Al-Jazeera Channel Wins Anti-Censorship Award
Topic started by AlJazeera Viewer (@ cache2-2.jed.isu.net.sa) on Sat Mar 29 06:37:13 .
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Al-Jazeera wins anti-censorship award
Ciar Byrne - Thursday March 27, 2003
Al-Jazeera: 'A reputation for credible news among Arab viewers' www.aljazeera.net
Al-Jazeera, the Arab TV satellite channel whose war coverage has angered the US, has been awarded a prestigious prize for upholding freedom of expression.
The Qatar-based channel won the award for the best circumvention of censorship at Index on Censorship's third annual Freedom of Expression Awards last night.
The judges, including the former Channel 4 news presenter Sheena McDonald and the Daily Mail's veteran foreign reporter Ann Leslie, said: "Al-Jazeera's apparent independence in a region where much of the media is state run has transformed it into the most popular station in the Middle East."
"Its willingness to give opposition groups a high-profile platform has left it with a reputation for credible news among Arab viewers. But that same quality has enraged Arab governments and the US - which have sought to have the station more closely controlled."
The executive director of al-Jazeera's London bureau, Muftah Al Suwaidan, said the station was "proud" to receive the award from "such a prestigious organisation, which has as its core concern the well being and the development of our profession, and the maintenance of professional integrity".
"Since its inception, al-Jazeera has been at the forefront of the struggle to maintain free, independent and balanced reporting," said Mr Al Suwaidan. "Different people have different views but the common denominator should always remain to be the right of people to know and the freedom of all to express themselves."
Al-Jazeera caused a furore when it broadcast shocking images of Iraqi and American victims of the conflict, including pictures of captured US soldiers and of the head of a child, aged about 12, that had been split apart, reportedly in the US-led assault on Basra in southern Iraq.
However, subscriptions to the Arabic language channel in Europe have doubled since the war began, indicating there is considerable demand for an alternative to western news channels.
BBC correspondent Fergal Keane was the recipient of an award for outstanding commitment to journalistic integrity for his work in Zimbabwe and in Africa in general.
Speaking via a video-link from the Iraqi border, Keane said: "I want you to know how happy I am to receive this award".
He quoted a line from Northern Irish poet Michael Longley, who wrote: "Who was it who said that the opposite of war is not so much peace as civilisation?"
Jonathan Moyo, the Zimbabwean minister of information, was presented with the golden raspberry award for services to censorship.
Accepting the award on Mr Moyo's behalf, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell described him as "the Dr Goebbels of Zimbabwe politics".
- From: TamilNadu Interest Group (@ pcp02515613pcs.arlngt01.va.comcast.net)
on: Sat Mar 29 12:28:14
But, do you think Al-jazeera provides fair and balanced news ? I don't think so.
- From: Viewer (@ cache2-2.jed.isu.net.sa)
on: Sat Mar 29 14:28:05
POSTED AT 2:06 AM EDT Saturday, March 29
Pentagon downed Web site, Al-Jazeera editor says
By GRAEME SMITH
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
For journalists inside the Al-Jazeera newsroom in Doha, Qatar, it was obvious who attacked their Web site this week.
The Arabic-language television network had just launched its English site and was publishing the first pictures of Iraq's prisoners of war on Tuesday when a barrage of junk messages crippled the site.
The attacks continued all week. One enterprising hacker even used fake Al-Jazeera letterhead to fool an Internet company into letting him redirect visitors away from Al-Jazeera to other locations such as porn sites and a page that displayed an American flag with the message: "God bless our troops!"
"One measure of the importance of those American PoW pictures and the images of the dead British soldiers is surely the sustained 'shock-and-awe' hacking campaign directed at aljazeera.net since the start of the war," Faisal Bodi, a senior editor for aljazeera.net, wrote in The Guardian newspaper yesterday. "As I write, the Al-Jazeera Web site has been down for three days and few here doubt that the provenance of the attack is the Pentagon."
But the idea that the U.S. military masterminded the hacker onslaught was treated with extreme skepticism on Internet message boards and among technical security experts yesterday.
Most observed that the attacks looked like the work of "script kiddies" — neophyte hackers using readily available software tools.
"These people are immature, inexperienced and naive," wrote one contributor to slashdot.org, a popular site that calls itself "news for nerds."
Al-Jazeera's biggest problems this week were caused by what are called "distributed denial of service" attacks. These flooded the site with up to 300 megabits (Mbps) of data per second, up from normal levels of 50 to 60 Mbps.
Traffic of that magnitude can be achieved by almost anyone with a few weeks of computer training, said Johannes Ullrich, chief technology officer at the Systems Administration Networking and Security Institute in Boston.
"It doesn't take the Pentagon to generate 300 Mbps," Mr. Ullrich said.
A hacker typically sets up such attacks by tricking other computers into downloading a piece of software, or exploiting security holes to install the script on other people's computers. The software monitors an Internet chat group, or IRC channel, from which the hacker can command all the infected computers — a so-called "bot network" — to harass a Web site until it collapses.
"This could be one person in his dorm room with a small bot network," said an Internet security expert who spoke on condition of anonymity. "That's not to say it's not the Pentagon, but the scale isn't in the same league as what you'd see in a military attack."
Other Web sites face the same sort of annoyance every day, Mr. Ullrich said.
"I would expect that it's some script kiddies. They can do these things for the stupidest of reasons."
Although one hacker did declare the intention behind his attack with a Web page full of pro-American vitriol, Mr. Ullrich said there's no reason to assume the perpetrators were making a political statement. Sometimes they target sites for sport, he said, or wage battles against each other, known as "jousts," that accidentally shut down parts of the Internet.
On rare occasions, Mr. Ullrich said, intelligence agencies have been known to supply young hackers with software and encourage them to hit certain targets.
While that doesn't appear to have happened in this case, he said, the complexity of the Internet means that investigators rarely find the true culprit.
"It's always hard to tell exactly what's going on."
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