TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Media Watchdog Tells Bloggers How to Avoid Censors

Media Watchdog Tells Bloggers How to Avoid Censors

Timothy Heritage (
Sat, 24 Sep 2005 13:06:17 -0500

By Timothy Heritage

A Paris-based media watchdog released a handbook on Thursday to help
cyber-dissidents and bloggers avoid political censorship in countries
as far apart as China, Iran, Vietnam and Cuba.

The guide, published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) with the
backing of the French government, identifies bloggers as the "new
heralds of free expression" and offers advice on how to set up a blog
and run it anonymously.

"Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the
mainstream media is censored or under pressure," wrote Julien Pain,
head of RSF's Internet Freedom Desk.

"Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the
government and sometimes courting arrest."

Blogs are personal Web sites that are easy to set up and are often
written in the form of an online diary. The name is a shortened form
of personal "Web log."

The "Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents" can be downloaded
from the RSF website (, and the media organization says it
is available in English, French, Chinese, Arabic and Farsi.

The guide is based on technical advice from experienced bloggers and
experts, and provides personal accounts by bloggers such as Arash
Sigarchi, who received a 14-year-jail sentence in Iran last February
but is free pending an appeal.

"Internet journalism could advance freedom of expression and wider
view points," wrote Sigarchi, who faced charges ranging from spying to
insulting the country's leaders.

"Although I have been convicted by Iranian courts, I have not lost
hope and I am sure that in coming years the rulers of my country will
have to respect the flow of information and freedom of expression."


"Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some
people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new
information revolution," RSF said on its Web site.

"Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they're
tremendous tools of freedom of expression."

The handbook offers advice on how to establish credibility by
observing basic ethical and journalistic principles.

One chapter offers advice on technical ways to get around
censorship. Others feature bloggers' experiences from such countries
as Nepal, Iran, Bahrain and Hong Kong.

Publication of the handbook follows moves in some countries to crack
down on Internet use.

RSF said countries which were trying to control what their citizens
read and do online included China, Vietnam, Iran, Iran, Cuba, Saudi
Arabia and Uzbekistan.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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