March 29, 2011

Circumvention Tactics for Information Guerillas in the Culture War

maymay delivered a talk last weekend on best practices for getting around the censorship that sex-positive sites face, whether their mission is entertainment or education. I wasn't at the talk, but he's helpfully posted the video and text (potential for NSFW material in the sidebar). As he notes, this information is useful for anyone facing censorship of their topic or message.

Censorship also happens in the form of service discrimination, not merely content blocking. For instance, after Wikileaks began releasing US diplomatic cables in December, 2010, it faced a series of extrajudicial attacks: Amazon kicked Wikileaks off its servers, Everydns.net withdrew its domain name, and PayPal froze WikiLeaks’ account. The amazing thing about this is that each and every one of these attacks has a sexual censorship precedent.

In other words, if you didn’t see this coming, you weren’t talking about sex loudly enough.

The folks who published the NYC Sex Blogger Calendar have had their PayPal account frozen and their funds seized not once, but twice, before they decided to ditch the service way back in 2008. Web celeb Violet Blue’s “sex-positive URL shortener,” vb.ly, had its domain name seized by the Libyan government in October, 2010. And just one month before Amazon cut off WikiLeaks, there was a big hoopla over Amazon’s initial defense of, then banning of a “Pedophile book” from their virtual shelves. Interestingly, Amazon initially said it wouldn’t pull the book because that would amount to censorship. Eventually, Amazon capitulated to public pressure and, of course, now the book is gone.

What do we do about this? Go find out.

2 comments:

CyberLizard said...

It was an awesome talk! So cool that I got to see it live! And meet and have dinner with Maymay (I'm totally name-dropping and squeeing, btw).

maymay said...

Thanks for directing people's attention to my talk, Stephanie. :) For the record, if you're interested in posting more than just the excerpt you've published in this post, feel free to do so. I'm happy for the whole thing to be lifted in accordance with its CC-license.