As you bash out the latest opus, or drop a line to your favourite newsgroup, spare a thought for some internet users in China. Amnesty is currently calling for the release of 54 people jailed in China for expressing opinions on the Internet.
“Prisoners included people who signed online petitions for government reform, published non-official news about SARS, communicated with dissident groups overseas, or called for a review of Beijing’s bloody 1989 crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square”
The Net provides the ultimate in democratic voices. Essentially anyone can say anything anytime and the whole world can hear. Unfortunately some government’s take a dim view of such freedom, and lock you up.
China has, I think, pretty much the most stringent controls on the Internet of any country, including hiring the major US network hardware providers like Cisco to install equipment which can monitor Chinese net traffic. Of course, if Cisco, a dominant provider of the network routers and equipment which drives the internet world wide, were to undertake such a contract in the West there would be an outcry. But capitalism is clearly happy to assist communists monitor, and thus supress, a population.
There’s good summary from a year or two ago about big US technology companies working for the Chinese government here.