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Re: Bay Networks in bed with commie censors?
From: Vadim Antonov <avg () pluris com>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 1997 19:50:56 -0800

Tony Li wrote:

Perhaps you should consider both sides of the situation.  As you know,
there is no serious networking infrastructure in China now.

Well, there was enough to scare the government into overt censorship.

Initially, the academic Chinese Internet was not censored at all
(i know that for sure, Sprint provided the circuit, and configured
their routers).

Will creating one decrease or increase the free flow of information?

Guess.  I've seen state-run networks in a communist country;
thanks.  They're value-subtracted.

The problem is the same as with "voluntary" key escrow -- once they
get that in place and taking care of needs of loyal citizens, there
won't be any need for the carriers not controlled by the government.
So they will be outlawed.  South Korea is a perfect example of what
is going to happen.  You look at the forbidden Web site -- you go
to jail.

Censorship is not
perfect, and China will not have the resources to censor all packets
anywhere in the country.

Actually, the issue is not as much censorship but extensive logging
and monitoring.  And censorship can be pretty efficient.  Soviet
censors certainly made sure that only few people have read anything
by Solzhenitsyn.  The regime fell when "ordinary" people learned the
truth and were horrified.

So does this network give them a tool to further
control the people?  Or a bigger headache for them to try to control?

This is a state network.  If they can't keep up they can slow it
down.  They did that with postal mail for decades.

Also, do not forget that digital communications are much easier
to alanlyze -- even trivial keyword matching is very efficient.

I should point out that the government already has installed satellite TV to
pretty much every corner of the country.  However, the receivers are all
state-controlled.  Would you rip this out?

What satellite do they point at?  Where the feed comes from?

Is no CNN better than censored CNN?

A lot better.  The old truism is that the most effective lie is
entirely composed from truth.  Soviet TV used to show quite a lot
of Western footage -- with "creative" translation and editing.
Needless to say, often the meaning was quite opposite to that of
the original.

The doctored news is one of the oldest and one of the most effective
tools of propaganda -- you can't argue with facts, particularly
when you don't even know about existance of the facts.

IP networking is an inherently democratic medium: everyone can speak [and
usually does ;-( ].  Moving more bits implies that the number of uncensored
bits increases.

Would you send anything critical of the regime if you knew that everything
you write is going right into the secret police's dossiers?

Self-censorship is actually more dangerous than the state censorship.
It quickly reduces people to the state of scared animals.  A lot of
older folks in Russia feel very uncomfortable when somebody starts
talking about politics in the same room.

IMnsHO, the installation of this network will be the nail in the coffin of
the Chinese government.  I'm more than happy to see them drive it in.

I wish it was like that.  However, it just doesn't work this way.
The only reason for the existence of that network is the desire
of the state to control the flow of the information.  If it is
successful, the state will have more power.  If it is not successful,
it's tax money spent on inane project instead of improving living
of the people.  And in any case it's primary use (as stated in the
news report) is to disseminate official news (aka propaganda).

p.s. I'm related to Chinese communists.

My father is a communist.

--vadim
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