Online illegal (Taliban bans use of Internet in Afghanistan).

Author:Mireau, Shaunna
 
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A news article on July 13, 2001 reported that the Taliban government in Afghanistan has banned the use of the Internet. The reason for this, according to Taliban Foreign Minister Muttawakil, is that "We want to establish a system in Afghanistan through which we can control all those things that are wrong, obscene, immoral and against Islam."

This action, at first thought, is completely offensive to Canadian sensibilities. Our culture embraces fundamental freedoms. These are expressed in the Canadian Charter of Rights in section 2, which reads, as found on the Internet at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/index.html:

  1. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

  1. freedom of conscience and religion;

  2. freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

  3. freedom of peaceful assembly; and

  4. freedom of association.

I would suggest that freedom to use the Internet would come under points a, b, c, and d, since the Internet can be a tool to express conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, and to assemble and associate in the virtual world. Unfortunately, use of the Internet, as a fundamental freedom, hasn't been raised in a court of law that I know of.

The Taliban government is not the first group to ban or otherwise curtail Internet use. ABC News Online (this is the Australian Broadcast Corporation at www.abc.net.au) reported in January of 2000 that leading ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis in Israel banned their followers from using the Net. From an Asia Pacific Management News (www.ampforum.com) report in November of 1997, we learn that measures are taken in Vietnam to restrict/ban access to counter cultural and political information as well as in China and Singapore.

There is a whole website devoted to the discussion surrounding this issue. The site aptly titled "Enemies of the Internet", found at http://www.rsf.org/uk/home.html, is part of the Reporters Without Borders initiative. This site describes the censorship of the Internet in many different countries, including Australia, Chile, France, Germany, and the United States.

In Canada, organizations like Electronic Frontier Canada (http://insight.mcmaster. ca/ org/efc/efc.html) are focused on anti-censorship issues. "Electronic Frontier Canada (EFC) was founded to ensure that the principles embodied in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms remain protected as new computing, communications, and information...

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