Monday, February 25, 2008

Only Dogs Need Muzzles

The worst digital rhetoric news of the month has to be the closing of, a site that posts documents about corruption and human rights violations, which was closed down by a judge's order based on a complaint from a bank in the Cayman Islands. "Judge Orders Wikileaks Web Site Shut" also includes many of the relevant documents in the case. Although The New York Times has not always championed the rights of Internet journalist's, its editorial "Stifling Online Speech" is a strong defense of the site's free speech rights that also makes analogies to freedom of the press.

Federal District Court Judge Jeffrey White ordered Wikileaks’s domain name registrar to disable its Web address. That was akin to shutting down a newspaper because of objections to one article. The First Amendment requires the government to act only in the most dire circumstances when it regulates free expression.

There are updates at Wikileak that tell a sad tale about site closings in other countries in response to political pressures. Luckily you can still access many of the items from the U.S. .org site at the WikiLeaks site in Belgium.

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