Through Econstudentlog I became aware that one of the best Egyptian blogs is closing. The angry sandmonkey has stopped blogging for a variety of reasons, but I suspect that the most important is fear for his own security – a fear that unfortunately is entirely warranted.
One of the chief reasons is the fact that there has been too much heat around me lately. I no longer believe that my anonymity is kept, especially with State Secuirty agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me since that day. I ignore that, the same way I ignored all the clicking noises that my phones started to exhibit all of a sudden, or the law suit filed by Judge Mourad on my friends, and instead grew bolder and more reckless at a time where everybody else started being more cautious. It took me a while to take note of the fear that has been gripping our little blogsphere and comprehend what it really means. The prospects for improvment, to put it slightly, look pretty grim. I was the model of caution, and believing in my invincipility by managing not to get arrested for the past 2 and a half years, I’ve grown reckless. Stupid Monkey. Stupid!
I’ve been thinking a lot about these things for the last year or so. I’m afraid that our initial optimism regarding blogs’ ability to change the world was entirely unfounded. States and regimes can and will stop blogs and anything else on the internet should they choose to do so. At least they can make the stakes so high for everyone involved that most people will prefer just to keep their blog shut. It is only a matter of taking the descision and applying the necessary means. Any page can be blocked, and everyone can be found – in the end. We might think that we are blogging anonymously, but in reality we are leaving behind us a very obvious electronic ‘bit trail’ which will not only make us easy to find, but also will make our writings available for everyone for all eternity.
The web – unfortunately – only gives us the freedom that the state decides to give us. Or more correctly, the freedom that we are willing to fight for. The ‘free net’ that we in the Western world take for granted is a result of our traditions and institutions for freedom of speech and rights of privacy. This can very quickly change. Let’s try to keep it the way it is – or let’s make it even more free.
Salutes to The Sandmonkey. I understand you perfectly. You’ve done a great job in the past two or three years, and you should not feel ashamed for making your own security the most important priority.
Update, May 12th: The news finally reached Danish MSM.