Stratfor CEO’s ‘censorship’ rhetoric all wrong

His company was victimized by criminals, not censors

No one who works for Stratfor has been arrested, jailed or executed. Nor have they been censored.

Yet here's what Stratfor CEO George Friedman says in a YouTube video posted Tuesday in conjunction with the company's relaunch of its website following a series of December hacker attacks that compromised personal information, including unencrypted credit card numbers, of thousands of the private intelligence company's subscribers:

"We are now in a world in which anonymous judges, jurors and executioners can silence whom they want. This is a new censorship that doesn't come openly from governments but from people hiding behind masks."

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Friedman has every right to complain about the attacks, but his rhetoric is all wrong. Call it hyperbole, if you prefer; I'm going with all wrong.

Stratfor and its customers were the victims of a crime, a serious one that I in no way intend to minimize. But we live in a world where political dissidents are literally arrested, jailed, and in some cases, executed.  

Censorship is a powerful word because powerful entities -- governments and their surrogates -- use censorship as a weapon to silence, intimidate and control those with little or no power. Incur the wrath of government censors in some parts of the world and you might wind up behind bars ... or dead.

Hackers are not censors.

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