[ Reporters Without Borders ] Blog censorship handbook released
Last Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Image of a computer keyboard: Caption - Blogs have become a popular
and easy way to express opinion
A handbook that offers advice to bloggers who want to protect
themselves from recrimination and censors has been released by
Reporters Without Borders.
The media watchdog said it gives people who want to set up a blog
tips on how to do so, how to publicise it, as well as how to
It also offers advice about writing blogs from countries with tough
media restrictions, such as Iran and China.
The handbook was part-funded by the French government.
Key international bloggers, experts and writers helped to produce the
guidelines, such as US journalist Dan Gillmor and Canadian net
censorship expert, Nart Villeneuve.
"Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the
mainstream media is censored or under pressure," Reporters Without
Borders said on its website.
"Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the
government and sometimes courting arrest."
Included in the booklet, called The Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-
dissidents, is advice about how to blog anonymously, as well as how
to identify the most suitable way to circumvent censorship.
It also outlines some help on developing ethical and journalistic
Blogs - easy-to-set-up diary-like websites - are proving increasingly
popular on the net as vehicles through which people can publish their
Technorati, a blog search engine, tracks more than 17 million blogs
globally. Blogs can be anything from personal diaries, to technology
news, and political comment.
Screengrab of the Reporters Without Borders blogger guidebook
People have turned to blogs where mainstream media is under pressure
Many have turned to blogging in countries where mainstream media is
restricted. But they are increasingly being targeted by strict
Iranian authorities have been clamping down on mainstream media for
some time, but it has recently turned its attention to cyber-
dissidents and bloggers.
Campaign groups say at least two dozen Iranian bloggers have been
jailed as a result of the clamp-down. It is estimated that there are
some 46,000 bloggers in the country.
The issue of blog censorship and freedom of speech is truly global,
In June, Microsoft's MSN Spaces site in China started to block blog
entries which used words such as "freedom", "democracy" and
Microsoft said the company abided by the laws, regulations and norms
of each country in which it operates.
China recently introduced regulations that required all blog owners
to register their sites with the state by 30 June.
And on Wednesday, two Chinese Singaporeans appeared in court charged
with posting racist remarks about minority Malays on the net.
The blogger booklet can be downloaded from the Reporters Without
Borders website in English, French, Chinese, Arabic and Persian.