Tuesday, December 4, 2007

" Is You Tube feeding the regional crackdown on cyber-activists?"

" Author: Esra'a (Bahrain) - December 3, 2007

"The internet has been a prominent tool for human rights activists to convey and receive controversial information. Many interactive websites allow activists to network, help, and empower each other.

"One of such sites is YouTube, a video-sharing network where users can upload and host videos. YouTube continues to serve as a vital source for videos that reveal various human rights abuses such as police brutality in restricted countries like Egypt and Iran. [...]
"Egyptian blogger and anti-torture activist Wael Abbas is one of several Egyptians who take advantage of the many benefits of sites like YouTube to further their struggle for justice in their country. Abbas’ videos contained unpleasant and alarming scenes of police brutality in Egypt, many of which were revealed for the very first time. [...]

"This, one would think, is a positive outcome of technology. For once, rampant regional censorship couldn’t stop us from accessing videos that showed the true nature of certain governments and what they were actively trying to hide from the public.
"YouTube apparently holds a different viewpoint.

"Last week, its staff suspended Abbas’ YouTube account for several days, causing the deletion of dozens of videos that reveal torture taking place in Egyptian prisons.

"To YouTube’s credit, Abbas’ account was restored only days after its suspension, likely due to public concerns and pressure, but with all of the videos removed.

"Videos of Abbas’ media appearances concerning his cyber-activism were also deleted, even though these videos contained absolutely no violence or graphic footage that could have been in violation of the website’s policy and legal use.

"Why, then, couldn’t YouTube only remove the videos in question?

"Why did YouTube terminate Abbas’ account entirely, making all of his videos inaccessible? [...]"