Monday, March 28, 2011

Today in Censorship: Frightening and Stupid Edition

Homer Simpson won’t be able to cause a meltdown.  Actually, he may but people in Europe won’t get to see it according to a New York Daily News article; “Broadcasters in Europe have begun reviewing episodes of "The Simpsons" to make sure that one featuring a meltdown doesn't air.  The Hollywood Reporter says networks in Germany, Switzerland and Austria have all taken a close look at episodes set to air in the near future.” 
On a much more serious note, President Obama is putting American troops in harms way by supporting the Libyan uprising while “Middle East regimes try to stifle dissent by censoring the Internet” using technology provided by American companies.  The Wall Street Journal article reports that plans to use “technology from U.S.-based Palo Alto Networks Inc. [that] promises to give Bahrain more blocking options and make it harder for people to circumvent censoring.”
While companies like McAfee help dictators, “the State Department has spent more than $20 million to fund software and technologies that help people in the Middle East circumvent Internet censorship that is sustained by Western technology.”
The Journal reports that “a forthcoming report from OpenNet, ISPs in at least nine Middle East and North African countries have used ‘Western-made tools for the purpose of blocking social and political content, effectively blocking a total of over 20 million Internet users from accessing such websites.’”
President Obama claims that military action in Libya is “the greatest opportunity to realign our interests and our values."   I have no idea how selling censorship software to dictators fits with those values unless the only value American corporations have is making a profit no matter the moral cost.

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