Wednesday, July 01, 2009

State Department, Twitter, and the Iran Protests

I had heard nothing about this until yesterday in an interview with the president of a new internet startup.

Twitter, as most know by now, has become a critical link to the outside world for the protest movement in Iran. When the State Department found out that Twitter had a maintenance outage scheduled for the middle of the day Tehran time, they asked the company to reschedule so as not to disrupt service in Iran. Twitter agreed, and the outage occurred during the day in America instead.

However, over all, the administration gets a mixed grade for protecting internet freedom of speech abroad:
The week before supporters of Mousavi were Tweeting and coming together in the streets, China announced it would require the installation of a Web-blocking program called “Green Dam Youth Escort” on all new computers in the country. While ostensibly meant to block pornography and violent images, many technology experts pointed to its ability to block sites that are politically distasteful to the communist government. Chinese lawyers, academics, and even many in Silicon Valley were up in arms and vocal with their criticism, but Washington stayed silent. The Chinese government ultimately relaxed the requirement, but battles still loom, especially in Iran.

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