Free Speech?
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Thread: Free Speech?

  1. #1
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    Free Speech?


    WASHINGTON — Free speech advocates are frustrated with a host of American companies they say have been collaborating with oppressive regimes in countries like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, to help them filter and monitor the Internet activity of their citizens.

    Big technology names like Microsoft, Yahoo! and Cisco Systems have been criticized roundly in recent years for providing foreign governments with the tools they need to crack down on Internet use, but critics say they have not been able to do much more than complain.

    "These companies' lack of ethics is extremely worrisome," said Lucie Morillon, the Washington representative of Reporters Without Borders, an international advocacy group for journalists that monitors government repression of the Internet worldwide, documenting dissidents charged with breaking their country's Internet laws. For instance, the organization reports that an estimated 60 "cyber-dissidents" are in Chinese jails today.

    "It's the role of watchdog organizations like ours — and any citizen who is willing —to let these companies know that this is a matter of human rights," Morillon said. "Write to these companies and make them feel bad."

    Critics last month blasted Microsoft, the largest software company in the world, when it acknowledged that it was working with the Chinese government to censor its new Chinese-language Web portal and new free Web log tool, MSN Spaces.

    In addition to the vigilant filtering of content transmitted through Web sites, e-mail, message boards, chat rooms and blogs, the Communist government in Beijing announced in June that everyone in China publishing a blog would have to register it with the government by the end of the month.

    Already, anyone who opens a Web account in China must register it with police, according to the Open Net Initiative, a collaborative effort by the University of Toronto, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge.

    "China's Internet filtering regime is the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world," ONI authors declared in a recent report on China. "The implications of this distorted online information environment for China's users are profound, and disturbing."

    According to the ONI, about 15 to 20 nations across the globe are actively filtering their citizens' Internet access. In June, the group announced that Iran's filtering efforts are reaching the sophisticated status of China.

    "Iran is also one of a growing number of countries, particularly in the Middle East region, that rely upon commercial software developed by for-profit United States companies to carry out the core of its filtering regime," ONI's report on Iran reads. "In effect, Iran outsources many of the decisions for what its citizens can access on the Internet to a United States company, which in turn profits from its complicity in such a regime."

    ONI reported that Iran relies on filtering software designed by U.S.-based Secure Computing, called "SmartFilter." It helps block a range of banned words, topics and images – most of which Tehran says contradict the country's strict Muslim beliefs.

    Unlike China, selling technology to Iran is illegal because of U.S. sanctions. David Burt, spokesman for Secure Computing, said that the big Iranian Internet service providers, which are controlled by the government, are using SmartFilter illegally.

    "We have no contracts with any ISPs in Iran. A couple of the biggest ones are illegally using our software," said Burt. "I think our options of going after these foreign companies are limited."

    But Secure Computing legally provides its software to other countries that filter Internet content, including Saudi Arabia. "We sell to ISPs all over the world," acknowledged Burt. "It's really up to the customer on how they use the product."

    Representatives from Nortel and Cisco said they do not specifically design their technology for regimes like China to repress Internet access. They say they cannot control the use of the technology once it is enabled. For instance, the firewall that Cisco designed to combat viruses can also be used to block political content that the government does not like.

    "Cisco has been and will continue to be a key driver of Internet growth worldwide," said spokesman John Earnhardt. "Cisco Systems has not specially designed any products for any government, or any regional market, to block or filter content. The products that Cisco Systems sells in the U.S., China, India, Pakistan, France, Mexico, etc. are the same products that we sell worldwide."

    The fact that U.S. companies like Nortel Networks and Cisco Systems have been silent on what they consider the misuse of their technology by governments creating back doors into monitoring Internet use and filtering capabilities, has angered many.

    "I think that companies chartered in free countries ought to ask the question, 'What is our technology being used for in authoritarian [countries], and is it a purpose that we want to be behind?'" said Jonathan Zittrain, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and assistant professor of law at Harvard University.

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    Following the same train of thought then things like Nmap should be banned because of the potential for misuse.

    If there's a demand for this technology do we have the right to stop companies from fulfilling it? As yet these companies are not breaking any law. It’s only business. If american companies stop then another countrie's buisnesses will fill the void. what country is 'reporters without borders' based in anyway?
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    Freedom does not mean the same thing around the world. Period.
    Other isssue is the "Freedom of Nations": Each nation is responsible to do its own internal polices. No one (from outside) has the right to do what they must do or not.
    They can disagree (as I do). But not interfere.
    companies, in the other hand, must "obey" the rules of the countries that they want to trade with. So, "In China, think as a chinese".
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    Everything can be misused.

    China is treating its citizens like pubescent teenagers. Why call it the world wide web, when you dont have access to it all?

    I think that's ridiculous, but if anyone can make a profit from it, they won't oppose.

    On the other hand, maybe we should commend china for trying to cut down on their "cyber dissidents" (even though they only have 60). China wants to keep their crime rate low, which is hard to do for such a large populace, but they put forth a great effort.

    I think the whole idea :

    "Write to these companies and make them feel bad."
    would be pointless.
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    In And Above Man Black Cluster's Avatar
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    I agree with internet censorship as long as it doesn't crack down democracy ... I mean, if it is for blocking sites that offence any cultural habit or social cutoms, I agee with it ... like child pornography and parental tools.... otherwise it is not acceptable ....

    and if we are going to ban everything has mixed usage ... we are going to block and crack down everything including human beings .... Inforamtion should know no limits ... knowledge should be shared ....
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  5. #5
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Here's a thought... stop doing business with companies that are in direct contradiction to one's political or moral compass.
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    I agree with internet censorship as long as it doesn't crack down democracy
    Try telling that to the Chinese government ....

    Here's a thought... stop doing business with companies that are in direct contradiction to one's political or moral compass.
    Ooh but there's so many .... where to start ???
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    They call me the Hunted foxyloxley's Avatar
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    China wants to keep their crime rate low, which is hard to do for such a large populace, but they put forth a great effort.
    China's attempt to censor the web has nothing to do with cutting 'crimes' and everything to do with stopping the people from getting data first hand and un-touched by the Chinese governments hand.


    what country is 'reporters without borders' based in anyway?
    It's a secret

    censorship has it's place, but to attempt to stop an entire population, especially one as large as China's is doomed to fail, they [government] have to be 'lucky' all the time.

    The people only have to get 'lucky' once, and the secret is out ..........

    they would be better of if they stopped pretending to be a capitalist society, and crawled back under the rock they crawled from, they have NO intention of EVER allowing a free and open ANYTHING [trade, data, research, paying for their software etc]

    I think the Chinese only have one aim, and that is to be top dog, where they [historically] believe that they deserve to be.

    The world has survived without Chinese input so far [on a global, helpful scale - how much money do they GIVE to appeals [Tsunami, Live Aid, etc] there only noticable contribution has been by those that have LEFT China] :Hmmmmmm:
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    Reporters without Borders is French-based, with offices all over the world. They are for journalists what Doctors without Borders is for doctors...

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    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Hmmm, funny thing censorship and freedom of speech.............

    I recall many years ago when Lyndon Baines Johnson was President of the USA. His wife was called "Ladybird"

    An American playwright came up with a political skit/parody called "LadyMacB". They wanted to put it on in London, but the Lord Chamberlain (or whatever government official is responsible) refused permission on the grounds that "It cast aspersions on the head of state of a friendly nation"

    The playwrights comment was "Well at least you limeys don't mess around, in the States they were banning it on fire regulations"


  10. #10
    In And Above Man Black Cluster's Avatar
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    A country censors the Internet?? People in these countries are being wiped out, exiled and eliminated .... I think we have to deal with the human rights before turning to the freedom of the Internet ... I think this should be the first priority ....

    So I think that censoring the internet is a normal consequence of human extremination policy .. because they don't want thier people go opne to what is going outside .... digging the graves of people with an iron fest ....and in coldblood .... Kill Kill Kill ....
    \"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards - and even then I have my doubts\".....Spaf
    Everytime I learn a new thing, I discover how ignorant I am.- ... Black Cluster

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