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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

The Great Firewall of China, Continued 484

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-country-shame-about-the-government dept.
rcs1000 writes "Slate (no longer owned by Microsoft, and therefore an acceptable place to find stories...) has a terrific article on The Filtered Future and how China's censorship is changing - for the worse - the Internet. The piece makes a few points: firstly, China is really trying (largely succefully) to seperate its Internet from the rest of the World; secondly, it may be possible to use technology to circumvent restrictions, but that makes them no less onoreous; thirdly, the sheer invisibility of the restrictions makes them worse (when Google doesn't even show up articles about democracy, that's no good thing); and finally, some Western companies are actively co-operating with the Chinese government in their censorship. Is this the beginning of the end for the global, unregulated, uncensored, Internet?"
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The Great Firewall of China, Continued

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  • fp? (Score:5, Funny)

    by boingyzain (739759) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:04AM (#13040116)
    yay i finally got the first po--This transmission has been CENSORED.
  • by R.D.Olivaw (826349) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:06AM (#13040123)
    Companies are there to make money not for moral or social values. I'm not saying that's a good thing but that's how the system works. If there is money to be made in China, they will play by their rules to get it.
    If you think they should act otherwise, then you should get your government to make rules about that banning the companies from bending to Chinese will.
    • by Taladar (717494) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:11AM (#13040141)
      Or even better: get your government to abandon the crazy rule that exempts companies from blame as long as they make enough money (and don't forget to include a share of blame for the shareholders as well).
      • > get your government to abandon the crazy rule that exempts companies from blame

        You are right but it's difficult to abandon a rule that isn't officially a rule, merely a side effect of circumstances.

        Companies are driven by the desire for personal gain of their shareholders. Shareholders are quite often only interested in making money, not in exercising responsible control of their company shares. This is especially true for mutual funds [wikipedia.org].

        What government can do when personal greed dictates the rul

        • by mrogers (85392) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @08:31AM (#13041091)
          I'd go further: companies that enjoy the same legal rights as individuals should bear the same legal responsibilities as individuals. The corporate equivalent of serving a prison sentence is suspending commercial activity. If a company commits a crime (ie if responsibility cannot be attributed to any single employee), the company should serve the same sentence as a person who commits the same crime.
          • Taking this another step further... IIRC, companies actually have more rights than people, especially given their lobbying power and financial influence over politicians.

            Also, from what I understand, France has a law that holds executives personally responsible for the wrongdoings of their companies - this was enacted after the Elf scandal [corpwatch.org]. We should do the same thing here, as well as suspend (or revoke in really egregious cases) the company's privilege to do business.

      • by usurper_ii (306966) <eyes0nly@quest4 . o rg> on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @08:02AM (#13040927) Homepage
        A picture is worth a 1000 words [nwsource.com]

        ...and a few chuckles
    • by FidelCatsro (861135) <fidelcatsro@gmail.TOKYOcom minus city> on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:18AM (#13040174) Journal
      Corporations love totalitarian requiems , Cheap labour , captive market and benefits galore.
      These companies are not bending to Chinese will , They are simply doing what they do best.

      I was watching a rather interesting documentary a few weeks back called "the corporation" which went over a few things in this area (along with describing the way that in America since corporations are described as legal people , they could be classified as psychopathic).
      http://www.thecorporation.com/ [thecorporation.com]
      • by D-Cypell (446534) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:57AM (#13040311)
        I may be burning karma here but I just wanted to second the recommendation in the parent.

        'The Corporation' is a fascinating documentry on the effects that multi-nationals have on our every day lives. Here (SE UK) I found a copy at the local blockbusters (and no, the irony is not wasted on me) if you can find a copy it is well-worth checking out.

        You may never drink milk or eat dairy products again!
    • by inmate (804874) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:28AM (#13040214) Homepage
      No, that's crap!
      Here in Europe, as I believe it is in the US too, Companies are given rights akin to people. They want to be treated like people. They create brands which reflect their 'personalities'.
      So, were I to say that people are only there to make money, and need no 'moral or social values', would you agree?
      Would it be alright if I used slave labour [nike.com]?
      Would it be alright if I killed for a more take-home every month [haliburton.com]?
      Lie [enron.com] and cheat [worldcom.com]?
      Bully my neighbours [microsoft.com] to score me a better deal?
      Were I such a person, I would be lynched real quick!

      Corporates are Sociopaths! [amazon.com]

      • Morally, you are correct. However, corporations are amoral entities. In the USA (at least), a corporation has a legal obligation to maximize shareholder value. They are not permitted to pass-up profits out of moral qualms (though they are not required to break the law to maximize profit).

        If a tobacco company proudly offers tips on quitting smoking, you can bet that there is a memo (with backing evidence) from the CEO in a drawer that says that this program will create more profit from goodwill than it w

    • by notany (528696) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:33AM (#13040228) Journal
      Companies don't live apart from moral or ethical dimensions of life.

      Thinking that it's governments responsibility to make moral rules is so stupid. Moral and law are not the same thing. There is laws that are immoral and you are not supposed to make rules for all moral behavior. Law and moral may overlap but they are not the same thing. Moral behavior means that you behave morally even if there is no punishment. Only immoral people (and immoral companies) act morally because they fear punishment.

      Moral values are to be expressed in all human behavior. Personal lives, work and politics. It's absurd to think that if enough people join together to run organization to make money (company), moral values do not apply.

      • Mob rules apply , it takes just one person with dubious ethics at the upper echelons to cause company to commit some rather dubious acts.
        Just look at the amount of companies and corporations that employ sweatshop labour with abhorrent working conditions and wages, I would like to bet that a majority of the work force within that organisation would be disgusted if they knew.
      • by ashp (2042)
        I think however, when a corporation is concerned morality is expressed differently. What a single person may be unwilling to do on moral grounds is considered differently when done on behalf of a company. Justifications start being used like "Well, it's not personal, just business."

        In addition, you have the fact that as part of a corporation, you are more or less anonymous when creating policy, unless you are at the very top of the chain, so like trolls on the internet, you have less restraint in your et
    • "I am little moron robot doing whatever my boss says, if its legal" attitude is what made holocaust possible. Or Srebrenica, more reciently.
    • DO blame companies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @05:06AM (#13040338)
      Companies are there to make money not for moral or social values. I'm not saying that's a good thing but that's how the system works. If there is money to be made in China, they will play by their rules to get it.

      IBM Germany was happy to make punch card systems to help the Nazis run their concentration camps. Companies are run by human beings. Decisions are made by human beings. We can blame the human beings who make immoral choices. Nuremberg established the principle that "I was just followong orders" does not absolve you of personal responsibility. Even less does it mean they cannot be criticised.

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @05:11AM (#13040351)
      I see alot of Corporation and Capitalism bashing, but where is the finger pointing at the real problem here?

      Communism. Thats the problem causing the Great Firewall of China, not Google or Microsoft or Cisco, but the underlying Totalitarianism of China.

      This is a system that's killed far more people than Hitler in the 20th Century. This is a Government bent on far more demanding and bloody Imperalism than the United States would ever think of and to get it's "lost" Taiwan back might very well embark on a war that would destablize not only the Pacific Rim but the entire World's Economy.

      Yet, on Slashdot, most of the time from what I've seen when theres a story about the Chinese Space Program or Linux, it's "Go China! Those good and resourceful folks!" And when it's about censorship, "Booo Capitalist Corporations who as enabling China!".

      China wants the Internet censored, if all the Corps in the Free World banned togeather and said no, China would roll thier own solution. If it wasn't Google and Cisco doing this, but IT companies in Germany would /. post on it?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @05:52AM (#13040448)
        Dont make the mistake of placing china=communism.
        China is not a communist state.
        Its got a capitalistic system running. No communist would want to be a good capitalist.
        China is a country run by a dictatorship which calls itself communist just out of tradition.
      • by zootm (850416) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @07:34AM (#13040793)
        Communism. Thats the problem causing the Great Firewall of China, not Google or Microsoft or Cisco, but the underlying Totalitarianism of China.

        Be consistent which is it? Totalitarianism or communism? One does not necessarily imply the other.

        Additionally, to call China "communist" has been laughable for more than a decade now. Don't be confused, the reason for this is totalitarianism, not communism. Whether their previous status as a communist state is the reason for their current totalitarianism is a debate for another day, but it's clearly neither what they are now, nor what is (or even would be) causing this problem.

        • Name for me a major communist state which was not also totalitarian.

          Stop splitting hairs and listen to the grandparents' point. It's a good one--it's not the western companies that are the root cause of this, but the Chinese government.
          • by notany (528696) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @08:40AM (#13041129) Journal
            This splitting hairs is not irrelevant. Fighting against communism today is form of propaganda. If we call China and North Korea communist countries and communism as something we are against, we can safely be friends with totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia. I [1]

            Interestingly Karl Marx is nowadays subject of study of many great economists. If you study economics in Ivy League you might have to reed Marx. Reason why the father of communism is so hip is because Marx had very good understanding of capitalism.

            Economists and political scientists note how the manifesto, written by Marx and Friedrich Engels, recognized the unstoppable wealth-creating power of capitalism, predicted it would conquer the world, and warned that this inevitable globalization of national economies and cultures would have divisive and painful consequences. "The manifesto speaks to our time," says Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at Harvard University. "Marx saw capitalism as the driving force of history. But he also warns of the divisions that capitalism's spread would bring, of the social orders destroyed."
            [1]The Political Science of Karl Marx [ox.ac.uk]
    • by maxpublic (450413) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @06:29AM (#13040534) Homepage
      Companies are there to make money not for moral or social values.

      Corporations are fictitious entities. They don't exist in any real form. The people who constitute the organized group activity we apply the label to, however, are quite real.

      And it's incumbant upon those people to act in an ethical fashion. Simply being part of the organization called 'a corporation' doesn't excuse immoral behavior. It's unfortunate that the courts allow the fiction of 'corporation' to shield evil-doers from prosecution in many cases and, I think, a rather clear perversion of any rational definition of the word 'person'.

      Sadly, there is no penalty for dealing with brutal dictatorships, or for betraying every ideal America supposedly holds dear by assisting that dictatorship in retaining power. But it's rather hard to press home the case for blame when the government does the very same thing (e.g., Saudi Arabia).

      Even so, I personally think that anyone willing to betray the ideals embodied in the Constitution are traitors and vermin. That includes both the swine at Google who assist the Chinese in building their great firewall and the swine in the federal government who actively prop up the Saudi royal family. And at the end of the day it isn't a 'corporation' or a 'government' that's to blame, but the people hiding behind these labels who're actually doing the dirty work that assists these dictatorships in maintaining their power.

      Max
  • If they choose to do that, it's to the Chinese public's loss. It's unfortunate that the citizens can't uproot and overcome this at least without a fair amount of debate in their society. Fortunately I don't think it has anything to do with the rest of us though.
    • Actually it is a loss in many ways.

      Firstly, it is a loss because many people will find it difficult to communicate effectively with people over there..

      Secondly, and unfortunately more importantly for lots of people with money, it makes China more difficult to deal with as an investment. China is a huge potential market for many many companies, and some of these are internet companies. With China's stranglehold on its internet, breaking into the market may be problematic at best, and impossible at worst.

      T
    • "Fortunately I don't think it has anything to do with the rest of us though."

      Taking your comment from the specific to the general, it's interesting that the American biologist E. O. Wilson [edge.org] has noted, in a different article I can't now locate, that China is the test case for humanity. His argument is that if China, with it's huge population, can find ways to provide for it's citizens, without destroying their ecology, then it's likely we, as a species will be able to overcome our current problems.

      While civ

      • While civil liberties are an important facet of China's development, its fast degrading eco-structure is a more telling and scary indicator.

        They're related, Chinese who've been poisoned by industrial waste are persecuted by local governments if they protest; newspapers which cover these stories are shut down or have their editors fired.

    • I think that the Chinese government is doing a remarkable job at making the people believe that their government is really much kinder to them than it really is. I've had Chinese people accuse me of being crazy because I like to have the freedom to bad-mouth my government if it needs bad-mouthing.

      The best slaves are the ones who think they're free -- and yes, that was a bit of irony. The Chinese government does not have a monopoly on oppressive policy.

    • Fortunately I don't think it has anything to do with the rest of us though.

      Until 20% of the males of a billion people are sent to take back Taiwan. And then teach Japan a lesson about WW II. And then for sake of national security decide to clean up the mess the Imperialist Capitalists have made of the Middle East.

      The reason why you do not grasp the problem is that the thought police has decided they would rather make a buck off of China, rather than indulge in fearmongering. And that you're stupi

  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mtrisk (770081) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:07AM (#13040129) Journal
    How long until they put up their own root servers? (ChinaNet, as someone mentioned in the earlier /. story.)
  • by msormune (808119) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:10AM (#13040139)
    "Slate (no longer owned by Microsoft, and therefore an acceptable place to find stories...)
    So an article in Slashdot about rights online with a message that Microsoft-owned news sources are sensored here? How appropriate.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Slate articles were posted on /. even when they were owned by MSN. I particularly remember this one [slashdot.org], which links to a Slate article recommending Firefox over IE.
    • Or: Microsoft funds articles by paying after the article is published, in a sort of "sponsor way" (Old /. post). So is Slate really independent, or do they just get paid afterwards?
  • uncensored?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:11AM (#13040146)
    Internet stopped being unregulated and uncensored long, long ago, when Police and Censorship noticed its growing potential... So they are trying to pointedly suppress it...
    • Who's they? I don't know anything about a group whose only goal is to censh;lkdh ;wihg[h2gio gh[ig *muffled scream*

      Nothing to see here, folks. Just a citizen expressing his glee with a good old hip hip hooray and all that. Move along, I hear there's a new Natalie Portman film, or a Dungeons and Dragons game, or something.

      Your pal,
      Dan... Dan... Dan Up Baby? Is that seriously hi--my name? Of course.
  • by typical (886006) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:15AM (#13040161) Journal
    Despite all this, you really have to hand it to the Chinese government. Consider that:

    * There is a legitimate concern that people reading articles critical of the government will cause enough upset to collapse the government.

    * The number of people involved that you are trying to black out information to number in the billions.

    * You can successfully convince a majority of these billions of people that it is in their own best interest to give up their own ability to decide what to read or say.

    I mean, yes, it's distasteful and all that, but beautifully executed. I don't think *I* could sucker 1.3 billion people, no matter how hard I tried.

    Actually, I was pretty impressed that they managed to push through their one-child policy as well -- that had to be a hell of a tough sell.
    • You aren't suckering 1.3 billion people. Maybe about 50 million. The vast majority don't have a computer, in fact, they may not know what a computer is. Honestly, the poor countryside is nothing like the cities. The one child policy has been relaxed since the mid 1990's. Now, certain groups can have more than one child, and the law was never airtight to begin with. People had multiple children and nothing really bad happened to them. The point of the policy was to convince enough people to have only one ch
    • You can successfully convince a majority of these billions of people that it is in their own best interest to give up their own ability to decide what to read or say.

      The chinese people didn't give anything up because they've never had that ability in the first place.

      Actually, I was pretty impressed that they managed to push through their one-child policy as well -- that had to be a hell of a tough sell.

      Sell? It's not like the people had a choice. China has a very stringent central government. P

  • by concept10 (877921) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:15AM (#13040166) Homepage
    "The Great Firewall of China"

    That the IP tables syntax will change from geek jibberish to simplified-Chinese?

    Damn, I will never learn how this CLI stuff.
  • Unfortunately, civil liberties and a "free" market are at odds.

    Even more unfortunate is a mostly non-free Chinese market and a country that denies its citizen freedom to information, while a mostly free USA aids them in closing off information access.

    It's a companies perogative to decide what it wants to do. But it's also a duty of a government to protect while not oppressing its people.

    Limiting circulation of governmental data to strengthen security is one thing. To prevent a people from accessing
  • by Alaren (682568) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:20AM (#13040180)

    "...some Western companies are actively co-operating with the Chinese government in their censorship."

    I think this particular statement should be carefully considered by every company and government agency with any real attachment to the Western ideals of freedom. I've heard a lot of excuses for this behavior, usually centering around a bad confusion between what is legal versus what is moral. There is also the argument that pouring our culture into Russia ended the Cold War and brought down the iron curtain, and so sharing with China in whatever ways they will allow should similarly bring about a free China. But all of these explanations funnel into the biggest problem--and the most obvious one.

    China is huge.

    Imagine the way these companies must feel when they see the largely untapped, rapidly growing Chinese marketplace. These businesses have a choice: do business the way the government wants, or risk being locked out of the Chinese market altogether. Making what seems like the obviously moral choice (don't make products, for instance, that arbitrarily censor debate and dissent regarding democracy and human rights) is not the profitable way to go.

    Then the justification begins. Doesn't the U.S. violate human rights, too? Doesn't the U.S. take pains to quell dissent? Won't the Chinese benefit from increased wealth and education and eventually democratize themselves? Won't the increased revenue streams into our companies put us in a better position to make a positive difference in China somewhere down the road? Who's to say that those people we helped put in jail for cybercrimes weren't really terrorists?

    Frankly it's upsetting to me that so many Americans want to use guns and bombs to democratize the Middle East, but will actively work against democratizing China! But here is the irony, the great secret of the socialists... our capitalism demands that we tap the untapped market, and so we shall be responsible for creating the rope with which we will hang ourselves... and our freedoms.

    • Lenin once said: "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them." This is the sentiment that the Chinese government is taking. This is the theoretical justification for what the government is doing now, and their control over the internet is merely a part of it. They are using the capitalist tools which were sold/given to them for their own uses, which will eventually not be what the capitalists want. So yes, I agree, the socialists wish to use the capitalists against themselves.
      • IMHO, China is "Socialist" primarily in name and origin or the current regime.

        It's really about power, the people who have it, and their desire to keep it. Socialism, Capitalism, Boontism, who cares, as long as the power stays where it is.

        I agree with a later poster, that having a freewheeling, energetic, innovative economy, PLUS rigid control from the top with perpetuation of power is an inconsistent model.
    • Imagine the way these companies must feel when they see the largely untapped, rapidly growing Chinese marketplace. These businesses have a choice: do business the way the government wants, or risk being locked out of the Chinese market altogether. Making what seems like the obviously moral choice (don't make products, for instance, that arbitrarily censor debate and dissent regarding democracy and human rights) is not the profitable way to go.

      I'm tired of profit being used as an excuse for unethical behav
    • There is also the argument that pouring our culture into Russia ended the Cold War and brought down the iron curtain, and so sharing with China in whatever ways they will allow should similarly bring about a free China.

      I'd like to echo this sentiment. By participating with Chinese censorship, these corporations are keeping the door open. The last thing we want is for China to put up an iron curtain and block access to anything outside of China. It's a delicate balance.

      Look at it this way. Technology alw

  • by BonoLeBonobo (798671) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:25AM (#13040201) Homepage
    In Soviet Russia ... ... there was no Internet :-)
  • by pavera (320634)
    The only reason Europe and America can even compete at all in the global market place with China around is because the chinese gov't keeps its people opressed. If China were to become democratic, or its billion people could read, study, learn and do anything they wanted, it would take about 5 years before the chinese owned every major asset in the world and we'd all be their slaves.
  • by tktk (540564) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:27AM (#13040210)
    I'm in a group of 5 friends that usually emails random stuff to one another. One buddy is working in China. He's got a 21cn.com email address.

    For a while, we all thought he was too busy to respond to our random email conversations. Turns out that he never received a lot of those emails. We all decided that it was because censorship but could never figure out what keywords brought it on. There didn't seem to be any rule-based system. It was almost as if millions of Chinese were censoring the emails of the other millions by hand.

    Well, except the sentence "Hey, is this getting censored?" That email always got censored.

    • by sita (71217) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @05:22AM (#13040388)
      Well there's this joke about someone sending a letter to his friend in Soviet, in the bad old days. He ended the letter with a note "I hope this letter gets through, in spite of the censorship". The letter was returned a few weeks later with a note attached: "This letter is returned as it contains false accusations against our country."
    • No, it's much more likely that indifferent or incompetent system administrators are to blame. I've heard more than once from friends who don't get any email, and then it either all arrives at once, or simply disappears. This is from guys at big companies who are connected with the government. Don't trust any IT service with .cn in the name. It was like pulling teeth to get a web hosting company to add a DNS entry for me, and that's dead-simple. Tell your buddy to get a gmail or yahoo account.

      It shoul

  • by forii (49445) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @04:32AM (#13040223)
    China isn't the first country to "filter" the internet. Other countries, such as Singapore and even "enlightened democracies" such as Australia, Norway and Sweden [telenor.com] also filter the Internet.

    Every country has the sovereign right to make its own laws. And since I don't believe that unfettered Internet access (however nice it is) falls in the category of a "Basic Human Right", I don't think that the companies that help China with the Great Firewall are committing any great sin.

    An objection could be made, I suppose, that blocking Child Porn is completely different from blocking information about Democracy, but I propose that it is merely a difference of degree. Every country has different morals, beliefs, and laws, and I think it's completely appropriate for companies to respect the local requirements. Once again, I don't think Internet access is a Basic Human Right, so I don't see any ethical issues here.
    • The only reason the child porn filters got applied in Sweden was because the tabloids (Aftonbladet and Expressen) decided to make it their issue of the day pretty much accusing swedish ISPs of being pro-child porn with arguments along the line of "other countries have it so uhm.. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!" and any voices pointing out that this system would be horribly inefficient were drowned by the battlecry of the tabloids...

      /Mikael

    • An objection could be made, I suppose, that blocking Child Porn is completely different from blocking information about Democracy, but I propose that it is merely a difference of degree.

      No, it's a difference in kind, not just of degree. It is illegal in the many countries to access child porn, but it is not illegal to debate the merits of child porn on the internet. Democracy is not the legal form of government in China, and it *is* illegal to debate its merits on the internet.

      Do you not see the differ

      • The goal of internet filtering is to prevent people from engaging in some prohibited activity. To block people from looking at illegal pictures, you block pictures. To block people from discussing illegal governments, you block discussions. One is images and the other is words, so they are different in that, but the goal of each type of ban is the same.
    • Once again, I don't think Internet access is a Basic Human Right, so I don't see any ethical issues here.

      It's not internet access that's being censored, but speech. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right, at least according to the UN.

      That's like saying there is no ethical issues with smashing printing presses, as owning a printing press is not a Basic Human Right.

      Same principle, newer technology.
      • It's not internet access that's being censored, but speech. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right, at least according to the UN.

        "Freedom of Speech" standards vary wildly from country to country, with most countries having laws that would be considered terribly restrictive in the United States. The US and UK have quite different standards for what speech is considered "acceptable", and libel lawsuits are often filed in the UK for speech that is perfectly fine in the US. Sweden bans "offensive" s
    • you know, I read this and I thought at first I agreed with you, but then I realized that really I didn't. It's 4 am and I'm not sure how well I'll be able to verbalize my disagreement, so bear with me.
      In abstract, I agree with the idea that a sovergen nation should be able to have it's own laws. Basically, if a bunch of people want to get together and live under whatever waky laws they can come up with like wood should smell different on wednesdays or it's a capitol crime to drink water from a seventeen
    • Telenor may be the major, but not the only ISP in Norway. I am surfing from Norway using NextGenTel as my ISP, and they are at least not telling their users that they have any kind of filtering. They have a policy close to this: "We supply the bandwidth and don't care what you use it for (as long as you don't break any laws)." The only complaints I have got is when they think your macheene is used as a zombie.
    • by sita (71217) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @05:49AM (#13040443)
      Once again, I don't think Internet access is a Basic Human Right, so I don't see any ethical issues here.

      No, neither is access to paper to print on, or printing presses, but we still take for granted that the government should not seize printing presses based on what ideas they were used to disseminate, and that that is a natural continuation of a basic human right, the freedom of expression (UN Declaration of the Human Rights, article 19, http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html [un.org]).

      So, if you regulate the Internet to weed out uncomfortable ideas, you are indeed violating the UN declaration of the Human Rights, to which I believe China is a party.

      Also:
      Every country has the sovereign right to make its own laws.

      Indeed, but by signing said convention, you are giving up a part of the sovereignity of the country (article 2).

      An objection could be made, I suppose, that blocking Child Porn is completely different from blocking information about Democracy, but I propose that it is merely a difference of degree.

      Do that. However, not that the freedom of expression protects the exchange of ideas and information. It can be argued that child porn is not an opinion. In all western democracies that prohibit child porn, it is still legal to have opinions about child porn (that it should be legal, for instance).

      The comparison had been more accurate if you had compared with how some companies cooperate with the French government to stop foreign nazi sites and goods to be served to the French public. The quite common European prohibition against racist incitement and other hate crimes are indeed an limitation of the freedom of expression (well-founded as it may be).
    • by varjag (415848) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @06:36AM (#13040561)
      It isn't in the declaration of human rights, but Internet is a natural part of what we consider free speech rights. Places that censor the Internet usually do the same with newspapers, TV broadcasts, books, they imprison and execute dissidents.

      I live in Belarus, a place gradually moving from moderate dictatorship to totalitarism. We have all the censorship in traditional media, and now there are moves to control the net access as well: forums impose self-censorship in fear of being shut down, gay sites get blocked, and opposition resources abroad suppressed during large political events.

      So I beg to disagree. Unless you don't give a damn about Human Rights in general, Internet censorhip is ammoral and harmful.
    • Every country has the sovereign right to make its own laws.

      Wrong. That is an outdated notion, stemming from the Peace of Westphalia, the notion that the fundamental political unit is the State.

      Modern political theory holds that the fundamental political unit is the individual. You may be familiar with a popular espousal of this political theory:

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among

  • I see... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Viraptor (898832)
    I see a new google poisoning action comming... this time misspelled democracy words for the crawler, like -> dmeocracy [democracynow.org].
    Can they filter it all out?
    • Easy: Filter all words which have any of 'd', 'e', 'm', 'o', 'c', 'r', 'a' or 'y' in it.

      Of course the above sentence would then just read: "in it". :-)
  • i dont know how it works, but i believe my cousin who has another internet provider than me cant reach any of the non-chinese websites. he tried downloading opera or msn from the original websites but without success. it was me who hat to forward it to him. i myself am living in beijing right now but have still access to all websites on the net. except lycos, tripod and geocities...
  • It's not infeasible, what's being talked about in TFA, but I'd view the information and conclusions with your Tabloid-ometer turned up to full. It was the following snippet that first made me wonder:

    "This massive internal network will be fast, but it will also be built by a single, state-owned company and easy to filter at every step. Its addressing system (known as IPv6) is scarcely used in the United States and may make parts of the Chinese Internet and the rest of the world mutually unreachable."

    As
  • by putko (753330)
    The only good thing I see in this is that the Chinese are moving to IPv6, so perhaps the rest of the world will upgrade too.

    It will take some big reason to make the switch; CHINA is hopefully a big enough reason.
  • by jurt1235 (834677) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @05:08AM (#13040342) Homepage
    And moving slowly goes 2 steps forward and 1 step back. The chinese goverment is the best communistic goverment around, since they manage not to break to much human rights, and really manage to distribute the wealth better as communistic herritage prescribes.
    A switch in China, which was to be expected after the fall of the Soviet Union, would probably solve these freedom problems, but replace it with utter poverty for more people, and will most likely break more civil and human rights.
    The chinese people know about democracy, they know what is wrong, and they have their own underground movements to push the right buttons to improve the situation. The attitude of chinese people is luckily a more mellow attitude than that of the US or western world, giving them the time to get those changes without a lot of blood shed.
    So for the mean time there will be a chinese firewall. Since we can not stop the chinese goverment from doing this, the chinese themselves will show them one day that it needs to stop. Lets try to stop our own goverments from imposing blocks on the internet, for example the US goverment forbids international gambling and pr0n sites. US companies (VISA/MASTER) help the goverment in this by preventing people who want to visit those sites from being able to pay using their creditcard. There are probably other blocks which are less visible (conspiracy theory?), and enough examples to fight in the US and other countries, where we live ourselves.
    • What, are you @#!%ing nuts? China does not "redistribute wealth". Since Deng Xiaoping's reforms after Mao died, China has pursued economic development. The CCP redifined several Marxist terms, and came up with the idea that socialism is not incompatible with economic policies such as private ownership of the means of production and free markets. China is absolutely stuffed to the gills with free markets nowadays. It's like the Marco Polo days...buy stuff, transport it elsewhere, and sell it.
    • Hello from China (Score:3, Informative)

      by invid (163714)

      Well, I just read this article from an Internet connection in Shanghai. It will be interesting to see if it posts.

  • by Hal XP (807364) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @05:12AM (#13040354) Journal

    Blame the confusion between free enterprise and democracy for the sorry spectacle of companies from supposedly "democratic" countries going out of their way to cater to the whims of a supposedly "communist" country.

    For a long time free enterprise did equal democracy. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was held up as the prime example of a non-capitalist and non-democratic state. Here was proof for the peoples of the developing world that democracy went hand-in-hand with capitalism. China's success proved that this need not be the case.

    Some free enterprise appears to be necessary to promote democracy: the right to be as rich as the corrupt bureaucrat next door. But China proved that it's possible to get rich in a supposedly socialist setting even if you're not a card-carrying member of the party. You can make money if you know when to shut up.

  • And who's to say... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MadCow42 (243108) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @05:21AM (#13040383) Homepage
    that YOUR internet isn't already being filtered in some way?

    Maybe the US gov't is doing the same thing, just on a more subtle and un-obvious way.

    Just because we think we live in an open and free society doesn't mean that we're not fed as much propaganda as the rest of the world - it just means it's not so blatant.

    My favorite example is CNN.com - if you visit the page often enough, you'll occasionally see a major headline story show up, and two minutes later it's gone... with NO word about that story ever again (anywhere on CNN.com). Searching overseas news sources will often bring up the whole story, but not always.

    Obviously, someone censors these things after they appear - in a country where freedom of the press is supposedly paramount, this is a very scary thing.

    MadCow.
    • > Obviously, someone censors these things after they appear - in a country where
      > freedom of the press is supposedly paramount, this is a very scary thing.

      You want to talk scary... Judith Miller is sitting in a jail cell _right
      now_, for being unwilling to reveal an anonymous source for story on
      the Valerie Plame leak.

      Things are tough all over.
  • by JaymzF (899132)
    I do understand why China get upset about things like this, I honsestly think that our (Western)history is all lies, which a lot of it is rubish. Even looking at the differences between UK and US history their are massive holes. I think that keeping the Chinese people locked into a "Chinese world" is the best thing that China can do. Otherwise people might get VIEWS and BELIEFS, which IMHO would be exteemly a bad thing considering that the Chinese goverment is possibly the most backward in the world.
  • by Ulf667 (227615) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @06:31AM (#13040542)
    Why does all journalism on China assume that Chinese youths using the internet yearn to overthrow the government? FTFA: They point out that when chat rooms are closely monitored, people start talking about "cabbages" when they mean "democracy. If you replace "democracy" with "porn" then you may have something. But the belief that all Chinese want democracy and want it now, is just ethnocentric. The economy is steadily improving, so people are happy. That is, the middle-class folk who use the internet are happy, because get a large benefit from the stability of the government and the economy. The only kind of people who would be interested in overthrowing the governemnt in China are the peasants. I hear every other day (not through the official news here in China) about peasant riots over something; usually development companies making land grabs on peasant communities. So these kinds of peasants obviously have nothing to lose, and maybe even have something to be gained in a change of the system. So yea, they might be intersted in reform. But they are to poor to be on the internet. So review: people who use the internet, have a vested intersted in the stability of the system, don't want revolution. Please get this through your heads jouranlists of the world.
    • It is a persistant and unfortuneate myth that only people who have nothing to lose will fight. Most people who work effectively at overthrowing any given government ARE middle class, educated, etc. The peasants provide foot soldiers later when full scale fighting breaks out. The history of China provides a good example.

      But before full scale fighting breaks out, you need people who actually have power to start the war. Look at the Islamist who really cause problems: they are well educated people from
  • Good ole censorship (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WildBeast (189336) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @06:34AM (#13040553) Journal
    That's all I have to say.

    "Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime." - Justice Potter Stewart, US Supreme Court
  • by LS (57954) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @07:13AM (#13040692) Homepage
    I can tell you right now that there isn't much difference between the United States and China at a certain level. Yes, China has a huge amount of poor, they censor the media, and the government doesn't have any pretense of public input into policy decisions.

    But when you make a comparison, you find that the United states has these same problems, but only to a different degree. The US has poverty and financial hardship - you can easily find statistics through a google search. The US indirectly censors the media, if you consider that the vast majority of the public only receives it's information from mainstream corportate sources that are deeply tied with members of the US government and will only present a certain view point. And the people really don't have a real say in the political process, considering that the US isn't really a true democracy - it's a pseudo-republic, one with two entrenched millionaire clubs that are highly exclusive and aristocratic.

    You only have to look at the last thousand Slashdot stories to find hundreds of examples of abuse of power in the US. I'm living in China and find everything just as comfortable here, and I am actually able to access almost all the information that those in the US are.

    Ideologically the US and China are different, but in reality they are not much different.

    LS
  • by blackhedd (412389) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @07:15AM (#13040699)
    We like to think that free societies are happy and successful because they are free and open, and in fact the example of their success will encourage others.
    China is now trying to prove the opposite. They are trying to control their own people, and motivate them through a shared sense of national purpose and recovery of past greatness.
    The last government that tried this was the Nazis. And it took millions of lives to suppress that threat.
    The government of China is replaying the experiment. But they have time, numbers, capital, and unlimited reserves of patience on their side.
    We are now engaged in the last great test of freedom, people. Wake up, we live in interesting times.
  • by prestwich (123353) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @07:17AM (#13040706) Homepage
    What is needed here (but would of course be difficult to do - both politically and technically) is to make laws at the EU or US level that ban their companies from participating in censorship - probably impossible to get through though
  • by ChrisCampbell47 (181542) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @08:33AM (#13041096)
    That post had truly awful grammar and spelling, even by Slashdot's dismal standards. I guess this is where we are heading when everyone gets their familiarity with written English from online flame wars.

    Note: I'm not a liberal arts major -- I have two engineering degrees. Being a technologist does not excuse you from knowing your language. Cue arguments for why knowing your language matters ...

"Just the facts, Ma'am" -- Joe Friday

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