Posted by: John Savageau in china, censorship on
Jun 30, 2009
Possibly due to international pressure, possibly due to the fact it probably simply wouldn't work, China has made a decision to delay the deadline for companies to install the controversial "Green Dam" software in all new computers sold in the country. The software package, formally called "Green Dam Youth Escort," was promoted by the Chinese government as a utility to protect Chinese citizens from being exposed to pornography.
However, once the package was released to manufacturers and testing organizations it quickly became apparent the software had other features, including filtering words and topics deemed too sensitive for Internet users. Those topics include phrases like "Falun Gong," and "7/4 (a reference to the Tianamen Square Massacre)." If a user typed sensitive phrases into a browser search window, Green Dam would immediately close the browser window denying the user access to both the browser and content.
Other content being requested resulted in POP UP screens announcing the content is "harmful" to web viewers.
Internet censorship is control or suppression of the publishing or accessing of information on the Internet. (Wikipedia)
Attempts to censor Internet content have been around for years. In the good old days of the US Internet we had a lot of innovative censorship ideas including the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the "clipper chip." In recent years we've added additional utilities demanded by the Children's Internet Protection Act and Online Predators Act.
It is not only the United States. Many countries around the world restrict Internet access for a variety of reasons, both political and to prevent access to "indecent" materials.
"We see headlines like this coming from communist China, but never expect that it could happen here in Minnesota," Matt Werden, the Minnesota state director for the non-profit Poker Players Alliance, said in a statement. "This is about keeping the Internet free of censorship and ensuring that law abiding citizens can enjoy a game of Texas Hold 'Em in the comfort of their own homes, whether it's online or with a group of friends."
Minnesota has entered the war on gambling by order of the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED), directing the main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to more than 200 suspected online gambling sites located around the world. "We are putting site operators and Minnesota online gamblers on notice and in advance," says John Williams, director of AGED. "Disruption of these sites cash flow will negatively impact their business models. State residents with online escrow accounts should be aware that access to their accounts may be jeopardized and their funds in peril." ("iMEGA to get involved in Minnesota Gambling Matter")
Now I am not a fan of gambling. In fact, even with nearly monthly visits to Las Vegas for business and other travel, I can think of less than a handful of times I have actually gone near a slot machine, and I do not know enough about card games or other games to even waste the time at a table. On the other hand, I adamantly am opposed government censorship of media. I have lived in China, Mongolia, and other countries where control of the media is absolute. The government lets the public see what it wants the public to see or hear, and that changes the way people think. Censorship is about the same as propaganda, as censorship is the same as thought leadership.