I’ve been working for a year or so as a technical adviser for the Committee to Protect Bloggers, a group that raises awareness of people around the world facing state repression for the contents of their blogs. The Committee is on hiatus right now due to insufficient funding, but the director Curt Hopkins has also been working on an Anonymous Blogging campaign funded by a group called Spirit of America. I was hired by that campaign to put up a wiki containing 5 guides on blogging anonymously at Blogsafer.org.
The idea is that as wiki documents, the guides should be tended to by a community of interest, evolving over time to reflect changing conditions. And for all you wiki doubters out there, no – there is not overwhelming concern about said repressive governments editing the wiki to include bad advice and making people easier to identify. All previous versions of the documents are viewable in the archives and readers are prompted to not take any one page on face value without looking at change history, previous versions, etc.
From the press release:
Spirit of America has launched the BlogSafer wiki, available at http://www.blogsafer.org. BlogSafer contains a series of guides on how to blog under difficult conditions in countries that discourage free speech.
LOS ANGELES, California – January 7, 2006 – Spirit of America’s BlogSafer wiki hosts a series of targeted guides to anonymous blogging, each of which outline steps a blogger in a repressive regime can take, and tools to use, to avoid identification and arrest. These range from common sense actions such as not providing identifying details on a blog to the technical, such as the use of proxy servers.
“A repressive regime trying to still free speech first goes after and shuts down independent print and broadcast media,” said Curt Hopkins, project director of Spirit of America’s Anonymous Blogging Campaign. “Once that is done, it turns its attentions to online news sites. As these outlets disappear, dissent migrates to blogs, which are increasing geometrically in number and are simple to set up and operate.”
In past several years at least 30 people have been arrested, many of whom have been tortured, for criticizing their governments. This trend is likely to increase in the coming year.
The five guides that are currently on the wiki serve bloggers in the following countries:
* Iran (in Persian)
* China (Chinese)
* Saudi Arabia (in Arabic—also useful for other Arabic-speaking regimes such as Bahrain, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia)
* Malaysia (in English—also applicable to neighboring Indonesia and Singapore)
* Zimbabwe (in English—applicable to English-speaking Africans as well as aid workers)
These countries were chosen because they are representative of the kinds of repressive tactics that have been used in the past several years against bloggers. These include filtering, interrogation, torture and imprisonment.
I thought readers here might find this of interest. Big thanks to David at PBWiki for all his help with the project.