This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

 Freedom of Communication

Britain is trying to deal with the fallout of the sensational disclosures resulting from the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World and the opprobrium attached to it.  His newspaper company was disgraced by the illicit and immoral news-gathering tidbits beloved by readers of trashy scandal-sheets, contaminating all other news media by notional association.

The covert acts of hacking into peoples' cellphones, the undercover acts of social malfeasance undertaken by newspaper operatives, signed off on quietly by their superiors and held to be an acknowledged fact of how these reader-popular tabloids embarrassed even their low-brow followers.  All the more so when those in the elite positions of the industry were revealed to have access to high-placed politicians.

Those same politicians, as though to do penance, have surrendered to the shrill cries demanding more control of news publishers.  And so the sacred liberal-democratic precept of the lofty-minded freedom of the press trumping public outrage is under siege.  Inhibiting press freedom to counteract the issue of reckless media reporting smacks of penalizing the wrong area of news reportage. 

A free press is assumed to result from a free society with a responsible government.

But newspaper editors and managers who fall victim to working the upper hand of sleazy reportage of materials obtained by questionable, unethical means whose eagerness to trump whatever the cost is the issue, not the reporting of news.  A new proposal that legislation be passed to create a U.K. newspaper monitoring body has not been greeted with universal acclaim.
"If such a group is constituted, we will not attend its meetings, pay its fines nor heed its menaces.  We would still obey the (other) laws of the land.  But to join any scheme which subordinates press to parliament would be a betrayal of what this paper has stood for since its inception in 1828."
Britain's Spectator

There must surely be a sense of schadenfreud within the corridors of power in states that routinely control the media to the extent that their media is an outreach propaganda arm of tyrants, theocracies, autocrats and benevolent dictators. 

News that the United Nations is holding a conference debating its possible involvement in regulating the Internet seems a reflection of Arab and Muslim countries and their allies seeking control of 'expressions of hate' against religions, and their calls for free-speech and press control.

Here's a delicious irony, one that is completely at home within the power rooms of the United Nations.  It appears to be Russia that is leading the charge.  Russia where journalists have been known to suddenly be confronted by fate in the guise of assassins whose business it has become to diminish the power of the Russian press to publish facts and omissions embarrassing to the government.

The conference being held where?  Why the United Arab Emirates which just recently passed its own law which makes it illegal to use the web for the purpose of criticizing the country or its rulers.  One which provides a legal basis for the prosecution and incarceration of those who use information technology as an instrument to criticize senior officials, speak of political reform or organize demonstrations.

Google has taken it upon itself to urge people to sign a petition of protest against this bid to limit freedom of expression.  "Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access.  Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders.  This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets."

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