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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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  • Re:Congress Is Right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:09AM (#32744964) Journal

    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.

  • by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:39AM (#32745480)

    Governments have military objectives. These objectives could be to secure the middle east. To win the war in Afganastan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan etc. To protect Isreal. To isolate and defeat North Korea. To beat the Soviets.

    It has nothing to do with principles. Principles are useful to help you win. Principles are a tactic, a means to an end rather than an end in itself. The only principle is to win. Winning means to protection national security. To maintain super power status. To protect the national interest. This usually means to control global resources, to control information, to control land, sea, air, and to maintain control over all assets.

    It's fine if the government thinks this way but it's not right for the government to lie to it's own people, even it's own soldiers about why they fight. It's only the exceptionally smart or exceptionally experienced who figure out how it really works. It's not about principles and all about power. Nationalist vs Nationalist is what it's about. The US Nation against the Russian or Iran or North Korea or China or whomever challenges US global dominance. It's that simple.

  • and cynicism is a fine philosophy until you figure out that principles actually do exist, because some people actually believe in them, and these people are the only ones who ever make a difference or matter

    everyone else is as you describe: parasites playing the system, the status quo, stasis. but if the world is nothing but parasites, and no host, then the parasites die: nothing gets better, natural decay leads us to worse, and the parasites certainly won't labor to make our situation any better

    so understand your place in the world because of the words you have written: a parasite, and understand why your life has no meaning or dignity

    or understand there is no pride or happiness or anything of value in what you believe, and stop being such a fucking parasite

  • Re:Congress Is Right (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @11:53AM (#32745750) Journal

    IIRC, when Putin seized the TV stations, he brought in an American company to manage them.

    The President is constitutionally charged with making foreign policy. Congress is constitutionally charged with approving treaties and passing laws.

    If you want it, they will put a stop to it. China may do it anyway themselves, but at least the US can stop its citizens directly from helping, and can put a huge, heavy hand on other countries and companies (especially ones that also do business in the US.)

  • so many people who believe "this is the way life is" actually believe "this is the way MY life is"

    the boundaries and limitations they perceive on themselves, they think apply to other people. they don't

    what principles you believe in matters. for example: ghosts don't exist. but if you believe in ghosts, it alters your behavior, and therefore, your belief in ghosts matters. if enough people believe in ghosts, human society (not the natural world, but we're not talking about that: define your terms) is altered to match this

    human society is self-emergent phenomenon. it is bound only by what people believe, not just natural laws. this makes it very powerful. if i believe in clothing, cities, electrical wires, court systems... then this is what i will live in, instead of a cave. this applies to technology... and principles of society

    if you believe in something like, say, human dignity, that matters. you can say human dignity doesn't exist, and that's true, according to mother nature. she'll kill you in the most brutal sudden insulting ways, and carry on in a blink, your entire existence a forgotten joke. but in the realm of human society, belief in human dignity alters behavior such that human dignity becomes a REAL (in the bounds of human society) concept. people grieve. they write songs about your passing, they build pyramids: human dignity is a principle, and its effects are palpable, and so it matters

    there also exists cynics, like yourself. they don't alter society, as a consequence of their own beliefs in not mattering. they live in the shadows, feeding off the positive efforts of others. they won't contribute: they don't believe in contributing to causes, but they're happy for the clothing, the cities, the electrical wires, the sense of justice, the notion of freedom, the human conscience, that others full of belief labored to build into edifices of human society. they're dead weight, they're parasites. they'll say your life has no meaning, but they won't apply that principle to themselves. they still love to live, a life that supposedly has no meaning, according to their words: hypocrites

    those laboring under beliefs and principles are defining human society are actually making substantial differences. while those who simply sit there and deny that the effort matters in the end, only define the terms under which they themselves don't matter in the end

    what you believe in comes to define your reality. so if you believe in nothing, you define your existence as nothing (but not my existence). your lack of faith and belief does not limit me, only you. meaning is a proof positive venture. so if you put nothing positive forth, your meaning is emptiness. that you have chosen, not me. but if i state my meaning as something that other people can understand and grasp and coordinate with me, then our meaning in life becomes the fruit of efforts laboring under a system of belief that we define. and that becomes real. the pyramids: someone built them, because someone believed in them. this boundary of belief, or lack thereof, is the only real limitation we labor in our entire lives. that you choose to believe in nothing, and do nothing, means you leave behind nothing... but the pyramids still exist. because someone believed in them. and your lack of belief did not negate them. you've only negated anything you could have done yourself

    that's your place in this world: please understand that the callous limitations you have defined in human society are only limitations on your life. but not on mine. you've described the terms in which your life is empty and without meaning, but you haven't defined the terms under which my life does have meaning. and in the end, i'm the only one who matters, because i leave something positive that others can carry on and invest in further, and so, many generations down the road, you have tremendous societal constructs that millions live under in belief in, whether they be notions of liberty, generosity, freedom, fair play, or any other positive be

  • Re:in this thread (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Wednesday June 30, 2010 @01:34PM (#32747502) Homepage Journal

    yes, corporations and authoritarianism threaten your freedoms. the only question is: what the fuck are YOU going to do about it?

    Well, personally, I intend to continue doing what I (and a few thousand others, many of whom are friends of mine) have been doing: I'll continue to find ways to develop the Net into something that, as John Gilmore so elegantly put it, treats censorship as packet damage and routes around it. This approach can be (and has been) done at all levels of the hardware and software stack. Identify the damage, and find alternate ways of getting the data through. Don't worry about whether the contents are "good" or "bad"; that's for the endpoints in the exchange to decide. As a developer of the Net's components, our job has been to just Get The Data Through.

    It was understood from the start that a lot of damaged or lost data packets are because of hostile action. Dealing with enemy action was an important part of [D]ARPA's original requirements for the ARPAnet. Remember that it was built mostly with military funding. The idea was to build a comm system that would Get The Data Through despite efforts of assorted enemies to block it. Those enemies were understood to be government agencies, typically of a different government. But the developers didn't spend too much time on such mundane details. It was understood that there were assorted forces, natural and man-made, that would attempt to block or destroy data in transit. Lightning, bombs and court orders can target your routers or antennas. It was the job of the developers to find (partial) solutions to this general problem and Get The Data Through.

    Actually, it probably helped a lot that the developers didn't concentrate on any particular kind of "enemy". If they had done so, the result would probably be a lot less robust than what we have now.

    There was one major part of the original design that hasn't been well implemented, and it's a source of a lot of our current problems: The ARPA/Internet was supposed to be multiply interconnected as much as possible. The more alternate routes there are, the more likely it is that the system can find good paths. Multiple paths means that you can route around congestion, and give faster results even during busy times. And multiple paths means that the enemy trying to block your data has a much more difficult job, since the software can find alternate paths and route around the blocking.

    But this is an implementation detail. The important thing is that developers continue to work on solving the general problem of "Get The Data Through". Congestion, blown fuses, storm damage, and political censorship are all special cases of the general problem that we're trying to solve.

    The best approach is to just continue working on this problem. Any tools we have to solve it will help solve the censorship problem as a side effect.

    In the long run, China's attempts to limit their population's access to information will mostly hurt their own economy. To be part of the future world, China needs strong network connectivity to the whole world. The better that connectivity is, the more difficult it will be for them to block their citizens' access to information of any sort. This isn't because of explicit attempts to block censorship; it's because a good network is so interconnected that the software can always find a good way to Get The Data Through.

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