Internet and Democracy

30 Aug

After reading Morozov’s article, I doubt that the power of governments’ internet censorship can do against technology and the raising sense of freedom of speech. We all know that some countries use internet censorship to control any data and information which spread on the Internet. Take China for instance, as far as I know, China has “the great firewall” to block people in China to get on Facebook, Youtube and many other websites. Also, they cannot find anything politically sensitive such as the Tiananmen Square incident on websites. However, the interesting thing is, in spite of the strict control from government, people in China can still find the way reach the “real” virtual world. There is much software they can find online to “unblock” the block website. That is, even if the Chinese government tries to prevent people gain or spread information from the Internet, there is always a way for people breaking through the block. Just like the days before First Amendment, there were many documents and articles which still was wide-spreading underground in every possible way. I think that with higher pressure, the power of the public feedback will be stronger. The public feedback will be like a slow revolution against government.

The other thing which I think about is the Google.cn case. Google announced that they may withdraw from China at January 2010 since the suspicious cyber attack toward Gmail serve and the Chinese government’s filter. However, July 2010, Google announced on their official blog that they had renewed their ICP license and would continue to serve users in China. From this case, first thing I thought about is “why did Google compromise?” Yet, after reading Google’s announcement precisely, I am confused by who is really the one compromised. In the announcement, Google clearly pointed out “we stay true to our commitment not to censor our Google.cn and give users access to all of our services from one page.” Actually, Google.cn only provides music and translating functions now. Clicking the search bar on Google.cn, it will redirect users to Google.hk which seems to be an “unfitered” search engine. Which means, Google still withdrew the most important searching function from China but can still stays in Chinese market. From the report here, we can see that Google definitely won in the business side. In my opinion, I think that Google may also create a step in democracy aspect in China. Of course, can Google defeat the local search engine Baidu or not is another story…

http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~johnswu/index.html

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/update-on-china.html

http://www.newsy.com/videos/china-renews-google-s-license

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5 Responses to “Internet and Democracy”

  1. Sijia September 2, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    Yes,the intelligence of Web users is unlimited. In China, we do have various kinds of “wall-climbing” (as you may guess, the “wall” refers to fire-wall)tools and tutorials that help people log on Youtube, Facebook and other blocked Web sites.

    About the Google news, I don’t know who has compromised. I was in China this summer and before I came back to Gainesville(which is early August), people were still redirected to google.com.hk automatically. I tried it here yesterday, now I have to click a link to go to google.hk and I can view information like Tiananmeng Square incident. I don’t know if the same situation happens in China right now, I’ll ask my friends to find it out.

  2. Shine Lyui September 2, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    It seems like Google never wanted to pull out of China completely even at the time when it decided to shut down its server. “In a blog post, Google said it would retain much of its existing operations in China, including its research and development team and its local sales force.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/technology/23google.html). And not long ago Google started their hiring spree (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/infotech/internet/Despite-problems-Google-on-hiring-spree-in-China/articleshow/6241504.cms) that their ads could be found almost everywhere. On the other side, the Chinese government and advertisers certainly won’t be too happy to see search monopoly continue to grow in the long term. So, I think a win-win situation will be guaranteed for both sides eventually.

  3. Xuerui September 2, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    Yes, I agree with you that no matter the government block the informaiton or not, there is always a way for users to find it out. Like Sijia mentioned earlier, some softwares could help to unblock the websites. Social networking sites and online forums also provide a platform for Internet users to exchange information. Among millions of Internet users, there got to be someone know about the unblocked information. “There isn’t a wall which hasn’t a rack.” As far as public feedback, I doubt if it is going to work. Since the government has the power to block our websites, won’t it block our feedback and comments either? Maybe I am too pessimistic. But let’s expect the day we do not need to “climbing the wall” to reach the resources we want. ^_^

  4. Mindy McAdams September 2, 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    I like the idea of “a slow revolution against government” — I thought of what happens when we drop some paint into clear water: slowly, the paint color spreads out.

    Your remarks about Google in China are very sharp (good) — who is the rider, and who is the horse?

    Your link to “China Renews Google’s License” at Newsy is a good one — and I was surprised to see how Newsy is making an aggregate story out of the stories broadcast or published in other news outlets! (I wonder if the organizations they are “borrowing” from will bring a lawsuit against Newsy?)

    In future posts, please integrate your links into the main text of your blog post — instead of hanging them at the end. It makes things easier for the reader.

    Your link to the site titled “Internet Censorship in China” is relevant, but it’s just a website by a college student:

    http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~johnswu/aboutme.html

    Even though it appears to be a pretty good collection of information, I think it’s better if your links go to more established and reliable sites and authors. (I enjoyed reading that the student author’s “hobbies include eating sushi and chilling”!)

    Your link to “An update on China” is a very good choice — the source is the official blog of Google.

    HOWEVER, all your links are about only one thing: censorship in China. Please read the Blog Post 1 assignment carefully:

    http://mmc6612.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/blog-post-1-your-first-graded-assignment/

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