people have been arrested for publishing their views on a blog, says the University of Washington annual report.

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