Net censorship

January 23rd, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Reuters reports:

has attacked Washington’s call to lift censorship and warned the Obama administration to heed alarm bells over trade, Taiwan and Tibet.

China said that US calls for greater internet freedom were harmful to bilateral ties and that the Chinese government banned any form of hacking, in response to a speech by the US Secretary of State.

The US Secretary of State called for China and other authoritarian governments to lift their curbs on citizens’ use of the internet in a speech on Thursday (Friday NZ time).

It was a good speech which is in full here.Also an interesting Q&A.

This is not just about what China do behind their own borders, but the threat they may pose to the greater Internet with state sanctioned cyber attacks.

“A new information curtain is descending across much of the world,” said Clinton, calling growing internet curbs the present-day equivalent of the Berlin Wall, contravening international commitments to free expression.

Clinton also urged Beijing to investigate the complaint about cyber spying from China that Google said targeted it and dozens of other companies, as well as Chinese dissidents.

One of the best parts of the speech was:

As I speak to you today, government censors somewhere are working furiously to erase my words from the records of history. But history itself has already condemned these tactics. Two months ago, I was in Germany to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The leaders gathered at that ceremony paid tribute to the courageous men and women on the far side of that barrier who made the case against oppression by circulating small pamphlets called samizdat. Now, these leaflets questioned the claims and intentions of dictatorships in the Eastern Bloc and many people paid dearly for distributing them. But their words helped pierce the concrete and concertina wire of the Iron Curtain.

The Berlin Wall symbolized a world divided and it defined an entire era. Today, remnants of that wall sit inside this museum where they belong, and the new iconic infrastructure of our age is the internet. Instead of division, it stands for connection. But even as networks spread to nations around the globe, virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls.Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks. They’ve expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent political speech. These actions contravene the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which tells us that all people have the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world. And beyond this partition, viral videos and blog posts are becoming the samizdat of our day.

A speech by itself won’t change anything, but the focus of the US Government at the highest levels is a good thing.

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8 Responses to “Net censorship”

  1. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    ” As I speak to you today, government censors somewhere are working furiously to erase my words from the records of history. ”

    Maybe that’s not such a bad thing for Hillary Clinton. She was once one of the leading voices in a campaign for internet “gate keepers”.

    This was just after Monica’s blue dress scandal appeared on the Drudge report.

    We cannot trust politicians to protect our freedoms. Unless we care about them ourselves, politicians will only do as they have always done in recent times, and that is take them away. Bit by bit by bit.

    The only answer to this problem is to stop electing old guard politicians. We desperately need new blood, and new blood that does not see regulation and big government as the answer to every problem. New blood that does not say one thing and do another.

    Politicians will only take your freedom if you elect them.

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  2. JC (838 comments) says:

    That *is* a good speech.. and slightly surprising for an Obama administration that looks for all the world to be a water carrier for dictatorships.

    One might think that Hilary at least, took home the message from Scot Brown’s campaign that social media counts.

    JC

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  3. DRHILL (121 comments) says:

    I wonder how the Australian Government will take this speech with their Internet Censorship firewall coming this year. Will the U.S.A. focus attention on it as well? (It would be a bit hypocritical if they don’t!)

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  4. Sean (293 comments) says:

    Sounds like she’s talking about Singapore…an opposition figure there just served time for distributing leaflets critical of the government. Of course, the charge was that she had not applied for the requisite permit for this activity. As if one would have been issued…

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  5. kiki (425 comments) says:

    By all means, run the photo – but why the hell didn’t you black out the face of the solider? There are some things more important than news value.

    Sometimes censorship is needed isn’t it? who’s to say what should be censored.

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  6. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    The trouble is Kiki who makes the call. Yeah black out a photo but what will you do tomorrow when you think something else should be “blacked out”. Besides do you trust what you see in a photo ???. I do a lot of fishing and know that a rock cod can be turned into a black Marlin, so where does it leave us. The Internet is and has been the greatest threat to oppression and censorship, we live in a age where we should question everything but we should have the ability to.

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  7. kiki (425 comments) says:

    er thats what I was trying to point out.

    The quote was from David about the SAS image I was just curious how those that oppose censorship defend censorship.

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  8. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    All countries have some form of censorship – and if I were the chinese I’d suggest to Hillary Rodham Clinton that she has bigger problems at home to address rather than making another major error in trying to impose a US model upon someone else. Id also remind her that she now represents a country no longer the worlds biggest economy and she should be putting her efforts into the changes that this will bring.
    And Id be telling this privately in words that she clearly understands.
    Bloody yanks – will they never understand.

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