Thursday, March 25, 2010

Enemies of the Internet...

Last week, Reporters Without Borders released its annual report on countries with the worst records of internet censorship. Read it here as a PDF file on Google Docs.

Most of the names aren't surprising: China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, etc. Essentially, this reads like a Who's Who of totalitarian regimes.

However, it's turning a few heads that the democracies of Australia and South Korea also made the list. Australia, which I've criticized before, has tried implementing a draconian filtering system under the guise of eliminating child pornography (which it fails to do). Meanwhile, South Korea, the world's most wired nation with 90% of its citizens online, has attempted to censor criticism of the government through a "liberticidal legislative arsenal" that aims to fight against the spread of "false information".

Those who believe that the internet's decentralization will naturally bring about freedoms are dead wrong. As Lawrence Lessig famously argued, the internet will only come to embody those political values that we create for it, and "architectures of control" will arise without specific efforts to counteract them.

Treading that fine line between freedom of expression and protecting citizens from the worst of social elements always requires a delicate balance. But when journalists cite that they fear retribution simply from reporting the news within these nations, the line has clearly been crossed.


At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With respect Nerfherder, I personally believe in absolute freedom online. Deciding what type of speech should be allowed, whether its the crazies on 4chan or the personal secrets about people being exposed on DirtyPhoneBook, people should have the right to say whatever they want. It's up to you though.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Robert J. Domanski said...

Interesting. I didn't realize that my post made any suggestion that people shouldn't have the right to say whatever they want (unless, of course, it was defamatory or promoted violence). In fact, the main message was opposing efforts at censorship.

Not sure where you got that from, Anonymous. Care to enlighten?


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