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The Internet Censorship Government Politics

Web Censorship on the Increase 132

mid-devonian writes "Close on the heels of the temporary blocking of YouTube by a Turkish judge, a group of academics has published research showing that Web censorship is on the increase worldwide. As many as two dozen countries are blocking content using a variety of techniques. Distressingly, the most censor-heavy countries (which includes China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Burma and Uzbekistan) seem to be passing on their technologically sophisticated techniques to other areas of the world. 'New censorship techniques include the periodic barring of complete applications, such as China's block on Wikipedia or Pakistan's ban on Google's blogging service, and the use of more advanced technologies such as 'keyword filtering', which is used to track down material by identifying sensitive words.'"
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Web Censorship on the Increase

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  • uh oh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:01PM (#18366839) Journal
    let us hope this doesn't spread- Fahrenheit 451 on the web
    • Brings new meaning to the term "firewall"
    • by ady1 ( 873490 )
      Amazing to see that Pakistan is not in the list. The not too well known site was blocked [] here for the last year or so since the cartoon publishing incident took place. It just got unblocked a couple weeks back.
      • Amazing to see that Pakistan is not in the list.
        from the summary:

        ...or Pakistan's ban on Google's blogging service,...
    • Statisticians today held a press conference concerning the rapid increase in number of violent crimes committed worldwide, noting a growth at a rate almost consistent with the rapid increase in the world's population.

      Film at eleven...
    • Pay no attention to the pile of burning books outside your neighbour's house.
  • Yes and slashdot is responsible for a great deal of it!
  • XXXX XXXX! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:03PM (#18366869)
    Xxxx xxx xxxx? xxxx x xx x xx xx xxx xx! xxxx xxx ...

    xxxx xxxx Xxxxxxxx!

    xxx... xxx!

  • you can't stop me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:04PM (#18366871) Homepage
    and the use of more advanced technologies such as 'keyword filtering', which is used to track down material by identifying sensitive words.

    As the FCC has found out, people will just make up new words, that are worse than the old words. Like "Blumpkin".
  • Whereas... (Score:2, Insightful) America, you can use the internet however you like, right? 4 []
    • It wasn't Google that turned over her information - it was her forms that had the cached info.
    • I know, those two things are, like, totally the same, right? People don't seem to be buying it though - maybe you could spice it up with a car analogy or something.
    • Actually, no. The CIPA of 2000 forced schools (and libraries, which later got out of it) to apply some sort of filtering against "bad internet;" it was mainly intended to block pornographic material. At my high school, the power to block a site at a whim seems to be too much for the administration; everything from to to have been blocked (luckily for me, I can always use a proxy in Firefox (browser of gods) but theoretically, I shouldn't be doing so). Web censors
  • Uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by eviloverlordx ( 99809 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:07PM (#18366927)
    I was just reading about *CENSORED* on the *CENSORED*, when all of a sudden some guys *CENSORED* into my apartment and started *CENSORED* my stuff and *CENSORED* my wife.
    • After reading that I sincerely believe you should go *CENSORED* yourself!
      • by Tackhead ( 54550 )
        > After reading that I sincerely believe you should go *CENSORED* yourself!

        Welcome to the web, Mr. Cheney!

    • Re:Uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

      by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:33PM (#18367351) Homepage Journal
      Peter: Oh, Lois, you are so full of (BEEP)! WHAT?! Now I can't say (BEEP) in my own (BEEP)ing house?! Great, Lois. Just (BEEP)in' great. You know, you're lucky you're good at (BEEP) my (BEEP) or I'd never put up with ya. You know what I'm talking about, when you (BEEP) lubed-up (BEEP) toothpaste in my (BEEP) while you (BEEP) on a cherry (BEEP) Episcopalian (BEEP) extension cord (BEEP) wetness (BEEP) with a parking ticket. That is the best!
    • and *CENSORED* my wife.

      Did they do "xxx" or "xxxx" or "xxxxxxx" ? One of them is illegal in the USA.
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:08PM (#18366945)
    We must protect the people from the harm caused by this new axis of evil.

    Just try and search for them, I dare you!
    • We send them nuke and weapons tech and they send us censorship tech. Sounds like a good trade balance!
      • We send them nuke and weapons tech and they send us censorship tech. Sounds like a good trade balance!
        You mean like they can teach us something new in the censorship business?
    • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      We must protect the people from the harm caused by this new axis of evil. Just try and search for them, I dare you!
      Sony's one of them. They even invented the SixAxis of evil!
  • government (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravesb ( 967413 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:08PM (#18366951) Homepage
    Government, please stay off of the Internet. Freedom of speech involves some risk. Let the people choose if they take that risk or not, but if you take it from us, you take our freedom as well.
    • Re:government (Score:4, Insightful)

      by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:32PM (#18367339)
      The countries censoring the internet in this way don't want people to have free speech or those freedoms you speak of.
      • by gravesb ( 967413 )
        I'm more worried about my government getting "good ideas."
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by westlake ( 615356 )
        The countries censoring the internet in this way don't want people to have free speech or those freedoms you speak of.

        What makes you think that the people of other countries define freedom in the same terms as the Shashdot Geek? Not all forms of censorship are driven from the top down.

    • Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Umm. The Internet was created by our government. If people want Feds out of their lives, perhaps they shouldn't plug-in to a network created by our own military. Just a thought.
      • by gravesb ( 967413 )
        Created by DARPA and universities and turned over to private entities to control.
      • i'm wearing us military issue pants right now, which i bought at a thrift store. those were created by our government. does this mean i shouldn't wear them if i want the government to stay out of my pants?
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:09PM (#18366963)
    You can't protect society without controlling society. You can't control society without controlling information. In the land of ignorance, the informed man is king. True democracies don't have kings. Information is communism. Ignorance is patriotic. Oh shit, American Idol is on -- gotta go!
  • web searches you?
  • with this. []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:12PM (#18367009)
    As a citizen of the People's Republic of China, I can only see this as good news. It is heartening to see that the people of the world are outgrowing their childish attachment to outdated notions like "freedom" and "individualism" and realizing that future progress of humanity depends on subordination of individual drives to the good of harmonious society and beneficial development of the motherland.

    At this time in history, people all over the world are waking up to the damage that capitalism and "Democracy" have brought to the world. America and Europe and their nineteenth-century ideas of "rights" and "freedom" have brought little else but war, genocide, terrorism, environmental devastation, immoral depravity, exploitation, and chaos.

    Small wonder that a recent Beijing Star poll shows that People's Republic of China is the most respected nation on earth. We move forward together harmoniously into twenty-first century, the century of Communism.
    • oh, if only the mods got your joke. It's okay, I think you're funny.

      On subject: By blocking themselves off to educational parts of the internet these countries only make themselves more backwards. Web 2.0 has taught us that collaboration creates innovation and advances everywhere, in every walk of life.

      The Bible says that God confounded language because man working together could achieve anything. It's interesting to see backwards nations removing themselves from a global community like this. Lets see how

  • Hmm. (Score:3, Funny)

    by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:13PM (#18367039)
    Only 4 comments so far on the topic of censorship on slashdot? Damn, it's too late someone much have censored slashdot from most businesses! Oh, no, think of the productivity gains that just made.
  • Gee... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:13PM (#18367043) Journal
    It's too bad we didn't turn the Internet over to the UN like you guys all wanted...
  • This is unsurprising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hobbs0 ( 1055434 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:17PM (#18367085)
    Look into the freedom of speech (and press, and related) laws in the countries mentioned in TFA. Those are countries which prohibit (at least some forms of) government protesting, restrict television airwaves, and are generally unfriendly in the freedom of information department anyway. Why should the internet be any different?
  • by linvir ( 970218 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:19PM (#18367139)

    Web censorship is not something that only happens halfway around the world in countries like Uzkbekistan and Burma. If you're from the UK, meet Cleanfeed [], a soon-to-be compulsory system for blocking "illegal" content. Only a select group of secretive internet wizards [] know how it works, and a circle of elders living deep in the mountains [] are in charge of deciding exactly what is and isn't "illegal content". Not everybody runs it just yet, but its effects are already being felt [].

    • Well, if the problem is created by technology,then resolve it with technology.Users creates the 'net and the users can rebuild it again, if necessary.We're still in a point where we can change how the internet "works".I mean, rewrite the entire OSI Model with something with anonymity and even more decentralization in mind, and make it omnipresent, unavoidable for anyone that wants to use an internet connection.Change the client-server structure with a peer to peer one.
      Tor and freenet are valid examples, but
    • The UK's protection of freedom of speech is much weaker than in the US. Part of that is because the UK doesn't have a bill of rights. Also, libel and slander laws are much harsher on the defendant in the UK than in the US.
  • Morocco as well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by interactive_civilian ( 205158 ) <{mamoru} {at} {}> on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:23PM (#18367209) Homepage Journal
    Morocco blocks GoogleEarth access (though not GoogleMaps). The reason I heard is about security because you can load extra data that may be considered "dangerous". However, I don't think this is about the OMGTERRARISTSWTFBBQ!?!? so much as it is about "protecting the king."

    Apparently, the government here is also known to block blogs and such that are critical of the king, as well as other sites that may be considered "unfriendly" to Morocco. However, in my surfing I have not come across any sites that have been blocked, but then again, I am mostly looking for news and information about other parts of the world, so I guess the sites I frequent aren't worth blocking.

    • block blogs and such that are critical of the king

      I know that bush doesn't like criticism, but has he really gone so far as to block blogs?

      oh wait, you mean your king.

  • well, yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:32PM (#18367341) Journal
    More people than ever are using the internet. This just in: more internet users than ever are censored.

    Should we be surprised here? I'm not.
  • by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:33PM (#18367353) Homepage
    The U.S. is like the slutty girl down the street that nobodys mom wants them talking to.
  • by Glowing Fish ( 155236 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @04:39PM (#18367451) Homepage
    Whenever I read words like "on the Increase" (as well as "corroded", "falling apart", "rapidly dwindling", etc.) I automatically wonder if I am being presented with "Saturday Night Live Syndrome", where people pull out the popular opinion that Saturday Night Live just isn't as good as it used to be.

    The report seems to cover 13 countries, none of which are exactly bastions of civil liberties. Only Thailand and Turkey are countries that even have a medium record of civil rights. I think the fact that people in Uzbekistan can't access sites critical of their government is both one of the smaller concerns of both the internet, and of the civil rights of Uzbekistan's citizens.

    If more countries that actually had long-standing traditions of free speech, or emerging traditions of free speech, were suffering censorship, that might be a story. But as it is, this hardly seems like dramatic news.
  • Phase 1: Internet is cool western hi-tech, yes? We get! Is nice! We are, how you say, advance-ed!

    Phase 2: Internet is letting Jews do their Jew things more. Must stop this! How we do that? Oh? Wawawewa! Thank you, China!
  • From the beginning of the internet there was hope that its chaotic order would lead to a place of free speech that would surpass national boundaries. Unfortunately, these already repressive regimes are discovering ways to spread their national repression to the internet. Before the controls were based on geography. Today the controls are based on technology and this is never a static condition.
  • Putin media decree arouses press freedom worries
    Thu Mar 15 2007 11:37:07 ET

    President Vladimir Putin has decreed the creation of a new super-agency to regulate media and the Internet, sparking fears among Russian journalists of a bid to extend tight publishing controls to the relatively free Web.

    Putin signed a decree to create one entity that will license broadcasters, newspapers and Web sites and oversee their editorial content.

    Raf Shakirov, who was dismissed as editor of the Izvestiya daily after critical
  • Remember back in the good ol' days, when we could gamble for real money online? I do. I see nothing wrong with people who are capable of acting responsibly gambling online, nor gambling on sports. Yet for some reason, the government here has decided to become everyone's parent and prevent them from spending their money as they see fit. They claim it's because of possible addictions and the aftermath of said 'addictions', but we all know how the Prohibition fixed our alcoholic problem.
  • ...cause I sure as hell wouldn't want to use eMule or any other P2P app without PeerGuardian, which at last count was banning over 7 million IP addresses... many of which are in such nefarious States as China and Russia.
  • I totally agree more and more countries and becoming selective on what we get to see. In Kuwait, some ISPs already block Meta Cafe, part of YouTube, some political anti-government sites were forced to close down, we heard about Bahrain trying to block Google Earth few months back. Few days back, Major corporate ISP provider in kuwait, KEMS blocked Blogger [] for some time for still unknown reason. Kuwait also are working closely with ISPs to stop the what they calle "phenomenon" of VoIP technology [], just becaus
  • ..would want to censor the Internet. Content provided by the United States represent a significant portion of the total content of the Internet. Now despite what we think, many topics are heavily biased towards the United States - for instance, look at all the uninformed opinions of other countries like France and China we have. Why would a government want their citizens to be exposed to the inadvertent propaganda? The United States has the luxury of being culturally dominant and it's citizens are less
  • You can go to [] and test if a specific URL is censored by China (they use a remote server and have it try to make an outbound connection). The site is up and down at the moment due to a mention on, but I was able test a few URLs:
  • USA didn't make the list? What about a DMCA takedown? You don't call that censorship? Freedom of speech is an interesting idea, but does it actually exist anywhere?
    • USA didn't make the list? What about a DMCA takedown? You don't call that censorship? Freedom of speech is an interesting idea, but does it actually exist anywhere?

      Sure it does, free speech exists wherever there are "free speech zones." In these zones you may speak as freely as you would like. And fortunately, for your convenience, we are relocating many of these zones to a prison near you!

      BTW, I'm super, thanks for asking!

      Yours truly,

      The U.S. Government.

      P.S. Don't ask me how the Iraq war is going, i

  • Holy crap (Score:3, Funny)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @06:13PM (#18368653) Homepage

    from the xxx-xxxx-xxx-xxxx-xxxxxx dept.
    Now that. Is some hardcore pr0n. I don't even want to know...
  • Goofy.

    The answer is simple. End-to-end encryption of _everything_.

    One wonders how the Chinese government would respond to that.
    • The answer is simple. End-to-end encryption of _everything_.
      One wonders how the Chinese government would respond to that.

      Encrypted traffic moves nowhere unless government sanctioned. The Internet Cafe is locked down tight. China has a tradition of centralized - bureaucratic - power that goes back over two thousand years.

    • by Seumas ( 6865 )
      By executing everyone who is guilty of sending or receiving any encrypted data. In America, we're only a step away from eventual legislation that would make encryption an instant guilt-marker and justifiable cause for further search and investigation.

      Remember, the American motto is "if I ain't got nuttin' to hide, why should I care if you want to violate my civil liberties?". Not to mention, since encryption is a munition, it could be very easily rationalized that it is a "dangerous weapon".
  • So China and other governments block access to wikipedia and other such sites. With the growing importance of information, and the rapid migration of most of the world's information (and most of its foolishness ;-) onto the Internet, what those governments are doing is shooting their own economies in the feet.

    It's all the better for those of us who (still) have uncensored access to the Net. People who are kept ignorant can't compete with us effectively.

    Actually, I had an interesting case of this some year
  • I was in Beijing last week on business...and while online in one of the training hospitals I was able to ssh out to a server back in Ireland with prot redirection ssh -L3128:xx.xx.xx.xx:3128 remote_host and then set my proxy to localhost:3128. ....Not much use this "great firewall"....
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @08:40PM (#18370057)
    "Distressingly, the most censor-heavy countries (which includes China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Burma and Uzbekistan) seem to be passing on their technologically sophisticated techniques to other areas of the world. "

    Hey, information wants to be free!
  • Countries such as China do have ridiculous and oppressive firewalls, however the USA and countries with similar attitudes to freedom do not respect free speech rights, rather they protect the rights of the "average" citizen. If you're a member of an unpopular minority group (I'm attracted to children, for example), your freedom of speech is censored, often by corporate groups who do not wish to be associated with unpopular people. By the very nature of democracy, unpopular groups will not be supported again
  • If the censorship is done in the countries that proclaim the superiority of liberty, then censorship is not right, because it contradicts the principles of the country. If it is done in the countries that don't do such (foolish) thing, then censorship is ok. It is people's choice. Ask Chinese, ask Pakistanis, ask all people in those countries, are they pro or against it. And even if the majority is against the censorship, why don't they kick their government ass like Americans and French did in XVIII centur
  • Fact of life (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday March 16, 2007 @05:56AM (#18372665)
    Listen everyone: Censorship is a fact of life. You may not like the way some do it; but we all do it, and most think their kind of censorship is just fine.

    No matter whether we think we believe in Freedom and all that, we all know that there has to be limits to what can be said. It is generally accepted that 'Freedom of Speech' doea not allow us to perpetrate crimes on the net - such as soliciting child pornography or teaching how to fly passenger planes into tall buildings, just to mention a few. The question is where should the limit go - should we allow hardcore porn on websites that target children? No?

    A very big factor in what one thinks is suitable is culture - have you ever seen those adverts for HSBC (an international bank)? They are all about how some things are different in different countries (and how important local knowledge is); like eg. that showing your bare feet may be fine in USA or Australia, but is considered extremely rude in Thailand. What I am saying here is: You and I don't necessarily know what is an absolute no-no in other countries, and we should not be too hasty in condemning what other countries choose is not acceptable on the Net. Filtering in China is after all not denying Americans access to things they feel are OK.

    On the other hand, I fully understand and respect that there are certain things that should never be censored - but I don't think freedom of speech as a fundamental right is something you can use as an excuse for not being able to show a bit of cultural sensitivity. One of the main reasons that freedom of speech is important is that democracy doesn't work without it - people must have the right to know all there is to know about the decision they make when they vote; it is not primarily there to ensure that everybody can pour all kinds of tripe out in the public space.

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