Wednesday, April 02, 2008

STOP interfering with the Internet!

Free PR advice for the Chinese leadership

I touched on this in my most recent post about my Internet censorship woes, but I feel it bears repeating.

Trying to restrict people's access to information over the Internet is a very bad idea.

1) It's futile. The hackers and other net-savvy dudes are almost always way ahead of the censorship technology; and even Luddite technophobes like me can find any number of new proxies to try. Even the most sophisticated 'block' is going to be defeated within days, if not hours. Very, very few people will actually be prevented or dissuaded from accessing information by these sorts of actions.

2) It attracts attention. Many people who might not otherwise have had much interest in, say, just for the sake of example, the recent events in Tibet, might find their curiosity suddenly aroused by the interference with their Internet access and go in search of the 'forbidden' information which has prompted it.

3) It makes people fear the worst. If you allow continuous media access to a story, public interest in it soon fades (however important the story, however powerful the images accompanying it, however far-reaching the issues involved). If you allow some media access, then cut it off, then allow some again - people wonder what you've been trying to hide during the 'blackout'. If you maintain a consistent censorship regime on the Internet, people become used to it, stop noticing it. If you are constantly changing the the level of censorship, people wonder WHY. And they are going to imagine that the reason might be something very, very bad indeed.

4) It pisses people off. The Internet has become one of the central conveniences of modern life for most of us: a vital component in our social lives as well as our main source of information and entertainment. If you start messing with that, you make people very angry very quickly. A lot of people these days can easily reconcile themselves to the fact that the government might be reading their e-mails, that they have restricted rights of public assembly, that there are certain 'keywords' it might be wise to refrain from using in their blogs or e-mails...... but take away their YouTube and you create instant revolutionaries.

Please, please, please - stop censoring the bloody Internet!

Or, if you must do it, at least be CONSISTENT about it.

1 comment:

Tulsa said...

and i'm back! thanks for my own personalized 'free advice'.

you're right about the importance of the 'net in our lives... hard enough to maintain relationships with people flitting around the world on moments notice-- cut out 'net access and it's just impossible.

please, powers that be, don't mess with my 'net.