Home Imprisoned Blogger Becomes Tunisian Minister: This Week in Online Tyranny

Imprisoned Blogger Becomes Tunisian Minister: This Week in Online Tyranny

Minister Slim. Blogger, free speech proponent and ReadWriteWeb France contributor Slim Amamou was arrested during the recent uprising in Tunisia. Then he was freed. Then he was made Minister of Sports and Youth. I’m not sure what more can be said about that. It was a weird, mighty journey. It was one of those trajectories that make you tremblingly afraid that change and improvement are possible even in a post-lapsarian world like ours. And that should scare the hell out of you.

There has been a lot of gibberish about the Tunisian protests, which sent the tinhorn president of 23 years, Zine al Abidine Ben Ali, into exile and brought the young, the laborers, the mouthy, poets, freaks and everyday people into a position of influence. It was a “Wikileaks revolution,” it was a “Twitter revolution.” Well it was a confluence of circumstances and a largely non-violent cry, in chorus, by the people of Tunisia is what it was.

The notion that social media was a non-starter in this revolution is nearly as goofy as the notion that it was responsible for it. For an examination of where the rubber met the road, check out Revolution 2.0: Rebooting Tunisia by ReadWriteWeb France editor Fabrice Epelboin.

There is such a long way to go. There are still conflicts, protests and more happening in Tunisia’s cities. But the Internet, which was tightly bound, filtered and blocked for years, is wide freaking open. One day it was one of the most closed in the world. The next day, one of the most open. Given that part of Slim’s portfolio is advising the government, in whichever form it finds, on the Internet, the web, social media and so on, look to a flowering of online expression there.

Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, babies.

Vietnam issues new blogging decree. If you blog in Vietnam, and someone gets bent out of shape, you can look forward to a $2,000 fine (a year and a half’s wages for most). Officially “non-authorised” blogging or posting info “not in the interests of the people” will ruin you. Additionally, if you publish anonymously or without attribution, you can get a fine that is well over a month’s pay. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, babies.

Saudi Arabia “licenses” bloggers. In October we blogged, “If Blogs Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Blog (in Saudi Arabia).” Now it’s official. If you don’t get licensed by the government and you blog, you’re an outlaw. Saudi Arabia has a surprisingly vibrant blogging scene, and has for years, with stand-outs like Saudi Jeans. We can’t anticipate exactly what kind of an effect this licensing will have on the Saudi blogosphere, though we feel pretty safe saying it will be a bad one.

French crack down on file sharing. The second set of email warnings under France’s “HADOPI” law have been sent. HADOPI makes it possible for the government to take away the Internet connection of anyone suspected of illegally sharing files. The most complete discussion of this law and its implication is on our sister site ReadWriteWeb France. Unfortunately they persist in publishing everything in French! Zut alors!

Attorney-client privileged suspended on work email. Sacramento’s Third Appellate court has ruled that the protection of communication between an attorney and his or her client or clients under the U.S. court system is suspended if a client emails the attorney from a work computer.

New Zealand’s McDonald’s restaurants ban gay content on its Wi-Fi. To be clear, we’re not talking about sites like Manhood Rituals, we’re talking about sites like GayNZ, PFLAG, and Rainbow Youth. After a ruckus was promptly raised, the restaurant gave in on PFLAG and Rainbow Youth, but refused to allow access to GayNZ due to its “adult content.” Granted, I didn’t dig far but, although I saw a few suggestive things (like you might see on a beer ad, minus the boobs), but nothing outlandish. It seems at least like over-reaction.

Golden arches photo by Svadlifari

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