Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Internet Censorship #IranElection #zensursula

Concerns about Iran's ability to monitor and censor communications come hot on the heels of news that China has asked told google to block search results, and is requiring that all new PCs shipped in the country have web-blocking software pre-installed (quite possibly stolen software). Now Germany has passed legislation that will allow it to block internet traffic that it deems inappropriate.

Of course, both China and Germany insist that they want to use these powers to block things like child pornography, which seems entirely reasonable. In the case of China, it's likely that it will be used to block all sorts of other things - favourable mentions of democracy, references to the massacre at Tiananmen Square, frivolous nonsense like freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and all those other freedoms that Amnesty International keep banging on about. We don't tend to feel any more optimistic about China's use of this sort of technology than we do about Iran's use of it?

So what about Germany? Well, already there are Germany politicians who want to ban access to things like first-person shooter games, Islamist websites (who gets to decide what's Islamist and what's just a legitimate religious site?), and p2p networks. They might even bar Scientology websites, given that it's considered a cult in Germany, so there'd be no laughing at Tom Cruise making an idiot of himself on film (unless you can get a copy of Far and Away. Or Days of Thunder. Or Eyes Wide Shut. You get the idea...).

The point here, of course, is that the German authorities can decide what they feel is inappropriate and then block it. Do we trust them? Should we? Have our enlightened liberal occidental governments shown themselves to be trustworthy over recent years? What might the George W. Bush regime have blocked? What might Tony Blair have sexed up or glossed over?

(Incidentally, one of the good things about the UK holding a public inquiry into the Iraq war is that before the whitewash sets in it might just throw enough sticky shit at Blair to derail his President-of-Europe plans. Do we really want that war-mongering, self-righteous, crypto-Catholic-god-botherer in high office?)

Big Brother isn't just a reality show. Where's George Orwell when you need him?

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