Countries continue to try to tighten their grip on the Internet

Thailand Continues Internet Crackdown - WSJ.comChinese President wants to tame Internet and spread party line

Many countries are continuing to try to exert control over the information available to their citizens. Changes in technology are forcing them to adopt new solutions to keep that control.

Traditional media (Newspaper, Magazine, TV, Radio) all have a local nexus of control that can be influenced by the government. Station managers, reporters, and editors can all be threatened or arrested to control the content of those media. For a media to be safe from influence, it must be generated and disseminated entirely outside the country in question.

The Internet is perceived as the greatest threat by restrictive governments because it enables on-demand access to information, offers much more depth than broadcast media, and two directional communications.

To minimize public backlash, these governments are presenting their censorship as protecting their citizens. In Thailand they are protecting the honor of the king and country, while in China they are preventing immoral or ideologically impure content. This is all just so much white wash to cover the effort to control the populace by controlling what they know and discuss.

Anonymizer, currently provides anti-censorship services at no cost to the people of Iran (supported by the VoA) and China (on our own). We are planning to protect the people in a number of other countries in the future. Many other organizations are also providing such solutions, creating a vibrant ecosystem of solutions which will be much harder to stop than any single solution.

It is critical that privacy organizations, as well as content providers and portals like Google, work together to actively oppose the efforts of these governments to restrict free speech and access to information on the Internet.

Historically short wave radio provided a way of getting information into a country. It was sometimes subject to jamming to keep it out. These days, almost no one listens to short wave, so its impact is minimal. Many national short wave services have been drastically reduced or eliminated.

Satellite TV can also be effective. Many countries try to limit private satellite dish ownership, however this tactic has proved to be difficult to implement effectively.