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Why French Govt's Attempt to Censor Wikipedia Matters

timothy posted 1 year,12 days | from the signal-to-noise dept.

Censorship 104

In the end, the Streisand Effect prevailed, as you might expect, when a French domestic intelligence agency apparently browbeat a French citizen into removing content from Wikipedia. The attention caused the Wikipedia entry on a formerly obscure military radio site (English version) to leap in popularity not only in French, but in languages where it was formerly far less likely to have been noticed at all. Lauren Weinstein makes the case, though, that this sort of move isn't just something to shrug at or assume will always end so nicely. "Even though attempts at Internet censorship will almost all fail in the end, governments and authorities have the capability to make groups' and individuals' lives extremely uncomfortable, painful, or even terminated — in the process of attempts at censorship, and equally important, by instilling fear to encourage self-censorship in the first place."

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104 comments

Response (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389309)

It doesn't. Wikipedia is located in the US. When the US government decides to censor Wikipedia, then it will matter (and Wikipedia will move someplace else).

Re: Response (5, Insightful)

feathersmg (1311045) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389451)

Wikipedia is almost nothing without contributors, and french government can put a heavy presure on french contributors. What wil be the result if each government acts the same way ?

Re: Response (5, Insightful)

Stolpskott (2422670) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389543)

Wikipedia is almost nothing without contributors, and french government can put a heavy presure on french contributors.
What wil be the result if each government acts the same way ?

This is the core problem in this case. If the French government, or in deed any government outside the US, wanted to go after Wikipedia, they would find that for all the Wikimedia Foundation is not a money making machine, there are plenty of legally trained people willing to leap to its defence. Plus it would be a great bit of American flag-waving, with the forces of Goodness, Truth and The American Way protecting US Citizens from the corrupt/socialist/communist/feminist/European/Chinese/Arab/terrorist/non-Hollywood/pirate/non-Christian (delete as appropriate) evils.
If the US government wants to shut it down, one call from any number of unaccountable officials in shadowy agencies could pretty much bury the whole thing.

On the other hand, if a government wants to go after the contributors, they are much less likely to have any legal training, backup or knowledge of how the law works, and a couple of big guys with official-looking badges suddenly become very effective at getting the contributor censored.

Re: Response (5, Informative)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390283)

If the US government wants to shut Wikipedia down then they would have to shut down a rather large number of replica sites as well, the content is backed up all over the world in many cases outside the control of the USofA ....

They could fairly quickly kill the master site (to huge protest around the world) but the content would be safe elsewhere ...

Re: Response (1)

Meeni (1815694) | 1 year,12 days | (#43394013)

In the case at hand, the side of the law would not be clear. The infrastructure is classified. Wikimedia claims all information is publicly available, DCRI claims the contrary, not clear who would won the case, even if Wikimedia was the body being attacked.

In fact, the backlash of the population is the best protection of Wikimedia, rather than court.

Re: Response (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389563)

What wil be the result if each government acts the same way ?

You can't talk like that. We need to give a gang of people the power to steal, kidnap, and murder or else we'd have gangs of people stealing, kidnapping, and murdering.

Re: Response (3, Interesting)

flyneye (84093) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389799)

But, governments DO act that way. Show me one government that; if it doesn't do it's dirty work openly, doesn't have a "secret" agency of some other advertised value, that handles it's hoodlum urges. Governments do as they please, because once in power, they find that those they are to serve are more valuable as an asset to their aspirations as a crop, or commodity , if you will, than a master of their industry. Governments who aren't SPECIFICALLY relegated to sundry maintenance of the peoples general interests and well being,and kept that way, grow corrupt and wild as Kudzu or Ragweed. It then takes bloody revolution to separate their desire for money and power from actual governance, like bombing a field with herbicide.
          Wouldn't it be nice to just have a Worldwide Revolt Day and just turn the whole shithouse upside down, then begin again?

Re: Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389907)

Because all those other revolutions worked? Just as likely to end up with a far worse situation than a far better one.

Re: Response (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43392205)

Just as likely to end up with a far worse situation than a far better one.

So a 50% chance of things getting better, vs a 100% chance of them not.

Depending on how bad things are right now, I just might take those odds.

Re: Response (2)

tehcyder (746570) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390201)

Wouldn't it be nice to just have a Worldwide Revolt Day and just turn the whole shithouse upside down, then begin again?

Not if you ended up with some libertarian/Randian hellhole, with a few rich well-armed people in control instead of the at least partly democratically accountable existing governments, no.

Re: Response (3, Interesting)

moeinvt (851793) | 1 year,12 days | (#43391299)

Wealthy political and banking elites are in control right now. Your "partly democratically accountable" governments are just a facade and I think you probably know it.

Even if rich well-armed people were directly "in control", any acts of aggression, theft, kidnapping and murder would be clearly recognized as criminal behavior. Plenty of well armed poor people could put a stop to that. When the same wealthy elites use "government" as their intermediary, the extortion and intimidation of the population is done under the color of "law" and their violence is legitimized.

Re: Response (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,12 days | (#43393573)

some libertarian/Randian hellhole ... at least partly democratically accountable existing governments

The body count for those governments, for the 20th Century, is about 320 Million [hawaii.edu], for the last century. The proof of burden lies with those who conjecture that a system based on freedom and liberty would do worse. To be fair, the insane Objectivists are war-mongers, Rand included, so let's not group opposites together and treat them as a whole.

Re: Response (1)

flyneye (84093) | 1 year,12 days | (#43397589)

" instead of the at least partly democratically accountable existing governments, no."

              There are rumors of such entities, but I think the media started it.
I don't think the Repubmocrat tyranny qualifies anyway, if that was your point. I don't think I'd hand the keys over to this generations weak ass Libertarians either.

Re: Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#43402805)

Far more likely you'd end up with another Arab-spring debacle, where the control-freaks enslave the anarcho-libertarians and use their labor to build bigger-stronger-less accountable gangs.

Re: Response (3, Informative)

mbkennel (97636) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390379)

"Show me one government that; if it doesn't do it's dirty work openly, doesn't have a "secret" agency of some other advertised value, that handles it's hoodlum urges. "

Iceland?

Re: Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43392193)

"Show me one government that; if it doesn't do it's dirty work openly, doesn't have a "secret" agency of some other advertised value, that handles it's hoodlum urges. "

Iceland?

Hate to break it to you... [wikipedia.org]

Re: Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43393327)

Iceland?
Aren't these the same people that are going to block porn from the country, so much for that example.

Re: Response (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | 1 year,11 days | (#43399135)

Show me one government that; if it doesn't do it's dirty work openly, doesn't have a "secret" agency of some other advertised value, that handles it's hoodlum urges.

Tokelau?

Re: Response (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389703)

Wikipedia is almost nothing without contributors, and french government can put a heavy presure on french contributors.
What wil be the result if each government acts the same way ?

Anonymity. Wikipedia simply needs to do more to protect the identities of its contributors. If necessary, enable Tor edits. Vandalism is a small price to pay compared to censorship.

Re: Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43390025)

They do allow Tor edits if one has an account. That seems like a reasonable compromise.

There's no requirement that accounts be associated with a specific individual and one could use a different account for each edit, if they wished.

Re: Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43392057)

Trees will have a hard time having so many governments' members hanging on ropes from their branches...

Re: Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43393513)

That is why it is so important to have methods to transfer money anonymously.

Re: Response (1)

Askmum (1038780) | 1 year,11 days | (#43398633)

The ultimate end-effect is that either everybody is getting killed by their or other state's secret services, or goverments understand that they can not regulate this.
I think the latter will happen, but with frequent and feeble attempts to change that.

Immense pressure (5, Informative)

saibot834 (1061528) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389615)

Let me quote from a blog post [wikimedia.fr] that paints an even darker picture than the original story I submitted on /.

DCRI summoned a Wikipedia volunteer in their offices on April 4th. This volunteer, which was one of those having access to the tools that allow the deletion of pages, was forced to delete the article while in the DCRI offices, on the understanding that he would have been held in custody and prosecuted if he did not comply. Under pressure, he had no other choice than to delete the article, despite explaining to the DCRI this is not how Wikipedia works. [...]

This volunteer had no link with that article, having never edited it and not even knowing of its existence before entering the DCRI offices. He was chosen and summoned because he was easily identifiable [...]

Can you imagine the pressure they put this volunteer through? Threatening him with five years of prison [legifrance.gouv.fr] if he does not immediately comply and delete the article in the intelligence agency's offices? You think that doesn't matter?

Re:Immense pressure (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43390171)

Lucky they did not have a keyboard sniffer or SSL-stripper installed to capture his admin credentials for future use. Oh wait...

Re:Immense pressure (2)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390341)

...and it is still not permanently deleted, and can be undeleted anytime, or is almost certainly backed up, or at worst is stored at Delitionpedia ....

they do not know how this works do they ....

Re:Response (1)

91degrees (207121) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389617)

It does matter that a democratic nation that does have a constitutional right to freedom of speech can browbeat people into removing content.

If the US does decide to censor Wikipedia, where will it move to, and how can we be sure they're safe there? The US is not averse to throwing its weight around. Also domains can be seized by the FBI without any form of due process, which would cause problems even if there are workarounds.

The and the rest of can (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389319)

One thing to is the main thrust and will.
It's hard with to the when , even the best of and therefore
So it seems , whether or not e.

Why cant governments understand (1)

prasadsurve (665770) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389335)

that internet cannot be controlled. It is probably the last bastion of freedom (away ahead of Scandinavian democracies).

Re:Why cant governments understand (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389421)

Those Scandinavian democracies are only 'bastions of freedom' if you are the right ethnicity, religion, and are born there.

Re:Why cant governments understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389575)

Those Scandinavian democracies are only 'bastions of freedom' if you are the right ethnicity, religion, and are born there.

What's your point?

Each group of people could create this type of society if they wanted to or were capable of doing so.

Re:Why cant governments understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389591)

Oh, I didn't realize I have to have some specific religion to be free around here. Would you tell me more, as I didn't realize i'm not free. How the fuck would anyone even know what my religion is? I'm totally free to believe in old norwegian gods, christian god, allah, muhammed, mohammeds toes, camels, cows, stones, spirits of the forest, satan, jesus, lucifer, pink unicorns, or nothing at all.

Also, we don't always lock all american into prisons, we do have free roaming ones. Or which ethnicity did you have in mind?

Re:Why cant governments understand (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389699)

Most people (by far) in Scandinavia don't have any religion.

Re:Why cant governments understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43390661)

you havent been to any scandinavian contries in a while have you? 60 years or so perhaps?

Re:Why cant governments understand (1)

Cigarra (652458) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390183)

Because that's not true: it can and it is controlled, all the time.

"The Internet cannot be controlled" was certainly the belief in the late 90s, when it seemed that governments were just too stupid to grasp this whole Internet thing, and would always be several steps behind. Alas, the joy didn't last long, and it was precisely France who started fighting [wikipedia.org] against this new "power" of the people.

Several people (Jonathan Zittrain, Tim Wu, Bruce Schneier, Yochai Benkler, among others) have written a lot about this. Actually, Schneier and Zittrain gave a talk about it [harvard.edu], last week in Harvard.

Internet is definitely not what it used to be, or what it seemed like it would be.

Re:Why cant governments understand (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,12 days | (#43392899)

"Alas, the joy didn't last long..."

That's precisely why we need to act against things like CFAA, and -- perhaps most important -- come up with a workable distributed DNS-type system.

Zero credibility (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389341)

It's really pathetic watching neocolonial fanboys tear apart any non-western nation censoring anything yet always finding reason and righteousness when a Western government does it. If you are going to tout freedom and other ideological bs, at least maintain consistency.

Re:Zero credibility (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389551)

It's really pathetic watching neocolonial fanboys tear apart any non-western nation censoring anything yet always finding reason and righteousness when a Western government does it. If you are going to tout freedom and other ideological bs, at least maintain consistency.

Your post is the 4th top level post on the page. There are exactly zero neocolonial fanboys or even mentions of non-western nations above your post.

Re:Zero credibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389611)

that's not the point, S/D is full of neo-con fanbois

Re:Zero credibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43390107)

That's an odd way to abbreviate /.

Re:That's an odd way to abbreviate /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43393151)

Not if it's a Fed.

Re:Zero credibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389999)

It's really pathetic watching neocolonial fanboys tear apart any non-western nation censoring anything yet always finding reason and righteousness when a Western government does it. If you are going to tout freedom and other ideological bs, at least maintain consistency.

At what point is France not in the western hemisphere?

Re:Zero credibility (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | 1 year,11 days | (#43399613)

It's the wrong side of Greenwich. Well, most of it is.

Of course the prime meridian would run through Paris instead if the frogs weren't cheese eating surrender monkeys.

Color me unsurprised. (1, Troll)

blackicye (760472) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389347)

Fear will keep them in line, for everything else, there's the Patriot Act, that is, until the Death Star becomes a reality.

Ob Pratchett (5, Interesting)

blarkon (1712194) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389363)

A lie can make its way around the world before the truth can get its boots on. In our pre-distopia state, we're still dealing with Governments that think that blocking something is the best way to make it disappear. It won't be long though until they figure out that telling people lies that they want to believe is a far more effective way of burying the truth than redacting it. So enjoy the dumb governments, corporations, and political groups for as long as you can - because when your generation gets into the control seat, the bullshit isn't going to smell like bullshit, it's going to look and taste like sugar or bacon (choose appropriate tasty thing)

Re:Ob Pratchett (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389439)

I'm a Jewish diabetic you insensitive clod!

Re:Ob Pratchett (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389515)

nu-uh, we're going to make out OWN government with blackjack and hooke... wait, that's what they all say isn't it? *sadface*

Re:Ob Pratchett (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389549)

It's possible to fight back against the lies too, but we have one huge disadvantage in that fight.

We've spent the last century or so developing the practice of marketing to a fine art. The advertising industry is a vast army of professional liars and manipulators, and they're very good at what they do. Their services can be bought by almost anybody who has the money, and the skills are transferrable. Propoganda is just marketing an idea.

intimidation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389405)

"Even though attempts at Internet censorship will almost all fail in the end, governments and authorities have the capability to make groups' and individuals' lives extremely uncomfortable, painful, or even terminated — in the process of attempts at censorship, and equally important, by instilling fear to encourage self-censorship in the first place."

Wikileaks comes to my mind

Re:intimidation (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389695)

This is not a new thing. The US has a Bill of Rights for a reason -- direct experience of government without it. If only the citizens would keep that in mind...

Re:intimidation (2)

Yakasha (42321) | 1 year,12 days | (#43393819)

This is not a new thing. The US has a Bill of Rights for a reason -- direct experience of government without it. If only the citizens would keep that in mind...

What was that reason again? Abdulrahman al-Awlaki thinks (or, I think would have thought) the Bill of Rights is about as useful as an empty zigzag box.

If you didn't know, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki is the son of Anwar Al-Awlaki. Both were US citizens executed via drone missile in Yemen on orders of Obama. Anwar was "the spokesperson" of Al-Qaeda.

Just to be clear, the 16 year old US citizen son of a man supposedly exercising his 1st amendment rights was executed on the orders of the President without a trial, charges, judge, jury, conviction, or indeed any judicial review whatsoever, away from any field of battle. What was the charge against the 16 year old child? Who knows. But according to Robert Gibbs, Abdulrahman "should have [had] a far more responsible father". Direct quote.

The Bill of Rights... If by bill you mean "I owe money"... maybe.

Re:intimidation (1)

Yakasha (42321) | 1 year,12 days | (#43393837)

This is not a new thing. The US has a Bill of Rights for a reason -- direct experience of government without it. If only the citizens would keep that in mind...

What was that reason again? Abdulrahman al-Awlaki thinks (or, I think would have thought) the Bill of Rights is about as useful as an empty zigzag box.

If you didn't know, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki is the son of Anwar Al-Awlaki. Both were US citizens executed via drone missile in Yemen on orders of Obama. Anwar was "the spokesperson" of Al-Qaeda.

Just to be clear, the 16 year old US citizen son of a man supposedly exercising his 1st amendment rights was executed on the orders of the President without a trial, charges, judge, jury, conviction, or indeed any judicial review whatsoever, away from any field of battle. What was the charge against the 16 year old child? Who knows. But according to Robert Gibbs, Abdulrahman "should have [had] a far more responsible father". Direct quote.

The Bill of Rights... If by bill you mean "I owe money"... maybe.

Indirect quote, sorry. I didn't personally hear it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/robert-gibbs-anwar-al-awlaki_n_2012438.html [huffingtonpost.com] did.

Re:intimidation (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,12 days | (#43391175)

Wikileaks comes to my mind

Wikileaks does not come to my mind, but the government response to wikileaks does.

Re:intimidation (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | 1 year,12 days | (#43393601)

Wikileaks does not come to my mind, but the government response to wikileaks does.

Bradley Manning didn't have the humility not tell someone he did a good deed, and in this world it isn't a joke when you say "no good deed goes unpunished".

It is information warfare. Do the math. Work in the dark.

How is Assange doing? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389425)

Is it nice in the Embassy Julian?

You should have read up, realized that in Sweden, a woman can change consent to non-consent after the fact and you can be done for raping a woman who came onto you in a public movie theatre. Or another who decided she might as well have sex, only to change her mind later.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics

A simple Wikipedia search would have helped no?:

"Sweden has the highest incidence of reported rapes in Europe and one of the highest in the world. According to a 2009 study, there were 46 incidents of rape per 100,000 residents. This figure is twice that of the UK which reports 23 cases, and four times that of the other Nordic countries, Germany and France. The figure is up to 20 times the figure for certain countries in southern and eastern Europe.[30]"

So, yeh, they can make life difficult, and in some countries (e.g. Sweden with Rape, US with drugs, Russia with Taxes) it's easier than with others.

Re:How is Assange doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389783)

Yet, only a fraction of the actual rapes occuring are reported. Maybe having the highest incidence of reported rapes isn't such a bad thing.

Censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389433)

In soviet Russia they call it "innovations".

Who is Laura Weinstein (3, Insightful)

Little_Professor (971208) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389473)

It would be nice if TFS included an explanation of who Laura Weinstein actually is, and why anyone should be interested in the views she writes on her amaterish-looking personal blog.

Re:Who is Laura Weinstein (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389581)

That's Lauren Weinstein. pinhead. http://www.vortex.com/lauren

Re:Who is Laura Weinstein (5, Informative)

Sesostris III (730910) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389669)

He's a he, not a she (Lauren, not Laura). It seems he's well enough known to warrant a Wikipedia entry - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauren_Weinstein_(technologist) [wikipedia.org].

People really Boggle my mind (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389487)

You are defending the LIFEWORK of a PORN dealer
get over your little righteous selves

Re:People really Boggle my mind (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389719)

You are defending the LIFEWORK of a PORN dealer
get over your little righteous selves

Y'know, even if we accept the conclusion that dealing in porn is evil, would that more upstanding citizens had projects nearly as worth defending...

Re:People really Boggle my mind (4, Insightful)

cffrost (885375) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389727)

You are defending the LIFEWORK of a PORN dealer

I. What the fuck are you talking about?

II. What's the problem with porn dealers or their lifework?

III. Presupposing your argument has any merit*:

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." — H. L. Mencken

* I don't believe your argument has merit, but I do believe that Mencken's quote is applicable to the general viewpoint you've expressed.

Re:People really Boggle my mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43390161)

1. He's talking about the fact that the seed money for Wikipedia came from Jimmy Wales' work at Bomis, a search engine mostly notable for an expansive adult content section. 2. Not addressed. 3. Not addressed.

Re:People really Boggle my mind (1)

Yakasha (42321) | 1 year,12 days | (#43393869)

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." — H. L. Mencken

Mencken is not quoted enough these days. The man was a genius. Social and political commentary that is still relevant 50 or 100 years later... scares me.

Re:You are defending the LIFEWORK of a PORN dealer (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43393329)

Um, this isn't a Tea Party website you dickhead, go away.

Similar case in Russia (5, Interesting)

YurB (2583187) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389497)

France and Russia are very different states indeed, but it's interesting that Russian Wikipedia had a similar incident recently. The Russian Wikimedia received a request from the government [wikimedia.ru] to remove the 'Cannabis smoking' article from Russian Wikipedia (see google-translated version [google.com]). The request in an ultimate manner states that if the article won't be removed during 24 hours then 'the hosting provider is obliged to limit access to such website' (haha, hosting provider from USA?) and if the hosting provider refuses to do that, then 'the IP address of the website will be listed in a database of addresses to whish ISP's will limit access'. The request PDF is here [wikimedia.org].

Re:Similar case in Russia (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | 1 year,12 days | (#43393411)

Interesting, though slightly different.
Since the Russian Wikipedia is hosted in the US, there's not much that can be done there.
If any part of your infrastructure is located in a country that has declared itself hostile to your business, then you're doing it wrong.

ISPs might be asked to block the Russian Wikipedia, but that tends to go over so well with local populations. So, if Russia enjoys riots they can go that route.

A more likely route is to let the Wikimedia foundation members and donors know they would be arrested if Russia ever gets the chance. Basically, bullying the entire organization. While they could try what France did, but tell the person to shut up, it wouldn't work for very long. Especially if you and others are watching.

Re:Similar case in Russia (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | 1 year,12 days | (#43393661)

Honestly, people expect this from Russia. They're a corrupt shithole, and everyone knows it. France doing this, though, is a bit farther from the status quo.

Google self-censored Wash. DC and other sites (4, Informative)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389641)

Google has self-censored sites in the Washington, D.C., area and other areas of military and national security interest at the request of the USA government. It's blurred the regions or limited the resolution at which users can scan the areas, such as Fort Knox or the Naval Observatory a.k.a. the Vice-President's Residence. It's also done that for China and India, South Korea, Australia, and others (I think) at those government's requests also.
http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/government [google.com] the name of that link speaks for itself
How Google And Bing Maps Control What You Can See [buzzfeed.com]
http://gizmodo.com/5907421/the-dutch-have-the-weirdest-google-maps-censorship [gizmodo.com]
and of course wikipedia's article on Map censorship by google and microsoft [wikipedia.org]
So if Google and MS and others already do all of this at the behest of the government, why are we surprised that the French government is trying to censor Wikipedia?

Re:Google self-censored Wash. DC and other sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389723)

I think in the google/bing maps it's not so much censorship as a reasonable compromise.

The map providers make their money (be it directly or through advertising) on the basis of providing the general public with useful maps. These maps are mostly used for planning routes or sightseeing of a remote area. While there would certainly be a lot of people who would be curious enough to view high res pictures of restricted areas, the inability to do so isn't gonna cause any harm to the map providers product or brandname.

It isn't hard for a government to present some reasonable arguments as to why they don't like those area's presented, making it a case of "stand on principal and do X amount of harm without any real benefit to us" or "give in to a reasonable request that doesnt have any practical downside".

In the case of wikipedia being "asked" (more like strongarmed/forced) to remove articles about subjects some groups/governments don't like, the balance is very different.

On one side, giving these groups -any- control over what should be posted sets a dangerous precedent. If wikipedia only hosted articles that no group has objection to, it would be empty. On the other side, the content that is being complained about is actually part of wikipedias' core product, so taking articles down does actually hurt the overall value of wikipedia (and caving to the presure might hurt their brandname aswell).

Re:Google self-censored Wash. DC and other sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389857)

The French government was doing exactly the same: trying to remove/censor information about one of their bases. So should they do the exact same as Google/Bing?

Re:Google self-censored Wash. DC and other sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43391147)

Read the post again.

A military base being blurred out on Google maps doesn't affect the value of Google Maps for its users (they can still plan their trips), so there isn't much at stake for Google.

A military base (or any significant location) not being mentioned on Wikipedia DOES degrade the value of Wikipedia.

Re:Google self-censored Wash. DC and other sites (1)

mbkennel (97636) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390425)

"The map providers make their money (be it directly or through advertising) on the basis of providing the general public with useful maps. These maps are mostly used for planning routes or sightseeing of a remote area. "

Actually I think the map providers make their money by supplying governments, including governments which have their own expensive mapping projects, with useful maps.

There is so much security & classification that one government agency can find it difficult to impossible to obtain even degraded versions of another's $20 billion dollar maps, so it's easier to buy from commercial companies.

Or perhaps that's just the excuse and the real reason is to send government money into well-connected private corporations.

Re:Google self-censored Wash. DC and other sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43391107)

(Same AC as GP)

You're probably correct that Google (and others) make a lot of money selling maps to government agencies, however i doubt that that's why they're doing it. The amount of infomation they can get about visitors on the Google Maps website is staggering, and that information, cross-referenced with all the other stuff Google knows about their visitors is worth a lot of money.

Either way, no matter what other use Google has for their maps, my point about the value of Google Maps (the consumer website) remains unchanged, nobody is going to use Bing for their day to day usage just because google blurs out Area 51, so complying with some agencies' request for harmless censorship makes sense. The situation for wikipedia is different, as for them having a page about Area 51 with some generic information -is- a big deal.

Re:Google self-censored Wash. DC and other sites (1)

Chance Phelps (2880963) | 1 year,12 days | (#43391663)

I don't know about other countries, but in India's case, many of the installations requested to be blurred were nuclear facilities. Considering that the terrorists behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks used Google Earth to plan their sightseeing http://www.hindustantimes.com/technology/IndustryTrends/Google-Earth-used-in-26-11-terror-attacks/SP-Article1-857188.aspx [hindustantimes.com] the censoring is justified. I guess the same goes with the other countries.
Three things wrong with this case, however:
1. The French facility is not the storage depot for weapons grade uranium or something. Its just a radio station. It was relatively unknown and obscure till this incident happened. Streisand effect, anyone?
2. Most of the "classified" info came from an interview of the facility's commander. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/04/wikipedia-editor-allegedly-forced-by-french-intelligence-to-delete-classified-entry/ [arstechnica.com]
3. Despite all this, if the French still wanted to take the article down, they could have simply have gotten a court order to do so. Instead they practically blackmail a volunteer (who had nothing to do with said article) to delete it?

Censorship (5, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | 1 year,12 days | (#43389725)

In Russia Wikipedia is giving up to the political pressure to remove or edit a page on Cannabis smoking [wikipedia.org] (Russian version of the page [tinyurl.com]).

I can't fully understand what exactly on that page provoked the government reaction, but apparently there are a number of pages that the Russian gov't is set against (suicide, methamphetamine, bong, amphetamine, The Complete Manual of Suicide - the page on a Japanese book).

In any case, the Russian government is engaged in censorship against Internet sites [livejournal.com] and other "extremist" materials [minjust.ru], which include books, articles, music, images, etc.

Apparently too many people around the world just can't come to grips with the fact that trying to stop proliferation of information on the Net is a stupid idea, but hey, laws don't have to be intelligent. Intelligence is not a prerequisite for survival, apparently it's also not a prerequisite for governing.

while we are at it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43389941)

I am still looking for the purpose of this facility: 46.716209,1.244688 near Rosnay, France

Flawed Understanding of Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43390057)

There is no "French Intelligence Agency" -- or CIA, or whatever -- there is a group of individual people who make individual decisions to promote or deny freedom, while saying they are part of something greater, so as to confuse people. It's just like all the people who support the drug war because of crap like "no man is an island" or "harming the community." Show me which individual person was harmed? We have been brainwashed by a thousand years of collectivist bullshit, going back to the Middle Ages and how the church said that if you were a peasant, it was your place in the world to serve everyone else and that was that. We just have the modern version of it -- suckering people into thinking they're supposed to be good "citizens" or "taxpayers" while basically serving someone who's smart enough to game the system and use it for their own ends.

Re:Flawed Understanding of Government (0)

tehcyder (746570) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390323)

There is no "French Intelligence Agency" -- or CIA, or whatever -- there is a group of individual people who make individual decisions to promote or deny freedom, while saying they are part of something greater, so as to confuse people.

I think you're the one that's confused, mate. Maybe you shouldn't have stopped your medication? If I were you I'd get to a hospital soon, before you do yourself or anyone else any harm.

Re:Flawed Understanding of Government (1)

SharpFang (651121) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390649)

I think he means something else.

CIA, DCRI and all other intelligence agencies are merely tools, impartial, indifferent organizations following orders. They do very little on their own accord.

The actual culprits are something else. Some of them may be employees of these agencies, but whether they are or not is moot - they may be members of the government, or just of nameless shadow cabinet (and no, no imagery of secret meetings in secluded manors behind hidden doors. Just influential businessmen, former military and so on, who just know where to call in for favors, doing this from comfort of their bright offices and comfortable homes.)

They are the ones that suggest what the orders to be carried out by the intelligence agencies are to contain.

So, like the snake attacking a stick it's being poked with, you can attack the intelligence agencies - or you can look beyond them and bite the one who wields that stick.

Will almost always fail? lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#43390227)

Tell that to china, who has over a billion people behind a a literal and figurative wall. Thats a large chunk of the world population.

One thing this tells me ... (1)

Skapare (16644) | 1 year,12 days | (#43390337)

... is that we can no longer hire French citizens for telecommute work on sensitive jobs.

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