Wednesday, March 3, 2010

If MSM Goes Belly-up, What Will Be The Next Vector Of Propaganda?

Is Internet Freedom A Human Right?

Cedric Moon and Dana Loesch discuss the impending demise of the MSM.

Surprise, surprise, the web is the second source of information for Americans. They discuss how many Americans are concerned about opinion being presented as news, and of course, propaganda being diseminated daily. Many see the "Internet," read the world wide web, as "Freedom guarenteed," and may not be aware that when on line, one is not annonomous as one believes, that using Google sets one up for "rigged" search results, which usually bring one to MSM news, and that spying on private individuals is the name of the game.

Today, we learn that the Obama administration is considering taking China to the WTO for unfair trade practices by sensoring Google. Is the US confounding Human Rights with the right to supervise, and impose standards on internet "providers" of content, like Google? Do countries have meaningful sovernty, and do they have the right to limit propaganda and spying that is pushed on them thru the new "free" web companies. What is internet freedom, and is it a value, a human right or a trade barrier issue?

H Clinton has been the most outspoken on the issue: "Properly, she did not hide the fact that communication over the Internet can be used for good (human rights activists) and evil (terrorists)." But one must remember that one countries human rights activist may be another countries terrorist. This "freedo," can be turned against the US in no time at all. Beware of what you wish for, you may get it.

The attempted "Twitter Revolution" in Iran should be a cautionary tale. Rather than jump on the "internet freedom" bandwagon, based on perceptions generated by a known to be biased MSM, one should consider what "internet freedom" is really about.

What is really behind the Google-China-US internet freedom issue?

But is Internet freedom itself a human right -- an entitlement that no just nation could infringe upon?

First, let's define Internet freedom, which really incorporates two ideas: access and privacy.

China may have the most extensive Internet surveillance and enforcement apparatus in the world, but they're not alone in censoring content or targeting users for political reasons or otherwise.

Furthermore, although authoritarian governments, including China, are typically accused of being the major players in the censorship game (and they often are), the fact is: democracies do it, too.

The French government, for example, was recently engaged in a campaign to combat copyright infringement by targeting users on peer-to-peer networks.

It could be argued that China and France have the same justification for restricting Internet access: Both countries were simply enforcing the law. For both nations, the restrictions they choose to impose are simply a matter of priorities. China probably cares as much about enforcing copyrights as France does about limiting political discourse online. As in, not at all.

For a more direct comparison of the kind of censorship seen in China, let's take a look at India or South Korea (both democracies and U.S. allies).

India, the second most populated country in the world behind China, and the largest democracy, has taken an active role in censoring content from radical religious groups. India's Constitution dictates that free speech restrictions can be imposed for the purpose of maintaining "public order, decency or morality," so the government's right to censor other kinds of content can and has been applied to other situations. The nation even plans to step up its Internet surveillance and enforcement efforts.

South Korea, which has the highest percentage of connected citizens of any nation, has actively taken measures to curtail Internet privacy, imposing laws in 2008 targeting online anonymity.

If government restrictions on content are such an issue, why hasn't Google similarly pulled out of India, South Korea or other such countries? (For a list of other countries that have some kind of restrictions on content, click here.)

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