Censoring: the answer to global success? Probably not.

Global comparisons: Refuting the Chinese government’s internet censorship ideology.

China has the highest Internet censorship in the world, encouraging Internet companies to ban social media and anti-government talk.  As globalization continues to spread, both economically and socially, the Internet is a place to connect and compete.  China is limiting their worldly standing by banning information from their public.  The government sees this high level of Internet control as a positive for their nation, but in reality, it is stressing business ties and leaving their people behind.

One problem with the Chinese government and their Internet censorship culture is the contradictions it portrays.  For example, there are many Chinese websites that easily sell drugs and weapons despite their strict laws against both.  People regularly get executed as a result of selling drugs in China, yet the Chinese government seems to turn their cheeks away from websites doing just that.

So, what is more dangerous: freedom of speech and access to information or drugs, guns, and prostitutes?  What the Chinese government fears most may be citizens with access to information and social media rather than outright dangers like drugs and guns.  Even if this is the case, the government should not contradict the law by allowing such dangerous sites to continue unblocked while taking their time to block sites like the New York Times and Facebook.

The Chinese government is trying to censor their people from social opinion and news.  This seems like a major let down to their large population of internet lovers, which is the highest in the world.  The strict internet blocking is leaving the users in the dust when in comes to all of the new and information circulating the globe.  The government may be limiting possible instability within the country by banning negative news towards them, yet overall, they are limiting their people in regards to connecting and competing in our global society.  Internet users have tried to get around this obstacle by using VPNs (virtual private networks), yet the government is cracking down on that as well.  New York times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, quotes a Chinese friend who stated, “How can we develop our skills if we can’t even visit some of the most popular Web sites around the world?”

That question pretty much sums up how the Chinese government is blatantly discouraging their citizens’ global participation.

As censorship relates to business, Google has threatened and removed itself at times from China because of strict search enforcement.  This creates tension between highly relevant and influential companies of the internet world, like Google, and the Chinese.

Who will prevail in the competition of worldly success? If the Chinese government continues such harsh Internet censorship by limiting their people from global news, then will they slowly decline as a global entity? The Chinese have been successful in this economy, yet as the internet continues to guide the majority of our lives, their people and society may decline as a result of harsh internet censorship by their government.


Cybersecurity & CISPA’s Supporters


Not sure what exactly this means?  This broad and fuzzy term is buzzing in the political arena, as CISPA, or the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, has been reintroduced in the Senate.  CISPA is all about beefing up our country’s cybersecurity, by allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to turn over private communication and related information back to the government without user’s permission or knowledge.

SOPA was essentially shelved due to widespread opposition from important others like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, AOL, Yahoo!, and a number of other internet companies (TechCrunch), along with President Obama himself.  Many of us can recall the anti-SOPA postings that overwhelmed social networks, and the relief after learning that the legislation would not be passed.  However, CISPA picks up where SOPA left off, and is a topic we should all become familiar with.

And you may be dismayed to find out that some of the largest ISPs– that you probably get your internet service from– support the bill.  Companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast (XFinity), Intel and Time Warner have openly declared their support of the bill.  In their letter of support, AT&T seemed particularly excited about the legal gains that they would gain through the passing of CISPA:

“If enacted, this critically important legislation would enhance the Nation’s security by facilitating and adding legal certainty to sharing of critical cyber threat information both within the private sector and between the public and private sectors.”

According to Truth Out, CISPA would override current privacy laws like the Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act, and would grant judicial immunity for essentially violating user’s privacy, as information provided to the government (think agencies like the FBI and NSA) would be exempt from Freedom of Information (FIOA) requests, which give people the right to access information from the federal government.

To the AT&T customers out there– how do you feel knowing that your private activity would be monitored and made readily available to the government without your knowledge or consent?  At any moment, you could become a threat to “cybersecurity”– which still is not a concrete premise or can easily be defined– and be punished by the law, while your ISP faces no consequences for violating your privacy.  To think that everyone’s private communications will be constantly monitored and scrutinized does not seem to represent America’s values as a country.

Verizon users, you’re not off the hook either.  In Verizon’s letter, they praise the idea of “cybersecurity without technology mandates or prescriptive rules.”  But isn’t America all about the check and balance of power, bolstered by prescriptive rules?  Without these rules, it seems like the government and these large corporations can run amuck, wielding  a power over us little people.  CISPA could turn us into a “police state,” and that is why we are taking a stand.