Skip to main content

tv   Inside Story 2017 Ep 261  Al Jazeera  September 19, 2017 8:32pm-9:00pm AST

8:32 pm
that's what the united nations is for let's see how they do. travel so took a swipe at iran calling it an economically depleted rogue state. is violence he hinted at pulling out of the iran nuclear deal. mammals leader aung san suu kyi has attempted to rebut criticism over her country's treatment of muslims she says rights violators will be held to account but refused to blame it on me. syrian government airstrikes have hit three hospitals in a province activists say they were struck within an hour of each other the strikes also targeted a medical center and premises used by rescue services in rebel held it led civilians and emergency workers were killed syrian military sources denied targeting hospitals saying only rebel convoys of the stations have been hit. tensions are rising on the periphery of iraq's kurdish region ahead of a vote on kurdish independence on september twenty fifth the town of. provinces
8:33 pm
where kurdish control ends and iraqi control. kurdish peshmerga and shia power military groups have. raw concerns that tensions there might lead to more violence . and those latest headlines here on al-jazeera more from me in twenty five minutes next though it's inside story. censoring social media saudi arabia or to snap chat to ban edges either should social media companies bow down to any country's political agenda and who decides where to draw the line between freedom of expression and silencing the media this
8:34 pm
is inside story. we're . we're with all. hello welcome to the program has them seek a snap chat is blocking al-jazeera content in saudi arabia more than seven million saudis use snapchat every day it is one of the most popular markets for the social media platform in the middle east now the company says it's blocked the discovery channel that's after a request from the saudi government on the ground zero violates local cybercrime rules the al-jazeera t.v. channel as well as its news web site also blocked in saudi arabia and the united arab emirates in response to criticism of censorship snap incorporated responded by saying we make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we
8:35 pm
operate as a snap chat content was as popular in saudi arabia as sky news arabia and a lot of am i just that has condemned the band as an affront to free speech. unprecedented i mean. other countries such as china have tried with google and google you know what we're going to stand by the freedom expression and we're out of here they're the ones who have invited us to be one of the scusa parness news publishers for the region because they understand the audience we bring into into the mix and with this move there definitely now are not allowing our audience on snapchat to be able to see our content let's bring in our panel now from london we have three who is a lecturer a senior lecturer in the department of informatics at king's college london from copenhagen trenberth she is the co-founder of data ethics dot edu and with me in the studio is mohammed el masri who is the chairman of the
8:36 pm
journalism program at the da institute for graduate studies welcome all of you so the chance us to remember let me start with you many people would not be surprised that saudi arabia is doing this but they might be surprised at snap chats role in all of this what kind of precedent is this setting and are they now a party to censorship. so so that there's been several different cases. different companies have been asked to comply with these different laws and this is part of the problem of being a global multinational social media company is that you have already and in usa in europe in the arab region cross asia australia everywhere a lot around the world and so you need to comply with local laws. in this instance it appears that saudi arabia has asked snap chat to block
8:37 pm
a particular certainly this case al-jazeera channel and then as your presenter previously said there's two choices that the company can make one is it can say no out of europe because this is not something that want i. to be party to it can say i still want to be part of this geography equation and therefore i'm willing to make whatever requests the government of region makes up me and say this case it appears that snapchat has decided that it's going to block. channel and one thing which is which it probably. should make a distinction about is where exactly it's blocking is either if it is within just the attribution or if it's just within saudi arabia then the government of saudi arabia has a legal jurisdiction over it and therefore perhaps it does have a right to ask stepped up to do so but it wouldn't probably be able to say snap
8:38 pm
chat please block all disease from usa or europe or elsewhere in the arab region even let's say egypt or or qatar so it's entirely possible that. the users in the larger that a vision. still being able to receive snap chat but just within saudi arabia there does appear to be a block on that. what's your what's your view on this i mean is a private company and they made a calculation and here what does this tell us about the saudi public's right to know. well of course it is it's a violation of their freedom of speech and that's what snapchat is part of but i'm not surprised about it and that's what we have to think about because snapchat is not. it's not. a non-governmental organization fighting for our rights to
8:39 pm
freedom of expression it's a it's pure business it's a commercial company and if they want to do business in saudi arabia the of course listen to the government and don't want to be closed down so i the problem is that as citizens we often look at snapped at facebook and all these wonderful platforms as if they're fighting for our rights to democracy but they are not their businesses and they make hard business calculations and that's obviously what snapchat is doing you can't even say it's kind of violating freedom of freedom of speech because that's what saudi arabia is doing a private company can really violate what is only as in snapshot a party to that's dying or being true what the saudi government wanted yes they are but i wouldn't expect of snapchat to fight for our rights to freedom of speech i would never expect that from snapped out of facebook by anybody on any private company like that all right mohamed musri should should media companies comply with
8:40 pm
the individual governments or should they be complying with global censorship standards and if they don't is that going to hurt their brand name as a as a business right when when i saw the story i thought about all the other cases that have arisen over the past several years and i also thought about all of the extensive literature new kind of the academic literature about the internet and about new media and about social media and how they're supposed to be this kind of liberating power associated with these new platforms but what we end up having at the end of the day at least in many cases is that power ultimately. ends up in the hands of in the hands of the governments now the companies. as the other guests of have said have a very sort of difficult decision to make they can either decide to say well no we're not going to compromise on our principles of freedom of expression and we're going to leave this market or they can decide to play ball in which case people will say well you know you're sort of you know compromising your standards and so
8:41 pm
on and so forth but at the end of the day we have to remember that these are these institutions are not fundamentally moral institutions or ethical institutions they are businesses they are profit making enterprise is so what matters at the end of the day is the bottom line and these companies don't want to lose access to massive markets we've seen it with other companies we've seen in just this past year with apple and amazon in the chinese market compromising right to you know for the chinese government and we see it here with with snap chat they don't want to lose access to many millions of users in saudi arabia and possibly possibly beyond in the u.a.e. or egypt or elsewhere we'll talk about some of what you just said in a moment but we'll also want to talk about the way some of these laws have been directed at individuals because it is illegal to express sympathy for qatar online in several gulf countries in the united arab emirates it can mean up to fifteen
8:42 pm
years in prison and a one hundred thirty six thousand dollar fine behind has a similar law and a potential five year sentence along with saudi arabia both bahrain and the u.a.e. block the qatari sports channel b. in in june the u.a.e. lifted its ban in mid july but the channel remains blacked out in bahrain and saudi so mohammed if i could turn back to you then what does this move say about the power of the media and particularly social media in this region. i think it's a number of things i think on the one hand you see that social media sites like snap chat like facebook instagram and others have an inherent power to the extent that governments. to you know one extent or another fear them in this case you have saudi arabia clearly worried about their citizen citizenry resorting to the facebook or i'm sorry the snap chat channel al-jazeera snap chat channel so there
8:43 pm
is that recognition that these sites have a type of liberating power governments particularly in this region in the arab region are not necessarily fans of people being able to transcend these pre-defined limits and bounds that exist on freedom of expression the saudi arabian government is quite used to journalists and news organizations toeing the government line they don't necessarily tolerate deviations and they want to make sure that there is a singular narrative snapshot poses a problem other sites pose a problem for governments like saudi arabia ok we're going to broaden this out now and talk about some of the some of the previous presidents to this social media sites and frequently face pressure from governments to restrict potentially controversial or sensitive content and facebook refused an egyptian government request to block pages on the arab spring revolution six years ago facebook complied with
8:44 pm
a similar request in pakistan the telecoms authority there says facebook has removed eighty five percent of what is considered to be blasphemous content the chinese government has completely blocked facebook since two thousand and nine despite found the bugs efforts to change the minds of china's leaders and twitter has bowed to government requests by geo blocking specific uses depending on where they live russian users can't access the page of the political right sector because the kremlin says it promotes fascism and google along. with its subsidiary you tube also receive censorship requests from governments most are from russia so. let me turn back to you then what responsibility do these companies have i mean you talked all the earlier there about their bottom lines and all the rest of it but doesn't this come with a responsibility to uphold free speech as well well of course they have a responsibility but we have to i think the big problem is that we have given them
8:45 pm
too much power social media social media commercial entities but for example traditional media like al-jazeera or the guardian or these traditional media companies they are using social media as distribution and that's where the problem is because traditional media will fight this traditional me they will do everything for the freedom of speech where as a commercial media social media they they will do everything for likes and shares and money and that's fair enough but of course they do have responsibilities but they don't want to pay for it look at what is happening at facebook i mean all this really horrible stuff coming out of that social media as well do they have to stop that are not i don't they don't want to pay for that it would be very very expensive for them to do kwanten moderation in the same way as
8:46 pm
a responsible ethical traditional media company is doing today. mission suster you were saying earlier that snapchat is is is trying to comply with the laws. of saudi arabia and perhaps in that sense they didn't do anything in wrong here and that people are still free to access. in other ways but i guess my question is more about the fact that snap chat has gone along with this. policy and the kind of questions it throws up about. how how reliable they are as. a broadcaster of free speach. yes so so so i ultimately the power is actually as the previous person said. they are all businesses but ultimately the governments do put pressure
8:47 pm
in various different ways all parties who have a stake in it will put pressure in various different ways but ultimately the power is still best in some senses with the people because what does care about it cares about the people it gets the vote it's users it cares about making sure that it has as large a share as it does now and that its share of users keeps growing now if the it's what it says i think as a commentary about the added vision as a whole is kind of the balance of power between the government and the people and also the extant to which people care about things like free speech now if somebody tried doing this say in the western europe or in the usa there might probably be a larger outcry about freedom of expression being violated and so forth the fact that this is not happening it is happening but the fact that it's not happening to the extent that it might have happened in the western world probably says something about what the arab people care about are rather the position that they're in right
8:48 pm
now visa v the government and their freedoms of expression and the way i view it is that it's not checked facebook and others are our core hard businesses but they are just platforms on which users can express themselves and the question is whether the governments allow them to express and the question is whether the users that asserting themselves and their rights and their needs to express that that is something that's a larger issue than platforms i think. there are ways to get around this on their i mean if your if your sat if you're tech savvy enough there are things like v p n's and on all the rest of it too to get access the content that you want. yeah i mean there are but as you said you have to be particularly tech savvy and i think that if we look at other cases what ends up happening is that people that were using snapchat or accessing al-jazeera they'll find another way you know to to get around
8:49 pm
the restriction and to access. content one way one way or another but looking at it from another perspective in some ways you could say that the government has already won in this case that the saudi arabian government because they're forcing people to sort of exert extra effort to access information that arguably should be at their fingertips you know regardless of what the government what the government thinks. in the end is this is this kind of policy does it end up being counterproductive both for governments and for private companies won't people find always find a way. to get the content that they want yes they will but it will be the minority the met the masses the majority will be restricted just like in china there are lots of chinese who but it's a minority of chinese who would get access to western media for example so they will have success i believe the countries in restricting the masses but there are
8:50 pm
ways around and that's what we could work for than is helping them to use until governments would block that. emission you were shaking your head a little bit oh you don't believe that there are there are ways there are enough ways for people to get around this. oh there are ways i mean as a technical person i can tell you that are hundreds of different ways in which you know people can get around it but what it does is it did during the digital divide it by a. different more free. way of expression for people who can find is based on for people who can create we peons for people who know that the opposite is not the only channel maybe there are other different channels maybe . the al-jazeera itself can create a completely different channel and there are numerous stories for instance of dissidents in china using homan him to get out on the fact that some of the
8:51 pm
governmental programs firewall programs are looking for certain dangerous words of the look for a home and they use those words but not in the way not with the spellings that the government would expect them so there are different ways in which people can get around it but the point is it's it needs us to be clever creative on and we are expecting us and we're using our creativity towards getting our own destruction star than in finding solutions to the problem and then expressing ourselves and that that i think is much more the heart of thing that we should be because it shouldn't be that we're creating this very nice social a new media infrastructure and that it's excluding a large proportion of the population who also have things that they want to talk about things that they care about things that are important for the rest of the society and instead it only enabling people by that are able to get around
8:52 pm
these distractions and that that's what he. had what about the digital divide and the fact is he kind of separating people into the ones who are able to to to navigate and all of these attempts by the government or whoever to block sites but there are you know the vast public who who aren't as. to this you know what does it mean for them. right well i mean i think the professor is absolutely right i mean there's a ton of evidence for the digital divide not only in countries like saudi arabia or countries in the arab region but even in the united states and western europe and other societies and it's a big problem. because it you know it sort of you know gets right to the core of what these modern societies are about which is you know quality gal terrorism and so on and so forth but yet you have this this massive gap between the technological haves and the technological have nots or the people who are tech savvy and who can
8:53 pm
get around government governor strict restrictions and those who can't so what ends up happening is that you have this massive difference in information and knowledge and that affects how people make their decisions in democratic societies but also in non-democratic societies. are we seeing a kind of clash of narratives here in terms of the control of information and social media is just the case the social media companies are getting caught up in this particularly in the middle east no i think i think it's a it's a problem all over the concern in the digital divide we were just talking about is really really interesting because it's not only a question of getting around government restrictions it's also a question of getting around it cannot make and political manipulation for example just in the western world it's you get totally different prices if you note these different tools like. so if you are tech savvy you can get so many more advantages
8:54 pm
than if you're not take seventy so the problem is all over also in the in the western world so. ultimately whose job is it to decide what what is acceptable and what is not here. so. ultimately no one is going to help us as people we need to help ourselves and i think you know we should stand up for what we believe in and if we believe that freedom of expression is something that we should fight for and so in some subsidies that is a much bigger issue that is a much bigger plank on which people talk about which reelections are for one main some other societies there are other things which are of interest maybe traditional way of life it may be following a certain religion it might be other things and we have to decide what is of importance to us and then make our world for ourselves and in skin this case we're
8:55 pm
talking about an issue of whether or not people are able to express themselves and whether or not other media companies are able to use social media platform to express themselves and if i said and done meant to say that it can't express that that is not something that's allowed then it is in some sense expressing a will of the people now i know that saudi arabia is not a democracy so it's not exposing that only the will of its people in that sense but in the larger modern society that's kind of howard's supposed to work in theory at least and if it does not work then you know if it's an issue that's very far worse than we should take to the streets and it's happened widely happen even of that world with the arab spring revolution and so forth so it's not something that people care about then it's something that will happen i think in that sense i'm an optimist. mohamed if i know this is
8:56 pm
a little hypothetical perhaps but if snapshot had said no to this request from saudi arabia. authorities would likely still have found a way to block you wouldn't they and if that's the case then then why did why did snatch and agree to. well look like i said earlier it's kind of they're kind of between a rock and a hard place if they would have said no then saudi arabia would have blocked snapshot all of snapchat not just the al-jazeera channel but the all of snapchat in saudi arabia so there's the risk of losing quite a lot of business right and then there's you know we understand that this is part of the blockade against against qatada so there's the risk of also losing business potentially in the u.a.e. and egypt and bahrain and possibly possibly elsewhere so you know for me i think this underscores that this blockade against qatada has very little probably nothing to do with terrorism or fighting terrorism it's really about information and ideas
8:57 pm
just briefly where do you think this fits into the whole g.c.c. crisis at the moment this is just another kind of layer and yeah i think it's more evidence that saudi arabia the u.a.e. behind in egypt are opposed to cut out and are opposed to al-jazeera for ideological reasons because of ideas because of independent foreign policy right because of al-jazeera is independent coverage sometimes critical coverage of these artists autocratic governments and has nothing to do with the blockade has nothing to do with terrorism or fighting terrorism all right we're going to have to leave it there and thank you to all three of you muhammad musri here in doha nish ancestry in london and piniella tran back in copenhagen thanks very much for being on inside story and thank you as always for watching remember you can see this program again any time just go to our website at www dot com and for further discussion you can go to our facebook page that's facebook dot com forward slash a.j. inside story you can also join the conversation on twitter handle there is at a.j.
8:58 pm
inside story for me has a peek at the whole team here by phone. i just want to make sure all of our audience is on the same page where they're online more to pollute to us citizens here you know and what puts people of iraq going one and the same or if you join us on saturday i will never put a file been looked at differently because i'm dacogen all the people that i'm a watch this is a dialogue tweet us with hostile a.j.
8:59 pm
stream and one of their pitches might make a connection join the global conversation at this time on al-jazeera but i was once a place of refuge now it's chiefs have become a battleground. a local armed group that has pledged allegiance to ice so as to get control of a hospital a city jail and several communities such behavior in a largely moderate country has shocked many here thousands of civilians have been trying to leave their either stuck in their cars or have been walking for kilometers all they know is that they have to leave malawi city a place that they used to call home now gripped by terror. germany is but a variant alps where stunning scenery is playing host to europe's latest arrivals. separate in origin. share
9:00 pm
a common roof and together dream of a german future. welcome to germany cafe volved a witness documentary at this time on al-jazeera. we understand the differences. and the similarities of cultures across the world so no matter how you take it al-jazeera will bring you the news and current events that matter to.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on