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Your ability to update your MySpace page during work? Being able to hit up BitTorrent for and endless supply of gay porn? Surely you don’t take those freedoms for granted, because so much of the world will never be allowed to do any of that, let alone have an email account that goes unmonitored or read any online news source of their choosing.
It doesn’t begin and end with Google pairing up with the Chinese government to offer a toned down version of its search engine. From Cuba – where a “black market in Internet access has sprung up,” which we’ve seen first-hand – to Vietnam and China, many of the world’s citizens with access to the Internet aren’t seeing the whole picture, thanks to government censorship.
But America’s federal government isn’t the only bloated bureaucracy that has a hard time with tech. Since many countries rely on out-of-the-box solutions – the same software moms and dads pick up at Best Buy – they’re easily circumvented.
But it’s still too soon to know whether censors will be able to keep the Web under heel. Most governments are not sophisticated in their attempts at censorship–they rely on simple filtering technologies that can be defeated by a determined political opposition. Even in China, information is seeping through. The regime is having trouble staying on top of the 111 million residents now online–less than 10 percent of the country’s population. It’s hard to imagine how it will keep up as that number swells.
Though if you read the New York Times Magazine article on Internet censorship in China, the picture seems a little brighter: citizens, it’s argued, just don’t want to escape the censorship. Or at least that’s true for citizens willing to have their names in print.
The Web Police [The Atlantic]