Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

Archive for the ‘Corporate censorship’ Category

YouTube + Dictators = Tru Luv 4 Evr

In Corporate censorship, Free speech, Human rights on June 20, 2007 at 3:16 pm

YouTube is assisting the Thai government in censoring its product. (Via SplashCast blog.) Its corporate overlord, Google, is already doing the same for the Chinese government.

It didn’t take long for YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley to trot out the Chamberlainesque excuse pioneered by Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, “At the end of the day we want to always maintain a platform that respects local laws and customs.”

As I said elsewhere: No, you don’t have to “respect local laws and customs” when it is a) antithetical to human rights and b) a cheap excuse to pimp your users. Looks like Chad & Co. have found an agreeable home at Google. “Do no(t as much) evil (as Yahoo).”

Between shareholders-rights fetishism and puppy-eyed PC credulity, YouTube may prove the platform of choice for those whose “local laws and rights” include having cops rape people for speaking their minds (Egypt) and mutilating people’s genitals for being the wrong gender (Ethiopia). I know a 16 year old kid who has gone to the Iranian equivalent of Pelican Bay because of “local customs.” (He satirized politicians on his blog.) Can you imagine how he’s being treated in there?

Business-oriented conservatives (“The CEO’s only responsibility is to his shareholders…”) and Pollyanna progressives (“Morality is a cultural construct…”) have come together to provide a stable ideological platform for helping some of the worst people in the world get away with (sometimes literally) murder. Finally, a place where left and right can come together.

If you help tyrants, you’re a bitch. If you do it for money, you’re a whore. For the founders of YouTube, this is the first time in a lifetime of bending over for tyrants and finding the money on the dresser. I hope Chad & Co. enjoy the position. Now that they have assumed it once, they’ll find it easier and easier to do.

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Web-Based Free Speech Email Platform

In Corporate censorship on January 18, 2007 at 12:58 am
Update: Amr says they already have such a service, called Riseup.

It strikes me that, on a global scale, it would benefit journalists, dissidents, free speech advocates and good old fashion folk, if there were a web-based email platform that was easy to access and use, as well as reliable and that was run by a group that, unlike Yahoo and Hotmail (Microsoft) and even Google, would not hand over information to any tyrannical government that came along with (or without) a court order.

The mere ability to send email knowing that the ‘company’ running it is not seeking to curry favor with the same people who would like to find you and attach electrodes to your wigglers might be a benefit. Yahoo is positively giddy with the desire to “obey the laws of the countries in which they operate,” and Microsoft (and here) and Google don’t have clean hands either. Services like Hushmail are just too complex for most people to use.

That’s not to say that traffic and users wouldn’t be traceable by the normal methods, but eager-to-please companies may have done as much damage to free speech globally as any number of “jackbooted thugs.”

Another consideration, however, is that most people use Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail because they are simply well known. To design a foolproof system that no one uses would be no more useful than not creating one at all. That’s a big question: are the market forces alone too overwhelming to make such a service valuable?

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