Oh that troublesome Ai Weiwei! Not content to stick to taking subversive pictures around Tiananmen Square or investigating Sichuan Earthquake victims, he’s now starting internet blackout protest days!
The contemporary artist/activist has now called for all surfers to stay offline on July 1, the day when manufacturers must startshipping computers with that Green Dam-Youth Escort program preinstalled.
According to the South China Morning Post (paywalled):
Outspoken Beijing artist Ai Weiwei, who helped design the landmark Olympic “Bird’s Nest” stadium but has become an increasingly vocal critic of the government, called on Web users to boycott the internet on the day of Green Dam’s debut.
On micro-blogging website Twitter, Ai called for the low-key protests to mark a day that is also the anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party. “Stop any online activities, including working, reading, chatting, blogging, gaming and mailing,” he wrote in the Chinese-language post. “Don’t explain your behaviour.”
He said he hoped the boycott would gather support because it offered an easy way to make a stand in a country where vocal opposition to government policy is risky.
“It’s an online protest without any cost or risk,” Ai said. “It aims to oppose internet censorship.” His message has already been picked up and passed on by other Web users backing the call for a day offline.
We are absolutely not fans of the whole initiative by the government to “block porn” (and anything else it deems impure – including politically) using software that, until all the media attention and internet uproar, was going to be mandatory.
But is it just us or is there something that seems off about protesting a restricted internet by spending a day restricting yourself from it? Couldn’t Ai Weiwei have organized a “Download a free VPN” day?