Unrest in cyberspace

There were two good articles about the Internet in The Independent yesterday. One about a United Nations summit in Tunisia, that concerns itself with the future of the Internet. A second article looks at how China regulates the Internet as a means to keep "cyber dissidents in check".

More specifically, the first - On the line: the internet's future - by Daniel Howden reports on how the "world's rich and powerful" are to battle it out "for control of what they see as a commercial goldmine". Apparently, the Bush administration wants Icann - an obscure American, non-profit corporation and quasi-independent body, which regulates domain names and allocated addresses - turned into a private corporation, on US soil and subject to US controls. However, much of the world is said to object to such a move and in particular countries like China, Iran and Cuba. To be honest, I have no idea what the British stance on the matter is, but if Blair has anything to do with it he'll probably be backing whatever the USA wants to do. Sounds to me as if the Internet is set to become an increasingly important facet of global conflict alongside oil, water and trade disputes, never mind ideological and religious indifference.

The second article - How the Great Firewall of China keeps cyber dissidents in check by David Eimer considers "China's internet filtering system, the most sophisticated and extensive in the world according to a recent report by Harvard Law School". According to the article, China's government employs upto 40,000 people to watch over its 100 million-plus Internet users. Of particular note is the belief that the main aim of Chinese government is to crackdown on blogs that are capable of spreading news that is not reported by official sources. To be honest I don't see a great deal of difference between China's censorship policy and that of employers averse to employees blogging about their working lives.

3 comments:

Ontario Emperor said...

"To be honest I don't see a great deal of difference between China's censorship policy and that of employers averse to employees blogging about their working lives."

You speak of the things that users write. Similarly, if you look at the things that users read, there isn't a great deal of difference between a firewall that suppresses information about democracy and a firewall that suppresses information about barely legal co-ed hijinks.

At least in a technical sense. Each of us has a set of values, and to my knowledge there are few people who advocate true 100% freedom of speech.

Spike said...

To be honest I don't see a great deal of difference between China's censorship policy and that of employers averse to employees blogging about their working lives.

If your employer doesn't like you blogging about work you can get a new job or learn better anonymity practices. If your country doesn't like your blog you have to leave the country to have a blog.

James said...

Most bloggers don't write anything that would be considered harmful to their employer's aims and objectives (with reference to "barely legal co-ed hijinks"), yet most bloggers fear being fired for thinking aloud, on-line, nearly always anonymously.

Why exactly should employees "get another job" just because they wish to keep an on-line report of how they experience work, etc.?

Both situations remain similar in that oppressors appear keen on suppressing mostly non-subversive material. Both situations remain similar in that both the Chinese government and businesses do not wish their image of themselves to be challenged by individuals.