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Amnesty International teams up with an adblocker to serve its ads on publisher sites

Activists Edward Snowden, Pussy Riot and Ai Weiwei star in a new Amnesty International campaign protesting censorship which is being served up online via an adblocking service.

SnowdenThe messages, from the globally recognised political activists, were broadcast across the internet on the World Day Against Cyber Censorship, March 12.

Throughout the day AdBlock’s 50m users were served the messages from Amnesty International, where ads would usually appear on publisher sites. New Zealand-based Colenso BBDO is behind the campaign.

The messages contained clickthroughs to content from people who governments have tried to silence.

“Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded,” said Edward Snowden, who exposed the extent of the US government’s global surveillance, in one of the messages.

“Without freedom of speech there is no modern world, just a barbaric one,” said Ai Weiwei, a Chinese Contemporary artist and activist, in his message.

Ai Wei“Authorities don’t just use handcuffs and arrests, but also media attacks,” said Pussy Riot, the Russian band and activist group.

pussy riotAmnesty International argues governments around the world are avidly seeking the power to control ever greater aspects of online communication.

In the last year, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland and Switzerland have sought to introduce new intelligence law to increase their ability to spy on communications in these countries. China and Kuwait passed laws criminalising or restricting certain online expression.

Speaking at South by South West on the weekend, Ben Williams, head of operations for Adblock Plus said they wanted to make the tech “less like a baseball bat and more like a scalpel”.

“Adblocking is probably never going to reach saturation point – it’s probably not going to get above 26-28%,” he added. “With the rest of them ave as much fun as you want.”

Nic Christensen

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