In 2008, Belgian journal ‘La Revue Nouvelle’ published an interview with Arkady Babchenko, in which he explained why his experience of serving in the Russian army in Chechnya had motivated him to become a war reporter. In light of Babchenko’s recent staged murder, in order to foil a genuine assassination plot, the interview makes for chilling reading.
Challenging barriers to free thought
Index on Censorship 3/2019
Index looks at the increasing barriers to free thought worldwide: including reports on journalistic self-censorship, freedom of expression for LGBT travellers, the roll-out of Chinese surveillance tech; and Germany’s latest spyware bill.
Index on Censorship looks at the increasing barriers to free thought worldwide. Reports from China, Germany, Hungary and the United States focus not only on increasing restrictions on free movement, but also the implicit demands that journalists self-censor and that LGBT travellers hide their identities when in countries where their very existence is illegal.
‘The strides made in the recognition of LGBT rights have been enormous in recent years’, writes Mark Frary. But freedom of expression for LGBT people is by no means secure everywhere. Travellers on their way to one of the seventy or so countries where homosexuality is a crime might have their phones searched and social media presence scrutinized by officials. Dating apps like Tinder and Grindr have warned users travelling to Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe to conceal their identities. Not only do international advances hide what is happening within countries such as the US, where there is still no legal protection against discrimination in some states, LGBT asylum seekers also face prejudice and violence both in transit and in host countries.
Ryan Gallagher, investigative reporter for The Intercept, explores how Chinese companies provide surveillance and censorship equipment, including biometric and facial recognition technology, to authoritarian governments worldwide. This is not just about Huawei, writes Gallagher: there are many other Chinese tech companies specializing in surveillance and censorship equipment ‘whose names are not as well known to the public.’ Their attempts to sell their equipment globally is part of the Chinese government’s strategy ‘to export its technological and ideological framework over its own borders. As China’s influence on the global stage continues to grow, so will its authoritarian version of the internet.’
The German government is considering allowing state security services to plant spyware on private citizens’ computers and phones. Predictably, the outcry has been huge. Cathrin Schaer explains the cultural reasons for the German public’s particular sensitivity when it comes to privacy: the combination of western post-war anti-totalitarianism and the eastern experience of Stasi surveillance.
This article is part of the 19/2019 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our reviews, and you also can subscribe to our newsletter and get the bi-weekly updates about the latest publications and news on partner journals.
Published 29 October 2019
Original in English
First published by Eurozine
Jordan Peterson on identity politics and personal responsibility
Psychologist Jordan Peterson has attracted fame and controversy with a series of YouTube lectures and interviews challenging what he calls ‘radical leftist ideological assumptions’ in the academy and elsewhere. Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič asks him what all the fuss is about.