viernes, 25 de marzo de 2011

To censor or not to censor, that's the question.

It is commonly believed that the E-politics -exercising power through the net- phenomenon made its first appearance on 2007 -that is, during Obama's campaign in the United States.
E-politics works thanks to these three fields: outreach, fundraising and mobilization and engagement. Let's see how some of them (specifically outreach and fundraising) were applied to Obama's successful campaign.

Outreach means going where the audience is. In other words, using social networks and blogs. Obama did well on Facebook and Twitter, having up to 18 million and 7 million followers respectively. This made him look closer to the population. And that is quite important in a world in which the community concept is increasingly relevant.

Well, Spanish, years after -like in everything- did the same, as we can see, for example with La Moncloa's twitter.

Fundraising means getting money to finance something (in this case, the electoral campaign). As Obama declined using taxpayers' money -that's public money-, his campaign relied on donors, specially those ones who donated through the Internet (
(Click here if you want to see some interesting stats about donors).
Donating online has many advantages: it's quick, cheap and far less intimidating for political novices than writing a big check. But, in my opinion, I guess that wouldn't be enough to encourage Spanish voters as Americans were. Just because Spanish people are much more passive than Americans, we feel kind of indifference to what concerns politics. But, who knows, maybe in 10 years it happens, taking into account were are -Spanish- always late for everything...

(If you want to continue reading posts about Obama, just go to FairPlay blog)

It seems that Internet is a tool for democracy, equality, freedom and good things in general. But it isn't.
It's enough to mention “China” to demonstrate things aren't going well in the net. Just because Chinese government is taking advantage of the Internet as a tool for repression. Unfortunately, it isn't the only one: Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Tunisia or Vietnam, among others, are also controlling -and censoring- the net.
This map shows cyber censorship in the world:

As the Internet Enemies report says, “under the pretext of protecting morals, national security, religion and ethnic minorities, even the “spiritual cultural and scientific potential of the country”, many countries resort to filtering the Web in order to block some content”.
It really caught my attention the Cuban case we studied in class last Tuesday. As our teacher spend some years there (read this article if you are interested in her experiences), she could tell us some ways in which the government hides or disguises its censorship, with practices such as:
  1. High price connections to the Internet. Connections they can't afford due to their minimal salaries.
  2. Having slow Internet pages that can even take 36 hours to open! Of course, these slow pages are the ones that they didn't want to be read or seen.
  3. Put obstacles to international companies.
  4. Search result removals.
  5. Harass. This makes Internet users censor themselves, because they are afraid of the consequences their actions could bring. They were continuously threatened.
En Cuba hay programas espía instalados en los ordenadores de los cibercafés. Cuando un internauta tiene la desgracia de teclear palabras prohibidas en un e-mail, como por ejemplo el nombre de un conocido disidente, recibe un mensaje de aviso indicándole que su texto se considera una “amenaza para la seguridad del Estado”. Pocos segundos después, su navegador de Web se cierra automáticamente...” (Reporteros sin fronteras)

What's happening? Is is so difficult to let everybody express freely? I guess they have forgotten something really important: freedom of expression is a HUMAN RIGHT, it isn't something they can play or commerce with!

Just to finish, I let you here a video, in order to make you think and meditate even more.
I'm looking forward to reading your opinions!

P.S: By the way, in CPCR's last class we also studied a little bit of culture jamming -taking a popular icon and modify him/her. Here you have an example, he is Tiger Woods (the golf player). Just to make you laugh a little after this "protest post".