INTERNET CENSORING GOING GLOBAL
Jon Christian Ryter
September 7, 2009
On June 3, 2009, one day before the 20th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, the Chinese government censored its own people by blocking their access to the Internet. In addition to blocking the ability of Chinese people to access the Internet, international sites like Blogger, Flickr, and Twitter were placed behind the Great Firewall of China, as were Wordpress and Hotmail. The Australian Parliament was the first official government body to condemn the actions of the Chinese. Green Party Senator Scott Ludlam of the Austrian Parliament criticized China, noting that the "...newly blocked sites now join the existing ban on YouTube and Wikipedia, among a growing list that is thought to include over 6,000 online university websites." The timing of this move is no coincidence.
On June 4, 1989, the Chinese government implemented lethal force against students peacefully protesting for political reform. It is thought that thousands of unarmed students were killed in the melee, which remains a taboo topic within China. "It's clear," he concluded, "that the Chinese authorities want to quash any chance of its citizens discussing the historic event, for fear of similar reprisals. Many of China's younger generations are largely unaware of what happened in Tiananmen Square on that fateful day, due to decades of government-controlled education, media and historical records. Governments worldwide simply don't seem to understand the nature of free-flowing information on the Internet, with several undertaking various forms of government-controlled filtering programs."
Ludham concluded that he would urge "...Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to stand up and make Australia's opposition to this very clear on the international stage." One wonders Ludham's reaction when the Australian Labor Party tried to implement a policy which would allow the government to initiate an Internet filtering system that would impact all Australians. The Labor Party did not have the votes in the Senate to enact the legislation last summer. Even though the program was theoretically scuttled, a whistleblower leaked information to WikiLeaks that the Australian Communications and Media Authority [ACMA], the Internet regulatory authority, had constructed a website blacklist. The blacklist would deal with "illegal" or "prohibited" content as defined by the ACMA
On March 18, 2009 WikiLeaks published a list of 2,300 websites which were on the Labor Party's hit list. The Australian government replied, on March 19 that since the ACMA list contained only 1,370 websites, this was not their list. In point of fact, it now appears that there are about 9,000 websites that are being targeted by the Labor Party. Two websites that are on the ACMA blacklist were made public. Both are political content websites that do not, nor never have, posted sexual content of any type. Nor do either display or advocate violence. They are simply political websites like any of those read daily in this country.
One was a pro-life, anti-abortion website. The other contained political content. Most of the content dealt with efforts by government to restrict freedom of speech through State filtration devises that censor content. While the Labor Party insisted they are not violating free speech rights of Australians, civil libertarians insist that the two websites which were censored proves that the Australian government will censor political content. The ACMA admitted they had blocked some political content, but they would admit to doing so only on sites that originated from other countries.
The main problem with Internet free speech in Australia is that almost every Aussie depends on one ISP—the State-owned Telstra for Internet service. Add to that problem politicians who think they have a moral obligation to censor free speech in order to protect the people from immorality. The Australian Family First Party advocates on behalf of installing filters that censor all forms of porn—or violence—nationwide. Or the Labor Party, which believes it has a right to censor political dissent websites if it appears they advocate the overthrow of the government, or any form of domestic terrorism. As you ponder what you just read, it's important to remember that Resident Barack Ohama called the Healthcare Town Hall protesters domestic terrorists. Thus, you and I and every other freedom-loving American who does not want socialized medicine is, in the eye of the Obama government, a terrorist.
On Sept. 3, 2009 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that for a period of one hour, from 7:50 to 8:50 a.m. the State-owned Telstra's international Internet network went down. A Telstra executive, Craig Middleton, told Sky News that customers could not access any international sites of Australian sites containing international links. Since almost every Australian ISP are tied to Telstra, almost every home and business broadband and mobile Internet receiver in the country was affected. Telstra, like England's Telecom, also controls all fixed-line (dial-up) telephone networks in the land down under, as well as one of two cable TV networks. In reality, Telstra is the Great Rabbit-proof Fence down under. This means if Telstra wants to close the gateway to the information super highway in Australia, they can simply pull the plug at whim, and shut down the Internet.
To the media, Telstra called it the problem an outage. The company said they had formed a major incident response team to investigate the outage, claiming they had no idea what caused it. However, the nature of the outage raises questions that Telstra has failed to address. The media, on Sept. 3 failed to mention the fact that a day earlier, Google went down for a period of one hour. Middleton told Sky News that they found the problem to be the ISP's international gateway. People simply couldn't access sites that contained international links.
Middleton would have the Australian people—and those reading stories about the shutdown worldwide—believe that local, homegrown political websites on ISPs tied to Telstra, using hyperlinks to websites in the United States, Canada, England or elsewhere would be shutdown solely based on the fact that there were international hyperlinks in articles on those websites. You would have to be wearing an aluminum foil stupid cap to believe that. If an international portal was down, the local websites would still open, but the hyperlinks would not work. Furthermore, the Aussie website owner who posted this YouTube video (upper right) said, early that day, if Telstra claims the outages were caused by a technical problem, it would be "...an outright lie. We know that there was not a technical glitch, and there was no technical reason why the lines were down, or the web was down, because we rang up—by phone—many places overseas and our websites were all visible overseas. That's point one. Our ISP and service provider [was not] down. They will tell you that your ISP was down with technical problems, but that will be a lie."
The webcaster said he knew Telstra was lying because they checked all of the government's websites, and they were all up and running. Clearly, every government in the world that uses a website for whatever purpose, uses a government secured ISP that it simply won't crash when common usage glitches cause universal outages. And, of course, it will also be immune from intentional glitches designed to test the ability of government interrupt service in a national emergency. In other words, the government can close down the commercial and private sectors without impacting service to the public sector.
What makes the Aussie outage interesting is that the Australian Labor Party, which is the party in power in that country, has already attempted to enact legislation to control the Internet. In April, 2009 Sen. Jay Rockefeller introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (posted Aug. 23, 2009), which appears directly below this article. The Rockefeller bill, which frightens the American people even more than Obama's healthcare plan, has been rewritten and it appears that Rockefeller's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will be prepared to let that bill run the political gauntlet (since the left has enough votes in both Houses of Congress to enact any legislation without needing a single Republican vote.
On April 9 of this year, the German government raided the offices of WikiLeaks.de and transferred control of that Internet domain to the government. The conspiracy website, The Inquirer, reported on Sept. 6, that WikiLeaks was taken over by the German government because it posted what the Inquirer called "Australia's secret Internet censorship list." What WikiLeaks purportedly showed was that, contrary to the rhetoric of the Labor Party, the Family First Party, and the ACMA, far from simply censoring child porn sites, the list of targeted websites included many sites whose only crime was that they opposed policies of the Aussie government.
The French and German governments enacted Internet Piracy laws earlier this year that will allow them to suspend Internet service for any citizen that illegally downloads movies or music. Under the laws, the first two times the citizens illegally download something, or are suspected of illegally downloading something, they will receive an email advising them of that country's "three strike" law on downloading, they will be banned from having Internet service after the third download. The Internet Service Providers Association [ISPA] said they hoped an agreement on self-regulation between the ISPs and the two governments.
In Rwanda, a British web-hosting company shut down the website of the Hutu rebel forces. In Afghanistan, the government of President Hamid Karzai shut down at least five anti-Karsai websites. Last summer, a US company, Secure Computing, sold a SmartFilter system to the Iranian government that now allows the Iranians to control every aspect of the Iranian people's cyber experience, from emails to blogs to website access could be reached and resolve this problem without the need for a punitive law.
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Clearly, as the governments of the world get closer to their corporate dream of global government, their peoples increasingly realize just how fleeting is the nature of freedom. The people in the industrialized nations of the world no longer trust their governments, nor do they trust the corporate news media which the world's elites use to spoonfeed propaganda to their "subjects" and to the politicians who theoretically lead them. Increasingly, the media of the common people has become the Internet. And, that's a problem for the taskmasters of Utopia who need the people communicating with one another even less than they need them reporting what is happening in, and to, their nation over the Internet.