The Chinese system has nothing to do with “war” and everything to do with political oppression
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, July 15, 2010
When Senator Joe Lieberman attempted to justify draconian legislation that would provide President Obama with a figurative kill switch to shut down parts of the Internet, he cited the Chinese system of Internet policing as model which America should move towards.
Given the fact that Lieberman seeks to mimic the Chinese system as the goal of his Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, should it concern us that the Chinese government routinely orders Twitter and Facebook-like services to “purge sites of politically “sensitive” words and expressions,” as the Financial Times reports today?
“Right now China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in case of war and we need to have that here too,” Lieberman told CNN’s Candy Crowley last month.
However, China’s “war” is not against foreign terrorists or hackers, it’s against people who dare to use the Internet to express dissent against government atrocities or corruption. China’s system of Internet policing is about crushing freedom of speech and has nothing to do with legitimate security concerns as Lieberman well knows.
It’s a system concentrated around state oppression of any individual or group that seeks to use the Internet to draw attention to political causes frowned upon by the authorities.
China has exercised its power to shut down the Internet, something that Lieberman wants to introduce in the U.S., at politically sensitive times in order to stem the flow of information about government abuse of its citizens. During the anti-government riots which occurred in July 2009, the Chinese government completely shut down the Internet across the entire northwestern region of Xinjiang for days. In several regions, the authorities completely cut off the Internet for nearly a year, with many areas only now slowly starting to come back online. Major news and discussion portals used by the Muslim Uighurs in the area remain blocked. Similarly, Internet access in parts of Tibet is routinely restricted as part of government efforts to pre-empt and neutralize unrest.
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Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are all banned in China and even sanitized government approved versions of these websites are now being shut down for long periods of time so that they can “remove all politically sensitive content under orders from Chinese internet authorities”.
Censorship has intensified in recent weeks after a micro-blogger began to expose the fact that many government officials, executives and judges had lied about obtaining degrees from prestigious universities. The government responded to the embarrassment by ordering websites to temporarily go into “maintenance” mode while they removed the pertinent material. What this has to do with fighting a “war,” as Lieberman claims, is anyone’s guess.
The Chinese system that Lieberman wants to bring to the United States is not only about censoring material critical of the state, it’s about identifying those who post it and thereby creating a chilling atmosphere that discourages others from exercising free speech in fear that they might be the next victims of the thought police. News websites in China now require users to register their true identities in order to leave comments.
This move towards abolishing Internet anonymity and creating a virtual ID card is a key centerpiece of Lieberman’s cybersecurity agenda.
This strategy revolves around, “The creation of a system for identity management that would allow citizens to use additional authentication techniques, such as physical tokens or modules on mobile phones, to verify who they are before buying things online or accessing such sensitive information as health or banking records.”
Only with this government-issued “token” will Internet users be allowed to “able to move from website to website,” a system not too far removed from what China proposed and rejected for being too authoritarian.
If you value Internet freedom, if you don’t want the web in the United States to be transformed into an imitation of the frustratingly slow, censored and policed Chinese version, and if you understand how whistleblowers should be protected and provided with the tools they need to expose government corruption, call your Senators and demand they vote against Lieberman’s Internet kill switch bill.
This article was posted: Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 5:03 am