"Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so necessary to the constituting of human virtue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read."
Areopagitica, John Milton
Free speech, offshore
Just as many individuals and companies around the world avoid paying tax by using offshore tax havens, such as the Cayman Islands, Jersey, and Delaware (yes, we mean you, Google), so it has become necessary to have offshore havens for free speech. This necessity has arisen because many governments - not just those of China and Iran - are trying to suppress freedom of expression on the Internet using a combination of surveillance, intimidation, and legal actions.
In many cases, defamation and data protection laws are used perversely to suppress legitimate political stories that are clearly in the public interest. Even the threat of legal action is enough to cause many writers and bloggers to delete their content or, if they don't do it, the company that hosts their blogs will often issue a takedown notice when they receive the first email or letter from a solicitor.
Although there are genuine cases of defamation to be found, such cases are rare in the political sphere, where we are dealing with public servants and the story is in the public interest. Too often, public officals and politicians who are robustly and justly criticised or who want to suppress information about their malpractices becoming public will use or misuse laws intended for other purposes to silence their critics.
This tendency towards suppression of legitimate information leads to opacity in the political process along with self-censorship of journalists and ordinary citizens who should be free to speak their minds online, with anonymity and privacy if necessary. Such intimidation is pernicious to democracy, which requires that public officials and bodies behave transparently, can be freely and fairly criticised, and can be held to account for their actions.
In the same way that tax avoiders and evaders use secrecy jurisdictions to protect themselves from discovery, so it is necessary for believers in free speech to also use secrecy jurisdictions to host their web sites and blogs. In such jurisdictions, they are granted anonymity and protection from discovery, making it impossible for the authorities whom they criticise to suppress what they write.
This site was set up to be a 'speech haven' for bloggers who have been suppressed by their own government or powerful individuals in their community. The first blog we are happy to host is that of Stuart Syvret, a former politician on the island of Jersey who has been imprisoned twice for refusing to remove controversial material from his blog. You can read Stuart's blog and more about him using the links on the left. If you feel that you have a genuine reason for hosting your blog offshore, please email the administrator stating your reasons and we will either provide you with technical advice or offer to host it ourselves.