May 14, 2001
9:39 AM   Subscribe

Most of us are familiar with stories about government suppression of the free flow of information on the Internet - e.g. China's crackdown on internet dissidents; France's tussle with Yahoo over online sales of Nazi memorabilia; and, fresh from yesterday's news, Iran's closure of 400 internet cafes. But did you know there are no web servers to speak of in North Korea? That you need government permission to own a fax machine or modem in Burma? That Somalia has only one ISP? If you can forgive some of its design peculiarities, this Enemies of the Internet report (by Reporters Without Borders) gives a pretty comprehensive rundown of the international state of online freedoms.
posted by varmint (6 comments total)
Note that the Iran shutdowns were ostensibly due to the provision of unlicensed free long distance. Not that anything similar could happen here.

Look for similar attacks on the free flow of information to be disguised as economic protectionism ... it's even more unassailable than "making the net safe for kids".
posted by dhartung at 11:00 AM on May 14, 2001

I'm not really surprised that Somalia, one of the poorest countries in the world, has only one ISP. Is it really going to be a boom business there?

The UK is legally against all hardcore pornography, and Australia is monitoring Internet services to make sure no obscenity or pornography reach its innocent citizens. British police have been given powers to monitor all Internet connections without the country.

China cracking down on Internet dissidents? Sure, China can be extreme.. but even the US is busting 'dissident' teenagers for 'attempting' to hack into the Pentagon.

Online freedoms are just like offline ones everywhere. If what you say break your country's laws, then you can't be too surprised if you get busted.
posted by wackybrit at 1:43 PM on May 14, 2001

I'm a novice both in your community and in your language but I deeply love this kind of net-politics speech area.

Your thread just grab my attention with your exemple of the French statement against Yahoo! selling Nazi stuff over its auction website. You did put this example in your text with such regime as China or Iran which, in my opinion, are far more represive than my country is.

We, in France, have a slight different point of view than yours about liberty and freedom of speech. We do consider that the one who spread racist ideas or materials must be stopped and punished. And our judges didn't allow Yahoo! to bypass our law. Won't you do the same?

We could discuss about this difference about the notion of liberty between France and US, but I do suppose that this thread is old and won't be read anymore. I'll maybe open a new one.
posted by ping740 at 3:32 PM on May 15, 2001

No, we will not do the same. Racist ideas and materials are destestable, but for the government to supress those ideas and materials, well, that's even more destestable.

A better solution would be to petition Yahoo to remove such items from their site. There's no need for a governmental hand in anything like this. At least, that's the way I see it.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:43 PM on May 15, 2001

You should remember that Europe was not ever 'founded' on a set of ideals, as the United States was.

Europeans, for the most part, have until recently lived under the rule of royalty or the aristocracy. These systems promoted 'correct' ways of thinking and 'correct' viewpoints. Anyone who disagreed was punished.

Even now, when Europeans are more liberal and open minded than back then, most Europeans believe there is a 'correct' way of doing things. This is probably because Europeans live a more 'clannish' life than their American counterparts, and anything that 'upsets the clan' or 'rocks the boat' should be discouraged and frowned upon.

Such is the case here. Most Europeans will balk at any talk of Hitler, let alone the auctioning of goods created by the Nazis (then again, why do so many people drive VWs here then?). I still maintain that Hitler was an excellent social engineer, but most people, even in the UK, are extremely upset when I say that.

But it's true, how many leaders have taken a country from ruin to being a major world power in 10 years? Killing others is wrong, racism is wrong, and the Nazis were, ultimately, very very wrong. But, despite that, Hitler was one of the most skilful people Europe has even seen, and if he had used his skills for good means, Germany could be a major superpower nowadays.
posted by wackybrit at 10:50 AM on May 16, 2001

To answer to => sonofsamiam

Your answer illustrate perfectly the US-side vision of liberty, which doesn't support any supervision from any kind of institution. I do understand it, and I partly agree with you. US history is based, as far as I'm concerned, on this notion of liberty and conquest. And this notion, this defense of total freedom, inspired your policy over the world up to nowadays (Irak).
France (Europe I would say) has a different History. Full of French, US GI, Brits, Italians, Spanish, Russians and Germans soldiers blood. There have never been war on your ground. You've never experienced the vision of a soldier taking off your city council and making it his home.
Many soldiers died over here. US soldiers did too!. This was such a nightmare that France decided to incorporate in his Law the interdiction of any kind of ideas or related materials linked to Nazism.
You've said that a petition should be the only good solution against the unruled Yahoo! auction website. Where is it?. If this petition does exist, is Yahoo! giving any attention to it?
Because, in this petition, you won't be able to congregate the majority of Yahoo! users, which is, in my mind, the only way to grab the attention of Yahoo! top management.
Thus, Nazi stuff is still present on the website. I do know this is not the only way to sell this stuff, on the web or anywhere else.

By the Yahoo! decision judges wanted to said something. They wanted to say that in respect for those who died (US soldiers, French resistant, English pilots....), for those who came to deliver Europe from the Fascist menace, for those men and women and their families, we won't tolerate that somebody sells Nazi flags and uniforms on our ground, we won't tolerate that somebody buys it, we won't tolerate the market of such material.

A court decision (Law) is far more efficient than a petition. Yahoo! US and Yahho!France top management was present and did have all rights to defend their interests. This is completely different from China complete interdiction of any kind of media connected to the outside world....

Be sure that, through this line, I'm not saying that France is "better than..." (which is far to be true), but I was defending the Sate interventionism in precise social fields such as the propagation of racist and Nazi related materials over the country.


To answer to => wackybrit

I don't know how to answer you. Are you American or English?.
Have you read the correct books? Were members of your family in Europe to fight?
Is Hitler the perfect social engineer you assume he is?
I suppose that any President who engage his country on a warfare economy will see the unemployment rate falling as Hitler saw it.
The Nazi President was supported by a bunch of powerfull industrials who passed contract with the National-Socialist Party when he came to power. But this is not a long term policy because sooner or later the State won't have money enough to buy products from the industry and will have a lots of products without the use of it. The solution is to enlarge the market (more consumer, more taxes, more income money for State treasury) by using the products already produced. And this solution has a name : War.

For a short time Hitler's solution seemed to be a good one due to the falling unmeplyment rate. But this solution lead directly to the war and its atrocities.

To conclude Hitler, in my point of view, wasn't a "social engineer" at all because its solution worked more or less for three years and then destructs to ground his country.

I suppose that a pure historic debate has not his place here. I invite you to continuate it (if you want) trough mail =>
posted by ping740 at 2:21 AM on May 17, 2001

« Older See-through electronics as prison-chic   |   The funniest thing I've seen in many a moon. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments