Faine Opines

Southeast Asia, liberation technology, drones, and pontification

Tag: censorship

#Censorship Fail: Repressive Governments Are Scared of Social Media – UN Dispatch

Social media is incredibly scary to repressive governments because it is just about impossible to control. Many authoritarian governments even look to incredibly censored North Korea and Eritrea as role models, instead of cautionary tales. Although the US government has announced sanctions against countries that try to block Internet access, international disapproval is unlikely to sway these oppressors from their path - especially when a nation finds itself worried about popular revolution, ala Syria and Iran.

Here’s some recent example of governments’ attempts to block out the Internet – particularly in those countries where, to some extent, the proverbial cat is already out of the bag. (Once people have access to the Internet and some modicum of wealth, getting them to give it up is a lot harder – another reason North Korea and Eritrea present something of a perfect scenario to many dictatorial regimes).

Although these are disturbing cases of government repression in action, I also find these cases rather heartening – mainly because government attempts to prevent Internet access rarely last very long, or work particularly well. It’s also worth pointing out that stagnant development and heavy censorship have a nasty habit of going hand-in-hand.

Read more at UN Dispatch….

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India’s Own Great “Firewall”? Censorship Hits World’s Biggest Democracy

flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghoseb/2788306665/

India’s tradition of free speech may be facing its biggest obstacle yet, following an end-of-year government push to require Internet giants Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google to filter its users content for “offensive” material.

The crack-down came after Communications Minister Kapil Sibal became aware of photoshopped images of Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted on social networking sites sometime in September, as well as some images deemed offensive to Islam.  Sibal swiftly demanded the social media companies remove the offensive material and create human-run monitoring systems for their networks, which would catch such images before they hit the Internet.

The good news is that the the companies ignored him, demanding a court order before they would take action—and pointing out in two recent meetings that they would rather not put themselves in a position to decide what is and what isn’t “offensive.”  In any case, with internet usage at approximately 100 million Indians,  the companies told Sibal his monitoring plans would be impossible to implement.

One would think that Sibal would leave it at that. And, as of Dec 15, according to a report by the Press Trust of India, Sibal seems to have taken his strident tone down a notch or two, following a meeting with Google, Facebook and Twitter.  (His change in tone may be chalked up to the nature of the Indian media itself, a famously vocal bunch of newspapers, writers, and bloggers, just about all of whom seemed to have a choice word or two regarding Sibal’s dreams of censorship)

Read more at UN Dispatch….

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