By Patrick Lozada
The advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders named China as one of five states that are ‘Enemies of the Internet.’ The report, issued on March 12, also named Bahrain, Syria, and Iran as state enemies in addition to naming five corporate enemies who enable state censorship.
The report touches on many of the major developments in censorship this year: the blocking of foreign VPNs during the 18th Party Congress, the PLA’s alleged attack on the New York Times, TOM-Skype spying on you, and the government’s continued harassment of dissidents.
However, the report also touched on some less known issues:
- “Only the VPN service of the company Astrill appears to allow Chinese citizens to pass through the Great Firewall and remain unidentified on the Internet.”
- “The QQ application is effectively a giant Trojan horse.”
- The government tried to shut down access to Github, the largest open source code library.
They also provide a useful explanation of China’s propaganda apparatus. Did you know that of the five government censoring bodies, the ones that want to prevent you from masturbating are the Internet Information Security Supervision of the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center? This report has some interesting finds, and it really is worth a read.
However, I ultimately disagree with Reporters Without Borders assessment that China is an ‘Enemy of the Internet.’ Now before you accuse me of being a stooge, consider this.
What Reporters Without Borders is saying when they declare China an ‘enemy of the internet’ is that China is opposed to an ideology that is associated with the internet-the unrestricted and free flow of information. However there is a difference between an ideology and a technology. China is actually building a whole lot of internet, they are simply not importing the western values of freedom and bunnyhugs we graft onto the internet. Government censors aren’t actually ‘enemies of the internet’, just jerks who hate free speech.