Thursday, November 22, 2007

Censorship on our mind

We really ought to leave this topic to the real experts on the subject such as Hong Kong University's Rebecca MacKinnon. However, two pieces caught our eye today:

  • There's a good piece in today's FT by Mure Dickie in which he talks about the pervasive but often relatively undetectable heavy hand of censorship in the Chinese media and Internet. He is sceptical of those who suggest that, at a local level, the Internet and other local media are more open than we believe. He asks "How much does this matter? I will leave the last word to Zhou Xiaozheng, a Beijing professor..."If people do not have the right of expression, there can be no 'rise' to speak of," Prof Zhou said in one remark that, ironically perhaps, did make it to broadcast. "[And] even if you do 'rise', nothing good will come of it."
  • Meanwhile, over in Thailand, it seems the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales put the cat among the pigeons when he spoke frankly about censorship in front of those responsible for putting the screws on Thailand's freedom of speech. The FACT - Freedom Against Censorship Thailand blog reports that he was a keynote speaker at the government's ICT Expo. The Bangkok Post apparently reports '“Thailand should recognise that censorship is a barrier to progress,” [Wales] said. Later, when asked if he realised that his hosts at the Ministry were the ones responsible for censorship in Thailand, Wales said that he was glad he had been talking to the right people…'.
We're sadly not convinced that the powers that be around Asia will buy for the foreseeable future the argument that clamping down on free speech, online or elsewhere, is going to be a barrier to progress or the rise of their countries. But, we can live in hope.

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