Amnesty International is repeating its call for companies and governments to take action to protect human rights online. Ahead of this week's Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janiero, the pressure group said restrictions on freedom of expression are increasing around the world. It is calling for governments to stop …
Deaf Ears ?
Whilst the noble aims of AI cannot be denied, have they ever actually succeeded in convincing a government to alter its policies ?
I guess lack of Internet Connectivity is now right up there with the real tragedies you expect Amnesty to cover.
Don't get me wrong, I hate the idea of Internet censorship as much as the next man, but surly Amnesty could put their time, funding and effort into something a little more serious?
Droughts, suicide bombers, African Warlords massacring entire villages, TB kills millions in 3rd world countries every year, while we've had a working vaccine for years. Many cured/controllable diseases kill million of people around the world every year, simply becuase they don't have access to the medicine.
There are any number of things going on in this world, at any point in time, that make living without free speech look like a bloody picnic.
Amnesty should devote their precious resources to attempt to help genuine human plight, and while true freedom of speech would make the world a much nicer place to live in (or would it?), there are much more basic, less utopian, issues to address first.
Govt Always Controls Communications
I don't know why people expect the Internet to be any different.
Yes, I'm sure they dropped everrything to comment on internet censorship.
Amnesty's main purpose is to campaign on behalf of prisoners of conscience, not to tackle all the ills of the world.
Amnesty's priority IS human rights & free speech. Humanitarian aid is what Oxfam & the Red Cross exist for. Without free speech and the right to political dissent, then people can't vote in the leaders that want to buy TB vaccines and not ak-47s. Functioning republics are hard work but without free speech you'll never see one.
Nice idea, unlikely to happen
While Edward Pearson above has a point, if we don't aim high, we are never going to achieve universal human rights.
However, asking for this is effectively asking all governments to allow complete political freedom. You can't have it just on the internet and not in real politics, the press etc. The Internet is just one method of delivering those freedoms - it doesn't exist in isolation.
Consequently, this initiative is bound to fail. Amnesty should just campaign for general political freedoms (along with everything else it campaigns for) - Internet freedoms will (if it succeeds) just follow on naturally.
Big ISP's maybe able to do a little, but as the China Google charade shows, big 'free' web sites just get blocked in countries where they threaten the status quo. ISP's in the countries trying to oppress people just get closed down. There is only so much they can do.
Probably not, but it's important that there is a relatively large and vocal organisation that opposes torture in the face of the consensus that torture is justifiable in certain circumstances and if couched in euphemism. It's one of the things that prevents me from putting a bullet in my head in the hope of reincarnation as a less morally abhorrent species, like a shark or a dung beetle.
The Truth ..... Some Like IT Hot. And Some Like IT even Hotter XXXX
"Govt Always Controls Communications"
Get Real, Solomon, they control diddly squat. Communications Always Controls Governments and the Internet will allow IT 42 Control Everything.....from a Central Standard Vanguard Location. A Principled Principal IP Address Rooting for and Routing For Principal IP Addresses and their Virtual Residents/Co-Habitants for of course, an IP Address can Host a Whole Nest of CyberIDEntities and/or an XXXXStreamly Attentive Host.
And that is an Open Source Secret out in the Wild after the Obligatory Metaphorical Forty Days in the Wilderness Sojourn/Time Out/Walkabout/Chill/Ponder/BetaTesting.
No need to go so far...
... in Italy situation is similar, after Beppe Grillo, comedian, troublemaker and arch-enemy of the Establishment, moved hundreds of thousand people to make a law against corruption in the Council (probably you know we have plenty of condemned criminals in it) during the "Vaffanculo Day" (it:: "f**k off day")
In response, the Council of Ministers did this: http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/the_web/article2732802.ece
(sorry for my poor english, 1st comment here, after years of lurking. hi all!)
Thanks for that heads up, Andrea. Are there no natural heirs to take over the make over of La Dolce Vita into something Fundamentally and Vibrantly Post Modern Renaissance and even downright forthright Inquisitorial? All IT needs is an EMPathetic Voice to Breathe some Life into Latent Repressed Passion. ...... a Very Catholic Penance/Self Flagellation/Masochism if ever there was one.
Do you talk like this in the real world? How the hell do you even buy food? Or have you managed to find a town peopled exclusively by 3rd rate pseudo-gonzo wannabes? I think the problem is that you've got the "stream" part down perfectly, but you forgot about the "of consciousness" bit.
Personally I'm all for greater government control of the net. Firstly the government should be filtering all foreign web pages to add the missing U's back into colour and flavour. Combine that with some basic grammar and spell-checking and we can cordon off our own little corner of the net for grown-ups. We also need a new TLD for 4chan/Amanfrommars/You-tube commenters - I propose .bilge.
Thanks ..but no thanks.
Thanks for that insight into your own head, AC. You've still got a long way to go to vanquish that negative attitude before you can even begin to comprehend the bigger picture being built here on El Reg.
Who do you think controls governments? From your second paragraph it would appear to be IT Boffins with Search Engines and Internet Browsers .....Virtual Machines. Good Plan .... they certainly can do with the help but they're there to Serve the People not to Lead them. It is surely arrogant of them to think themselves equipped otherwise.
Indeed, the hash they make of things is testament to the ignorant folly.
Hell....3rd rate pseudo-gonzo wannabes needing some basic grammar and spell-checking abound everywhere, they aint hard to find ....They offer peace and democracy which is used to sneak in conspiratorial capitalism and march to war with bombs and bullets to deliver it with Shock and Awe. With those sort of friends you harbour an bitter two-faced enemy.
Man speak with forked tongue, Kemo Sabe.
I agree with amanfromMars
I don't think he is from Mars, and "he" is probably not strictly a "Man", but whatever. Fundamentally, I believe that the issue here is not one of technology, but our willingness to use it for revolutionary ends. Let me give you an example.
Napster was created/became popular in the late-90's when the internet was still young, and people didn't really know what to do with it. It turns out, people pretty much wanted free music/porn/warez. Fine. Napster delivered. Bad: the principles behind Napster were labelled criminals, and they were shut down, and many people cried. What happened next was amazing: people suddenly felt entitled to stop buying music. People all over the earth, for no reason whatsoever decided, "sod this, I'm not going to take it anymore" and just plain stopped paying for music. Gnutella, and eventually Bit-Torrent replaced the old Napster network, but if it were not for Napster, these protocols would not have even been developed.
The same can be said for the internet in general: if some brave someone takes that first step and says, "You know what? I'm going to create a protocol/system/node/whatever so amazing, that people all over the world will want to use it, and it'll be free, in the truest sense of the world, and it cannot be censored". Gee...do you really think some puny government is going to be able to stop her/him/it? I am assuming the presence of "dolphins with hands" doing some of this work, here people. Bear with me.
We've already got TCP/IP. Governments are unwilling/unable to stop that protocol from crossing borders. We just need something that rides on top of that, which looks like legitimate http traffic, or whatever, that contains a secret payload -- "subversive" messages. Actually, people's free thoughts, but whatever.
Oh, and how can I agree with amanfromMars and not even know what "he" is saying, nor do I believe that he is a human entity, nor does it matter? I think of him as a Cthuloid, but more of a ptaav, in essence. A sad "person" who is able to grasp quantum mechanical concepts intuitively, but is stuck using keyboard and mouse to do actual communication with English-(roughly)-speaking humans. Sorry to out you man.
You were always the smart one of the family, learning primitive "languages" while the rest of us were happy using telepathy. Go ahead, attempt to speak with these humans. They are an amusing lot. I'm going back to play with Schroedinger's cat, now. Dead or alive, it makes no difference to me. The play's the thing.
"Whilst the noble aims of AI cannot be denied, have they ever actually succeeded in convincing a government to alter its policies ?"
Yes. Their research is frequently mentioned both in the EU and UN (and I'm sure many other international bodies) and they are often cited in discussions relating to human rights. They certainly played a part in making Europe free from the Death Penalty, for example
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