Censorship at IGF in Sharm el Sheikh

November 16, 2009 at 2:07 pm 2 comments

Something quite horrific and surprising happened at the OpenNet Iniative (ONI) Asia reception at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Sharm el Sheikh yesterday. ONI is an organisation that promotes and encourages online Freedom of Expression as well as Internet openness.

When we first got to the reception we were told by the organisers that there was some delay in the showing of an OpenNet Initiative-Asia documentary, directed by Subasri Krishnan and Namita A. Malhotra, which looks at the dynamics of Internet censorship and surveillance across different parts of Asia and the role that information regulation plays. The reason for the delay was that someone had objected to the fact that Burma and Tibet were mentioned in the flyer that had been circulated regarding this movie.

access controlled with RonOnce the permission was finally received for running parts of the documentary, the ONI Asia team was approached by the United Nations (UN) security to take down the banner for a new book that was being launched by ONI called “Access Controlled” written by Ronald Deibert, John Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski and Jonathan Zittrainis.

The poster apparently mentioned China’s famous ‘Great Firewall of China’ as one of the first national Internet filtering systems”. When ONI Asia refused to take down the banner, the UN Security guard forcibly took it down. This video taken by an ONI Asia member shows what happened.

Ronald Deibert, one of the co-authors of the book, and the Director of the Citizen Lab, Munk Centre for International Studies, said in response to this action: “What is the point of the IGF if we can’t talk about Freedom of Expression,Privacy & Access Control?” ONI will be writing a formal complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights about the “censorship”!

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