Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft
The fight for rights on the Internet Human rights activists say cryptography saves lives By Alan Boyle MSNBC
ANAHEIM, Calif., Jan. 24 _ The borderless realm of the Internet has become contested ground for human rights groups. On one hand, governments around the world are cracking down on the free flow of electronic information, as illustrated by China's imprisonment of a Web page designer. On the other hand, human rights groups are using strong cryptography and other Internet tools to fight those same repressive governments. "A growing percentage of human rights work will take place in cyberspace," one activist predicts.
`Human rights groups are relying on the Internet more and more to speak out, document and draw the world's attention to human rights violations.' _ STEPHEN HANSEN AAAS' Directorate for Science and Policy Programs CYBER-ACTIVISM goes back almost as far as the Internet itself. But the rise of the Internet in the developing world _ even in countries ruled by repressive regimes _ has given activists an increasingly valuable lifeline to supporters around the world. The human rights dimension of the Internet was the theme of a session Friday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Human rights groups are relying on the Internet more and more to speak out, document and draw the world's attention to human rights violations," said Stephen Hansen of AAAS' Directorate for Science and Policy Programs. To be sure, there's a dark side as well as a bright side to the story: Some governments are finding ways to eavesdrop on the Internet, just as they monitor mail and phone communications. One need look no further than the case of Web designer Lin Hai, who China sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for exchanging thousands of e-mail addresses with a U.S.-based dissident publication.