Watchdogs growing active, as journalists become silenced
A billionaire investor plans to start a new government watchdog organization, as more journalists both domestic and abroad are silenced.
In terms of freedom of speech and expression, the world is at a cross roads. It seems as if more information about the extensive surveillance programs of the National Security Administration comes out by the month, showing how no one is truly immune to this data mining. In other parts of the world, journalists are being silenced at an alarming rate because of the content of their publications under absurd charges such as aiding terrorism.
However, these actions are not occurring without people putting up a fight. For instance, when the Guardian went to press about the actions of the NSA, a number of critics raised their voices and the first steps in implementing reforms have been taken. Additionally, groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Index on Censorship have worked to fight for the rights of these imprisoned writers.
Work to be done
However, there is certainly a ways to go before the world becomes as open and free for expression as it should be. Al Jazeera reported that instances of journalists being detained for the content of their publications has grown quite frequent as of late.
One of the most recent incidents cited by the news source is the case of Ali Anouzla in Morocco, who was just recently released on bail after being arrested last month for allegedly providing "material assistance" to al-Qaeda. In reality, the writer composed a post that linked to a Spanish publication than then linked to a YouTube video that was uploaded by the terrorist group.
Unfortunately, the case of Anouzla is not an uncommon one. Al Jazeera noted that these kinds of cases have grown more common in countries such as Ethiopia, Jordan, Algeria and even the United States, where the First Amendment supposedly reigns supreme.
According to the news source, Noam Chomsky recently said any action, including the limiting of free speech, can be justified in the name of state security. This provides an alarmingly accurate critique of the actions taken against many individuals, like Chelsea Manning, whom Chomsky was speaking in reference to.
Taking a stand
In order to keep the Internet free to users both domestically and abroad, a number of people and organizations have come together. From internet giants like Facebook to individual activists, many people are invested in seeing free speech protected in all of its mediums. Recently, another internet powerhouse joined the cause.
Pierre Omidyar is the founder of eBay, but his recent endeavors have gone towards increasing government transparency by helping investigative journalism and watchdogs such as the Center for Public Integrity and the Sunlight Foundation, according to the Washington Post.
Recently, Omidyar has teamed up with lawyer-journalist Glenn Greenwald, to develop a still unnamed operation that will continually bring light to unflattering government secrets such as the PRISM surveillance program. This will come in the form of a general-news site that will cover these kinds of topics.
Omidyar will join other wealthy individuals such as Boston Red Sox owner, John Henry, and tycoon Warren Buffet, however, it seems as if his intentions will be more based in a sense of civic responsibility.
The roles of power and the dissemination of ideas are certainly complex. The various cases of journalists being detained throughout the world only further illuminate these complexities. However, in some cases, there seems to be a theme in that the limitations are often done so by governments and in the name of national security.
This leads one to ask what exactly these ruling powers are looking to protect in their questionable freedom-suppressing actions.