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French Version

Interface : Americans & Europeans no longer in the dark

The Internet is a rich source of information for anyone seeking 'alternative' views on current issues.

JORDAN (Star) - The Internet is a rich source of information for anyone seeking 'alternative' views on current issues. It's quite amazing how many political views there are on the Internet, and how little of those views actually make it into mainstream media. For example, there's a lot of support for the Palestinian people among high ranking Americans whose views are 'blocked' by international media like newspapers and TV stations, but whose opinions can be easily found on the Internet at their own web sites, or at sites set up by pro-Palestinian activists. Views on the web are 'un-blockable' and it is now becoming the outlet for everyone with something to say. Thankfully, there's a lot being said in support of the Palestinian people and in condemnation of Israel.

Freedom of Internet access is becoming an issue, as there are some calls to block offensive sexual content in addition to calls for blocking 'politically-incorrect' sites. Sites by neo-Nazi groups, for example, are causing concern in countries like Germany were blockage of such sites is becoming a major issue. However, it would take a European-wide decision to allow such blockage, as it restricts user's freedoms and could open the door to blockage of any sites that are considered politically undesirable. Therein lies the danger, because Israeli propaganda has caused many Europeans and Americans to view the Palestinian cause as a violent, even terrorist, struggle. So, sites with pro-Palestinian views may be blocked, and that could be a disaster for Arab efforts to get the message across that the Palestinians cause is just and one of agonizing injustice. In this regard, a decision by the European Parliament this week is a cause for enthusiasm, as it voted against blocking access to Web sites as a way of regulating content on the Internet. Instead, the parliament is recommending self-regulation and filter and ratings systems. The European Parliament's decision was applauded by the European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA).

First of all because such blocking would be a "technically disastrous solution", but also because they say it creates "free speech and democratic concerns." A spokesperson commented by saying, "in Germany, a regional Government is trying to implement legislation to force Internet service providers to block access to certain Web sites containing Nazi content. Blocking anything bad is not intrinsically bad, but practically bad." It is a drastic measure that does not solve the problem of sites outside the European Union. Therefore the European Parliament said that, "Instead of blocking sites, content providers and Internet service providers in Europe will be self-regulating, and users should take advantage of filtering technologies and content rating."

Frankly this approach is a relief, as the Internet seems to the last frontier for unbiased views. Losing that would be a disaster. It's already bad enough that beliefs in the West are being shaped by media bosses who are serving Israel's goals by offering biased coverage, leaving Americans and Europeans in the dark about the truth. If I were an American or a European, I would be really angered by such an assault on my freedom, which should be guaranteed in such democratic societies. If pro-Israeli media executives control what Americans and Europeans see on TV and what they read in their papers, they and those responsible for the 'cover-up' must be quite frustrated that no one can control what Americans and Europeans see on the Internet.

Given time, and the growth of the importance of the Internet as a source of information, everyone will know the truth about the occupation of Palestine and Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people.

Amman,20April2002
Zeid Nasser
The Star


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