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General => General Discussion => Politics => Topic started by: KZ on March 23, 2010, 01:14:54 PM

Title: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: KZ on March 23, 2010, 01:14:54 PM
In light of recent events made public by Google and the Chinese government, given how the choices made about filtering content in the search engine for mainland China users has been, apparently, suspended by Google, ostensibly making a principle stand, what are your thoughts on this sitation in particular, and Internet censorship in general (or other examples, like Australians thinking of introducing similar censorpship to the Chinese, effetcively targeting child pornography and aggresively radical view propagation websites)?
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: SmartyPants on March 23, 2010, 02:23:36 PM
I praise Google for leaving China.  Google and I believe that the government shouldn't control the media in any form.  Also, China's hackers tried to break into gmails from human rights groups. I hope companies like microsoft don't sell out and agree to have censorships on its search engine.


Who is to decide what is "aggresively radical view propagation"?  That seems like the government has too much control.
Always block child pornography.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Zackirus on March 23, 2010, 03:33:30 PM
I also agree with Google leaving China. A government should have no competle control (but they can regulate it) over the media. I used to have a friend who used to live in China and she who would say the only thing true they said on the news was the date. Almost Everything, could not be trustsed to be true.

Google even has its own safety bar which can be turned up or off depending who you are, so its the people's choice to view that sort of stuff. I'm not saying that I support it but its the people's choice to look it up. The Government has no say in the matter.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Presentiment on March 23, 2010, 06:13:32 PM
It isn't as if any Chinese will actually care about Google leaving their country.

It hasn't been proven whether China was in fact behind the attacks.

You can have your ideology and China can have theirs.

Most Chinese use Baidu.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: SmartyPants on March 23, 2010, 07:04:20 PM
It hasn't been proven whether China was in fact behind the attacks.
Yes, it is possible the Mexicans wanted to hack into the gmails of Chinese human rights groups.  ::)
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Presentiment on March 23, 2010, 07:33:56 PM
Yes, even if it isn't likely...

It could easily have been done to frame China for the attacks, by a country/group/person who had an interest in seeing Google pull out.

For all we know, it might even be Google, so they had a good excuse to pull out.

Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: CraigStern on March 23, 2010, 07:40:51 PM
For all we know, it might even be Google, so they had a good excuse to pull out.

Could be. That would be a strangely immoral way to go about achieving the moral goal of ending censorship.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Presentiment on March 23, 2010, 07:41:25 PM
That depends on whether you see censorship as moral or not.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: KZ on March 24, 2010, 08:42:49 AM
All in all though, this is a tricky situation those who are not directly connected to will probably never know the truth of. It is not unimaginable that Google can pull of such a stunt- the PR element is certainly there, but then again, Chinese hackers going for anything important isn't unheard-of either (like the Russian hackers back in the 90s).   Another good example of guesswork is that climate e-mails scandal late last year- not exactly evident, who did the deed, yet there were quite a few interested parties and it isn't exactly unfeasible that, say the Russian government had a gentle helping hand in that hack- environment is somwhere at the bottom of the pile for money-spending desires in Russia these days.

Still, where does one draw the line in censorship?
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Zackirus on March 24, 2010, 09:18:42 AM
That line can never been drawn by a collective or government, what a person does in their bedroom is not of the governments concern. The line on censorship can only be drawn by you, and only you. I believe that people should be able to control most of their lives without government interference. That's why I hate socailists so much because they stick their noes into business and peoples, and those are areas where politics does not belong.

At least that's what I think.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Zhampir on March 24, 2010, 12:10:18 PM
I agree with Zickirus mostly, but there are things (i.e. child pornography) that should not be allowed to exist.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: SmartyPants on March 24, 2010, 01:56:46 PM
I agree with Zickirus mostly, but there are things (i.e. child pornography) that should not be allowed to exist.
Ahh...I am pretty sure that Zickirus didn't take a pro-child pornagraphy stance.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Zackirus on March 24, 2010, 04:29:37 PM
Its Not 'Zickirus' its Zackirus :P. I don't support child pornagraphy, I'm simply said that if somone wishes to view that then it is on their own heads and not the government's.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Presentiment on March 24, 2010, 11:10:38 PM
Well that's really an original way to look at it...
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Zackirus on March 25, 2010, 05:21:40 AM
Well that's really an original way to look at it...

"What people do in their bedroom's is not the concern of the government" Pierre Trudeau 1967

Note: He was the Prime Minister of Canada
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Steel Ersatz Man on March 25, 2010, 06:23:14 AM
I agree with Zackirus.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: KZ on March 25, 2010, 08:58:26 AM
Personally, I also go with what Zackrius broadly stated. What is, however, concerning is the degree to which such freedoms are starting to get limited. Not only do you get overall censorship thoughts from the governments that are supposed to be democratic (read Australia and UK), there is now the point of putting it at the hands of the officials the decision what to consider appropriate and what not, even if the content is legal, but, say, voices an extreme view- so even if you're looking at something from a relatively innocent persepctive (say, you're wrtiting a thesis on it), you can still get a visit from authorities. Here (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8582823.stm) is a BBC article that does make me feel unseasy, especially the last part, with suggestions this be expanded to unies and all other internet cafes- (not the part about discrimination aginst Muslims- that's just shifts the focus in the wrong direction- the worry is more global, about rights to privacy and be able to access information and make your own judgements upon it). And this is UK we're talking about, not Saudi Arabia or China, where state inteferece in private matters is pretty much commonplace.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: SmartyPants on March 25, 2010, 02:26:12 PM
You have to draw some line at how much control the government should be allowed to have to protect the people.

"Since its enactment in the weeks following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the tools in the Patriot Act have been used by law enforcement to stop more than 400 terrorist threats to our families and communities," Jim Gerlach

"If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom," Dwight D. Eisenhower
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Steelfist on April 19, 2010, 09:36:40 AM
I have no personal problem with internet censorship, and there are advantages, but the principle implies restriction of privacy and freedom.

It is, however, worrying as to how far the government intends to take this restriction of privacy and freedom.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Pylons on April 20, 2010, 09:43:15 PM
You can only stretch the Constitution so far (at least in the U.S.).
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: SmartyPants on April 21, 2010, 12:49:13 PM
You can only stretch the Constitution so far (at least in the U.S.).
I don't think China uses the US constitution.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Pylons on April 21, 2010, 08:51:26 PM
Seeing as you posted some quotes from U.S. politicians, I assumed we were talking about the U.S.

Anyways, I don't see the problem with censorship, given your example, in China.

Just don't post any seditious material and you're fine.

If I was a civil-rights blatherer living in China I'd definitely get some people to stage an attack on my interwebz because it would get me attention and sympathy from Sinophobic Westerners.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Guye on April 24, 2010, 08:23:19 PM
I have a sister that lived in China until problems were found with her daughter's passports (her's was just fine) and from what I've heard the censorship in China is wholly indefensible (in her opinion) and that on certain topics you could only guess at the truth (or accept what your told  :-X), because the information you were given was so twisted that it (the truth) was wholly unrecognizable. Of course I've never been there, but I have been told that it has imprisoned more journalists than any other country on earth.

I can understand the censorship of some topics that are widely believed to be immoral, though the means with which this censorship would take place and the content which could be censored would have to be very clear and defined in a "fair" and non-invasive manner (I can understand it, I'm not for it). But when it is a government who decides what is considered "seditious" then I can't stand by it. Giving a powerful leader the ability to whitewash anything that makes him/her/them look bad (implicitly or no) is just asking for trouble. Honestly, I don't think there is a government on earth that I would trust with such a responsibility.

Why would a country need to censor "seditious" ideas, anyways? If they are ridiculous then you only need to rely on your ability to adequately explain to your people why it is so. If they aren't ridiculous then they shouldn't be censored in the first place. It is the people who should decide if the content they are reading is immoral or not. In my opinion, a governments role is to serve the wills of the largest number of its people possible, to the best of its ability, regardless of what that will is.

Also I've been suspicious of Google ever since they started that "Don't be Evil" thing.  :P
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: SmartyPants on April 25, 2010, 07:33:32 AM
The only time a government needs to keep something a secret is when it is for the safety of its people.  For example, the Manhattan Project or when a terrirost talks (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/02/AR2010020203738.html).  Also when the government does keep secrets, then they should do so without violating the rights of journalist.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Pylons on April 25, 2010, 07:46:00 PM
I have a sister that lived in China until problems were found with her daughter's passports (her's was just fine) and from what I've heard the censorship in China is wholly indefensible (in her opinion) and that on certain topics you could only guess at the truth (or accept what your told  :-X), because the information you were given was so twisted that it (the truth) was wholly unrecognizable. Of course I've never been there, but I have been told that it has imprisoned more journalists than any other country on earth.

I can understand the censorship of some topics that are widely believed to be immoral, though the means with which this censorship would take place and the content which could be censored would have to be very clear and defined in a "fair" and non-invasive manner (I can understand it, I'm not for it). But when it is a government who decides what is considered "seditious" then I can't stand by it. Giving a powerful leader the ability to whitewash anything that makes him/her/them look bad (implicitly or no) is just asking for trouble. Honestly, I don't think there is a government on earth that I would trust with such a responsibility.

Why would a country need to censor "seditious" ideas, anyways? If they are ridiculous then you only need to rely on your ability to adequately explain to your people why it is so. If they aren't ridiculous then they shouldn't be censored in the first place. It is the people who should decide if the content they are reading is immoral or not. In my opinion, a governments role is to serve the wills of the largest number of its people possible, to the best of its ability, regardless of what that will is.

Also I've been suspicious of Google ever since they started that "Don't be Evil" thing.  :P

Firstly, since when was a government's role to cater to people?

A government's responsibility is to cater to the people. If they were at the peoples' whims there would be nothing done because of the conflict in interests between the upper and lower class. Instead, a government needs to be hard-pushing, they need tax money, which, though it will negatively impact peoples' lives in the short term, will increase the prosperity of the state.

A good reason to censor seditious material is to inculcate a strong nationalism in the people. That way, in case of a war, China will have more manpower.

And yes, China may have a lot of reporters in jail but it has more reporters than any country in the world thanks to its large population, and again, free press and censorship do not jive very well together.

And about the passport...
Are you really sure it was valid? China isn't going to kick Westerners out randomly (assuming you are one), seeing as few Westerners live in China anyways and provide income for CCTV9, malls, and other companies. As long as your sister or her daughter had a valid passport and didn't really tick the government off they would still be there.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Guye on April 25, 2010, 10:01:53 PM
I honestly think that it IS the governments role to cater to its people. If the people suffer for it, then they have only themselves to blame. But then that's an opinion. Ultimately all when can have is an opinion. As what is "best" depends on your values. And values vary from person to person.

Creating a sense of Nationalism can hardly be called a worthy end when the means is the suppression of your people's will, but that, once again, is merely my own opinion. But then having my own opinion (assuming it was considered seditious) could be considered a bad thing by you, couldn't it?

I'm quite certain that my sister told me that she had to leave due to an issue with her daughters passport (when I said "hers was just fine" earlier I was referring to my sisters). I wouldn't say that she was kicked out, but that she was simply a victim of circumstance.. That being said, this happened years ago and I can't really recall the details.

Its true that China has a vastly large population and this could partially account for the statistics I was citing earlier, but can you honestly tell yourself that it accounts for the entire thing? That sometimes the censorship they use isn't corrupt? That on rare occasion they do things for themselves and not for the greater good? It my personal belief that this happens quite often,  but I'm fairly certain it won't be yours. That being said... I doubt even you believe that they are always looking out for their people. That EVERY act is for the greater good. Despite what their propaganda might say.

And if after all that you still believe that everything I say is incorrect or simply idiotic, then I will concede the point to you as we are currently derailing the thread.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Pylons on April 28, 2010, 08:05:38 PM
Did/do your parents make you go to school because you loved sitting in classrooms for seven hours a day? No, they made you go to school because it would benefit you in the long run.
 
You cannot assume something is wrong because you happen to think it is immoral. I happen to as well, but there is honestly no rational reason for such an idea. Fifty years ago racism was the norm in America. Now it is completely unfashionable. You could just as easily argue that unifying the people outweighs potential censorship, but given the trends of the times such an argument is what we perceive as grotesque and bizarre.

About your sister, if it was just her daughter who had the invalid passport it was her choice to leave China. Honestly, most Chinese have a very healthy respect for Westerners and she probably wasn't maligned.

Of course a larger population doesnít account for all the imprisonments, that is very clear, and although I often disagree with the Communist Partyís monopoly over the media I can easily see why they would do such a thing, and I also know that a monopoly is not necessarily evil. China still produces millions and millions of cheap goods for other countries, exports hardworking and often well-educated immigrants to other countries (namely the U.S. and Singapore), and has the fastest growing economy in the world, so I donít see what we have to complain about as China Inc. is still working at a furious clip despite what you may see as an evil leadership.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Guye on May 01, 2010, 10:49:20 PM
I do hate to trek further off topic, but just to clarify. I don't intend to imply that Chinese leadership is evil. I simply believe that practically all people are, to some degree, corrupt. And that given larger amounts of power the corruption becomes more apparent. I don't believe that China is a really bad place to live, and I never intended to infer that my sister was forced out of the country. I just can't see "unification through censorship" as a worthwhile goal. I can't see the pros in a logical sense outweighing the cons. The benefits of censorship are just too slim in all the necessary ways and too easily facilitates corrupt actions. And the cost is immeasurable... literally, due to it being censored and all. :P
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: SmartyPants on May 02, 2010, 08:11:38 AM
A good reason to censor seditious material is to inculcate a strong nationalism in the people. That way, in case of a war, China will have more manpower.
Isn't that the first rule in having a fascist govenment? 

The benefits of censorship are just too slim in all the necessary ways and too easily facilitates corrupt actions. And the cost is immeasurable... literally, due to it being censored and all. :P
The job of the media is to make sure the government is doing what is suspose to do.  If the govenment controls the media, then the government can do whatever they want to do.  That will lead to further corruption and immoral actions in the government.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Pylons on May 05, 2010, 09:34:38 PM
A good reason to censor seditious material is to inculcate a strong nationalism in the people. That way, in case of a war, China will have more manpower.
Isn't that the first rule in having a fascist govenment? 

The benefits of censorship are just too slim in all the necessary ways and too easily facilitates corrupt actions. And the cost is immeasurable... literally, due to it being censored and all. :P
The job of the media is to make sure the government is doing what is suspose to do.  If the govenment controls the media, then the government can do whatever they want to do.  That will lead to further corruption and immoral actions in the government.

To your first comment, I have to reply:

So what?

To your second:

Free media also leads to rampant yellowness and populism.

Also, media is not, as many seem to think, a magic bullet to sway the people. There are the problems of access to media and living conditions. Ultimately, if there are enough discontented people, the government will lose all its power because it has no base of support.

Your weasel wording also disturbs me; what do you define as immoral or corrupt, and what evidence do you have to back it?
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: SmartyPants on May 06, 2010, 03:21:15 PM
A good reason to censor seditious material is to inculcate a strong nationalism in the people. That way, in case of a war, China will have more manpower.
Isn't that the first rule in having a fascist govenment? 

To your first comment, I have to reply:

So what?
You may disagree, but I don't think Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany are the best models for dealing with the media.

The benefits of censorship are just too slim in all the necessary ways and too easily facilitates corrupt actions. And the cost is immeasurable... literally, due to it being censored and all. :P
The job of the media is to make sure the government is doing what is suspose to do.  If the govenment controls the media, then the government can do whatever they want to do.  That will lead to further corruption and immoral actions in the government.
Free media also leads to rampant yellowness and populism.

Also, media is not, as many seem to think, a magic bullet to sway the people. There are the problems of access to media and living conditions. Ultimately, if there are enough discontented people, the government will lose all its power because it has no base of support.
Yellow Journalism only works with a monopoly on media.  If there is not a monopoly, then competitors will try to discredit the yellow journalists.  Once a news outlit loses credibility then it is hard to gain it back.  For example, competitors were quick to critize CBC for Killian documents controversy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killian_documents_controversy).

If the government controled the media, then Americans would not have known there were not weapons of mass destrution in Iraq.  Bush could have kept this information secret, so he wouldn't lose support.

Your weasel wording also disturbs me; what do you define as immoral or corrupt, and what evidence do you have to back it?
Your tyrannical ideas for the media disturb me, so we are even.
I consider government officials lieing to serve their's own means as immoral and corrupt.
I have not seen any evidence to support your cynical views of the media.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: Ertxiem on May 07, 2010, 04:14:18 AM
Pylons and im2smart4u, please control your temper. Insults will get you nowhere and will drive away other people from here.

Government control of the media happens in many countries in many different ways. The government may own the media, which is the explicit way to do things, or the government may allow a limited number of media operating (like the restriction in TV frequencies). This latter way of doing things happens in most democratic countries (and is justified by the maintenance of the quality of TV emissions). However, it opens the door to the government giving a licence to the firm that gives the most favourable opinion to the government.

Immoral and corrupt people exist everywhere (from the common worker to the top of the governments) and the effective control is quite hard. We have a real problem when the people that can make laws to control the corruption are themselves corrupt.
Title: Re: China, Google and Internet censorship
Post by: KZ on June 24, 2010, 12:34:26 PM
Ultimately, I believe Guye in his initial statement summed up pretty well the situation one ideally would hope to have on the hands, with im2smart4u's comments pretty much accounting for a couple of remarks made by Pylons.

Coming from one of the historically "corrupt" places on earth where the government tended/s to do what it more or less pleases and not really cares much for the benefit of the people, remarks like "so what?" on the possibiliy of limitation of personal freedoms, including free speech are really worrying. Methinks many don't really realize what they can lose, unless they grew up in a place that was re-trying to re-gain some of those freedoms. The government should be, ideally,a proportionate reflection of the desires of the people on how the society should be run, what it's general code of morals and ethics should comprise, and what inreactions the said society wishes to have with other societies. But more often than not, those who are deemed to be the "voice of the people" will try to further their own means and try to keep to the power. Or, as time passes, geniuinely believe that the are executing the general wish of the people, but having been "isolated" from the rest of the society, they might not realize that this is not exactly what people want.
One inetersting phenomena that sprung up with the social networks is the micro-local political blogs or forums, where the local communities can come together and try to pressure local officials into hearing their opinions (BBC recently covered that in relation to UK), and although sometimes the local desires are sacrificed for the greater good of the nation (e.g. where to build prisons, nuclear reactors, highways, etc), methinks this might be a more effective way of keeping the people "at the top" in loop with what the common folks want. Though, of course, sometimes, like now in Begium, for instance, the voice of the people is quite divided, and that's where those in the government should work off their pay by trying to reach a solution that would satisfy the majority of the people.
And although the government is supposed to keep alive and protect the society it is running, I am not really at ease with the ways that they do it, on occaison, like censorship. Look at Russia, for instance- the media is centralized, not much of an "opposition" to look at, the people in no way can complain about the dire economic situation in the rest of the country nor quizz the officials about what exactly, if at all, the "old dollars" from the last decade were invested in? There was a lot of talk of diversifying the economy, and the Russian government had a great chance of having the money and the means to attempt to do just that, but judging by the current situation, none of that diversification happened... Yet the folks in power have ensure that the next president stays in power for 6 years, not 4, most influential independent people with money (aka oligarchs) suddenly have "tax issues" so cannot sponsor any opposition activuty and many human rights layers, jorunalists covering tricky topics like Chechnya, or judges making rulings on significant cases (e.g. prosecution of a Moscow-based group of Neo-Nazis) are dropping dead all over the place with a worrying indifferent reaction from the rest of the society. Throw in international relations, where Russia and China don't mount much pressure on N. Korea or Iran (two countries that might have the means to destabilize peace in their respective regions and are looking with one eye at nuclear weapons option), and Russia playing "you pay or we cut the gas" with the rest of the Europe, also gets a few uneasy looks. Methinks at least a few of those aspects are a cause for concern and, methinks, and the ends don't always jusify the means.