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“Like” yourself to jail: New laws to restrict online speech

Author's name: 
Aida Mahmutović
BALI

[Bosnian below]

Reflections on the Internet Governance Forum 2013 in, Bali, Indonesia, by Aida Mahmutović, from the APC member and FLOW partner owpsee in Sarajevo.

Do you think about the consequences before you upload, share, comment or like something on your favorite social media. Do you feel more free to express your opinion online?

You don’t go out personally to support peaceful protests fearing you just might get into trouble, but you rather stay home feeling free and safe to support by posting online?

MAYBE in our country this is the case, but there are some recent cases in the world where freedom to “click” “like” or “comment online” got people in a big trouble made me wonder are we just waiting for the same?!

In 26 of 60 countries there are new laws or directives that negatively impact internet freedom.

In 26 countries users were arrested for posting on social media:

  • A woman arrested in India for “liking” a friend’s comment on Facebook;
  • A student arrested in Ethiopia for critisising “rampant corruption” at local university;
  • At least 10 users arrested in Bahrain for “insulting the King on Twitter”;
  • A student received 18 months in prison in Morocco for “attacking the nation’s sacred values” after making fun of the King on Facebook…

Are we lucky for still being free to “express” ourselves online? Are we free or are we just living an “false” freedom until we become more sharper, more loud and more aware of the power of social media?

Go back for just a few month when for the first time Bosnia and Herzegovina woke up online and offline for the denied ID number for little baby girl whose life was in danger and for all other children who were about to be born.

For the first time activists and everybody’s personal online correspondence became an important matter in the country, and we could “hear” our own “Big Brother” watching us.

Still, the power is on our side3 since in 11 countries a negative law was deterred or positive law was passed as a result of civil mobilization and pressure by activists, tech companies, international community, reform-minded politicians and others:

  • in Philippines the Cybercrime Prevention Act suspended by the Supreme Court;
  • in Kyrsystan the law on “Protection of children” shelved;
  • in Mexico a new constitutional amendment (article 6) now guarantiees “freedom of access to the Internet”.

From IGF 2013, Aida Mahmutović.

[Bosnian]

“Lajkom” do zatvora: Novi zakoni koji ograničavaju online govor

Razmišljate li o posljedicama prije nego upload-ujete, podijelite, komentarišete ili “lajkate” nešto na vašoj omiljenoj društvenoj mreži? Da li slobodnije izražavate svoje mišljenje online? Ne želite lično izaći i podržati mirne proteste jer vas je strah da će vam to donijeti probleme, već rađe ostajete kući i osjećate slobodu i sigurnost dok izražavate svoju podršku na društvenim mrežama? MOŽDA je ovo slučaj u našoj zemlji, ali samo neki od slučajeva u svijetu gdje je sloboda “klika”, “lajka” i “komentara online” stvorila ljudima velike probleme navodi me na razmišljanje da li mi samo strpljivo čekamo da nam se počne događati isto?

U 26 od 60 država postoje novi zakoni ili direktive koje imaju negativne posljedice na slobodu Interneta.
U 26 zemalja korisnik/ca je uhapšen/a radi “postanja” na nekoj od socijalnih mreža:

  • žena uhapšena u Indiji zbog “lajkanja” komentara prijatelja na facebook-u;
  • student uhapšen u Etiopiji radi kritikovanja “duboke korupcije” na lokalnom univerzitetu;
  • najmanje 10 korisnika uhapšeno u Bahreinu radi “vrijeđanja Kralja na Twitter-u”;
  • studentu izrečena kazna od 18 mjeseci zatvora u Maroku za “napadanje nacionalnih svetih vrijednosti” nakon što je ismijavao Kralja na facebook-u.

Da li imamo sreću što još uvijek imamo slobodu “izražavanja” online? Da li smo slobodni ili živimo lažnu slobodu koja će trajati do momenta dok ne postanemo oštriji, glasniji i svjesniji snage socijalnih mreža?

Vratimo se samo par mjeseci unatrag kada se Bosna i Hercegovina po prvi put probudila i online i offline, zahtijevajući da se riješi problem neizdavanja JMBG-a za djevojčicu čiji je život bio ugrožen, ali i za svu ostalu djecu koja se trebaju roditi.
Po prvi put lična online korespondencija aktivista ali i svih građana, postala je važan subjekt u državi. Mogli smo “čuti” da nas gleda naš “Veliki Brat”.2

Ipak je sve u našim rukama,3 obzirom da je u 11 država “negativan zakon” odbačen ili pozitivan zakon usvojen kao rezultat civilne mobilizacije ili pritiska od strane aktivista, tehnoloških kompanija, međunarodnih zajednica, političara i drugih:

  • u Filipinima Zakon o kibernetičkom kriminalu suspendovan od strane Vrhovnog suda;
  • u Kirgistanu Zakon o zaštiti djece odložen;
  • u Meksiku novi ustavni amandman (član 6) sada garantuje “slobodu pristupa Internetu”-

Sa IGF-a 2013, Aida Mahmutović

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