By FMA SHARM EL-SHEIKH, 15 November 2009
The opennet.asia, a research and advocacy network which monitors cyberspace practices in Asia, and fosters respect for human rights online, deplored the ‘censorship’ act committed by the United Nations Security Office during its book reception event at the 4th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.
video of the incident: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-kxYt2LwKc
Members of the group, who come from the academia and non-governmental organizations all over Asia, were shocked when a United Nations security officer confiscated the opennet.asia poster at the entrance of the venue for the opennet.asia’s reception event for its forthcoming book, Access
Controlled. The group tried to reason out with the officer but were unsuccessful in convincing him in allowing them to display the poster which shows a sentence which allegedly violated a United Nation’s policy.
The sentence in question reads, “The first generation of Internet controls consisted largely of building firewalls at key Internet gateways; China’s famous “Great Firewall of China” is one of the first national Internet filtering systems.” Apparently, the reason for the disapproval of the
United Nations Security office is that it might displease the Chinese government officials who are attending the IGF meeting.
“We condemn this undemocratic act of censoring our event just because someone is trying to impress or be in the good graces of the Chinese government. It is ironic that while people are allowed to gather here to discuss freedom of expression online, censorship and surveillance
practices on the Internet we are being restricted and controlled in expressing our views,” said Al Alegre of the Philippine-based Foundation for Media Alternatives, a member of the opennet.asia network and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).
According to Ron Deibert of The Citizen Lab and Open Net Initiatives (ONI) Principal, one of the organizers of the book reception, he will file a complaint against the ‘censorship’ of their event and send it to the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights.