By Dark Politricks
The days of Internet freedom are slowly coming to an end. China started it with their huge national filter to prevent people from accessing sites deemed unacceptable by the state such as sites related to the Chinese dissidents, the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, the Tibetan government-in-exile and those with information on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
If this wasn’t bad enough for Chinese Internet users they have just introduced a rule that prevents individuals from registering private domains. From Monday 21st December, people wanting to register a domain in China will have to present a company seal and a business licence to prove they are a legitimate company.
The idea is part of a campaign to rein in pornographic content, but bloggers and Internet activists interpreted it as a broader attempt to enforce Internet censorship more heavily.
“If they really enforce this, we will have to register our sites outside China,” said one blogger.
The move follows a string of measures to crack down on Internet and media content as China shows growing nervousness over user-generated content, which it struggles to control. They have recently blocked Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and 3,000 people have been arrested nationwide for alleged involvement in posting pornographic content online.
You may think that what happens in China doesn’t affect the rest of the world however other Western democracies have looked at China and instead of seeing an example of an overly authoritarian free speech hating state have instead seen a good idea!
We have the recent Australian Internet filter that has been introduced to combat child pornography and adult content and possibly other controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia. Obviously once setup the list of sites deemed “unacceptable” will just increase exponentially and the list of sites will start to include those critical of the government.
The net nanny proposal was originally going to allow Australians who wanted uncensored access to the web the option of contacting their Internet service provider to be excluded from the service but the government has now declared it will not let Internet users opt out of the national Internet filter.
New Zealand has obviously seen this restriction of freedom of speech and expression as a good idea as they have also drafted a proposal on similar lines to the Australian filter. Some of the details are listed below:
New Zealand’s censorship laws forbid viewing or owning certain types of material (e.g. depictions of bestiality or sex with children) and this applies to material accessed over the Internet too.
At this moment it [New Zealand] does not [have Internet filtering]. However, the Department of Internal Affairs ran a trial Internet filtering scheme in conjunction with Ihug, Watchdog, Maxnet and TelstraClear in 2007/2008 and is planning to fully implement it in 2009/2010.
[There is now ["Internet Filtering Law"]. [The filtering] it is being done under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. This gives the responsibility for enforcement to the Department of Internal Affairs.
The scheme is currently voluntary for the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as there is no law to force them to use it.
The filter is applied at the level of the IP address but it is common for a web server to host multiple websites on a single IP address. All requests to a website on one of the filtered IP addresses will be diverted to the DIA’s server.
ISPs can choose whether to subscribe to it or not. The only way [for a person] to opt-out of the filtering is by switching to an ISP that doesn’t implement it. ISPs that have implemented it so far have not provided a way to opt out of it.
But that’s the other side of the world isn’t it? They haven’t got plans to do anything like that over here have they? Well yes they do. The UK is currently debating legislation slated as the “Digital Economy Bill“ in the House of Lords which would allow the Home Secretary to place “a technical obligation on internet service providers” to block whichever sites it wishes.
The following link is a report on Internet Rights within the European Union which states that
- There is a clear consensus therefore that activity on networks should be viewed using the basic legal principles that apply elsewhere. The Internet is not an anarchic ghetto where society’s rules do not apply. Equally, though, the ability of governments and public authorities to restrict the rights of individuals and monitor potentially unlawful behaviour should be no greater on public networks than it is in the outside, off-line world. The requirement that restrictions to fundamental rights and freedoms be properly justified, necessary and proportional in view of other public policy objectives, must also apply in cyberspace.”
But state censorship proposals don’t stop there, the European Union’s Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini called last September for ISP’s to block access to Web sites hosting information about bomb-making, and U.K. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said in January that she wanted action taken against sites that encouraged terrorism, including social networking sites.
There are 2 main reasons for the internet.
1. Business, marketing and advertising.
Most companies have an online presence where they try to attract new customers and sell their products to other businesses. Then there are sites dedicated to selling products to online shoppers. Sites such as Amazon, ITunes and Play sell DVDs, music, books and other physical items. Smaller sites sell Internet related products such as e-books, anti-spyware or performance tuning software or multi level marketing schemes intended to get you rich beyond your wildest dreams with nothing more than a few clicks of a button and a small up front payment. Sites that don’t actually sell anything such as blogs or personal sites try to make money by showing adverts or using Affiliate schemes e.g Googles Adsense or Buyat. They try to generate large amounts of traffic through various means (spam or legal) in the hope of generating revenue through people clicking on the adverts or buying the products. All These sites are designed to make money for the site owner in one way or another.
2. Leisure and Entertainment
The majority of Internet users fall under this category. They use the web to access alternative news, get info on their favourite band or sports team and to read blogs and watch YouTube videos. They also download or stream movies and watch TV shows on Iplayer and other similar sites. They download and listen to music, use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and most of all they watch porn!
People forget how much of the Internet is consumed by sites dedicated to porn and by users who are looking for it. The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined e.g Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink. Also US porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC.
- Every second – $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
- Every second – 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
- Every second – 372 Internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines
- Every 39 minutes: a new pornographic video is being created in the United States
All these statistics were taken from Internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com
Therefore what government and big business don’t seem to understand is that if they turn the Internet into nothing more than a glorified online shop where the only sites are those dedicated to selling products and advertising then no-one will be on the web in the first place to be induced into buying products from these sites. Without the porn and social networking sites and without the alternative news sites no-one will want to spend time surfing sites related to B2B or MLM spam sites.
It will be like those twitter accounts you see where the person has thousands of followers and is also following thousands of people but they are all either bots or spammers or other people trying to get you to buy their product. All totally pointless.
If you take the good stuff away from the Internet including the freedom to watch what you want in the privacy of your own home and to write what you believe on your own blog whether it criticizes the government or not and you will end up with a lot of people using darknets such as Tor or using Chinese anonymous proxies or even web mesh networks run by people hooking up wireless receivers and relay devices.
If that happens and a proper underground Internet is set up by tech savvy people then the government will install jamming equipment everywhere to prevent the signals and then people will resort to swapping memory sticks and DVDs full of “banned” info in the streets. It will be just like Communist Russia when they used to swap illegal books and other literature in dark corners.
The more the government tries to stop the people from accessing the Internet the more alternative forms of data transfer will spring up. For those of you interested in keeping your privacy on the Internet and getting round any censorship by big brother read the following articles.
- Create your own web proxy server to bypass logging by your work or school and access banned sites.
- Internet Censorship and Surfing Anonymously.
- Bypassing Internet Censorship.
- Searching for content without being logged by your employer or big brother.
- The death of the Internet bills in the UK and Australia