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Can Internet censorship of any particular content be justified under certain circumstances? Explain.

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Walid Al-Saqaf

Walid is a Yemeni media researcher and activist. He is the developer of alkasir censorship circumvention software used to help users, primarily in the Middle East, access censored content.

This conversation will open at 1:00PM EST on August 5th.

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    Aug 5 2011: I have worked in the last two years to try to find on what basis do certain regimes censor content. The most common answer I got was simply that they fear having people learn about certain ideas that could undermine their authority or put them in bad light.

    That is censorship that I have been actively fighting in Yemen and several Arab countries. It is censorship that is unacceptable in my view.
    • Aug 5 2011: So what is acceptable censorship?
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        Aug 5 2011: That is a question that could be answered based on the context, culture and time. The bottom line is that sometimes, the harm of letting some information out is much more than suppressing this information. For example, the Rwandan Genocide could have been less bloody if radio programs calling for violence and hatred could have been stopped.

        It is never a clear black and white issue.
    • Aug 5 2011: That's the true definition of censorship.
      Limiting the exposure of unknown information to hinder change.
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        Aug 5 2011: Interesting. But then there is one minor problem. How could you know whether the intent of the censor is to hinder change?
        • Aug 5 2011: Since this discussion is mainly philosophical, I'd just argue that anything you experience causes change. If it didn't there would be no need for censorship.
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      Aug 5 2011: Certainly, Walid, any censorship that serves a political agenda is wrong.

      As I said earlier, governments should work for the people, and trying to stop the spreading of ideas amongst the population (the very political censorship you bring to debate) should be treated as a crime against humanity, in my humble opinion.

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