digital knowledge. digital culture. digital memory.

19.5.07

Anonymous when you do not want to be


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Today's Fiji Times has an interesting feature story on blogs. In this story there are some comments from a certain unnamed "former information security consultant". It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read my recent post advising against blog censorship, that the "consultant who refused to be identified for fear of victimisation" is me. My part of the story reads as follows,

A former information security consultant working in Fiji said recently the reputation of bloggers had been tarnished.

"I am one of many apolitical bloggers in Fiji, and use the web for professional communication, sharing thoughtful writing, or just plain fun.

"I have no political agenda and do not want to be painted with the same brush as Fiji's anonymous political bloggers," he said.

The consultant who refused to be identified for fear of victimisation said FINTEL had the expertise and equipment to block any web address with very little cost or effort.

"The movement of the resistfrankscoup blogspot site to the Wordpress blog site illustrates that blocking websites is not effective.

"If their blogs are blocked, anonymous political bloggers and their readers will simply shift their activities to other available internet resources, such as:

A new blog on blogspot.com (unless they just block the entire blogspot domain);

Any other free blog site such as Wordpress, Livejournal, or countless others;

Any social networking site such as Hi5, Facebook, MySpace, or others;

Any free website provider such as Google Pages, Geocities, or others;

Any instant messaging service from the venerable IRC to jabber, yim, gtalk, or others;

Any group discussion technology from the venerable USENET to Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, or others;

Any p2p technology to circulate files or to chat such as Skype or FWD;

Or users could do any of the above, including reading any blocked blogs, by using open proxy servers, an anonymising service, or The Onion Router.

The consultant said the perception of the interim Government tampering in FINTEL, Fiji's pivotal Internet Service Provider through which all internet traffic flowed, would dampen high-tech investment in Fiji. "Off-shore service centres rely on the perception of data communications security in order to assure their customers that the confidentiality of their data will not be compromised.

"The other cost is through potential issues with EU and other international stakeholders where the interim Government could be perceived to be interfering with the fundamental human right of free speech," he said.

[You can't keep a blog blocked Fiji Times, May 19, 2007]

The trouble is, I did not ask the Fiji Times for anonymity. I will admit that I hesitated to respond to the reporter's queries as speaking on government activities during a state of emergency is not something to do lightly in any country, but in the end I felt it was important to share my views - especially as my views are non-partisan. I also wanted to take the opportunity to state publicly that there are numerous bloggers in Fiji, most of whom have been blogging since long before the coup, who are not interested in pushing a political agenda and who often make no attempt to conceal their identities. To see only some of these, look at my September 12, 2006 post - possibly the first ever blog post about Fiji blogs! If someone is currently maintaining an up to date list of Fiji blogs, please let me know.

I will close with a quote from my updated Blogger profile,
Recently, bloggers have been getting a bad name in Fiji. I am one of many apolitical bloggers in Fiji, all of whom blog for professional communication, for sharing thoughtful writing, and for just plain fun. I have no political agenda and do not want to be painted with the same brush as Fiji’s anonymous political bloggers.
My name is Chris Hammond-Thrasher and I blog in Fiji!

Photo by: mr oji

2 comments:

~garth~ said...

the consultant is sudesh nair... he's been in the telecommunications circle for a while and has a reputation for getting himself involved in such issues...

Wilson said...

I thought that article looked familiar! :D Well...there went your 5 minutes of fame :( Small wonder why most people don't really trust local journalists to accurately report stories XD