From the time the unrest in Egypt began, China began its own offensive. As the stories of the Egyptian government shutting down the Internet ran through the news wires, it became apparent that the Internet is a more powerful tool than most realised. When your government decides that shutting down the Internet is a better idea than allowing for free speech and communication, you know that something’s wrong.
But China says they have a different reason for stopping searches with ‘Egypt’ as a keyword on Sina.com, Weibo.com, and Netease.com – they want to promote peace in society. After all, peace is what comes when you have no idea what’s going on in the rest of the world. Even the reports that have gotten through to the people mention the conflict in Egypt as merely rioting and looting.
What does this mean for you? The idea of censorship is nothing new, but the recognition that a government could just shut down the Internet, well, not sure anyone expected that one. Is it realistic? Apparently so. And with the current legislation in the United States Congress regarding such Internet control, it seems you need to have a backup plan if you want to communicate.
Many people have skirted around the censorship by using the cellular network to access the news and other online resources. But what happens if and when the government decides to stop the cellular networks? What then?
Censorship during times of strife may help to contain outrage and to stop protests, but censorship is not just used in times of war and unrest. The idea that censorship could happen instantly is a terrifying possibility in this world – and one that anyone who uses the Internet for business or pleasure should start considering more seriously.
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