Protecting Bloggers

Persecution of an Iranian blogger. Here’s a BBC report

“We are not organized against the state,” I said. “I write because I want to criticize the system. There are some things in our state that should be corrected.” “Why don’t you write an e-mail directly to the supreme leader’s office?” he asked. “The supreme leader considers all criticisms and takes corrective actions.”

“I hadn’t thought about that,” I said. This was nonsense, of course, but I saw an opening. “From now on, I will write directly to the supreme leader and stop writing in my Web log.”

“It is too late for that,” he said.

Here’s a website dedicated to protecting imprisoned bloggers. Here’s some good principles on protecting bloggers. According to Julian Pain:

1. Any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in freedom of expression as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2. Internet users alone must decide what material they can and wish to access online. Automatic filtering of online content, by governments or private firms, is unacceptable. Filters must only be installed by Internet users themselves and only on their personal connection. Any policy of higher-level (national or even local) filtering conflicts with the principle of the free flow of information.

3. A decision to shut down a website, even an illegal one, must not in any circumstances be taken by the site’s host or any other technical provider of Internet services. Only a judge can ban an online publication. A technical service provider cannot therefore be held criminally or civilly responsible for any illegal material posted on a hosted website unless the service provider refuses to obey a ruling by an impartial and independent court.

4. A government’s civil or criminal powers are limited to content hosted on its territory or specifically aimed at the country’s Internet users.

5. The editors of online publications, including bloggers and those running personal sites, must have the same protection and be shown the same consideration as professional journalists since, like them, they exercise a basic freedom, that of freedom of expression.