Air Force Blocks Media Sites Posting Leaked Cables, Two articles
Dec 16 2010, 10:12 PM
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The first article is in English:
The second is from the German "Spiegel Online" (which is one of the media-outlets concerned):
Translation by me:
Media-censorship in the USA
How Wikileaks is connected to Internet-blocks
A commentary by Christian Stöcker
The US-Air force blocks Wikileaks out, Air force-employees are not even allowed to call up certain News websites.
Such steps are usually associated with totalitarian regimes- one more reason to strictly reject technical censorship-mechanisms on the internet.
At the US-Air force one is no longer allowed to call up the 'New York Times' since a short while ago.
The same goes for 'Le Monde', the British 'Guardian' or 'Spiegel Online'.
If anyone tries, he receives the message 'Access denied. Internet-access is being recorded and monitored'.
Media-censorship at the workplace, with an explicit pointer towards the publication of the analysis of the classified diplomatic dispatches which have been published by Wikileaks- this is a new quality in the US-fight for sovereignty regarding opinion in this entire affair.
It was preceded by a whole range of other steps:
Companies like Amazon, PayPal, Mastercard or Visa were allegedly pressurised into withholding resources or money from the whistleblower-portal, even though there is not even any judicial mechanism for dealing with the publications.
Warnings were issued to government-employees and even students, saying that they were not supposed to look at the published documents.
State employees would act against security-rules, while students could spoil their chances for obtaining future jobs at government-agencies, was the reasoning. Even to mention the documents on Twitter or Facebook could jeopardise future careers in the state service.
The White House has already officially indicated that any Federal employees who do not have security-clearance for documents marked 'secret' would not be allowed to view them. Not even on their private computers.
What about Newspapers bought from a stall?
The 'New York Times' comments the step taken by the Air Force as follows:
"It is regrettable that the Air Force has not chosen to enable its employees to have access to information which practically the rest of mankind can view."
The point taken by "Der Spiegel" in regard to the actions of the Air Force:
"The actions of the Air Force are an incomprehensible and regrettable step.
Now we wait to see if American state employees will be forbidden to buy the 'New York Times', the 'Guardian' or 'Der Spiegel' "
The US, where freedom of opinion and of the press up to now has been viewed as a highly inviolate commodity, is getting closer in some ways-- as far as the actions of government agencies and public representatives is concerned-- to the kind of States which have always been intensely criticized in the past.
Internet-blocks and the publicly formulated wish to have legal means at their disposal against certain publications are reminders of States like Iran and China.
Of course, the US is still far removed from censorship-mechanisms and control-claims.
But what is going on at the moment goes further than anything which was 'normality' in the land of the free- even compared with the period just after 9/11.
What the activities surrounding Wikileaks show clearly is:
The debates which took place in this country (Germany) in respect of Internet-blockage-legislation against child pornography were not just useless grey theory and had nothing to do with generating panic.
The fundamental question how much control the State should be allowed to have over what kind of information citizens can or can not access is more important than ever these days.
Internet-Filters in the interest of national security?
If the US would have an Access-limitation-law as proposed by Ursula von der
Leyen at one time- how would they act now?
Would this tool continued to be used merely against child pornography?
Or would a nation which forbids its soldiers to read newspapers be prepared after all to use this kind of infrastructure to protect its own citizens against too much information?
Would Wikileaks.ch, Wikileaks.de and all those other alternative Internet-addresses (by now there are more than 2000) where the diplomatic dispatches and other documents can be accessed by anyone still be accessible in the US?
Or would they be filtered out in the interest of national security?
It was exactly this kind of fear which drove the opponents of the Access-Limitation-law unto the barricades last year.
That now even a country where the first amendment of the constitution guarantees 'Freedom of opinion and of the press' is prepared under certain circumstances to declare these rights to be of secondary importance in places justifies those who have warned against the introduction of an infrastructure suited to censorship.
To date, I haven't seen anything yet from the 'Guardian' on this topic.
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