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UN Censors Internet In Its NY Headquarters, Blocking Media Critique and Non-Google Video Sites

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 10 -- The UN's computer system censors a number of websites, among them the Chinese site devoted to searching for what it calls media bias. Also censored is the site, which after took it down was a remaining site hosting the controversial film "Fitna," which the UN's Ban Ki-moon denounced. In each case, attempts from inside the UN, by staff or in the library, to read either site results in a message from the "ICT Security Unit" that "you have been redirected to this page because the site you are attempting to access is blocked according to the policy as detailed in ST/SGB/2004/15."

            This Secretary-General's Bulletin allows staff "limited personal use of ICT resources" unless these involve "pornography or engaging in gambling" or would "compromise the interests or the reputation of the Organization."

            But whether or not the UN Organization agrees with the media critique offered, for example, by, it is neither pornography or gambling, and keeping up with critiques of mainstream media could hardly "compromise the interests or the reputation of the Organization."

            The same is true of the video site, and it is worth noting that the UN does not block or censor another video site,  The latter, of course, is owned by the UN's partner Google, which itself assists with Internet censorship in China.

Mr. Ban, UNDP's Dervis, Google at left and Cisco, not shown (censored at UN)

[Full disclosure: Inner City Press was temporarily excluded by Google News earlier this year, which was linked to UN system and affiliates' complaint(s). At the time, the UN sputtered that it does not engage in censorship. But why then are non-pornographic political analysis web sites blocked inside the UN's own headquarters?]

            With the UN censoring the Internet inside its own headquarters in New York, its commitment to freedom of the press, particularly of online media, remains suspect. Watch this space.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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