A Look Into The Future – Internet Blacklisting, Censorship, And Monitoring

No one in their right mind likes a thief…except another thief. At one point or another in life, virtually everyone on the planet has been a victim of theft, whether it’s a simple ink pen, a book, or copyrighted material. The first time this author was infringed on, I took it as a huge compliment. My stuff was worth stealing…but then I looked at the money that the thief was making from my words, and then I really understood.

Protecting the rights of individuals and companies is important, and with the internet becoming bigger every day, harder. But, in spite of my indignation at having my work stolen, I would hate to think that my personal indignation has infringed upon the rights of any single person. But governments of the free world are starting to consider doing just exactly this. From SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act to the recent U.K. decision to block certain Usenet providers from the internet, human rights violations abound. Here’s how far a government can go when censoring the internet…

  • In Thailand there is a Computer Crimes law that is combined with their laws about speaking against the government. Infraction of this law could include a Facebook “Like” or a simple Tweet, and can carry up to 15 years in prison. Many websites, like American publications for instance are censored also.
  • In Bahrain 63 students were expelled for participating in a demonstration that was peaceful. The students were shown their activities on FB and Twitter, then made to sign an agreement to not protest the government again. Earlier this year there were several bloggers imprisoned for their articles on the internet.
  • In Vietnam, Professor Pham Minh Hoang was imprisoned for his views, but after much protestation from the international communities his sentence was reduced to 17 mos…it was 3 years. But there are many more bloggers being held in their jails for their views, and they didn’t get any commutations.
  • The Syrian government uses American built technology for their monitoring efforts. Recently an Italian company backed out of a deal to update their equipment because of pressure from freedom activists. In spite of this the government still boldly imprisons those deemed as participating in offensive protests, and monitors every e-mail and internet communication.
  • Myanmar/Burma was the inventor of the countrywide internet blackout. In 2007 they started this tradition to cover the atrocity of the violence they brought on a peaceful protest. Again American technologies is suspected to be assisting the government, in spite of sanctions against some types of technology, it’s unclear as to the legality of these types of tech.

We hope that a solution to the piracy issue presents itself soon. If not the protection of a few individual persons rights could infringe on the rights of the rest of the citizens of world. As a writer, I must adapt a quote from one of my favorite movies, and throw a thing in from someone else…”When the rights of the few, outweigh the rights of the many…then yes, we are a sad lot indeed.”