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Amnesty International Sees Internet As New Frontier In Human Rights

The human rights organization has launched a Web site to fight online censorship. Among other actions, the site will spotlight technology companies and service providers seen as abetting efforts to suppress free speech.

Amnesty International has launched a campaign to protect free speech on the Internet, and it is taking aim at technology companies as well as governments.

The group set up a Web site called Irrepressible.info, which says governments are increasingly punishing people for criticizing their governments, promoting freedom and exposing human rights violations. The Observer newspaper and art company Soda Creative are also behind the effort.

The site names search engine and portal companies, email and discussion hosts, and software companies it says help governments identify dissidents for punishment. Companies like Yahoo have urged the federal government to press foreign governments on issues regarding free speech.

Irrepressible.info encourages people to petition those governments for more freedom and copy excerpts that have been censored. The site urges people to paste the excerpts as "badges" into their emails and on their Web sites so the information is widely distributed regardless of, and partly because of, censorship attempts.

Under the words: "Somebody doesn't want anybody to read this," the site contains the following statement from Human Rights Watch, which was censored in Vietnam: "… violence is used against the members of society least able to protect themselves—children in school …”

"The more people do this, the more we will undermine political censorship," it states.

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