My novel, The Accidental Activist, illustrates the empowerment of the Internet in the face of great power. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Though the two individuals who stood up to McDonald’s in England (the real story that The Accidental Activist is based on) were able to use the Internet to defend themselves, it can be a double edged sword.
Shi Tao, a journalist in China discovered that and is still paying the price. Here is his story in 30 seconds.
In 2004, he sent details of government plans to restrict the activities commemorating the 15th anniversary of the pro-democracy rally in Tienanmen Square. Apparently he sent the information through his Yahoo email account, and Yahoo gave the information to the Chinese security forces. Shi Tao is now in prison for 10 years.
In 2007 he received the Golden Pen of Freedom award by the World Association of Newspapers. Tao’s family is apparently suing Yahoo and they are not the first. While I wish to condemn Yahoo, we do need to focus our attention on China and freeing Shi Tao.
Suggestions of how to help can be found at Shi Tao’s Amnesty International page.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com