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[liberationtech] Computer seizure in the West Bank

Jonathan Ezor jezor at tourolaw.edu
Tue May 8 08:09:03 PDT 2012


The one-sided, incendiary and inaccurate terminology of the blog posting quoted by Mallory Knodel creates the impression that, were it not for the actions of the overbearing Israelis, Palestinians would otherwise enjoy full computer and Internet freedom. Of course, this is far from the truth. Rather, as reported by many including Thomas Friedman in his 7 May 2012 New York Times editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/07/world/middleeast/arab-spring-stirs-palestinian-journalists-to-test-limits.html), it is the Palestinian Authority which has suppressed online speech, arrested bloggers and journalists for governmental criticism, and sought to block entire Web sites, only to be foiled in the last effort because (as Friedman says the now-resigned Palestinian Authority communications minister Mashour Abudaka stated) "with Israeli Internet providers covering much of the West Bank, it is impossible to block any site completely, 'so why give us the image of a dictatorship?'" That is, Palestinians must utilize Israeli ISPs because they, unlike their Palestinian counterparts, are not being blocked in the name of suppression.

It is incumbent upon all of us that, before we accept any side's version of events such as the alleged seizure of the BlockTheWall computers reported in this blog, we seek out additional, empirical sources to get a full (or at least better) understanding of what happened. This is as true today as it was for the various actions chronicled by Bruce Sterling in The Hacker Crackdown decades ago, and those who are subject to governmental action may be just as likely to skew reporting for their own purposes as governments themselves. {Jonathan}

-------------------
Prof. Jonathan I. Ezor
Assistant Professor of Law
Director, Institute for Business, Law and Technology (IBLT)
Touro Law Center
225 Eastview Drive, Central Islip, NY  11722
Direct: 631-761-7119
e-mail: jezor at tourolaw.edu<mailto:jezor at tourolaw.edu>; PGP key 0xFBA73A9E
Skype: jonathanezor     Twitter: profjonathan

From: liberationtech-bounces at lists.stanford.edu [mailto:liberationtech-bounces at lists.stanford.edu] On Behalf Of Mallory Knodel
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2012 10:46 AM
To: Liberation Technologies
Subject: [liberationtech] Computer seizure in the West Bank

I believe these actions, such as those by the FBI on the May First and Riseup server, are indicative of the power of online networks for social change. The two situations are quite different in that escalation of this attack on Palestinian civil society is a very real possibility without some international outcry. Some are suspecting that this is related to the current hunger strike of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

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