Friday, April 4, 2008

Cultural Divides on Government Surveillance

I found this interesting. A PEW report (via James Fallows) showing a vast difference in attitude toward government control in China than you would expect from Americans.

A new report from the Pew Internet Project indicates that most internet users in China accept the idea that material on web sites should be monitored and controlled -- and that the government should do the controlling. For instance:
Most readers of the Western press are aware of efforts by the Chinese government to control what its people can read and discuss online. Outside observers and human-rights groups monitor and criticize the government's actions and publicize the techniques through which technologically savvy Chinese internet users can work around restrictions. Some analysts also track and interpret the government's subtler shifts in balance that seek to encourage internet development while still exercising control over it...

[O]ther evidence suggests that many Chinese citizens do not share Western views of the internet. The survey findings discussed here, drawn from a broad-based sample of urban Chinese internet users and non-users alike, indicate a degree of comfort and even approval of the notion that the government authorities should control and manage the content available on the internet.
The report goes on to say that 84 percent of Chinese internet users felt content should be controlled, and about the same number approved of the government's doing so. It also explores some of the reasons behind an attitude that confounds many American expectations about what the spread of the internet "should" mean. The discussion is based on a nationwide survey funded by the Markle Foundation and conducted by a respected Chinese social scientist named Guo Liang. It is very much worth reading, in connection with ongoing stories about mainstream Chinese views of news from Tibet and of criticism on that and other subjects from overseas.
While Chris Cannon would have us be more like China in allowing the government into our homes, this, to me, reeks of Stockholm's syndrome.

1 comment:

  1. Aside from the complex physical connections that make up its infrastructure, the Internet is facilitated by bi- or multi-lateral commercial contracts (e.g., peering agreements), and by technical specifications or protocols that describe how to exchange data over the network. Indeed, the Internet is essentially defined by its interconnections and routing policies.

    As of December 30, 2007, 1.319 billion people use the Internet according to Internet World Stats. Writing in the Harvard International Review, philosopher N.J. Slabbert, a writer on policy issues for the Washington, D.C.–based Urban Land Institute, has asserted that the Internet is fast becoming a basic feature of global civilization, so that what has traditionally been called "civil society" is now becoming identical with information technology society as defined by Internet use. - web design company, web designer, web design india