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December 4, 2009

Blogger Arrested for Pneumonic Plague Rumors

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handcuffsA medical student has been arrested in southern Russia for allegedly starting rumors that pneumonic plague, a deadly infection that can be transferred between humans, would cause the city of Saratov (POP: 800,000+) to be quarantined.

The 22-year-old blogging medical student, Ivan Peregorodiev, was publicly questioning the 17 confirmed swine flu deaths in the area, wondering ‘aloud’ if the diagnosis was correct. read more

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March 29, 2009

The Outing of a Blogger: Is it Legal to Reveal a Blogger?

blog anonymous mask over word bloggerIn “The Outing of a Blogger: Social Transparency or Violation?” I started this short series on the outing of a popular Alaska personal blogger, Mudflats (aka AKMuckraker or AKM), unveiled by a state politician.

The question I want to tackle in this article is the issue of the legality of blogger anonymity and what protects bloggers and not. This is a huge topic, so I’m only going to scratch the surface.

In many countries, there are no laws protecting freedom of speech nor journalists or bloggers. There may be protections for journalists, but none for bloggers. In countries where you would expect there to be such laws…it’s amazing how few there are and how flexible those laws can be.

Does a blogger have the right to privacy and anonymity? What rights do others have to expose them and why? read more

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March 28, 2009

The Outing of a Blogger: Social Transparency or Violation?

We live in an age of transparency. I’d say that “transparency” should have been the word of the year last year, and it’s popularity as a buzz word this year continues. It pops up in most news reports, demanding transparency from banks and financial institutions, politicians, governments, corporations, and individuals.

It also litters our social media interaction. We want our online social interchanges to be with real people who want to know us as real people. We want people leaving comments on our blogs to have names. We want folks on Twitter to have real names, not CD Handles and cute nicknames or keywords. So is it okay to be anonymous any more?

Over the years, there as been an ongoing debate about anonymous bloggers as more and more people take to the Information Highway to have their say. For some, anonymity is a matter of life or death. For others, it’s just wiser. But it isn’t for everyone.

Some use a pseudonym, similar to what writers and artists have been doing for many years, either for protection and security, or because their real name, Hildibob Slibbervitzenson, just isn’t “writerly” or “artistic.” Would women have swooned over Archie Leach? Sang the memorable songs of Barry Alan Pinkus, or sang along to Bohemian Rhapsody with Farrokh Bulsara? Or believed in the sung words of Robert Allen Zimmerman with such fervor? Would Moses have been so memorable if played by John Charles Carter? Would the sexy pottery scene in “Ghost” have been so memorable if performed by Demetria Gene Guynes? Replaces those real names with their pseudonyms of Cary Grant, Barry Manilow, Freddy Mercury, Bob Dylan, Charlton Heston, and Demi Moore and everything changes.

There are many people who blog under a pseudonym without condemnation, but there are still those who choose to publicly blog anonymously. They use CD Handle style names, making a visible statement about their need to be private and choosing to hide behind a masked name while not hiding their opinion.

And there continues to be a witch hunt on to out them when their opinion doesn’t agree with the government or politicians. read more

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May 30, 2008

British newspaper’s hosting of anti-immigrant blog raises questions over censorship

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“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” — Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Most people value everyone’s right to free speech, and the Internet is arguably a medium where it’s much easier to exercise that right, but every so often questions are raised over how much should be allowed to stand, particularly when an organisation hosts user-generated content.

Recently, The Telegraph — a British broadsheet newspaper — has been spotlighted for hosting a blog written by Richard Bambrook, a prominent member of the the British National Party (BNP) known for their outspoken views on immigrants.

Recently, he posted a blog entry under the heading “Blame the immigrants” in which he proceeded to blame the majority of knife and gun crime on immigrants. “I have had enough of people being afraid to actually say what they really want to say. Yes … it is the immigrants,” he wrote.

A Telegraph spokeswoman defended the newspaper’s decision to host the blog, suggesting they’d had no complaints, adding, “we believe our readers are intelligent and discerning enough to avoid the content they dislike and report that which offends. That doesn’t mean the Telegraph necessarily endorses their opinions nor promotes them.”

The Telegraph launched its My Telegraph community blogging platform last year, and now boasts a 20,000-strong membership. Moderators check for offensive/illegal content.

The fact is that Bambrook hasn’t written anything illegal, and if The Telegraph refuses to publish his comments, he’ll simply publish them somewhere else.

(Via The Guardian)

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