The holidays are around the corner and some of us will be indulging ourselves in festivities. I thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on freedom within the blogosphere. I live in a relatively peaceful country where I can do or say whatever I want within the boundaries of the law. In the Netherlands the law is pretty keen on freedom of speech which sometimes leads to heated debates but at the same time allows me to speak my mind.
Freedom of speech is something I take for granted. Blogging is also something I take for granted.
The blogosphere doesn’t have any laws except for a few initiatives such as the Blogger’s Code of Conduct. I am not a big fan of these codes as I am a big supporter of Common Sense. What I love about blogging is that you can speak your mind. But can we all? Bloggers are bound by the rules and laws of the country they reside in. What if these laws restrict an individual from speaking their mind? Or even worse, what if these laws put bloggers such as Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman into jail?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation fights for bloggers rights and created the Legal Guide for Bloggers that provides bloggers with information on their legal rights. The guide covers a wide range of subjects, from the privacy rights of people you blog about to workplace blogging to legal liability issues. EFF also has an extensive piece on how to blog safely by blogging anonymously. Ethan Zuckerman from Global Voices used this post to create a technical instruction guide on how to blog anonymously because
One of the great joys of working on Global Voices has been having the chance to work with people who are expressing themselves despite powerful forces working to keep them silent. I’ve worked with a number of authors who’ve wanted to write about political or personal matters online, but who felt they couldn’t write online unless they could ensure that their writing couldn’t be traced to their identity. These authors include human rights activists in dozens of nations, aid workers in repressive countries as well as whistleblowers within companies and governments. (Zuckerman)
The guide has detailed instructions on how to blog anonymously using WordPress.com and Tor. This guide is very useful and important for two reasons:
- It shows bloggers who do not have the blessing of freedom of speech how they can minimize their risks.
- It shows bloggers how to bypass banned services such as WordPress.com using a proxy server. WordPress.com is still banned in Turkey, China and Thailand and by using a proxy server you can still access the service.
Reading the guide on Anonymous Blogging with WordPress and Tor made me aware of how much effort it takes to stay anonymous or to access banned services. It made me realize what a lucky blogger I am. It showed me how much I respect bloggers that speak their mind despite of the risks they might face.
Author: Anne Helmond
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.