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See also: iA Discussion: Censorship and iA Discussion: Mass Media

Looking throught the list of countries, i didn't find Turkey, nor Spain, nor the Netherlands, nor Germany. While all of these countries (ab)use censorship on the internet, either by default using such filter (Turkey), by law (any capitalist country where copyright exists and Russia probly via other ways), or a less obvious more silent way by censoring individuals, groups, events, or spreading f*cking lies; censoring the truth. Or in minor things, for example censoring Mein Kampf using copyright (Netherlands, Germany).

Stating only the obvious doesn't say anything about howe the censorship takes place. Censorship is everywhere. How do Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan censor? Perhaps such info can be added using a URL. It at least adds some proof to backup the statements instead of listing countries.

Oh, and can somebody explain me the psychologic behind censorship? Why exactly do people censor? On which feelings and/or thoughts is it based? I was thinking mainly about fear and self-interest but i think there's more behind it, somehow. -- dpi

To the last element, I have a suggestion. The obvious reason to censor something is to exert control. Information is power so limiting what is known limits what can be done. Parents seek to control the way children grow up so that they remain innocent - it is hoped - not seek out sex. Governments seek to control the way its citizenry thinks by controlling its information sources and destroying dissent and - it is hoped - preventing rebellion. Many fundamentalist religious groups wish to control what they see as immorality allowed to run rampant and therefore - it is hoped - prevent bad things from happening. Censorship previous to the Internet was possible but is quickly becoming much more difficult. See Security Through Obscurity. Webfork
Interesting analyse Webfork. I recognize, besides "control" and "hope" also earlier said "fear" and "self-interest" and also "distrust/uncertainity". Do you believe it will become impossible to censor on the internet? dpi

Yes and no. Here are some examples of why I say that:

1. China - has done a good job of censoring *most* if the Internet but technologies like peer-to-peer often duck censorship measures and are changing so fast that its hard to simply shut everyone out of the service. In fact, some technologies are created PURELY to circumvent blocking technologies.

2. Web Filters - I have "NetNanny" at my work place on some of the computers and I'm constantly amused at which Web sites it blocks and those it allows. Its also easily disabled through a ctrl + alt + delete sequence. When they say "no Internet filter is perfect," the real statement is "we're just barely adequate" or "we get the sites that willingly add themselves and - with every place else - its anybody's game." Moreover, they are almost always bent to a conservative viewpoint by blocking liberal Web sites.

3. Mass media - I do believe that it is possible to partially censor the Internet by keeping things out of mass media. I thought it was hilarious that every major media outlet here in the US reported Saddam Hussain's statue coming down was attended by thousands but a shot of the entire square in which it happened showed only a few hundred. Therefore, I think censorship and mass-media watch is absolutely critical to a functioning democratic society. Right now, to the rest of the world, we look like cows herded into doing the "right" thing in the name of patriotism and unity; slaves to the propaganda of top-of-the-line set designers. Even though the pictures of the entire square in which Saddam Hussain's statue was toppled were in fact on the Internet, we cannot abandon our free speech doctrines around the world in favor of "oh don't worry - its on the Internet."

As a side note: governments are not necessarily all pro-censorship but in the case of the second Gulf war, those in charge were afraid of Vietnam's achillies heel: the Mass Media. Back then, the Tet offensive was staged just before an election to kill US support for the war. So - instead - once we committed to the second Gulf war, somehow it was suddenly wrong to be against it and therefore many media outlets self-censored. Maybe this is okay for the corpations that run these networks but if years go by and history doesn't vindicate the US for going to war and getting a lot of people killed, we're going to look like Imperialists. And, unlike a dictatorship, a democratic society's members are all responsible for their country's actions. After all, no one faults the Chinese for their government's actions but they certainly fault Americans and anti-American sentiment, even among our allies, is at an all-time high right now. (Here's a hint: tell them you're from Canada.)

In conclusion, however, the answer to "will it become impossible to censor on the internet?" is this: it is currently impossible to censor the Internet. The example I provide is that somehow we STILL have the ability to find bomb-making materials on file-sharing networks despite the hysteria in the US over Terrorists and events like Columbine. It is a testament to the fact that even the most extreme public outcry isn't preventing this information from being distributed. Its harder to find - yes - but I think I saw it on some file sharing network the other day for like the 50th time. So to this respect, its true: the Internet naturally routes around censorship like an error.


US Gov. still have overriding control over Tier 1 Internet, including allocation of names, new domains and access to them. At the moment, Webfork is right. Censorship is a thorny issue at the best of times, and now, with the never ending 'war on terror' censorship is taking many different forms, such as patriotism, anti-terrorism, and all that stuff, which makes it that much harder to argue against and stand up to. However, the Internet does 'naturally route around censorship' which IMO can only be a good thing.
An example : at a recent 2600 meeting in London, I heard about techniques to expand the broadcast range of Wi-Fi antennas (antenna? antenni? antennanananas? =) ) to 75km using CB Radio methods of antenna construction. This with around 1% of the London population using these methods, would provide a London-wide network of information. Once hooked up to a broadband pipe, this would theoretically provide free-ish(!) unmetered, unregulated access to and from the Internet proper, and to and from other such networks around the globe, bypassing current Internet controls as such. Also check out SeaLand for other ways of bypassing Internet censorship.