The leading entry on BoingBoing yesterday was about a suspected block of Blogspot, Typepad, and Geocities by the Indian Government. The post is worth reading all the way through, especially the updates. It’s also alarming. Many Indians use Blogger to host their blogs, and while they can apparently post, they are not able to read. This is a severe restriction of civil liberties, and one that may only spread if left unprotested.
Most of my readers are probably familiar with the Chinese National Firewall–are you also aware that many Muslim countries use blocking software as well?
Imagine that overnight someone has blocked your access to half the websites you read, your mode of personal expression, your news sources. Imagine that someone else is dictating what you can and cannot read, what sort of material is appropriate, and what is not. I imagine you’d be rather grumpy, wouldn’t you?
We owe it to ourselves to fight censorship wherever it occurs, and not just at the government level. Many of my readers access this site from offices and government buildings–apparently they are fortunate enough not to experience censorware at work. Many others are not so lucky, and I would highly recommend reading BoingBoing’s Guide to Defeating Censorware. You might not think it’s relevant to you, but it might be someday, and it’s a good idea to be forewarned.
Workplace users should be aware that all office networks can be easily monitored, and that sensitive and personal sites should probably not be accessed at work. Home networks are also not private now, thanks to the fact that major telecommunications companies, including the one I use to access the internet, are happy to hand over records to the NSA. Be warned.
BoingBoing offers a number of ways to circumvent censorware and government sponsored blocking of sites. Read about them. Familiarize yourself with multiple methods so that you have a fall back if one method fails. Reporters Sans Frontieres also has a useful guide for avoiding technical blocks.
You don’t have to be a cyber dissident to be angry about censorware. As adults, we should have control over our own destinies, and that includes the type of content we browse. Parents may have different standards for their children and they are welcome to apply those standards on a case by case basis–but the rest of us should be able to wallow in the internet in all its glory, naughty or not.