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The Chinese government orders a “Great Firewall”, an elaborate system of technology and people that blocks foreign websites, opposes online conversations and leads people astray.
I spoke with my colleague Paul mojur, Who has written for years about technology and politics in China, called governments “firewalls great and small” Myanmar, Russia, Uganda And other countries that are of varying degrees are also trying to control online activities.
Shira: Please explain China’s Internet control system first.
Paul: It is a combination of blocking about any foreign website you can think of and providing an information environment that is similar to what the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party say about the world.
Controls are extensive. A huge government bureaucracy monitors online activity, and an army of volunteers reports censoring content and helps spread positive messages about government initiatives. Companies are tasked with pulling content from the Internet, and engineering teams are sent to build artificial intelligence tools to help. Contractors provide manpower for industrial scale censorship.
Does a firewall work?
Yes. It comes at the cost of the government’s energy and money and the permanent anger of a section of the population, but it is extremely effective in shaping your idea.
Most people do not have time to escape the information environment in which they live, so it informs their perspective on the world – especially during a crisis. Online manipulation was likely during the initial coronavirus outbreak The biggest censorship event in history.
How do other countries attempt to block some websites or control the Internet with great firewalls?
Iran and North Korea also have complete control over the Internet and Myanmar. Cambodia Possibly trying to do something similar.
But it is difficult for any country to permanently block major social media sites and censor what people say online – as did our colleague Anton Trukowski Reported from russia. This is displeasing the citizens and tearing the economy apart, and the government missed its other priorities. It is also difficult to stay on top of people’s efforts around Internet control.
How has Myanmar tried to control people’s online activities?
Each morning, people wake up to find new websites they cannot access. For now, it has become quite easy for people to move around those blocks. What is of concern is that China’s new technology may make the blocks more complete, although we have not seen any evidence about China’s involvement.
How do you explain that people in Myanmar suffer from very little moderation of the internet and too much? First, the military Spread hatred against the Rohingya of the country Minority groups, and now it is cutting the internet.
Where democratic institutions are weak and have challenges for the future of the country, powerful actors will cut the flow of information about both when it suits them and deploy the Internet to spread information in their own interests. China does both, and so is Myanmar. While this may sound contradictory, censorship and disinformation go hand-in-hand.
What will happen next?
The fear is that China will make the technology and techniques of its Internet manipulation system easily adapted by other autocratic countries. It is important to look at Myanmar because if the generals controlled the Internet without decimating the economy, it could become a model for other authoritarian regimes.
Tip of the week
Three Cheap and Helpful Tech Gadgets
Flying cars are great, but sometimes finding technology that deals with small problems can feel amazing. New York Times Personal Technical Columnist Brian x. Chain There are three inexpensive technology helpers for us to try.
Sometimes the most useful technologies are cheap gizmos combined with human knowledge. Here are three examples in the $ 15 to $ 30 range.
I attach a tile to my obnoxiously thin Apple TV remote, which regularly disappears between couch cushions. I leave a tile in my checked baggage to help me find it at the airport. And a friend who leaves a tile in his car was able to track down the thieves who stole it and share that information with law enforcement.
We have written extensively about the dangers of allowing third parties to track our location, but privacy experts Major concerns have not been received With the practices of tile.
MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener ($ 27): This hub, when installed next to your existing garage door opener and connected to a home Internet network, anyone can control the garage door from the phone app.
I have found that it is amazingly useful. Once, when I was not home, my neighbor locked himself out of our building, and I let him go using the app to open the garage door farther away. It is also great that my wife and I do not need separate remote controls when we take our bicycle out of the garage for a ride.
Internet connected plugs like TP-Link Casa ($ 17): I use smart plugs to program a bunch of small tasks. I schedule a growing light to turn off my household vegetables after 16 hours and an electric kettle to boil water first thing in the morning for coffee.
Before we leave …
A moderate basis on technical regulation may be possible: Kashmir Hill has written about Massachusetts, where there is a civil liberties activist and elected official Strike a balance Between banning facial recognition technology used by law enforcement and giving the police a completely independent rein.
Internet never forgets: Lyt Kaplan, who wrote a previously anonymous celebrity blog in 2010, Second thoughts About “Vengeful Public Cinematography as Social Criticism.” Related, from internet culture writer Ryan Broderick: “We cannot control how much of our lives exist in near-perpetuation, but we can learn to decide what is priceless and what is not.”
Sea turtles that were rescued from the recent cold weather in Texas Discharged back into the Gulf of Mexico. There was a sea turtle slide!
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