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Congress Mulls China's Networked Authoritarianism 156

eldavojohn writes "Rebecca MacKinnon tipped her hand about her congressional statements on China and how much Americans are invested in China's censorship, delivered today at a hearing on 'China's Information Control Practices and the Implications for the United States.' In an attempt to describe what China is pioneering, she coins the term 'networked authoritarianism.' Of most concern was Baidu, which has two Americans on its board of directors (out of five) as well as a lot of funding from American investors and mutual funds. From her testimony (PDF): 'As I have described in my testimony, the Chinese government has transferred much of the cost of censorship to the private sector. The American investment community has so far been willing to fund Chinese innovation in censorship technologies and systems without complaint or objection. Under such circumstances, Chinese industry leaders have little incentive and less encouragement to resist government demands that often contradict even China's own laws and constitution.' Is Congress genuinely concerned or are they just curious how they can make 'networked authoritarianism' work for them?"
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Congress Mulls China's Networked Authoritarianism

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  • Congress Is Right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Haffner ( 1349071 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:03AM (#32744840)
    Oh man, I can't wait until we get networked authoritarianism too! That internet killswitch idea was a step in the right direction but this is so much better!
  • Both (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrsteveman1 ( 1010381 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:09AM (#32744954)

    Is Congress genuinely concerned or are they just curious how they can make "networked authoritarianism" work for them?"

    I thought it was pretty clear at this point, our elected officials are two-faced pricks, whining about freedom everywhere else while doing everything they can to ruin it at home to "protect children" or "stop tourists".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:12AM (#32745016)

    I imagine that most of the the U.S. government, down to the city level, is just salavating over the Chinese system.

  • in this thread (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <> on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:26AM (#32745238) Homepage Journal

    will be a bunch of whines about their government selling out its principles to corporate influence, and how nothing can stop chinese policy, and this is our future, and we live in a corporatocracy...

    and every single person making that comment, modding that comment up, or reading and nodding their heads ARE PART OF THE FUCKING PROBLEM

    believe the world can be better. believe it. but if you only have that same tired easy typical empty cynicism that things are only getting worse, or that none of this situation can be changed YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM

    yes, corporations and authoritarianism threaten your freedoms. the only question is: what the fuck are YOU going to do about it? if it is nothing but whine and ACCEPT THE STATUS QUO, then you are part of the fucking problem with what is wrong with this world. YOU ARE

    there will always be threats to liberty and freedom. always, forever more. the existence of your liberties is a constant maintenance problem, forever. it is never, and never was, a concept that is fought for once, and then never worried about again. so now it falls on your shoulders form previous generations who actually fought for the legal status quo you enjoy. what are you fucking going to do about it?

    the only question as to how far threats to your freedom goes is how far those who wish to defend the notion of liberty will push back. but if you don't push back, you just fucking whine and complain and accept with the typical lazy easy pessism and cynicism, and you want to know where your freedom went,

    look in the fucking mirror

  • by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:27AM (#32745262)

    For the ethical investor, there are two possible responses to this problem. One is divestment from all ethically challenging situations.

    OK, I'll have to pull my money out of all investments because I can find an ethical problem with everything. That doesn't server me. Selfish? Tell me that when I'm older and on government aid - your tax money - because I don't have a pot to piss in.

    The other is engagement and advocacy, using financial leverage to work for positive change in industry practices and even government regulation.

    Nobody will listen to a nobody with only a few thousand dollars in their mutual funds. They won't even listen to someone with a few million invested. Giant multi-billion dollar multi-national corporations really don't have to listen to anyone.

    How much business is Google really losing? China is a Third World country. Most of their population is a bunch of farmers living in poverty. Advertising to most of them is pointless. And the Chinese in the big cities? How much is that business worth.

    And in the process of this "protest" they're getting quite a bit of good PR.

  • by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:33AM (#32745368)

    The US Government must win. Lives are on the line. If the US Government loses than many people protected by the US Government could be killed. The US Government therefore cares only about winning wars and battles. The easiest way to win is to maximize control over land, sea, air, information, human resources, etc.

    I don't particularly like this fact but it's just how it is. Winning the war is all they care about and in some cases they don't even care about that. Winning is defined as winning militarily which means having the most power. This is not the same thing as having the most liberty or protecting the Constitution. Politics are about power distribution, war is about power distribution, money is about power distribution, and to win you must have might.

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:34AM (#32745402) Homepage

    I've been saying this same essential thing for years, though instead of calling it "networked authoritarianism" what I've called it is "cyberpunk corporate feudalism".

    The corporations control everything in today's world. Sure, the governments still have their military, but corporations operate within the nation states largely autonomously and often in partially parasitic relationships: if the corporation doesn't like the environment, it leaves.

    Corporate relationships change much in the same way as nation-states and fiefdoms did during the Middle Ages: smaller gets absorbed by larger, larger breaks into smaller, and the larger ones fight against each other - but for everyone looking on, nothing substantial really tends to change.

    States, and the people living within them, don't really have much (if any) sway over these corporations. They operate under their own rules (only in so much as they don't get caught). In essence, they're operating as the countries of the later Middle Ages did towards the Holy See - except the State is God. They'll do whatever they can get away with, and if the state finds out or protests, they'll just leave - or take over.

  • Next logical step. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:36AM (#32745428) Homepage Journal

    The government is full of competitors, people who fight for their "right" to rule. The next logical step is to force your views on the playing field and try to protect the integrity of your memes.

    Other politicians are risk enough, but it's the vast number of citizens who can cause real change if they wanted. That's why politicians want the people who take orders from them to be the only ones with guns. Now that the internet is a serious threat because of the power it gives to people that shadows the threat of guns.

  • by slick7 ( 1703596 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:37AM (#32745452)

    The fact is that Western companies are making money by selling China technology to stomp on basic rights. We can dicker all day about what exactly that means, but what it boils down to is a combination of "we are just following orders" and "money trumps human rights". Greed and cowardice, the very pillars of modern corporatism.

    You fail to see the business model. American business sells the Chinese all our technology so they can convert it to a draconian system of repression and suppression, the American business will then sell the rights to the American system to the Chinese (hello Baidu, so long Google) with a killswitch!
    A perfect scheme, total usurpation of the American way by foreign competition on the cheap. Wait until the bonuses come rolling in.

  • by jgagnon ( 1663075 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:37AM (#32745462)

    There is nothing modern about greed, especially the corporate/government variety.

    This continues to be the same fight through all of history between the "haves" and the "have nots". Those who have money and/or power doing as much as they can for as little as they can in an effort to make more money and gain more power. If they just happen to help other people make a living along the way, so be it. Sure, some do this to help their fellow man, but the vast majority do not have that as a primary focus or goal. For the majority, it is all about money and power.

    The primary difference we have today is that of corporations replacing the role of governments of the past. Corporations span the world and have become the new empire while governments continue a downward spiral into meaninglessness. Expect a lot of years of fighting in this war.

  • Re:Both (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:42AM (#32745538)

    "stop tourists"

    So the Gulf oil spill was an inside job? Senator Robert Byrd threatened to talk, that's why he had to go. It's all starting to make sense now!

    I don't have any evidence to support any of those conspiracies and neither do you. So why bring that up? To discredit me? Did I reveal too much of the truth?

    This is the problem. We hide the truth to maintain a false reality. We maintain the false reality to keep young naive kids believing, hoping, having faith in government and it's power. Government does not exist to for any reason other than to gain power just as corporations only exist to profit. Accept it.

    If you accept it you can still recognize that governments are essential. Let's just not kid ourselves and lie to ourselves to convince ourselves that our government is perfect, or that our government has some sort of divine ideology, or that it's anything more than an entity that was created for, designed for the sole purpose of winning wars. It's essentially a war machine.

  • by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:54AM (#32745782)

    Governments are war machines. They don't care about anything else. Rights can be used to help win wars but the purpose of all national governments is to function as a war machine. If you care about rights then you should support the UN.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:09PM (#32746052)

    Governments are war machines. They don't care about anything else. Rights can be used to help win wars but the purpose of all national governments is to function as a war machine. If you care about rights then you should support the UN.

    When the UN decides that giving a monopoly on force to governments is a bad idea, I might consider supporting them more than I do. Right now, they look like they just want to be a bigger government (and hence, by your definition, a bigger war machine).

  • by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:11PM (#32746086)

    There is no real good and evil dollar. There is just dollars. In the end the team which has the most of them decides what is good and what is evil for the people who have the least of them.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:30PM (#32746400)

    Thats a very good point. But the UN has no army so they aren't going to become a war machine anytime soon. The UN is more of a police agency combined with a charter. They don't really have power so nation states still control the UN and probably will for a long long time.

    And this explains why I should support them?

    Sorry, that they're a government wannabe who supports giving governments a monopoly on force doesn't really convince me of their value....

    Note, by the way, that giving the UN a monopoly on force is not in my interests either....

  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @12:33PM (#32746436)

    There is no real good and evil dollar. There is just dollars. In the end the team which has the most of them decides what is good and what is evil for the people who have the least of them.

    If I'm a manufacturer of hand tools and someone buys one of my axes and uses it to chop up his family, that's awful but I'm really not at fault here. I can put a sticker on future axes that says "Please don't chop up your family with this tool" but it's not my problem. If I'm a manufacturer of industrial shredders and there's a rich gentleman in Columbia who has one installed on his estate and my technicians keep having to get sent out to service it because there's a lot of meat and gore stuck in the thing, this is the point where I get to question just what the hell I'm supporting here. Whatever that guy's doing on his estate, I'm enabling it. Plausible deniability? Bullshit.

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