But the questions about limits on free speech in China that people ask me at public talks have convinced me that when even very well-informed Americans with no special concern with Chinese affairs consider the topic, what fills their minds is a mixture of solid pieces of information and notions that are, at best, only partly true. The subject is actually quite a bit more complicated—and more interesting—than many of them imagine.
For example, many know that Beijing uses a “Great Firewall” to try to keep the web free of things it dislikes. What fewer appreciate is how much energy the Chinese government puts into trying to flood the Internet with things it likes. People can earn small payments, on a post-by-post basis, for adding pro-government comments to sites. Bloggers mock this piece-rate system: those benefiting from it, they say, have joined the “Fifty-Cent Party” that props up the Communist Party.
For a discussion of how academics study such issues (which itself often raises ethical issues), see also Fakebook: U.S. Researchers Create Phony Social Network to Study Chinese Censorship.
The NSA’s next move: silencing university professors?
A Johns Hopkins computer science professor blogs on the NSA and is asked to take it down. I fear for academic freedom
A BASTION of openness and counterculture, Silicon Valley imagines itself as the un-Chick-fil-A. But its hyper-tolerant facade often masks deeply conservative, outdated norms that digital culture discreetly imposes on billions of technology users worldwide.
What is the vehicle for this new prudishness? Dour, one-dimensional algorithms, the mathematical constructs that automatically determine the limits of what is culturally acceptable.
Twitter has blocked access to a neo-Nazi account to users in Germany, but it continues to be viewable to web users around the world.This is the first time that Twitter has exercised its ability to block content on a country-by-country basis, a feature which it announced in January.
Iran plans to switch its citizens onto a domestic Internet network in what officials say is a bid to improve cyber security but which many Iranians fear is the latest way to control their access to the web.
Apple has patented a piece of technology which would allow government and police to block transmission of information, including video and photographs, from any public gathering or venue they deem “sensitive”, and “protected from externalities.”
In other words, these powers will have control over what can and cannot be documented on wireless devices during any public event.
And while the company says the affected sites are to be mostly cinemas, theaters, concert grounds and similar locations, Apple Inc. also says “covert police or government operations may require complete ‘blackout’ conditions.”
“Additionally,” Apple says,” the wireless transmission of sensitive information to a remote source is one example of a threat to security. This sensitive information could be anything from classified government information to questions or answers to an examination administered in an academic setting.”
The statement led many to believe that authorities and police could now use the patented feature during protests or rallies to block the transmission of video footage and photographs from the scene, including those of police brutality, which at times of major events immediately flood news networks and video websites.