Mon, Oct. 18, 2004

Unfree Deutsche Welle

CK - Washington.   German news group Deutsche Welle broadcasts world-wide and currently sponsors a blog contest called BOBs where DW proclaims its status as a champion of free speech and a free press.

Free speech in its home country has suffered lately, however, particularly in the internet space. An anti-anonymity and anti-privacy requirement called Impressumspflicht and the recent decision from Stuttgart that criminalizes a satirical website are two examples out of a range of censorship measures that cover a substantial amount of internet activities.

Clearly, Deutsche Welle is to be commended for lauding Bosnian, Iraqi or Iranian bloggers as courageous champions of freedoms. Hopefully, DW has the courage to look in the mirror and report on the censorship in its own reporting environment. Censorship takes many forms, and what lawmakers in Washington and Berlin do when grasping at straws to deal with internet issues--whether in the name of security or consumer protection--is not always compatible with the fundamental precepts of the American or German constitutions. It is easy to become blind to creeping censorship growth. Perhaps it's time for censorship czars.

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