ME and Ophelia

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

American airline attendant is fighting for her job

Today, a friend emailed me news of a blogger grounded by her airline, along with this one line message:

"Blogging is politically dangerous and will soon be 'controlled' by those whose power might be eroded by blogging."

I agree. It's starting to look like freedom of speech is being eroded. It doesn't seem possible that a company can stop an employee from keeping a pen-paper diary and then leaving it open for all to see. A weblog is the same as a paper journal, except it is electronic. What if employees transmitted their diary pages via fax to thousands of people, or used a mobile phone to text messages of their thoughts? What difference does it make if one uses a fax, phone, CB radio or weblog? I don't get how companies can dictate what one should or should not write in personal journals - or even say whether they think you should maintain one or not.

As for the airline attendant, I hope she does not lose her job. Now the airline has given itself bad publicity by suspending her for keeping a journal. People, at their places of work, take photos of colleagues and pin them on walls for all to see, so what is the big deal if the photos are posted to an electronic journal? Seems to me there's no such thing as personal privacy so I don't see how companies can claim to have privacy on things that don't involve libel law, espionage, sabotage etc.

Obviously, companies require personnel to work in its best interests and not hurt its standing or disclose information to competitors - most people know that, some even sign non-disclosure agreements. Maybe that's what will happen, employees will have to sign something. But I still don't see how one can stop people maintaining journals under pseudo names.

If a company has things to hide, people can easily whistleblow to the media or leak stuff on Internet. Maybe the best way for a company to avoid adverse publicity, is to conduct business ethically and treat everyone fairly and respectfully, so the company has a good chance of receiving the same in return. With nothing to hide, any publicity is great publicity.

What are companies afraid of? Power to the people, that's what. Companies fear losing the upper hand. The tide is turning for the people. The technology is here and if it is cut, people will find ways to keep going and go undercover, underground.

Note my previous post here below. Imagaine how easily we surfers and bloggers can be blocked. Bloggers in China experience blocking by their government. Iran is trying to do the same (see Tehran Watch here in my sidebar).

The Internet was given to us, the people. Our top man Sir Tim Berners-Lee said so. He gave up a personal fortune so that nobody "owned" the Internet. It could have been his. But it's not. It's nobody's. It's ours. There must be something we can do to protect ourselves. Maybe we need to start exchaning phone numbers and addresses with our blogmates. If something big ever came up, we'd all be totally cut off. Like the lights going out. The plug pulled. I'll keep an eye out for news on the topic of blocking and publish whatever I find, here. Hope others will take notice when see news of blocking or censorship.
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More on this topic in the archives of Jim O'Connell and Joi Ito's Web in Tokyo, Japan.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 10/27/2004
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