Thursday, February 17, 2011

The true north strong and fairly free

When Egyptian people rose against the ruling order, government response shut down the internet and cell phone networks. Nine Internet Service Providers (ISPs) out of ten were affected. Noor Data Networks was untouched because it services the country's largest financial institutions, businesses that needed access to international financial markets for important clients, like the Mubarak family.

According to The Telegraph:
The Egyptian government’s action is unprecedented in the history of the internet. Countries such as China, Iran, Thailand and Tunisia have cut off access to news websites and social networking services during periods of unrest, as Egypt did when it cut off Facebook and Twitter earlier this week.

The ongoing attempt by the Egyptian government to shut down all online communication is, however, a new phenomenon. It not only prevents ordinary Egyptian internet users from accessing any websites, it cripples Tor, an anti-censorship tool that technical experts and activists were using to circumvent the Facebook and Twitter blocks.

The action puts Egypt, temporarily at least, in the company of North Korea, which has never allowed its citizens access to the internet.
E-mail, texting, cellular, VOIP, electronic shopping, banking, payments, social networking, entertainment and  information services are indispensable to many Canadians. Personal pages and blogs provide the means for any dedicated person to express themselves readily. The barriers are low because little equipment is needed and net access is widely available. Almost 90% of British Columbians are wired to the Internet, a little higher than the Canadian average.

Canadian users wonder if the federal government is capable of shutting down the Internet and if it would take that action in a political emergency. The short answer is yes. For one thing, the process is simple because Canadian telecommunications are controlled by a cartel of corporations whose sinecures depend on government regulators. Harper Conservatives mirror Republican attitudes in purported matters of security and show sympathy to groups lobbying for political correctness and restrictions on content perceived as offensive.

Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins co-sponsored a bill in the American Senate this week that would give the president a "kill switch" to shut down the internet during a "national cyberemergency." Lieberman defended the proposal, saying more or less, "If China can shut down the internet, why can't we?" Under pressure he and co-sponsoring Senators revised the proposed legislation.

It is uncertain that China has the ability to stop all  traffic but the country routinely interferes with traffic, broadly censoring content critical of the state. For example, websites such as Amnesty International have been blocked. Critical articles or comments, even entire blogs, are quickly removed. These acts of oppression are common in states that suppress human and political rights. Unfortunately, they are not unknown in nations that claim to be free and democratic.

We have an example of censorship in British Columbia. The blog House of Infamy has been removed by Google for unspecified reasons. The site was written by Kootcoot, a regular commenter on this and other forums. He is passionate about the issues, particularly in his opposition to BC Liberals and criticism of mainstream media. Koot is direct and abrupt, certain of his own opinions and not always tolerant of different points of view. His criticism though should be welcome in an open society.

For House of Infamy to be targeted by Google for removal without warning is both sad and dangerous. Since it is not involved in spam and is not a large consumer of Google's resources, I presume it has been attacked for its political opposition to British Columbia's rich and powerful. That sends a serious warning to me and to other bloggers who aim to make authorities accountable or uncomfortable by discussion of public affairs.

Here is part of a message from Kootcoot published at Sister Sage's Musings.
Well, the forces of evil (the BC LIEberals and their cohorts) have really circled the wagons and upped the ante and unfortunately it appears the people are going to lay down and take it in whatever orifice they choose.

I guess they are really confident because they’ve apparently managed to shut down the House of Infamy. I’m currently trying to get some kind of explanation from Google as to why the House has disappeared and all I’ve managed to get so far is that there has been “suspicious activity” on my blog (this at a time when I haven’t posted since January 25) and that is must have been “disabled” due to “perceived” violations of their standards. Unless I get something a little more cogent than this nonsense Google will just naturally join Stephen Harper, the BC liaRs, and Republicans as one of my targets from a different platform.

However for the present I am giving Google a chance to respond to my questions and demand for an explanation – I am perfectly willing to believe that they have been gamed as well as myself. It wouldn’t hurt if anyone who used to visit the House ( took a moment to contact Google and ask them why in the Hell it disappeared. The last visitor was around 12:30PM on Tuesday, February 15 from PoCo, according to my visitor logs which are kept elsewhere and thus still accessible.

They say the pen (or the keyboard, today) is mightier than the sword, but sometimes I wonder if that might not just be another lie promoted by the forces of evil to protect themselves from the justified wrath of those they exploit. Tyrants always figure they hold all the cards, but eventually they always fall, once those they exploit have had enough, however much that is in any given situation.
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  1. Excellent article Norm - thanks for posting it.
    There is no question that the BC Liberal government is slowly, but surely, trying to strangle any and all efforts at presenting the truth.

    Let's face it, the BC Government of the BC Liberal party led by Gordon Campbell - was based on nothing more than a package of lies and continues in this vein up to this day. Of course the government wants opposition to it's nefarious deeds stifled, stopped.

    Thank you

  2. Norm:

    Thank you for this staunch defence of Kootcoot's dilemma with Google.

    Something doesn't smell right. "Suspicious activity" over a period of inactivity? Could it be a case of mistaken identity?

    I'll try querying Google. But wish I knew what to do, except to keep on doing what I'm doing ... until, for cryin' out loud, The Legislature Raids gets shut down, too.

  3. I see that the forces of evil have managed to censor Kootcoot, I wonder if the Powell River Persuader, Harvey o., BC Mary, etc. will face the censor next.

    There is a growing fascist tendency in this province that if you do not support th status quo, you are "them" or worse - a socialist.

    The ruling Liberal party have so sown the seeds of party discipline, combined with dirty, if not illegal, political tricks, where the outcome justifies the means, have over the past 9 years changed the political nature of the province.

    Government is not "of" the people, rather government is "of" political friends and corporations. There is no honour or truth left in government and the law of the land is no more - it is the law of the Premier.

    Democracy in BC and Canada is a cliché, used by powerful and corrupt organizations to pauper the citizens while enriching their supporters. Such countries were once sneered at as being "Banana Republics", well move over, BC and Canada have now entered the realm of a Banana Republic, where Herr diktator rules with an iron fist.

    Will the BC peons ever take to the streets, like Cairo or Tunisia, here? I think not.

  4. Just FYI, Blogger's "Content Policy"

    I certainly do not see how House of Infamy was in violation of any part of it.

  5. Thanks Norm, for the heads up. We need to get to the bottom of this, before they shut us all down!

  6. Well, we know anyone opposing Campbell, loses their jobs. Even the media, is a propaganda machine for Campbell. Campbell and Clark, all smiles, saying they have been exonerated, from any wrong doing, regarding, Campbell's corrupt sale of the BCR. They look worse than ever. There is nothing left in BC that is honorable. The corruption starts from the top of the food chain, and filters down, right to the bottom. And, BC has finally won the status of, the most corrupt province in Canada. The bloggers tell the truth, just the way it is. The Liberals can not abide this. Cause, boy oh boy, do they ever look bad.

  7. kootcoot said:

    "Koot is direct and abrupt, certain of his own opinions and not always tolerant of different points of view."

    Thanks for the supportive words Norm. I like to think I am tolerant of differing points of view, or opinion. However I am not tolerant of opinions asserted as "truth," when they depend on imaginary facts. Everyone is entitled to their "own" opinion, but not their own facts.

    I also have no patience for those that purposely or unconsciously parrot right wing/corporate memes such as:

    1. Goverments of left or socialist tax and spend and leave mega deficits. The evidence indicates the exact opposite (ie the biggest deficits in Canadian history were left by Mulroney, until Harper managed to surpass his legacy and in the US Baby Bush the Lesser's monster deficits broke the records set by reich wing idol Ronnie Raygun)

    2. The idea that the is something inherently evil about unions (that after all represent working average folks) having influence on politics or political parties, while there is nothing wrong with corporate money buying the government that implements its preferred agenda.

    3. Or the laughable false "urban legend" in the US that only the Republicans can protect the nation or deal with security issues. Though Truman (D-Missouri) FDR (D-New York)was president during WWII, though Baby Bush's grand daddy was involved with an attempted coup against the administration of FDR prior to the war and did business with the Nasties through most of the war (and had his wrist slapped for it). The last Republican president to successfully prosecute a war was Lincoln and that was a brand new Republican Party, hardly even related to today's excuse for a party.

    The last decent and human Republican president was Ike, and in spite of being a military man, the last Republican to speak out against the Military-Industrial (today we can add Financial Services to this axis of greed) Complex.

    Did anybody else notice in today's "debate" how Christy didn't answer Kevin Falcon's direct question about whether she would stay on if she didn't get to be premier - she just started talking about how she would have to get a job - I've got one for her, manually emptying septic tanks - she can obviously shovel the material with the best of 'em!

  8. I do not argue with anything you say and believe there is a shortage of straight, honest talk in our political debate.

    The shameful behavior of the media in the last few days is the last straw for me. I have been relatively supportive of the G&M's western bureau writers but I will no longer link to anything from the mainstream newspapers other than to point out their most egregious sins.

    The Supreme Court of BC connived with media and the Attorney General's officers to declare Liberal politicians free of guilt in the BC Rail corruption case. By shear coincidence, this came down as a going away gift for the head Liberal puppet. The gift was made by false and selective use of documents cherry picked from the hundreds of thousands of documents that could have been released. This is not one hand washing another, it is a group of hands all in he same bathwater.

    Liberal politicians are like four year olds caught with hands in the cookie jar and chocolate smears all over their faces. If they were not guilty, they would have released all documents and hired an independent examiner acceptable to all members of the Legislature.

    Koot, if Google does not reinstate your blog within a day or two, start another with Wordpress. We bloggers remaining have learned the necessity of separate backups so we can move to another provider as well. Make your move for new work and whatever old you can recover. The rest of us will promote a new address.



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