April 23, 2012
I found Hailey and Karinne’s presentation on Internet censorship particularly interesting in light of the Arab Spring. Censorship can be viewed as an impediment to the globalization of ideas, in that certain countries prohibit their citizens from exposure to “unfavorable topics.” Internet censorship is a tool favored by autocrats to 1) prevent unfavorable press and 2) to monitor political opponents. The Arab Spring is a prime example of the role of Internet censorship in shaping the modern world. The Arab Spring began when a Tunisian fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi immolated himself in front of a government building in the rural town of getting ready to sell fruits and vegetables in the rural town of Sidi Bouzid. Normally, the news of the self-immolation would not have spread farther than the town, except that as a result of the with globalization of technology, hundred of other young fruit vendors pulled out their camera phones and began recording. Within hours, the video of protestors popped up all over Tunisia sparking more protests, in the beginning stages of what would become an Arab World Revolution. The Tunis government’s response: censorship. The problem with Internet censorship is that governments cannot control it. Even if the government blocks or monitors certain websites, by logging in from foreign networks, people can access the webpages. Another problem is that censorship angers people: they want to know what is being barred from their viewing and why. Within days of the video from Sidi Bouzid surfacing on the Internet, Arabs all over the world began joining together to protest the inequality inflicted upon them by corrupt regimes. However, unlike the social-media connected countries of Tunisia and Egypt, Libya was a different story. In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi took drastic action: going as far as shutting off the Internet and phone lines. Cutting off access to social media in this day and age serves as a form of isolation from the global world. However, social media does not cause revolution; rather, people do. Social media only helps facilitate revolution. While Gadhafi thought internet censorship would halt a revolution, all he did was slow the arrival of the revolution and, in the process, bring more bad press to his regime from people around the world.
Another interesting aspect of Internet censorship is the role is plays in development. Looking at the difference in North and South Korea, that development is obvious. North Korea a censorship hub is lagging behind in the development department. On the other hand, South Korea has prospered and developed into a relatively wealthy nation over the past 40 years. However, censorship cannot be the sole contributor to this development difference. If we look at China, which is also a censorship hub—albeit to a lesser degree—we see China flourishing and developing to become the second largest power in the world (the U.S. being the first). Censorship is a product of regime type. As states earlier, autocrats and dictators have more to gain from censorship. Censorship allows them to limit the audience costs that are faced by many democratic countries. The difference in development between North Korea and China is a reflection on more comprehensive regime decisions than just censorship. Moreover, censorship is a continuing problem in our highly globalized world, one that affects the rate of revolution and development.
Posted by klayani at April 23, 2012 11:53 AM
The difference in freedom of expression between North and South Korea is manifest in the image posted above. While internet censorship surely doesn't directly result in a country being less developed than another, it definitely is a good barometer to determine where a culture stands in relation to others. Extreme Internet censorship is largely a function of Third World countries and have no place in places like the United States.
Posted by: jiherman at April 23, 2012 02:51 PMLogin to leave a comment. Create a new account.