Censorship of the internet extends well beyond China and search-engine firms that cooperate. Xeni Jardin, co-editor of BoingBoing.net, recognized massive censorship was underway after receiving dozens of emails from readers who complained they were blocked from the site. A Silicon Valley product called Smart Filter prevented access because BoingBoing.net contained “nudity” – pictures of Michaelangelo’s David. With research, Xeni Jardin discovered that foreign governments, including many in the Middle East, rely on Smart Filter and similar products produced by US companies for nationwide censorship campaigns. Jardin argues that free speech is one of the most valuable exports of the US, and sale of censorship technology by US companies constitutes hypocrisy. Supporters of technology rights suggest that boycotts and US congressional action could pressure the offending companies to limit sales. Jardin proposes adding filtering technologies to the US Munitions List, requiring exporters to file papers with the US State Department, creating a tangible record. The internet editor suggests that censorship technology, much like bombs and guns, could delay reform of repressive regimes. – YaleGlobal
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Xeni Jardin is a co-editor of BoingBoing.net.
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company