NNSquad - Network Neutrality Squad

NNSquad Home Page

NNSquad Mailing List Information


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ NNSquad ] As with Twitter, Google's localized censorship capabilities do not advance freedom

As with Twitter, Google's localized censorship capabilities do not advance freedom

Some days ago in "Twitter's Censorship Muddle" ( http://j.mp/x85v7A
[Lauren's Blog] ) I was critical of Twitter's moves to simplify the
implementation of country-specific censorship capabilities.  Please
refer to that posting for my detailed concerns and discussion.

I believe it's incumbent on me to note today that the same issues and
arguments apply to all global Internet enterprises, and specifically
that Google's announcement of per-country Blogger redirects can be
viewed as falling into the same basic category of concerns 
( http://j.mp/ADj5qm [Google] ).

Although we can all stipulate that abiding by legal national
censorship demands is a requirement for doing business in each
country, the fact remains that history tells us that the more
"frictionless" censorship becomes, the more it will expand.  And while
per-country censorship allows the damage of censorship to continue for
the population in each affected country, and it also removes much
outside pressure for reducing censorship, since the rest of the world
is not directly affected by nationally-limited censorship takedowns.

One particularly interesting aspect of Google's Blogger redirection is
the provision of a URL "bypass" mechanism that users can employ to
access a "No Country Redirect" version of associated sites.  To the
extent that countries don't block access to this "NCR" system, it is
indeed a very useful functionality to help limit the impact of
per-country censorship in this context.

And there are counter-arguments to my "localized censorship" concerns,
to be sure.  It can be argued that abiding by censorship demands helps
users in those countries continue to have access to other services,
rather than face total cutoffs.  But we know there are limits to 
this -- recall Google's pull out from the Chinese government's censorship
regime (originally agreed to in hopes of helping Chinese users over
time) as censorship demands and related problems escalated.  The
public posting of censorship demands (as Google and Twitter both are
doing) is useful, but as I've noted previously, there is no evidence
I've seen to suggest that this has a notable impact on reducing actual
censorship demands overall.

Again, please refer to my posting referenced above for more detailed
discussions and nuances related to these issues.  This is not a simple

Overall, I am very concerned that in the long run our willingness to
conform to national censorship demands, and the implementation of
systems to limit the global community's exposure to being affected by
those demands, are -- on balance -- moving us away from freedom, not
toward it.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org 
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com 
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com 
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
nnsquad mailing list