ONI updates and clarifies a few points from the IGF fracas

A couple of days ago I posted a note about the United Nations trying to silence a group that has a book coming out on Internet censorship. (Now the U.N. gets into the censorship act) That group, the OpenNet Initiative, was told by United Nations’ officials at the Internet Governance Forum in Egypt that it would have to remove a poster advertising the book Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power Rights and Rule in Cyberspace. Seems the Chinese delegation objected to a prominent mention on the book cover of how China blocks Internet access within its borders.

ONI just published its version of events that clarifies what happened.

FAQ: What Happened at the Internet Governance Forum?

On November 15, at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), OpenNet Initiative (ONI) partners were set to hold a reception for the as-yet-unreleased volume Access Controlled, in a room which ONI had been given permission to use for the event. As the reception was about to start, UN security officials requested that ONI remove their poster. These are questions we have compiled from ONI partners (including staff, principal investigators, and ONI Asia researchers) who were in attendance.

1. What was the purpose of the event?

The OpenNet Initiative will release a new book entitled Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power Rights and Rule in Cyberspace in early 2010. The book follows our previous volume, Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering, and focuses on Internet filtering and surveillance policies around the globe.

2. Why did officials ask ONI to remove the poster?

ONI representatives were told that the banner had to be removed because of the reference to China. This was repeated on several occasions, in front of about two dozen witnesses and officials, including the UN Special Rapporteur For Human Rights, who asked that we send in a formal letter of

Rest of report.

Looks as if some of the reporting of UN security guards tossing the ONI poster to the ground were wrong. What remains, however, is the fact that at the request of the Chinese government, the United Nations tried to ban a group critical of the way Beijing restricts Internet use in its country.


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Filed under Censorship, China, Harassment, International News Coverage

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