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Friday, June 17, 2005

I Want to Brake Free

A close friend of mine (who shall remain nameless, at least for now) is currently being harassed by his boss at work over the most simple things written in his blog - some of which are just comments by his readers. I believe that this constitutes the first case of a Maltese blogger who is being censored by senior management at his place of work.

(Do you know of a similar case? Are you involved in one yourself? Please let me know.)

Unlike the notorious cases of the Google employee who was fired for commenting about things he really shouldn't have (free speech doesn't mean saying anything that comes to your head, dude! ever heard of common decency?), or the flight attendant who lost her job after posting what some considered "inappropriate" photos of herself posing "suggestively" onboard a Delta airline plane in her work uniform, the Maltese blogger in question is miles away from really offending the organization he works for in a significant way. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose much more without giving away his identity and getting him into more trouble than he cares for.

A couple of days ago, USA Today published an interesting article about companies who are firing and disciplining employees for what they say about work on their blogs. While the article focuses on cases in America, this is obviously not an issue that is restricted to the States. And this is to say nothing about government control over bloggers in countries like China and Iran. Malta's own blogosphere is clearly not letting sleeping dogs lie. Take a look at the anonymous blog Nurse Life, for instance; wonderful stuff, but I doubt some bureaucrat doesn't think that it's (at the very least) highly problematic. We even have one Maltese blogger (indirectly) begging not to be employed after going through the ordeal of applying for a job. (I know you really don't care, Alex!) Blogs are quite liberating, but they can be quite dangerous when not handled with care.
Keep on Blogging!

So, what are our legal rights as bloggers? Some of our rights are outlined in the USA Today article I mentioned above, but there's obviously much more to it than a simple newspaper article can cover. Quite serendipitously, this morning I received a press release from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) announcing the publication of the EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers. This guide is mostly addressed at bloggers living in the USA, so there's a need to address similar issues for blogger in other countries, even if the basic guidelines apply in most democracies.

Some major corporations already see blogs as double-edged swords. They recognize that blogs can create valuable buzz about a company, but at the same time they definitely want to stop the online publishing of trade secrets. Their solution is to provide clear blogging guidelines designed to prevent problems, without stifling blogs. Some already have. It's a tricky balance to achieve, but if you don't like your employer's blogging guidelines there's now another reason to look for work elsewhere...unless you're comfortable with being a corporate slave.

Blogger Immanuel Mifsud said...

tfajt kumment imma sparixxa.

ha nipprova niftakar x'ghidt. mela, kont qed nghid li nahseb li dawk li jibbloggjaw ghandhom jiehdu azzjoni fuq dan il-kaz. jien kont diga' esprimejt certu biza' li din il-liberta' xi darba se tinhanaq. ovvjament, jekk 'il quddiem dan ix-xihadd jiddeciedi li johrog fid-deher, u nhossu li l-kaz tieghu huwa theddida fuq il-liberta' ta' l-espressjoni, allura jmissna niehdu azzjoni diretta.

jidhirli li l-kumment originali kien xihaga hekk. 

3:44 PM, June 17, 2005
Blogger Kenneth said...

Xi ħaġa tal-mistħija.

Sfortunatament għalina, fl-Amerka hemm festa bid-drittijiet legali imma hawn Malta ma jeżisti xejn minn dan. Anzi, ma' kull pass jippruvaw joħonquk.

Wisq nibża' li l-bloggosfera għadha żgħira wisq biex, li kieku kellna ningħaqdu lkoll fuq dan il-każ, ninstemgħu.

Nitolbok iżżomna aġġornati, anka jekk ma tikxifx l-identita' ta' dan il-blogger. 

6:22 PM, June 17, 2005
Anonymous John Camilleri said...

These litigations have enormous effects on those who make use of the "infrastructural services" the internet is i.e. usenet, IRC, Typepad. This is much more than company x going after some classless looser on Typepad. This is about what conglomerates find to be permissable/non-detrimental on IPv4's backbones i.e. FCC/MCA/Broadcast TV In other words, "IP natural rights" that are so dear to us (Technogeeks) are being stifled before our own eyes. 

2:15 AM, June 18, 2005
Blogger Jacques René Zammit said...

Action is needed. I agree with Immanuel. Toni you might have missed the debate going on about rights of bloggers on other Maltese blogs (wwwitchie for one and mine too). The Beppe Grillo and Freedom Now sites (the links on my blog ... too lazy to paste this morning :) ). I answered a few of wwwitchie's questions about rights in Malta on her blog but it is still hazy.

One thing is for sure, I believe that pressing for new legislation would be ridiculouos. Ensuring that current legislation (constitution, press law and maybe ERA) are rightly applied would be a better way to go.

Could someone design a banner and slogan for bloggers to indicate unity in expression and solidarity when harassed? A Maltese slogan on a banner to be carried on all supporting blogs would be interesting (linked to a site containing a bloggers manifesto) 

2:01 PM, June 18, 2005
Blogger alex said...

my innocence knows no bounds... and now not even my paranoia !!!

"We even have one Maltese blogger (indirectly) begging not to be employed after going through the ordeal of applying for a job. (I know you really don't care, Alex!)"

EH??? Of course I care about getting the job!!!! 

11:20 PM, June 18, 2005

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