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The J Spotter

Personal insights from the J Spot author J. Angelo Racoma
( this site has moved to http://jangelo.racoma.net )

The J Spotter » Archives

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

When blogging can get you locked up

Freedom of speech. Censorship. Human rights. These are now issues bloggers have to face, especially in the light of restrictive regimes, such as those in the Middle East and in China.

Charles Cooper, Executive Editor at CNet News writes on the dangers of blogging, especially if one's blog content involves "sensitive" matters.

So far, I'm thankful that I have yet to experience having a government agent knock on my door, "inviting" me for an interrogation. =)

An excerpt:

When blogging can get you locked up | Perspectives | CNET News.com
January 21, 2005, 12:00 AM PT
By Charles Cooper

Increasingly, it seems, blogging can get you in big trouble. And as the number of Web logs and Internet news sites grows, journalists and bloggers regularly find themselves at odds with governments that are unenthusiastic about freedom of expression.

What's more, many governments now routinely filter the Internet, even though that's a clear violation of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which promotes access to information as an entitlement. Truth be told, the litany of examples of Internet repression around the globe makes for dreary reading.
Internet infrastructure providers can't plead willful ignorance anymore. In China, for example, Cisco Systems routers do the heavy lifting for the country's surveillance infrastructure. Internet traffic passes through only five hubs, making it oh so easy to snoop on Web surfers and read private e-mails.
Bad precedents like these won't make things any easier for the people who literally risk their lives to reveal the truth. Keeping the flow of information free and unfettered is going to become a struggle in the new century. It is an issue begging for Silicon Valley's attention--all the way from a jail cell in Iran. So far, the response has been studied indifference.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Bill Gates Teen Beat Pics, circa 1983

I do believe some of these images were re-printed in a Newsweek issue mid last year. Click here for images.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Disclosure of Sensitive Information

A reader sent me the following email, and I thought it would be good to share it here. My response is likewise published below.


Just out of curiousity and with due respect, does the Phil government allow its employees to discuss issues pertinent to their line of work in public forums such as blogs? Is there no conflict of interest implications in such an action? Is the government not concerned with disclosure of confidential or restricted information?

My response:


Thanks for the concern. While it may appear otherwise, I have not, in any way and to the best of my knowledge, disclosed sensitive information (whether official or otherwise) on matters pertaining to issues that affect the Philippine government. I do agree that there is a conflict of interest in disclosing to the public information that may be deemed confidential or sensitive in nature, in particular those that have security implications.

Per my review of relevant documentation (Philippine laws, rules, regulations), I have not encountered provisions explicitly prohibiting civil servants (in particular in my agency) from disclosing information to the public, although it is to my understanding that it is best to have such an arrangement, even if implicit in nature. Perhaps we should also consider that it is in the interest of the public for Government transactions to be transparent, and for government officials (and government itself, ultimately) to be accountable for their actions.

I appreciate your expressing your concern on this matter. I have always tried to exercise prudence in publishing matters that may involve controversy. I try not to cross the thin line separating responsible and irresponsible disclosure of information. To illustrate, I am part of a technical group that facilitates the evaluation and approval of major capital projects (both foreign- and private-sector-assisted), and I have long itched to discuss issues pertaining to these in my blog. But I always remind myself that I have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of such information, and in turn not compromise my agency.

Lastly, you may wish to note that I have tendered my resignation from government service effective the 21st of February. I am moving to the private sector (an ICT firm) after an almost three-year stint as an Economic Development Specialist.

I hope this email has been helpful. =)

Best regards.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Agatha Clarisse

(Click for a larger version)

7:40 a.m., 8 January 2005: Agatha Clarisse G. Racoma was born into this world.