CrowdVoice’s Esra’a Al Shafei: "All the ISPs are State Regulated, and We Have Nowhere To Go"

It started with an email from Esra’a Al Shafei, a 24-year-old female political activist living in Bahrain…

“Hi Paul, a few months ago you wrote an article about documenting violence through social media – whether it’s even appropriate to Twitpic/YouTube/Tweet etc live events as your primary reaction, instead of actually helping out.

In fact that article of yours inspired me to start a new project called CrowdVoice: Tracking voices of protest – I thought I’d tell you about it, to let you know what you’ve helped inspire.”

As attention-getting emails go, that one was a doozy. And in fact CrowdVoice is worthy of the attention: a site that aggregates images, videos and links from witnesses of oppression around the world: in the Middle East, but also as far afield as Uganda, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan and – uh – Oakland.

For obvious reasons Esra’a prefers not to show her face on camera, but has chosen to use her name – prompting interesting questions about anonymity on the web, as well as the reliability of anonymous political videos/content online, the role of technology in fighting oppression  and much more besides.

Sarah and I wanted to speak with Esra’a about those questions and more, so we connected with her via Skype for this week’s episode of Too Long; Didn’t Watch.