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Thursday, November 24, 2005

I'm Glad That The Free World Ain't Like The Commies 

As you know, I've posted a lot of stuff about Shi Tao and the Great Firewall of China.

So I was extremely interested to note this itty bitty little bitty of text at Annika's Journal.

This blog is banned in South Korea.

Turns out this is an old story. Annika links to a June 2004 post at BigHominid's Hairy Chasms. However, this post just goes into the aftereffects of an event. Bravo Romeo Delta 'splained things a bit more thoroughly in July 2004:

As you may know, all of Munuvania is currently being censored by the South Korean government (check out Big Hominid for the latest on government censorship - he also got tagged in a Newsweek article). It just dawned on me that the ban on the mu.nu domain is probably a direct result of my posting the video of the South Korean hostage being beheaded....

And Newsweek (a magazine that is popular in this country) posted the following in August 2004:

South Korea may be one of the most wired societies in the world, but some Koreans are beginning to wonder if Seoul is truly ready to embrace that status. Last Thursday a university student in the capital was fined for posting political parodies on the Internet. In 2003 some 18,000 Web sites were censored for crimes such as "undermining law and order." And since late June, about 50 Web sites have been shut down for allegedly trying to post the video of the execution of South Korean hostage Kim Sun Il. Authorities have also blocked large Weblog services, cutting off thousands of blogs that did not offer the video....Kevin Kim complains on his site, Big Hominid's Hairy Chasms, that Korea "has not come far out of the shadow of its military dictatorship past." While that may be extreme, Robert Koehler, whose blog, the Marmot's Hole, is one of the most popular English-language sites about Korea, says, "there seems to be this idea among Korean Netizens that the Net [is] a forum for expressing the power of nationalism."

Koehler makes an interesting point, which may also apply to China. This may shock those of us true red white and blue people, but perhaps some societies don't want freedom of expression. As I've noted before, Americans don't want freedom of expression either - if you don't believe me, try exercising your freedom of expression by posting "Michael Jackson's Neverland Fantasies" pictures all over your town.

The United Nations disagrees, via its Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

To which I say, Country of Taiwan, Country of Taiwan, Country of Taiwan.

Back to South Korea and China. Privacy International criticizes not only these two countries, but almost every other country in Asia, in this article written in 2003. I have emphasized the country names:

Indian authorities are implementing stricter surveillance and monitoring controls over Internet activities, especially after 9/11 and the December 13 attack on the Indian Parliament. The Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance authorises the government to monitor without legal restriction all kinds of electronic communications, including personal e-mail.

The Philippine Congress is presently considering an anti-terrorism bill that proposes sanction arrest and detention without court orders, the sequestering of bank deposits and assets of suspected terrorists and their supporters, and which authorises the government to conduct wiretaps on those even remotely suspected of involvement in terrorist activity. Human rights groups fear that the proposed law, that permits surveillance of the Internet and e-mail, is intended to intimidate critics of the government and could violate the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free expression.

The New Zealand government now has the legal authority to inspect computers and monitor private e-mail as part of a campaign against terrorism and crime. The Crimes Amendment Bill, introduced in November 2000, seeks to prohibit hacking and includes provisions on protecting online privacy. It also requires users to hand over encryption keys and allows the police and intelligence services to hack computers. It has been strongly criticised, however, by many quarters as lacking adequate safeguards against abuses....

The Chinese government has created perhaps the world’s most blatant and elaborate system for Internet monitoring and censorship. On the one hand, China’s official policy has been to widely promote access, so that people can actively take part in economic construction. On the other hand, the government has also begun to limit Internet usage by way of a combination of new technology and legal rules, as well as traditional techniques of surveillance, intimidation and arrest of critics. Despite these restrictions, people have used the Internet to expose cases of official corruption, negligence and wrongdoing, and to organise protest actions against state repression.

The South Korean government has also become active in censoring Internet content that it considers “dangerous” and “harmful” to national security. In 2002, the government closed down a website for two months that argued against compulsory military service for all Korean males. Later that year, police arrested a member of a political party for uploading materials related to North Korea on the party’s website, claiming that doing so violated national security.

In Kazahkstan, the media and the Internet are tightly controlled by the President and his family. Existing laws allow the government to crack down on websites critical of its authority, and prohibits the release of information detrimental to the state. Web sites are required to be registered with the government....

The Philippines has enacted laws to cover different types of cybercrime, including computer hacking, virus distribution, computer fraud, and computer forgery. In India, cybercafés and the homes of Internet users can be searched at any time without a warrant if cyber crime is suspected....

In Australia, recent amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act spell out the types of material that can be banned from websites and newsgroup servers, including pornography involving children, bestiality, excessive violence, real sex acts and information about crime, violence and drug use. But online content censorship laws such as this have met with opposition from civil liberties groups which argue that this could have a significant effect on the legitimate use of the Internet and may affect the fair reporting of news and current affairs....

South Korea has censored Internet sites it considers harmful - especially to young people. These include sites dealing with pornography, violence, computer hacking and the spread of viruses, cybercrime, and euthanasia. Later, the list was expanded to include gay and lesbian content....

The official website of the North Korean government, not unexpectedly, toes the government propaganda line and ignores completely the dire realities of life under the repressive regime of Kim Jong-il. But groups such as the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, based in South Korea, are using the Internet to assist those who manage to escape from the country and to bring to light what is happening behind the Iron Curtain.

Since the mid-90s, the military regime in Burma has imposed very strict rules on Internet access. Anybody who uses the Internet to “undermine the state, law and order, national unity, national culture or the economy” faces a 15-year prison term. Anyone who creates a link to an unauthorised website also faces a prison sentence. Since January 2000, online political material has been banned and websites can only be set up with official permission....

It's kinda tough to figure out where to draw the line, and you have to admit that the line's gonna swerve a lot.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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