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Use a Blog, Go to Jail

Use a Blog, Go to Jail

A new report from the World Information Access Project finds that authoritarian regimes around the world are arresting bloggers more often in an effort to cut down on political dissent, exposure of government corruption, or spreading information a government doesn’t want its people—or the world—to know about. And the number of known blogger arrests is probably lower than the actual number who have been detained for publishing their views on the Internet.

“Last year, 2007, was a record year for blogger arrests, with three times as many as in 2006,” said University of Washington assistant professor of communication Phil Howard, in a statement. “Egypt, Iran and China are the most dangerous places to blog about political life, accounting for more than half of all arrests since blogging became big. The real number of arrested bloggers is probably much higher, since many arrests in China, Zimbabwe, and Iran go unreported in the international media.”

According to the report, 64 people unaffiliated with any news organization have been arrested for blogging. Around the world, bloggers have served 940 months of prison time n the last five years. Terms have ranged from just a few hours to eight years, with the average term for bloggers being around 15 months.

Bloggers also have no immunity in developed nations, with bloggers sometimes being arrested over claims of publishing pornography on their pages, although Canadian Charles Leblanc was arrested for posting photographs of a protest on his blog. Bloggers in France, the UK, and the United States have also been arrested for material published in their blogs…although the U.S. case involved a man who blogged about his attraction to young girls, and the UK case involved a blogger threatening a police officer’s family.

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