The Lights Are Going Out For Free Speech On The Internet
Global move to mimic the Chinese model of web censorship and regulation is coming to America
Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Type the keywords “Internet censorship” into Google News and you will immediately understand to what degree the world wide web is under assault from attempts by governments globally to regulate and stifle free speech. From Australia to Belarus, from Turkey to Vietnam, from Pakistan to Egypt, from Afghanistan to Iran, huge chunks of the Internet are going dark as the Chinese model of Internet regulation is adopted worldwide.
But why should Americans concern themselves with countries halfway across the globe adopting Chinese-style net censorship? Because under Senator Joe Lieberman’s 197-page Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, the United States would formally mimic China’s “great firewall” of web censorship.
When Lieberman himself attempted to debunk claims that the bill provides Obama, and any following President for that matter, with a figurative ‘kill switch’ to disable certain parts of the Internet, he explained that the government was merely seeking to emulate powers over the Internet already enjoyed by the Communist Chinese.
Firstly, despite Lieberman’s spin, the text of the bill clearly gives Obama the power to shut down the Internet for at least four months without Congressional oversight.
Secondly, and even more alarmingly, Lieberman’s acknowledgement that the United States is seeking to emulate China’s policies on Internet control confirm that the entire cybersecurity agenda is primarily concerned with silencing political opposition to the state, since this factor completely dominates the Chinese model which Lieberman openly invokes as the ultimate goal of cybersecurity.
China’s vice-like grip over its Internet systems has very little to do with “cybersecurity” and everything to do with silencing all dissent against the state.
Chinese Internet censorship is imposed via a centralized government blacklist of any websites that contain criticism of the state, porn, or any other content deemed unsuitable by the authorities. Every time you attempt to visit a website, you are re-routed through the government firewall, often making for long delays and crippling speeds.
China has exercised its power to shut down the Internet, something that Lieberman wants to introduce in the U.S., at politically sensitive times in order to stem the flow of information about government abuse and atrocities. During the anti-government riots which occurred in July 2009, the Chinese government completely shut down the Internet across the entire northwestern region of Xinjiang for days. In several regions, the authoritiescompletely cut off the Internet for nearly a year, with many areas only now slowly starting to come back online. Major news and discussion portals used by the Muslim Uighurs in the area remain blocked. Similarly, Internet access in parts of Tibet is routinely restricted as part of government efforts to pre-empt and neutralize unrest.
Major websites like Twitter, Google and You Tube have also been shut down either temporarily or permanently by Chinese authorities.
News websites in China now require users to register their true identities in order to leave comments. This abolition of anonymity is used to chill free speech in that it prevents the user from engaging in criticism of the state for fear that they would be tracked down by authorities.
Chinese authorities are now going further than merely maintaining a “blacklist” of banned websites by instituting a “whitelist” of allowed websites, a move that “could potentially place much of the Internet off-limits to Chinese readers”. Websites not pre-registered with the government would be completely blocked to all Internet users, meaning “millions of completely innocuous sites” would be banned. This equates to requiring government approval to set up a website, which would obviously not be granted if the person or organization making the application has a history of or is likely to engage in dissent against the state.
President Obama himself has criticized Chinese Internet censorship as a hindrance to the free flow of information and allowing citizens to hold their governments accountable, and yet Lieberman wants to hand Obama similar.