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Toothpasting censorship (Part 2) August 16, 2009

Posted by Farzana Rasool in Uncategorized.

Reactions to censorship

So let’s get straight to it. Why toothpaste? No it’s not because you have to squeeze some into the eyes of every person that tries to censor your contributions online or because it works some miracle for protecting your system against censorship, like hairspray on a leather couch to get marks out (really does work, I swear).

GetUp is an online activist group that began an ad against online censorship called Censordyne. It parodies a brand of toothpaste and is primarily about the internet filtering policy by the Australian federal government.

Doesn’t this remind you of that movie “Evolution”, where the big fat alien suffers death by Head and Shoulders?

The ad is spreading virally through Twitter and Youtube. The group’s website includes a search function that offers a preview of what Google will be like with the policy in place. Classified sites will be blocked.

The funniest part about the ad on censorship? It’s being censored!

GetUp had planned for the ad to be run on Qantas flights so that politicians could see the ad and get the message. The airline has now pulled out and refused to run the ad saying that it will not promote political advertising.

For another bit of irony in reactions to censorship, Tunisian citizens are crying out against the probable blocking of social networking sites, Youtube and Dailymotion, by turning to a third one. They have started a Facebook group. They hope to use the group to put pressure on the government and hopefully make them unblock the sites.

Isn’t online activism against censorship like anti-obesity threats being challenged by a group that meets at a pizza evening?

I wonder what makes them think the government won’t just close down Facebook next?

Oh wait, they did.

In August last year Facebook itself was blocked by the Tunisian Internet Agency but this group is hoped to be just the first phase in the campaign. The next step will be to write to the newspapers and get journalists involved in the censorship that it is deemed to have a political undertone.

Jamel Arfaoui reports: “Over the last few months, internet users have received “404: Page Not Found” errors when trying to surf the two websites [Youtube and Daily Motion]. Observers say the motive behind the blockage might be political, coming as it does in the months before Tunisia’s presidential and parliamentary elections.”

Online activism is clearly under threat if we remember that the Iranaian government blocked social networking sites quite recently and the Chinese government also did so during the 2009 Tiannamen commemoration days.

Ahem, so about that guide…well it’s either that or I need to find a pair of really dark glasses.

The first point on the EFF ’staying safe online’ activist guide a) Avoid publishing material under your own name, or including facts that might be clues to your identity, unless you are willing to take the risk that authorities will target you for reprisals.”



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