Q & A: Censorship


The previous postings in?Round One?and?Round Two?included answers from Australia, Europe and North America.
In this round, we hear from respondents in Australia, Bangladeshi, Canada and Israel.
This Q&A series follows on from Alasdair Foster?sinterview with Armani Nimerawi?on the subject of censorship, CDC asked artists and colleagues around the world three questions:

  1. Have you ever been censored?
  2. Can you give an example of justified censorship?
  3. If you ruled the world? how would the issues that lead to censorship be addressed?



Ruthi Ofek is Director of the Open Museum of Tel Hai. Notably, this museum is situated in the heart of an industrial area and its mission is to break down barriers between the worlds of art and industry. Focusing on important national and international photographers, its programs are presented across five themed galleries. Additionally, once a year, it organises a group exhibition of graduate photography from Israeli art schools.

Have you ever been censored?

Yes, years ago, we had a student graduation exhibition. One of the students had thrown photographs of Israeli former Prime Ministers on the floor so that the visitors had to walk over them. It created a big scandal in the press and we were asked to change the position of the photographs, so they were re-displayed on the wall.

Can you give an example of justified censorship?

I can justify the censorship if it simply a personal attack, but not if it is an expression of free opinion.

If you ruled the world?

If I ruled the world, I would emphasis creativity focused on good ideas that would make the world a better place to live in. This is an optimistic wish, because I have three grandchildren!


William Yang has been hailed as one of Australia?s great storytellers. His very personal interweaving of narratives describes the experience of being a gay third-generation Chinese Australian in a country that was not always hospitable to people of different appearance or alternative sexual orientation. While he exhibits regularly and widely, his ultimate art form is the illustrated monologue for which he has won plaudits around the globe.

Have you ever been censored?

Yes I have been censored. Censoring covers a spectrum of attitudes from banning to disapproval. I like to show gay images: that is men having sex with men, and male nudity. Both these areas have met with degrees of disapproval.
Contemporary art practices generally favour pushing boundaries and the new. I have some idea which of my photos would provoke a disapproving response although you never really know until you put it out there in the public domain. I decide how far I want to go, whether an idea or attitude is worth pushing. So it?s a kind of self-censorship which is part of cultural socialization. It happens all the time in ordinary socialization.

Can you give an example of justified censorship?

An example of justified censorship was not showing the dead body of Osama Bin Laden for fear it would inflame the Muslin world. It would have been a provocative act.

If you ruled the world?

Most attitudes are the result of cultural conditioning. If I ruled the world I would like everyone to be exposed to different cultural attitudes. If there was an issue about, say, attitudes towards women, people should be exposed to cultures with different attitudes to this topic, and hopefully an understanding of position would come from this exposure. It?s better to know where a person is coming from and to have an attitude of live and let live, than to say ?You can?t do that? with its implication of ?My position is better?.


Diana Thorneycroft is an award-winning?artist living in Winnipeg. Over the past three decades she has created challenging work that blends a shadowy narrative with an aesthetic that seduces even as it disturbs.? While her earlier work situates a living figure in a mythic space, her later images use dolls and toys to mine a troubled sensibility that is deeply engrained in the Canadian identity.?Canadian Art?magazine rated her ?Group of Seven Awkward Moments? in the top ten exhibitions of 2008.

Have you ever been censored?

There are several kinds of censorship: the big ?C? when work is removed from gallery walls due to public pressure, which I have never experienced; and the small ?c?, when exhibitions are refused, even though the work is strong, because of the risk it presents.
My exhibition ?The Body, It?s Lesson and Camouflage? had a remarkable tour despite the content being problematic for many viewers. For that I credit the institutions that accepted the show and the individuals who stood behind the work. In situations where galleries had a ?talk back? forum in place (where members of the public were encouraged to leave their comments) it was clear many visitors felt my photographs should be taken down. And, if it were up to them, the work would be (as one person wrote) ?burned out back with the rest of the garbage?.

Can you give an example of justified censorship?

Hands down, art work that deals with blatant child pornography. I know in some people?s minds this is subjective ? case in point, Sally Mann?s photographs of her kids, however I doubt her images would appear in a porn magazine.

If you ruled the world?

If I ruled the world I would implant little chips into every person?s brain that would cause temporary blindness as they approached an image that they would find too difficult to handle.


Shahidul Alam?is a photographer and social activist based in Dhaka. He set up?DRIK?photo agency in 1989 and in 1998 he founded?Pathshala:South Asian Institute of Photography, which recently became the?South Asian Media Academy. He is also a director of?Chobi Mela, Asia?s longest-running festival of photography. Widely respected internationally, he was the?first person of colour to chair the international jury of World Press Photo. His monograph??My journey as a witness??was published in 2011.

Have you ever been censored?

Censorship occurs in many ways, and I have faced it numerous times in my career. It?s happened in Bangladesh, where galleries have refused to show my work, sponsors have backed out, and our gallery and office have been surrounded by riot police preventing visitors from coming in. Overseas publications have been very keen to get my content. Until they discovered my work was critical of their practice, which was followed by a stony silence. Nothing, of course, was printed.
In Bangladesh there was also more indirect, but more disruptive action. This was not censorship in a strict sense, but a message sent in response to our actions. All telephone lines to our office were disconnected after we published a critical piece on our human rights portal. It took two and a half years to get our lines working again. I was attacked in a street that was protected by the military and received eight knife wounds on the day after we had organised a press conference protesting against the government using the military to round-up opposition activists.

Can you give an example of justified censorship?

This is a difficult one and I am wary of giving answers that might be used out of context, but I myself have withheld information where the location of a person who had death threats made against her would have been revealed, putting her life at risk.

If you ruled the world?

I do not believe the world should have a single ruler but, if I were in a position of influence, I would work towards developing a responsible attitude towards information and ensure there was a culture of sharing. If I were the gatekeeper, my primary goal would be to ensure I had gained sufficient trust for people to respect my judgement. There will always be information that has to be withheld at a particular point. If people feel the decision makers have integrity, then acceptance of such actions becomes less of an issue. However, any act of censorship would need to be justified, and clearly demonstrated to be in the interest of public good. That does open it up to the question of who defines public good and on what basis, but there is no way round that one.

A boy views the landscape through a camera obscura in front of the Open Museum of Photography Tel Hai [image ? the Museum]
?Tony and Michael? 1995 ? William Yang
untitled (snare)????Diana Thorneycroft
Cover of Shahidul Alam?s book ?My Journey as a Witness? [Skira Editore, 2011]


The lead article for this short season on censorship is??On Liberty?and?Censorship?, an interview by Armani Nimerawi?with Alasdair Foster, sections of which were?published?in Capture magazine in May 2012.
You may also be interested Helen?Grace?s 2004?interview?with?Alasdair Foster for?ArtLink?magazine, in which they discussed??Staring in the Dark?,?an?exhibition?about artists who engage pornography.
Also?related?to this theme is the article?written?for The Bakery Art Centre in Perth:??Normality is not a Virtue?

BBC Bangla anniversary debate

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BBC Bangla anniversary debate on Channel i focuses on freedom of information

Date:?21.12.2011Last updated: 21.12.2011 at 15.01Category:?World Service

Bangladesh?s rapidly changing media scene will be in the focus of the special BBC Bangla programme to be broadcast on Channel i, marking the 70th anniversary of BBC Bangla in the year of the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh?s independence.

Produced by BBC Bangla in collaboration with Channel i and moderated by BBC Bangla Editor, Sabir Mustafa, the programme, Freedom of information in the internet age, will debate issues raised by the spread of television and advent of social media.
The debate panel will include: Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, H T Imam; Editor of News Today, Reazuddin Ahmed; and Abu Saeed Khan, Secretary General of AMTOB, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh. An invited audience of some 200 people will ask the questions.
Sabir Mustafa will moderate the debate, asking about the challenges facing the traditional and new media: ?These challenges are coming from the social media revolution which has opened up new avenues to exchange information and debate. They are also coming from governments and other regulatory bodies which seek to restrict the freedom of the established media through legislation and to restrict the use of social media.?
The pre-recorded hour-long debate will be followed by an hour-long live studio discussion during which BBC Bangla presenter, Akbar Hossain, and studio guests – photographer and blogger Shahidul Alam of Drik, and leading journalist and former president of National Press Club, Shawkat Mahmud – will discuss comments on the topic, texted by viewers using the short code 16262.
The panel debate will be broadcast by Channel i at 7.50pm Bangladesh time on Thursday 22 December, and at 8pm on Saturday 24 December on BBC 100 FM in Dhaka and on shortwave 12035kHz and 9800kHz. The live discussion will go on air on Channel i at 7.50pm Bangladesh time on Friday 23 December.

Americans face Guant?namo detention after Obama climbdown


Defence funding bill allows American citizens to be arrested as terrorists on home soil and held indefinitely without trial

in Washington

guardian.co.uk,?Thursday 15 December 2011 04.34 GMT

Article history

Guant?namo Bay

Americans can be arrested on home soil and taken to Guant?namo Bay under a provision inserted into the bill that funds the US military. Photograph: John Moore/Getty
Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to?Guant?namo Bay.
Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of “a war that appears to have no end”. Continue reading “Americans face Guant?namo detention after Obama climbdown”

`Owning' the weather? Part I

By Rahnuma Ahmed

“In 2025, US aerospace forces can ?own the weather? by capitalizing on emerging technologies?and focusing development of those technologies to war-fighting applications…?weather-modification offers the war fighter a wide-range of possible options?to defeat or coerce an adversary.”

— Col Tamzy J. House et. al., Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025

`Owning’ the weather? You must be thinking, What a preposterous idea!
Apparently not, for those who wrote the report from which I’ve quoted above (August 1996). It was a study commissioned by the chief of staff of the US Air Force to examine the “concepts, capabilities, and technologies the United States will require to remain the dominant air and space force in the future.” One which was reviewed by security and policy review authorities, and cleared for public release.
As I read the report, I cannot help but wonder at what is contained in those documents which have not been revealed to the public, ones that are classified. Neither can I help but marvel at the devotion and hard work that has gone into imagining, drawing-up and detailing such a scheme of mass murder. At the colossal criminality involved. An issue that the authors hurriedly traverse?”[weather-modification techniques] offers a dilemma,” it is a “controversial issue,” “some segments of society” are reluctant?lest they have any second thoughts, lest they develop any moral qualms over the matter.
Of course, as is only to be expected, all the necessary disclaimers are there. The views expressed are those of the authors. They do not reflect the official policy or position of the US Air Force. Or, the Department of Defense. Least of all, the US government. Representations of future scenarios are fictional. Any similarity to real people, to real events, why, to reality itself?is unintentional.
Weather modification, write the authors, has “tremendous military capabilities” (see table). Rainfall can be enhanced to flood the enemy’s lines of communication. To reduce the effectivity of precision guided missiles (PGM). Rainfall can be prevented too. To deny the enemy access to fresh water. To induce drought and wreck food cultivation. Fogs and clouds can be generated, or removed. Friendly forces merit generation, to enhance their ability to conceal themselves. While enemy forces shall suffer from fog/cloud removal, to deny concealment. To smoke ’em out?
To develop an integrated weather-modification system, technological advancements are necessary in five areas: (1) advanced nonlinear modeling techniques (2) computational capability (3) information gathering and transmission (4) a global sensor array, and (5) weather intervention techniques. Some of these “intervention tools” already exist, we are told. Others may be developed. May be refined. For future use. To develop and refine technologies of mass murder….?
Current weather-modification technologies which will mature over the next 30 years, will?in all likelihood?become “a part of national security policy with both domestic and international applications.” A policy that could be pursued at “various levels”: NATO. UN. Coalition. And, if the national security strategy in 2025 includes weather-modification, “its use in our national military strategy will naturally follow.” Its benefit? It’ll “deter and counter potential adversaries.” It’s “appropriate application… can provide battlespace dominance to a degree never before imagined.” The executive summary ends on this ominous note: ?The technology is?there, waiting for us to pull it all together;? in 2025 we can ?Own the Weather.?
Weather War————————————————————————————————
Weather Network
The current military and civilian worldwide weather data network will evolve and expand to become a Global Weather Network (GWN). One which will be a super high-speed, expanded bandwidth, communication network by 2025. By then, weather-prediction models will prove to be “highly accurate in stringent measurement trials against empirical data.” And the “brains” of these models? “Advanced software and hardware capabilities which can rapidly ingest trillions of environmental data points, merge them into usable data bases, process the data through the weather prediction models, and disseminate the weather information over the GWN in near-real-time” (see Figure).
Although “extreme and controversial” examples of weather modification, such as, the creation of made-to-order weather, large-scale climate modification, creation and/or control (or ?steering?) of severe storms, etc. were researched, “technical obstacles preventing their application appear insurmountable within 30 years.” And therefore, the authors write, these are only mentioned briefly.
Close observers are inclined to disagree. Weather warfare, they think, has already started.
“What are the underlying causes of extreme weather instability, which has ravaged every major region of the World in the course of the last few years?” writes professor Michel Chossudovsky, one of the keenest analysts.
He continues, “Hurricanes and tropical storms have ravaged the Caribbean. Central Asia and the Middle East are afflicted by drought. West Africa is facing the biggest swarm of locusts in more than a decade. Four destructive hurricanes and a tropical rain storm Alex, Ivan, Frances, Charley and Jeanne have occurred in a sequence, within a short period of time. Unprecedented in hurricane history in the Caribbean, the island of Grenada was completely devastated: 37 people died and roughly two-thirds of the island’s 100,000 inhabitants have been left homeless; in Haiti, more than two thousand people have died and tens of thousands are homeless. The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida have also been devastated. In the US, the damage in several Southern states including Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and the Carolinas is the highest in US history.”
While global warming is undoubtedly an important factor, writes Chossudovsky, it does not fully account for these extreme and unusual weather patterns.
In the 5 years since he wrote “The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction: “Owning the Weather” for Military Use” (Global Research, September 2004), many more natural disasters have occurred: the Asian tsunami which hit 14 countries; Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand most severly, killing nearly 230,000 (December 2004). Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1,836 people lost their lives (August 2005). Great Sichuan earthquake in China, 68,000 died (May 2008). The recent earthquake in Haiti, 200,000 estimated dead (January 2010).
Both the Americans and the Russians have developed capabilities, says Chossudovsky, to “manipulate the World’s climate.”
In a 1997 article of The Wall Street Journal (Nov 13), Chen May Yee wrote about a memorandum of understanding to be signed soon between a Russian and a Malaysian company to create a hurricane that would create torrential rains, one that would be directed close enough to clear the smoke without actually coming on land to create a devastation. In an earlier piece The Wall Street Journal had reported that a Russian company, Elate Intelligent Technologies Inc., advertising under the slogan `Weather Made to Order’?sold weather control equipment. Elate is capable of fine tuning weather patterns over a 200 square mile area, for as little as $200 per day. Hurricane Andrew, which had occurred a year earlier and had caused damage worth $30 billion could have been turned into “a wimpy little squall,” according to Igor Pirogoff, a director of Elate. Doesn’t this mean that hurricane Katrina too, could have been diverted?
As I research on the internet, I come across another news item: “Entering a thunderstorm 10 miles off West Palm Beach, a B-57 Canberra jet bomber chartered for one million dollars releases some 9,000 pounds of improved Dyn-O-Gel capable of 10-times stronger water absorption. Miami’s Channel 5’s weather radar shows the huge thunderhead losing moisture. Within seconds, the buildup vanished as one side of the cloud collapsed ?like an avalanche?, according to a chase plane cameraman.” (Sun-Sentinel July 20/01).
As a weapon of war, the use of weather modification techniques was publicly described much earlier. On 20 March 1974, by the Pentagon. A 7 year cloud seeding effort in Vietnam and Cambodia, costing $21.6 million, had been initiated to increase rainfall in target areas, thereby “causing landslides and making unpaved roads muddy, hindering the movement of supplies.” ?That US forces had suffered a drastic defeat in Vietnam, and forced to leave in 1975, is now part of history.
At present, other countries, probably China and North Korea, are feverishly working to catch up. Early snow covered Beijing last November. According to the Chinese state media, it was the result of Chinese metereologists’ efforts to “make rain by injecting special chemicals into clouds,” a technique that often gets results (Agence France-Presse, 1 November 2009).
According to Chossudovsky, weather-modification technology is being perfected in the US under the High-frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP), part of the (“Star Wars”) Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI). Recent scientific evidence suggests that HAARP is fully operational. That it has the ability of potentially triggering floods, droughts, hurricanes and earthquakes. That it is?from the military standpoint?a weapon of mass destruction…
(more, next week)
First Published in New Age on 1st February 2010

Insecure at last: the age of surveillance

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By Rahnuma Ahmed

?I am worried about this word, this notion ? security. I see this word, hear this word, feel this word everywhere. Security check. Security watch. Security clearance. Why has all this focus on security made me feel so much more insecure??

? Eve Ensler, ?Insecure at Last: A Political Memoir.?

Tailor-made, to suit your needs

Surveillance often works innocuously. Consider this: billboards equipped with small cameras that gather details about passers-by ? gender, a rough estimation of age, and how long she or he looks at the billboard. The cameras, it is said, use software to establish that the person is a billboard-viewer, it then analyses her or his facial features like cheekbone height, distance between nose and chin, to judge the person?s gender and age. Race is not used as a parameter. Not yet, but the companies say that they can, that they will. These details are transmitted to a central database. The purpose is to ?tailor? a digital display of the viewer, ?to show one advertisement to a middle-aged white woman,? and another to ?a teenage Asian boy.? To sell products more efficiently. More rationally. It does not intrude on privacy, so the argument goes, since actual images of billboard viewers are not stored.

These billboards are similar to websites such as Amazon, described as the largest (virtual) bookstore in the world, tailor-made to assist the customer, her needs and interests. I visit the website to look up books on feminist theory, I am shown bell hooks? Feminist Theory: From Margin to Centre, along with, Ain?t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, also written by her, one that is, so I am told, ?Frequently Bought Together.? Simultaneously, five other products are displayed, that Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought. Down below are menus which, at a click, will display my Recent History, books recently purchased, or viewed by me.

The Surveillance Society

Surveillance, as a growing number of Western writers, journalists, artists, academics and human rights activists keep reminding us, is no longer ?the future?. In the words of Henry Potter, London editor of Vanity Fair, ?we are already at the gates of the surveillance society.? According to a group of academics, writers of A Report on the Surveillance Society (September 2006), it exists ?not merely from dawn to dusk,? but for twentyfour hours a day, seven days a week. It is systemic, expressed not only through supermarket check-out clerks who want to see loyalty cards, or the coded access card that allows one to enter the office, or CCTV (closed-circuit TV) cameras, which in Britain, are ?everywhere.? A CCTV consulting firm puts the number deployed at more than 4 million, nearly as many as the rest of the world combined, minus the United States. The report?s authors write, ?these systems represent a basic, complex infrastructure which assumes that gathering and processing personal data is vital to contemporary living.? Surveillance is,?in their words, a ?part of the fabric of daily life.?

They write, it would be a mistake to think of surveillance as ?something sinister, smacking of dictators and totalitarianism,? or as ?a covert conspiracy.? Instead, it is the outcome of modern organisational practices, business, government and the military. It is better viewed as the progress towards efficient administration, as a benefit for the development of Western capitalism and the modern nation-state. Four hundred years ago, rational methods began to be applied to organisational practices, to ensure that the new organisations ran smoothly. It made informal social controls on business and governing, and people?s ordinary social ties ?irrelevant.? The growth of new computer systems after World War II reduced labour intensity, it increased the reliability and the volume of work that could be accomplished. Subsequent growth of the new communications system, now known together as ?information technology? (IT), is related to modern desires for efficiency, speed, control and coordination, and is global.

Capitalism?s push to cut down on costs and to increase profits has accelerated and reinforced surveillance. This, accompanied by the 20th century?s growth of military and police departments, and the development of new technologies, has improved techniques of intelligence-gathering, identification and tracking. Surveillance thus, has become part of being modern.

It is undoubtedly two-sided. It has its benefits: it helps deter traffic violations, tracks down criminals, medical surveillance programmes provide necessary information to public health authorities etc. But, the authors warn us, there are things that are ?seriously wrong? with a surveillance society. Large scale technological infrastructures suffer from problems, equally large in scale, especially computer systems where a mistaken, or an imprudent keystroke can cause havoc. For instance, twenty million ordinary peoples? online search queries from AOL were released for ?research? purposes in August 2006. The names of identifiers were not tagged, but connecting search records with names took only a couple of minutes. Corruptions and skewed visions of power, not that of tyrants, but of leaders justifying extraordinary tactics in exceptional cicumstances, such as the endless ?war on terror,? can be disastrous. Many Muslim Americans have been branded as unfit for travel, or subject to racial profiling. Surveillance systems are wrong on three other counts: they are `meant to discriminate between one group and another?, as recent trends show, distinctions of class, race, gender, geography and citizenship are being exacerbated and institutionalised. Second, it undermines trust, something necessary to social relationships, breeding suspicion in its place. When parents start to use webcams and GPS systems to check on teenage childrens? activities, or spouses check each others? suspected infidelities, it speaks of a ?slow social suicide.? And third, surveillance systems associated with high technology and anti-terrorism distract us from pursuing ?alternatives,? from paying attention to larger and more urgent questions.

Fear internalised

Caroline Osella, a contributor to the ASA (Association of Social Anthropologists) blog discussion on recruiting anthropologists in the ?war on terror? (through the Human Terrain System programme), wrote of a personal experience that illustrates the ?state of paranoid anxiety? that grips people. As the mother of an 11 year-old, she had gone to a school meeting for parents to discuss a planned residential adventure school trip. She was astounded, she writes, to see parents not asking questions about activities planned, or practicalities like food, or other stuff to take along. Instead, questions revolved exclusively around security. School authorities were asked: ?will an adult stay awake all night to monitor that kids are safe and not wandering?,? ?can the kids escape to the outside?,? ?can strangers get in?? And she writes, incredible as it may sound, one father finally asked, ?what guarantee can the school provide that paedophiles will not be able to break the perimeter fence and get into the site, where the kids will be sleeping unchaperoned in tents??

It was surreal, Osella writes, to sit and listen to ?reasoned and careful discussions? of a totally fantastic scenario. It would be great, she says, to embrace some insecurity and uncertainty, and to accept the absence of ?total control? over our lives.

How does surveillance get naturalised? Mark Andrejevic, author of Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched, believes that reality TV has played a part in transforming American attitudes toward surveillance. Producers of early reality programs such as MTV?s The Real World (1992) had a hard time finding people willing to have their lives taped nearly 24 hours a day for several months. Now, thousands of young people form audition lines in college towns, ?more people applying to The Real World each year than to Harvard.? New generations, Andrejevic says, are growing up viewing television shows that let anyone see the lives of others recorded voluntarily. There are other reality shows too, like COPS, where police chases of criminals is filmed. Increasingly, he says, the results of surveillance are seen as `entertainment,? as being within the realm of the public?s right to know.

The mass collection of DNA data, and ?policy? laundering

The introduction of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 in the UK has led to anyone being arrested on ?suspicion? of committing the slightest offence. After arrest, the police remove a DNA sample, which stays on the police database, even though the person may not be charged. Increasing by 40,000 samples per month, the database has surpassed more than 3 million DNA samples, a fifth of which belong to people of African-Caribbean origin. Who owns these DNA samples? ?Once a database like this is established, the authority concerned tends to regard the information as being in its ownership, to be exchanged without reference to the subjects,? writes Potter. The British government admitted that it had passed more than 500 DNA samples (I wonder whose, Arabs? Muslims?) to foreign agencies. But when asked to which countries, ?no one seemed to know.? The chairman of the Nuffield Bioethics Committee, Sir Bob Hepple anxiously commented, ?We didn?t have any legislation to establish the DNA database and it has not been debated in parliament.?

Western governments, it seems are devising new strategies to circumvent traditional ideals of civic liberty, based on notions of freedom and privacy (mind you, not in its colonies). Dr Gus Hosein, senior fellow with Privacy International says, ?illiberal policies? are pushed through international treaty organisations. The British government brought into effect communications surveillance policies through the European Union, and ID cards through the United Nations. ?The government returns home to Parliament, holding their hands up saying ?We are obliged to act because of international obligations? and gets what they want with little debate.? It is a strategy that has led to the coinage of new words: ?policy laundering.?

Having originated in the West, these surveillance systems are gradually extending outside it, to control, regulate and limit the lives of people in non-Western countries.

First published in The New Age on 15th September 2008