digital knowledge. digital culture. digital memory.


Blogs, the laws of the USA, and why Fiji is really crying

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The New Zealand press

In my June 19, 2007 post, I quietly mentioned the unreported story of an alarming change in the rhetoric of Fiji's anti-military blogs from defamatory to violent. As of today, the New Zealand press is starting to pick up on this. Michael Field, who was recently ejected from Fiji, penned a story appearing on Stuff this morning. Here is an excerpt:

A Fiji internet blog has called for attacks on tourists and has provided recipes for making Molotov cocktails and bombs. Fiji's military, which staged a coup in December, has been trying to close down blogs but one of the oldest, Why Fiji's Crying (WFC), has survived and in its latest set of postings calls for guerrilla war.Following the expulsion of New Zealand High Commissioner Michael Green last week, WFC has published an appeal to Fijians to destabilise the country by striking at weak points...
[Blog calls for attacks on tourists in Fiji, Stuff, June 22, 2007]
In a similar piece, the site references the same post from WFC.
A Fijian blog is calling for attacks on tourists to the island nation. The author says driving tourists away would cut revenue flowing to the Bainimarama regime. The website suggests targets like tour buses and resorts. The blogger says Fiji is already economically unstable and wiping out the country's main industry will be the final nail in the regime's coffin.
[Fiji blog calls for tourist attacks,, June 22, 2007]
Why is Fiji crying?

So that you are free to draw your own conclusions, here is an excerpt from the WFC post that has prompted most of this discussion.
Strike at your enemies weak points. The most obvious weak point of the regime, its jugular, is its inability to protect its outer networks and the failing economy.

Tourists are still coming to Fiji, think of how you can stop that. What assets can you focus on within the tourist industry that will send the message back to their home countries that Fiji is not a safe destination at the moment ? Tourist tour busses ? Tourist Bure’s ?

If you want to make Molotov cocktails, think about how you will access the fuel and the motor oil without attracting suspicions. Think about a safe location where you can prepare your materials and keep them hidden. Do not keep the materials at the house of any of your members. Keep them at a safe hideout. A hidesite away from any of your homes. You can also keep all your plans and documents at that site. It is a safe point where all your materials are safely stored away so that no one can link you back to the materials. When you need to go on the operation you can then go and pick up from the hidesite and move out.

Try to operate in two teams. One team as your strike team and the other as your "overwatch". That means you can split your force into two teams on operations. One team is to provide route security to ensure that your intended escape route is safe and the other team is to do the attack.
[Fijians - destablise the country, WFC, June 19, 2007]
The very next post qualifies this tactical advice with the statement, "have some faith and patience, and remember that physical resistance is the last option - not the first." For me, this call for patience does little to warm the chill left by images of fire-bombed buses.

Even more disturbing is the juxtaposition of this call to arms with the fanning of the decades-old flame of racial hatred in Fiji in another June 19, 2007 post at WFC.
(Chaudhary) by his 5/12 coup, was really hoping that Fiji will be his, under his control, a place he would like Fijians and the rest of the world to know as “little India”, the Fijian Island paradise lost to the hands of a man who is living out his whole life to “Indianize” Fiji.
[Mahen Chaudhary angered by Frank, WFC, June 19, 2007]
The result of these posts on WFC is a heady mix of uttering threats, inciting violence against innocent civilians, hate crime, and quite frankly, terrorism. Based on the WFC's stated goal of destabilizing the economy by driving tourists away, the authors of these posts may actually have no intention of having anyone carrying out these acts - the threat is sufficient. However, the fact remains that the act of publishing these posts violates several criminal laws in many countries around the world, including the United States.

The laws of the USA

Why are the laws of the USA significant to Fiji bloggers? Why not talk about the laws of New Zealand, Australia, or at least those of Fiji? The answer is simple. Because San Francisco based Wordpress and San Jose based Google (the owner of Blogger and are American companies. "So?", you ask. Well, when you violate American criminal law on a server on American soil, you may get the attention of American law enforcement.

More to the point for those of you attempting to preserve your online anonymity, WFC has given US law enforcement a powerful motive to cooperate with the Fijian law enforcement. It is also important to note that US law enforcement agencies gain far-reaching evidence gathering powers when a criminal investigation is connected with terrorism. This is due to a piece of legislation known as the Patriot Act, which empowers US federal law enforcement to gain access to all records held by Wordpress, Google, and other American online services for any suspects or their alleged associates. This includes their gmail, yahoo, and msn email accounts and all information connected with those accounts.

Does this all sound a little far fetched?

Google does it in India.
Think twice before you let loose your thoughts on Orkut. The Google-run community site, which has become a global platform for sharing personal information, ideas and sentiments and already has nearly 6.6 million registered Indian users (of a total of 49 million worldwide), has entered into a pact with the Cyber Crime Cell of Mumbai police saying it will not only block those 'forums' and 'communities' that contain 'defamatory or inflammatory content' but also provide the IP addresses from which such content has been generated...

"Now we can do away with the process and not just directly ban content but also obtain details of IP addresses and service providers quickly"
[Orkut's tell-all pact with cops, Economic Times, May, 2007]
Yahoo does it in China.
Yu Ling, the wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Wang Xiazoning, has sued Yahoo for divulging information about her husband's Internet activity, which allegedly led to his arrest and torture.
[Yahoo sued over jailing of Chinese dissedent, CIO, April 19, 2007]
Why wouldn't it happen with Wordpress and Google in Fiji?

p.s. American contract law: Recent content posted to WFC and a few other anti-military blogs in Fiji may violate of both Wordpress' and's terms of service (Wordpress tos, blogspot tos). Wordpress and Google reserve the right to terminate your blog for very little reason if they see fit to do so.

Photos by: carf, MISz "H"


Reported and unreported ICT news

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There have been three significant significant ICT stories reported in the Fiji press in the last week.

The first is the announcement of a 30 machine computer lab opening at Sangam College in Labasa. This lab, which was donated by a former student, Ragge Mudaliar, is certainly now one of the finest in Vanua Levu.

The second story is the continuing slow march towards hearing the fate of public servant and accused anti-military blogger, Filipe Nagera. Mr. Nagera has been accused of using public computing resources on public time to participate in anti-government blogging. The Fiji Times has repeatedly written articles about the Public Service Commission getting closer to coming to a decision here, here, here, and here.

The third story concerns the NLTB nearing a decision on scrapping or keeping their currently unused mySAP installation. The fate of the mySAP enterprise resource planning system at NLTB will be decided at the next board meeting in two weeks. Interim Fijian Affairs minister, Ratu Epeli Galineu was quoted, "The system is too complicated and we don't have experts in Fiji to operate such system."

There is also one unreported story this week. Fiji's anti-military blogs step up the rhetoric in the wake of the removal of the state of emergency. While it is not clear what portion of the populace these anonymous bloggers represent, this week they are increasingly threatening the interim regime with violence - often cloaked in racial overtones. I do not want to repeat such sentiments here, but a quick survey reveals that numerous anonymous bloggers seem to have crossed the legal boundary from libel, slander, and defamation into the realm of inciting violence and uttering personal threats.

Let us hope that all those in Fiji with violence in the hearts choose instead to follow the example of a certain peasant from Nazareth, who I hear is quite popular in Fiji, and seek other methods of effecting change.

photo by: Steve took it


Announcing the Fiji Rugby Blog!

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Following onto my previous post about Fiji rugby (or lack thereof) on the web, there is an exciting new Fiji blog on the block; heading into its second week of operation: The Fiji Rugby Blog. One notable feature of this blog is that roughly half of the posts to date are in Fijian.

I found the two thoughtful post-mortems of the Flying Fijians' recent lacklustre performances against the Junior All Blacks and the Wallabies to be great reads. Here is a sample:

Australia’s defence was so tight; the Fiji team has no way of breaking or unlocking them with aimless running; unless Fiji uses their creative juices to study those defences; use some diversion to confuse them and attack them when they are bristling with confidence; until we come up with these, Fiji still has a long way to go.
[Fiji put on better showing, June 10, 2007]
Let's hope that this is the beginning of Fiji's favourite game gaining a foothold online!

Photo by rosswebsdale


Nabua RC: the only rugby club in Fiji with a web presence

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A strange fact came to my attention recently. In this rugby-obsessed country, there is only one rugby club with a web presence - the famous Nabua Rugby Club. This site has been up and running for a number of years, yet it has no competition. Great work NRC! But what about the rest of you guys?

What does it mean that Fiji rugby clubs have not jumped onto the web? Is it an issue of funding? Perhaps - NRC has a philanthropist supporting their web site. Is it a matter of audience demographics - are rugby fans in Fiji are not online? That seems doubtful as Fiji rugby attracts a fan-base that seems to cut across all economic and ethnic divisions in the country and Internet usage is increasing daily. Does club management not see the potential of having an online presence? Maybe. Likely, there are a number of factors.

To all Fiji Rugby club managers: Don't let those Nabua boys show you up! Get online
to promote your team and to support and build your loyal fan-base. Imagine if your fans could look up your teams' game schedules on the web - then you would not have to answer so many phone calls! (Note: NRC does not have their schedule online yet, but they are working on it.)

NRC has opted to take advantage of affordable web hosting in the US. However, if your club is really strapped for cash, why not look into the growing number of free web publishing options such as:

If you need some help or advice leave a comment below or email me at thrashor (AT) gmail (DOT) com and I will try to help out myself or find you an eager student volunteer.

Go Fiji go!
Photo by: ediot


Enjoy the quick links

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I often cannot find the time to blog as much as I would like about all of the interesting things going on in digital side of Fiji. As a kind of weak substitute, I have been collecting interesting ICT news, policy, and other links on an almost daily basis. You can see them in the sidebar to the right, you can go directly to, or you can subscribe to the quick links feed.

Here are some of my favourite recent quick links:

Photos by: shoothead