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Amnesty highlights censored blogs

New tools pull content from banned websites

In a push to attract bloggers and techies, Amnesty International UK is offering special code tools to raise awareness about bloggers around the world who are censored or imprisoned for their writing.

Bloggers can add a bit of JavaScript to their pages that pulls content from a database of censored websites and blogs, said Mel Herdon, web and new media manager for Amnesty in London. The code fetches a quote from a censored page and displays the website. The quote changes when the blogger's webpage is reloaded.

Also available is an API (application programming interface) designed to let applications use the database's content, along with an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed, she said. The tools were developed by Soda Creative, a design company.

They're available on Amnesty's Irrepressible.info campaign website, which focuses on how governments such as China and Iran often block content on chat rooms, blogs and websites.

Amnesty has criticised companies such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo for allegedly facilitating censorship for governments through technical assistance.

One sample quote on Irrepresible.info using the Javascript code came from a website run by the Iranian Gay and Lesbian Healthcare Workers Association, which has been censored according to Amnesty.

Amnesty is trying to raise more attention to censorship to make it a larger issue at the Internet Governance Forum, a conference that looks at the development of the Internet, which starts Monday in Athens, Herdon said.

Part of that has been to engage the high-tech community "I don't think we have acknowledged how much we can be doing with the blogging community and the technical community," Herdon said. "We want to attract those people involved in Internet technology."


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