- Internet censorship. It did not happen overnight but
slowly came to America's shores from testing grounds in China and the Middle
- Progressive and investigative journalist web site administrators
are beginning to talk to each other about it, e-mail users are beginning
to understand why their e-mail is being disrupted by it, major search engines
appear to be complying with it, and the low to equal signal-to-noise ratio
of legitimate e-mail and spam appears to be perpetuated by it.
- In this case, "it," is what privacy and computer
experts have long warned about: massive censorship of the web on a nationwide
and global scale. For many years, the web has been heavily censored in
countries around the world. That censorship continues at this very moment.
Now it is happening right here in America.
- The agreement by the Congress to extend an enhanced Patriot
Act for another four years will permit the political enforcers of the Bush
administration, who use law enforcement as their proxies, to further clamp
censorship controls on the web.
- Internet Censorship: The Warning Signs Were Not Hidden
- The warning signs for the crackdown on the web have been
with us for over a decade. The Clipper chip controversy of the 90s, John
Poindexter's Total Information Awareness (TIA) system pushed in the aftermath
of 9-11, backroom deals between the Federal government and the Internet
service industry, and the Patriot Act have ushered in a new era of Internet
censorship, something just half a decade ago computer programmers averred
was impossible given the nature of the web. They were wrong, dead wrong.
- Take for example of what recently occurred when two journalists
were taking on the phone about a story that appeared on Google News. The
story was about a Christian fundamentalist move in Congress to use U.S.
military force in Sudan to end genocide in Darfur. The story appeared on
the English Google News site in Qatar. But the very same Google News site
when accessed simultaneously in Washington, DC failed to show the article.
This censorship is accomplished by geolocation filtering: the restriction
or modifying of web content based on the geographical region of the
user. In addition to countries, such filtering can now be implemented for
states, cities, and even individual IP addresses.
- With reports in the Swedish newspaper Svensa Dagbladet
today that the United States has transmitted a Homeland Security Department
"no fly" list of 80,000 suspected terrorists to airport authorities
around the world, it is not unreasonable that a "no [or restricted]
surfing/emailing" list has been transmitted to Internet Service Providers
around the world. The systematic disruptions of web sites and email strongly
suggests that such a list exists.
- News reports on CIA prisoner flights and secret prisons
are disappearing from Google and other search engines like Alltheweb as
fast as they appear. Here now, gone tomorrow is the name of the game.
- Google is systematically failing to list and link to
articles that contain explosive information about the Bush administration,
the war in Iraq, Al Qaeda, and U.S. political scandals. But Google is not
alone in working closely to stifle Internet discourse. America On Line,
Microsoft, Yahoo and others are slowly turning the Internet into an information
superhighway dominated by barricades, toll booths, off-ramps that lead
to dead ends, choke points, and security checks.
- America On Line is the most egregious is stifling Internet
freedom. A former AOL employee noted how AOL and other Internet Service
Providers cooperate with the Bush administration in censoring email. The
Patriot Act gave federal agencies the power to review information to the
packet level and AOL was directed by agencies like the FBI to do more than
sniff the subject line. The AOL term of service (TOS) has gradually been
expanded to grant AOL virtually universal power regarding information.
Many AOL users are likely unaware of the elastic clause, which says they
will be bound by the current TOS and any TOS revisions which AOL may elect
at any time in the future. Essentially, AOL users once agreed to allow
the censorship and non-delivery of their email.
- Microsoft has similar requirements for Hotmail as do
Yahoo and Google for their respective e-mail services.
- There are also many cases of Google's search engine failing
to list and link to certain information. According to a number of web site
administrators who carry anti-Bush political content, this situation has
become more pronounced in the last month. In addition, many web site administrators
are reporting a dramatic drop-off in hits to their sites, according to
their web statistic analyzers. Adding to their woes is the frequency at
which spam viruses are being spoofed as coming from their web site addresses.
- Government disruption of the political side of the web
can easily be hidden amid hyped mainstream news media reports of the latest
"boutique" viruses and worms, reports that have more to do with
the sales of anti-virus software and services than actual long-term disruption
of banks, utilities, or airlines.
- Internet Censorship in the US: No Longer a Prediction
- Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Cisco Systems have honed
their skills at Internet censorship for years in places like China, Jordan,
Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and other countries.
They have learned well. They will be the last to admit they have imported
their censorship skills into the United States at the behest of the Bush
regime. Last year, the Bush-Cheney campaign blocked international access
to its web site -- www.georgewbush.com -- for unspecified "security
- Only those in the Federal bureaucracy and the companies
involved are in a position to know what deals have been made and how extensive
Internet censorship has become. They owe full disclosure to their customers
and their fellow citizens.