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World governments rachet up internet controls, censorship increases markedly

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The Internet is a vast swirling mass of images and words, stirred by ineluctable forces that even electronic masters cannot tame.

And yet efforts continue in the US, Russia, China, from north to south, continent to continent to install electronic muzzles on all voices. Success of this effort is still in doubt, but if it succeeds the results should not be doubted in the least. Men and women, old and young must speak their minds. This tendency varies from person to person, encouraged or suppressed depending on the culture. In the long run we opine that most governments would like to allow only what they believe is in their best interests, thus ruling out freedom of speech in most of its purest forms.

We would not care to take bets on how far or fast censorship efforts will progress, however we remind the reader that all significant business and commerce requires use of the WWW, and therefore shutting it down or even throttling it significantly will also damage business in all but its most primitive forms.

Surveillance and sifting for “forbidden” content is already a fact however, and the reader should be aware that EVERYTHING he/she writes or posts on the web will soon (if not already) be scooped up into a vast and complex repository. Software can already identify human fingerprints from a distance, imitate human speech, translate (in many languages) human speech to written text, and scan for key phrases in the fast flowing stream of international data.

As translation and screening algorithms improve, content will be segregated for closer inspection with more and more sophisticated precision. As this level is reached and refined, individual freedom must of necessity decrease because in an age where so much is controlled by electronic integration, it will not be long before writing something snide about your nation's ruling class will get your water turned off and driving privileges revoked – and all of that by a machine – look Ma, no hands.

Perhaps we should lean on our plows for just a moment and enjoy the good old days while we can. We, the future serfs, should at least get to enjoy the illusion of freedom as the noose is tightened.

 internet blackouts



The principle of internet censorship is not a new one to the Russian authorities. For five years, regional prosecutors have been busy implementing regional court decisions requiring providers to block access to banned sites. To date this has not been done systematically: Sites blocked in one region remained accessible in others. The Register removes this problem.

The new system is modeled on the one that is used to block extremist and terrorist bank accounts. The Roskomnadzor (the Agency for the Supervision of Information Technology, Communications and Mass Media) gathers not only court decisions to outlaw sites or pages, but also data submitted by three government agencies: the Interior Ministry, the Federal Antidrug Agency and the Federal Service for the Supervision of Consumer Rights and Public Welfare. The Agency is in charge of compiling and updating the Register, and also of instructing the host providers to remove the URLs. If no action by the provider follows, the internet service providers (ISPs) should block access to the site in 24 hours. The host providers must also ensure they are not in breach of current law by checking their content against the database of outlawed sites and URLs published in a special password-protected online version of the Register open only to webhosters and ISPs.


The United nations, a champion of freedom?

“Some proposals could allow governments to justify the censorship of legitimate speech, or even cut off Internet access in their countries,” he said.

More than 1,200 organizations have voiced opposition to any new regulations that could threaten the openness of the Internet, according to the Protect Global Internet Freedom initiative.

Despite speculation that some governments are aiming to place controversial measures in the new treaty, and that the measures will affect nearly every Internet user on the planet, the U.N. has stressed that there will be no such thing.



According to the decree issued by the ministry, Internet cafes cannot be located within 500 meters of a school or allow their clients to gamble, porn surf, visit websites selling drugs or commit crimes that threaten national security or “traditions”. The Minister of Telecommunications also stated that “students can learn new technology as long as [it] is legal”.

“The lack of definition of the notions of “entertaining website”, “game” or “traditions”, leaves a wide interpretation of the decision if applied. This is a step towards a tighter control of the Net in Cambodia”, said Christophe Deloire, RSF’s Secretary-General and Pa Nguon Teang, CCIM’s Director. “It is a decree, meaning that there is a will to impose a decision to Cambodian citizens on their use of the Internet. We have seen this happening in neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Burma and are very concerned about Cambodia ignoring its international human rights obligations.



PRC (Red China)

The key to their control is the fact that unlike many other countries, China is only connected to the outside internet through three links (or choke points as Fallows calls them) — one via Japan in the Beijing-Tianjin-Qingdao area, one also via Japan in Shanghai and one in Guangzhou via Hong Kong. At each one of these choke points there is something called a “tapper” which copies each website request and incoming web page and sends it to a surveillance computer for checking. This means that browsing non-local websites in China can sometimes be frustratingly slow.

There are four ways for a surveillance computer to block your request.

Last modified on Sunday, 23 December 2012 01:12

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