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Egypt accused of crowdsourcing censorship

Reports suggest that the country's National Telecommunications Registry Agency is asking ordinary citizens to find blasphemous material online. Is this revolutionary?

2 min read
The film has incited riots all over the Arab world. Russia Today/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The Web has made it hard to censor things.

Principally because it is both so open and so Byzantine that there are simply so many things out there for a budding censor to sink his opprobrium into.

I can remember when I lived in Singapore and my NFL VHS's -- mailed to me from Switzerland -- were pored over by men and women with extremely sharp eyes and ears that became highly attuned to the sound of John Madden saying "Boom!"

So imagine how much hard work the world's online censors are having to do.

Egypt has reportedly come up with an idea to solve this problem. It comes from our most modern thoughts and times. It is called crowdsourcing.

Indeed, Fast Company is reporting that the country's National Telecommunications Registry Agency is encouraging ordinary citizens to register any instances of blasphemy that they might encounter.

This is in conjunction with the outrage over the film "The Innocence of Muslims" and consists of simply indicating the URL of an allegedly blasphemous site, in order for officials to review it.

A few days ago, there were reports that the Egyptian government was trying to shut down YouTube over copies of this movie that were circulating on the site.

The odd thing about "The Innocence of Muslims" is that hardly anyone has actually seen it and everything that seems to surround it -- from its dubious director to the actors who claim they had no idea what the movie really was -- reeks of a very bad scene from "Wag The Dog."

Still, this is hardly the first time the principle of crowdsourcing government action has been witnessed.

Ordinary citizens have often been encouraged to participate in keeping their nations free of whatever their government deemed was deleterious.

The Web merely makes governments believe that more citizens will participate.