Control freaks the world over, including most recently Tony Blair, have called for the introduction of a Chinese style Internet, where the World Wide Web is tightly regulated and free speech stifled on the whim of a government censor.
Here’s what Internet 2, the Chinese format, will look like.
Say goodbye to downloading your favorite music or videos in seconds via high-speed cable or ADSL. There is no high speed broadband Internet in China. Since every website you access has to first pass through a government approved list, even the likes of Yahoo and Google lag and stumble onto your monitor, as if you’re using dial-up.
If you don’t live in a major city then expect your Internet connectivity to be degraded to a speed slower than dial-up.
The Communist Chinese government blocks any website that is mildly critical of the state and that even extends to mainstream foreign news outlets such as the BBC. Under the new format that Blair and others are proposing, the function of the Internet as a forum for political debate, protest and freedom of speech will simply cease to exist.
Say goodbye to video blogging – since popular personal video upload sites are notoriously hard to moderate, they too will disappear. Despite the best efforts of Google to cozy up to Red China, Google Video is blocked.
Say goodbye to e mail as a reliable form of communication. If the person you’re writing to has an account with a mail service that the government doesn’t like, the mail is simply returned to you and you’re informed that the recipient is an “illegal user”.
Keyword logging is also employed to block out individual words – if you include them in the e mail then you’ve just wasted your time in writing it because it doesn’t get through.
“The Washington Post obtained a list of keywords used by a Chinese blog service provider to flag offensive material. Of 236 items on the list, 18 were obscenities. The rest were related to politics or current affairs,” reported the Post in February 2006.
“Most words on this list can be posted on Chinese Web sites, but their presence quietly alerts editors to examine the messages that contain them and possibly take action. In tests, postings that included long sections of the list were allowed to remain on several sites, but quickly removed from others. One site also blocked the computer used to conduct the tests from posting anything else.”
Say goodbye to Googling away to your heart’s content. If you input too many sensitive words in one go, as I did with “Bush” and “Taiwan” – google.com ceases to be accessible at all and in some cases your Internet connection is instantly terminated.
In conclusion, the new Internet will be nothing more than an electronic police state, merely acting as a tool for the authorities to track down and incarcerate dissidents who dare question the government.