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Online Press Censorship Worldwide Triggers Alarms

Blogging has taken off in China in recent years; it is estimated there are now tens of millions of Chinese bloggers

May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day. In recent years, the Internet has increasingly become the new battleground for press freedom. Repressive governments around the world are cracking down on bloggers and other online journalists who are breaking the bonds of censorship.

The revolutionary power of online journalism was clear in Iran last year.

Using Twitter, Iranian bloggers organized protests against the outcome of the presidential election.

Cell phone videos of the security crackdown were "Youtubed" around the world.

Iranian blogger Omid Memarian spoke in Washington about the election violence.

"If it was not for the Internet, God knows how many more people would have been killed on the streets of Tehran and other cities," said Omid Memarian.

A blogger's video posts of police brutality in Egypt caused an international uproar several years ago.

He has been sentenced to jail for his writings.

Similar posts are being met with a fierce response in many places.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says more online journalists are now in jail around the world than traditional journalists.

Deputy Director Robert Mahoney says in the past journalists could count on news organizations for protection.

"Now more and more of these bloggers are independent, freelancers even, they have no backing," said Robert Mahoney. "They are on their own when they're up against these huge oppressive government bureaucracies."

Blogging has taken off in China in recent years. It's estimated there are now tens of millions of Chinese bloggers.

But China's government has a "Great Firewall," filtering access to the World Wide Web.

Tienchi Martin-Liao of the Independent Chinese PEN Center says the firewall uses advanced technology developed in America.

She says American technology companies should follow Google's lead and stop cooperating with China.

"Do they want do the evil and make their business, or do they also want to make their contribution to try to help this country out of this dilemma, out of this controlling system," said Tienchi Martin-Liao.

Until now, tech-savvy bloggers and web reporters have been a step ahead of the censors. But press freedom advocates say repressive governments are becoming increasingly sophisticated.