Friday, 18 May 2007

Big Brother is censoring you

Here is something a little disturbing.

A recent report , from the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society, indicates that state-mandated internet filtering is being introduced by a growing number of states around the world.

John Palfrey, at Harvard Law School, said that the report was an attempt to shine a spotlight on filtering to make it more transparent.

He indicated that in the last five years net filtering has risen from a couple of states doing it to twenty five. "There has also been an increase in the scale, scope and sophistication of internet filtering."

The filtering has three main justifications: politics and power, security concerns and social norms. Apparently it almost always happens in the shadows and the levels of censorship are expected to increase.

He said: "What's regrettable about net filtering is that almost always this is happening in the shadows. There's no place you can get an answer as a citizen from your state about how they are filtering and what is being filtered."

Rafal Rohozinski, a Research Fellow of the Cambridge Security Programme stated that "Few states restrict their activities to one type of content.". Apparently once a state starts filtering, it does it on a broad range of content.

States carrying out the broadest range of filtering included Burma, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. No real surprises there then.

States the survey detected censoring the net are: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burma/Myanmar, China, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.

Before you feel all warm, smug and safe though keep in mind that the report also said that the US and a number of European States were not tested because the private sector tends to carry out filtering, instead of the Government.

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