How the U.S. — and Google — censors the Internet
Published Feb 6, 2010 8:25 AM
Since mid-January, hardly a day has gone by without some report in the
big-business-controlled media about China and censorship of the Internet. The
primary reports were about Google’s declaration in early January that it
may stop complying with Chinese laws that are meant to block illegal Internet
activity, including spying. This was followed by Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton’s blistering cold-war-style speech that directly attacked
Such threats, coming from the U.S. government, must be taken seriously. After
all, this kind of speech from the heads of the State Department preceded the
U.S. invasions of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Not that an invasion of
China is imminent, but this is war talk from the State Department and must be
treated as such.
Outside the U.S., the events are seen quite differently than the
carefully-coiffed version presented in the U.S. media. China has done nothing
out of the norm for any country with respect to regulating the Internet. Even
the U.S. has similar laws and restrictions on criminal activities.
Given the way the U.S. media report this, it is important to make it clear that
China does not control the Internet. Control of the Internet lies completely in
the hands of the U.S., or more precisely, the U.S. military-industrial complex.
And access to the core services is 100 percent controlled in the U.S. In fact,
U.S. domination of the Internet was reflected in a bill that was proposed in
the U.S. Senate last August that sought to give the president the authority to
take full control of the Internet with a national security declaration.
As for censorship of the Internet, no country does more to block global access
to the Internet than the U.S. government.
This was illustrated on Jan. 1. That’s the day that a hammer went down
and all access to a substantial number of Web sites was blocked to all people
from countries on a list created by the State Department. Cuba, Syria, Sudan
and Iran are included on the list. A search of the State Department’s Web
site and a Google search did not turn up the names of other countries on this
SourceForge is a Web site that’s now blocked. SourceForge says it
“offers free access to hosting and tools for developers of free/open
source software.” As of Jan. 1, all access to SourceForge, including
downloads of free software, has been blocked to any user from a country on the
State Department’s list. Previously in 2008, SourceForge started blocking
access to any free software developer who wished to contribute to any free
This development at SourceForge, because it is a central point for free and
open access to software, has produced an international storm of protest. But
SourceForge is not alone. Sun Microsystems, Mathworks and Microchip —
companies that sell software used by developers — have also made their
Web sites unreachable to any user from the State Department’s list. And
most prominent in all this turns out to be Google and the Google Code Web site
that is also for free software projects.
There is already a protest movement among free software developers to move
projects off Google Code and SourceForge and onto Web sites in countries that
allow open access to all. One prominent free software project, NautilusSVN, has
done this in response to the blockage by Google of access to Google Code. The
developers have moved their project onto Ubuntu Linux’s Launchpad and
renamed it RabbitVCS, though there is some concern that the London-based
Launchpad could become subjected to the U.S. blockade.
In a report on ArabCrunch, Syrian computer engineer Abdulrahman Idlbi says,
“It’s worth mentioning that Internet content blockage against some
countries is not restricted to getting software or services. It is really
disappointing to try to participate in a global humanitarian event such as
Earth Hour or the Google Haiti crisis response to make a donation, to find out
that parts of those Web sites (powered by Google) are blocked.” Idlbi
found that he was not able to make a donation to Haiti relief efforts.
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